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“Restorative Justice” Movement

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Gun Control is a Distraction: the President is Sending Grief Counselors.

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 . . . And, Lester Jackson on Benny Lee Hodge, Sonia Sotomayor, and Apologies for Mass Murderers

Great Leader chatter about Obama healing the nation is engulfing every network news station — including Fox — following the mass killing in Connecticut.  Was it always this way?  I’m thinking back on Columbine, David Koresh, Oklahoma City — is anyone else getting nostalgic for mere partisan political jabs in the wake of grim and senseless violence?  There is something profoundly creepy about the bureaucratic/therapeutic/paternalistic vibe emanating from Washington.  Of course, this is part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing efforts to expand their mission beyond crime control . . . to social control.  Flying under the flag of “anti-bullying,” “hate hurts,” “restorative justice,” and “prisoner re-entry,” the Department of Justice continues its Great March behind the Great Leader into people’s lives, this time using the excuse of a nut with a gun.

The goal isn’t merely gun control.  Gun control is a speed bump on the way to social control.

In order to align law enforcement’s activities with the agenda of collectivism, it is necessary to either therapeuticize or politicize every crime.  One or the other: a school shooter is generally therapeuticized.  He falls into the category of “victim,” probably of bullying, so long as he didn’t express any of the select group of “hatreds” that are deemed atrocities and thus politicized.  Luckily for school shooters who target females, that particular preference has been slotted back into the inconsequential category, and as it is the only category of shooter choice that has manifested in recent school shootings, school shooters generally just get counted as victims of social suffering — the therapeutic slot.  The Department of Justice is making noises about social bullying today, for example — it’s the stuff on which they can build expensive and intrusive bureaucracies without violating Eric Holder’s allergy to incarceration and law enforcement itself.

So, expect a lot of talk about bullying from the nation’s federal law enforcement agency — and everyone else — in coming weeks.  Ironically, early reports suggest that the killer in this case may have been systematically encouraged to see himself as a victim of “bullying” and social maladjustment.  There’s something to contemplate as the experts descend on schools throughout the nation to cash in on the actions of one unstable individual: might we produce fewer school shooters if we had fewer school professionals encouraging children to see themselves as victims — of garden-variety bullying, social slights, and social exclusion?

For if there’s one common thread that ties together otherwise diverse killers, bank robbers, terrorists, street thugs, and assorted psychopaths, it’s self-pity.  So as the armies of school psychologists and grief counselors and other soft-soap contract-remunerated social engineers fan out across the land, think about both intended and unintended consequences.  It’s bad enough that the federal government is using a tragedy to grow the bureaucratic-therapeutic federal government machinery, but is it even worse than that?  Are we growing future criminals in the process of therapeuticizing violence?

I was driving through South Georgia when the news reports of the Connecticut shootings broke.  It may be Terrific in Tifton but it’s darn hard to get A.M. radio reception from the highway there, so we had to listen to public radio.  ”Obama Will Save Us” positive visualizations popped up immediately, with NPR devoting its earliest hours to Dear Leader chatter and gushing praise for the FBI.  Why the FBI?  Because the federal government was on the way to save the day.  Not that they actually did anything.  But the purpose of NPR is to justify federal powers and federal funding — for themselves and for actual government officials.  So they talked obsessively about how wonderful it was that the FBI was doing this and that for local law enforcement, even though local law enforcement was doing the actual work.

The therapeuticization of justice dictates two responses to crime.  Offenders are transformed into victims of society, and victims are transformed into suspects, at least until they demonstrate that they are also willing to blame society and not the individual offender for victimizing them.  Once everyone agrees that society is at fault, the experts can step in to dictate the cure, which involves creating more therapeutic non-incarcertive responses to crime.  Response is an artful term: it expresses the bureaucratic view that we are one enormous sensate organism reacting with animal reflexes to pain or shock.  If criminals are simply part of the sensate whole, how can we blame them for their actions?  It’s like blaming us . . . well, we are blaming us.  We are all responsible: nobody is responsible.

The alternative view is to accept the existence of moral choice and individual responsibility for crime, followed by judgment and consequences.  As readers of this blog have learned from the anonymous Professor Dunderpants of CUNY’s Media Studies Department, merely believing in such things is considered terribly primitive these days, and not the sort of good primitive that stimulates the anthropology department.  It is bad primitive to  harbor a secret belief in free will these days, let alone express it publicly.

The power to transform criminals into victims and victims into suspects — to dictate not just the administration of justice to the guilty but the emotional responses of everyone to crime — is a tremendous, intrusive power cupped in the hands of the bureaucrats calling the shots.  Fascist power, one might say.  Soft fascism.  The creepy kind.

Therapeuticizing criminals is the end-game of the social roots-theory of crime.  Roots theory was invented by sociologists in the 1960′s who wished to displace responsibility for criminal actions away from the criminal himself and onto society — onto injustice arising from poverty and prejudice in particular.  Poor and minority offenders, the story goes, are not responsible for their actions: they are merely reacting to injustice directed at them when they steal your car or mug your husband or rape your sister.  And social engineering is, of course, the only known cure.  Forty years later, the roots-theory movement has expanded to the point that it may even be applied to a young white male from an upper-class suburb who just slaughtered 20 innocent schoolchildren.  In coming days, even the most rational expressions of anger at the shooter will be quickly smothered by ministrations of therapeuticized justice in the government and the media.

Let the intensive policing of the innocents begin.

          ~~~~~

Related:  Lester Jackson has a compelling article about Justice Sotomayor and judicial sympathy for repeat killers in American Thinker today.  It’s a timely read:

 As detailed elsewhere, pro-murderer media suppression of the truth has played a major role in enabling a wholesale evisceration of capital punishment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor recently provided a graphic example, one that would be excruciatingly painful to survivors of murder victims if they knew about it. Many people unfamiliar with the practices and philosophy of the current Supreme Court would very likely be shocked to learn just what values some justices hold. . .

When pro-murderer justices seek — often successfully — to focus upon criminals rather than crimes, the result is to grant certain perpetrators greater protection against punishment for their brutality than others who commit identical or less serious acts without Supreme Court succor. The reductio ad absurdum, of course, is the Court’s fiat proclaiming a Constitutional right, nowhere to be found in the real document, for the most depraved and vicious barbarians . . .

Read the rest here.

And see also:   Rwanda and Columbine: The Politics of Forced Reconciliation

Vision 21: The Good, The Bad, and The Creepy in the DOJ’s New Crime Victim Initiative

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The Office of Justice Programs of the Department of Justice is busy promoting Vision 21 Transforming Victims Services, the DOJ’s sweeping “new” agenda for providing “services” to victims of crime.  I’m using the scare quotes here because I don’t trust Eric Holder to do anything about crime other than politicize it.

OJP masthead
Vision 21 Transforming Victim Services

Vision 21 is certainly a paean to identity group activism and identity group representation and identity group “outreach.”  True to form, the DOJ leaves no stone unturned in their efforts to kick the justice system further down the road of pure identity-based balkanization.

But the most troubling thing I’m seeing at first glance is the emphasis on providing “services” to victims in lieu of getting justice for them.  It looks like Vision 21 is providing multiple opportunities for activist organizations to exploit crime victims for other ends.  The involvement of groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Soros-funded, pro-offender VERA Institute for Justice suggests to me that one of the primary intentions of Vision 21 is to neuter the voices of real crime victims who demand real consequences and real sentences for violent and repeat offenders.  And, sure enough, Holder’s handpicked leaders have been floating anti-incarceration messaging in the endless “stakeholder forums” that inevitably accompany such initiatives.

Expect to hear a lot about how victims “want to be heard and included more than they want prosecutions.”  Expect offenders to be counted as sort of “co-victims” of crime.  Expect a lot of talk about the restorative justice movement, which was long ago hijacked by advocates for criminals and is now used primarily to keep offenders out of prison, rather than making them take responsibility for their crimes.  The “criminals are victims too” activists who hijacked restorative justice and profit from the vast “criminal re-entry” service industry are running the show at the DOJ.

Visin 21 is certainly a full-employment vision for the criminology profession.  And putting criminologists in charge of anything relating to crime victims is like sticking puppies in tiger cages.  But feeding the criminologists has been a primary goal all along.  Laurie Robinson’s tenure at the DOJ was dedicated to systematically subjugating the criminal justice system to the academic criminologists, in order to, of course, take all that vengeful punishment and incarceration stuff out of the equation (except in the cases of so-called hate criminals).

Now Mary Lou Leary is carrying the full-employment-for-criminologists ball.  FYI, “smart on crime” here means hopefully not incarcerating anyone, no matter what they do, unless Eric says it’s a hate crime:

This focus on careful analysis is one of the Justice Department’s top priorities. We are committed to promoting programs and approaches that are “smart on crime.” Under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, I can assure you that this is more than a mere buzzword. For this Department, being smart on crime means resisting knee-jerk reactions, investing in solid research, and ensuring that evidence is translated so it is useful to all of you on the frontlines.

Get it?  This is supposed to be a statement about victim programs, but Leary is talking “knee-jerk reactions.”  They’re helping crime victims avoid “knee-jerk reactions,” like wanting their offenders behind bars.  This will be accomplished with science.

On the positive side, The National Crime Victim Law Institute and other highly credible crime victim advocates are also involved in Vision 21.  And the initiatives to professionalize and expand evidence collection is money well-spent.

“Grassroots” Prisoner Strikes in California Actually Funded Directly by George Soros

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The hunger strikes at several California prisons this summer may have seemed like spontaneous uprisings against torturous conditions.  That’s how many incurious souls in the fourth estate are portraying them.  To wit, this hand-wringing Washington Post editorial highlighting the “tragic modesty” of prisoner demands:

DOZENS OF INMATES at California’s Pelican Bay facility went on hunger strikes for several weeks this summer for what seemed like pitifully modest demands: “Allow one photo per year. Allow one phone call per week. Allow wall calendars.”  What would prompt such drastic measures in the quest for such modest goals? Answer: The protest was an exasperated and understandable reaction to the invisible brutality that is solitary confinement. Some of the Pelican Bay inmates have been held in “security housing units” for years; those tagged as gang members can expect to stay there for six years, with no certainty that they will be reintegrated into the general population even if they renounce gang membership.  When an inmate is holed up alone in a cell for up to 23 hours a day with no meaningful human contact, a photograph of a loved one or a weekly telephone call can help to forge a connection with the outside world. With little or no exposure to natural light, a calendar can help forestall losing all track of time, all sense of reality. These simple privileges, in short, can help ward off insanity.

Well, that sounds just horrible.  Why wouldn’t the cruel prison wardens allow a mere snapshot, or wall calendar?

Because the protests weren’t really about family pictures or calendars.  Because the inmates, and particularly their leadership, weren’t really harmless and misunderstood “ex” gang members in the first place.  Because the dozens of well-funded activist organizations who played the media like dumb fiddles aren’t telling the truth about either their tactics or goals.

The whole thing was a set-up, and any fish smarter than many fish in the MSM would have smelled something fishy and swum away from the bait.

Rainy Taylor, “Bay Area Revolution Club”

While the national and international media were busy wringing their hands over the seemingly sentimental prisoner demands, and dumbly reprinting activist agitprop as facts, local news sources like the Sacramento Bee bothered to ask real questions about the policy being protested — Secured Housing Units (SHU), cellblocks which isolate dangerous, disruptive, and gang-related prisoners from the rest of the prison population:

Officials with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [] said they will review policies on how the agency determines which inmates are believed to be gang leaders who are then placed in a security housing unit.

But they insist that inmates inside the SHU, including several who have identified themselves as leaders of the hunger strike, pose a serious threat to others and are there for very good reasons. [emphasis added]

The state’s security housing units were designed as prisons within prisons to house the most dangerous criminals. While SHU inmates are largely isolated from other prisoners, corrections officials say, they still have certain amenities available to them.

“They have 23 channels, including ESPN,” [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. “I think that’s something that’s far from extreme isolation from the rest of the world.”

These guys get cable, including ESPN.  I certainly don’t pay for that.  Yet they claim they’re striking because they lack “wool caps” for “wintertime.”  Such demands don’t pass any smell test.  They are deliberately designed to create an impression that the prisoners are shivering in the cold, not sitting around watching Sports Center.

Inmates in California SHU watching cable TV . . . what, no HBO?

Yet the “wool caps for winter” campaign was repeated uncritically by media sources throughout the world.  Al Jazeera English published a wildly misleading editorial by one prominent Soros-funded activist, Issac Ontiveros, who calls SHUs “torture.”  For good measure, Ontiveros’ editorial throws in a bunch of other deceptive agitprop painting the U.S. as a “prison industrial complex” that must be overthrown.  He repeats all the activists’ greatest hits, bluntly lying about the real circumstances of mass murderer George Jackson’s death, whitewashing the horrific, racially motivated killings perpetrated by Jackson, and downplaying the murders of prisoners and guards by other prisoners during the Attica riots.  Racial accusation?  Check.  Denial of violence by “activists”?  Check.  America equals police state?  Check.

This is the type of “news” about America being disseminated around the world, all subsidized by George Soros.

Quite astonishingly, the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity Committee is actually using photos of the bloody Attica riots to illustrate their demands on behalf of the current California hunger strikers.  This is the coalition homepage:

Get it?  Give in and end the practice of secured housing units for offenders who stab prison guards, or . . . prisoners will riot and stab a bunch of prison guards.

~~~

Back on Planet Sanity, the San Jose Mercury News bothers to document real conditions in the SHUs, plus the behind-bars behavior that landed some of the benighted residents of California’s Secure Housing Units in secure housing to begin with:

Many of the inmates on the tour were housed in pairs in cells stocked with televisions and books. The cells had doors perforated with dozens of tiny holes, instead of standard prison bars, to make it more difficult for inmates to pass items from one to another.

In one area, two inmates in neighboring cells played virtual chess, calling out their moves to one another.

Inmates do have contact with other prisoners, staff and visitors, including spending more than an hour each day in exercise yards, [corrections spokesman Oscar] Hidalgo said. They have 23 cable television channels, reading materials, access to a law library and learning materials, and can correspond with family and friends.

Conditions are “far from what we think is torturous,” Hidalgo said, though some violent inmates and purported gang leaders are kept physically separated.

Three of the state’s prisons have such units, housing about 3,800 of the state’s 161,500 inmates.

Inmates sent to the unit “have essentially earned their way,” Hidalgo said. “They have numerous assaults on inmates, they have numerous assaults on staff, they have to be isolated for their protection and for the protection of other inmates. These are predatory-type inmates, and we need to ensure they are not harmful to others.” . . .

He said the strike originated in the unit’s “short corridor,” home to 202 top gang leaders. The department provided background on five strike leaders at the request of The Associated Press. They include:

— Todd Ashker, 48, who prison officials contend is a high-ranking member of the white supremacist Aryan Brotherhood. He’s serving 21 years to life for a killing another inmate at Folsom State Prison in 1987, the latest in a long series of convictions. He’s accused of stabbing five inmates and assaulted three employees in prison.

— Danny Troxell, 58, of the Aryan Brotherhood, who’s serving 26 years to life for a Fresno County murder. He’s accused of six assaults on other inmates.

— Arturo Castellanos, 50, of the Mexican Mafia, serving 26 years to life for a Los Angeles County murder. He’s accused of stabbing six inmates in prison.

— Ronnie Dewberry, 53, the Black Guerrilla Family’s “minister of education” in charge of orienting and indoctrinating other inmates. He is serving 25 years to life for an Alameda County murder.

— George Franco, 46, of Nuestra Familia, serving 15 years to life for a Santa Clara County murder.

Hidalgo said the strike was coordinated by gang leaders who normally are sworn enemies.

~~~

In order to understand the professional activists orchestrating the hunger strikes, you first have to understand that they view incarceration itself, whatever the crime, as illegitimate.  Their goal, stated openly, is to “empty all prisons.”  Yet, such extreme statements don’t place them beyond the pale in the progressive Left, who largely view America as a fascist police state.  The tone of this activism has grown increasingly extreme, even though public relations efforts often mute the rhetoric for certain audiences.  The current anti-incarceration movement is more powerful and more dangerous than their outré predecessors such as the original Black Panthers.  Unlike these former groups, the current movement’s leaders wield tremendous influence in public policy and legal policy organizations, as well as in the current Justice Department and other government bureaucracies.

Coordinated actions like the California hunger strikes also demonstrate the reach of such extremism into taxpayer-funded institutions like the California university system.  Several movement leaders are tenured professors whose activism is really their only academic work — activism subsidized by the taxpaying victims of the super-thugs being housed in SHU units.

Here are just a few of the activist groups involved in inventing the recent hunger strike.  In one way or another, nearly all these groups are bankrolled by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation:

Critical Resistance — founded by well-reimbursed, Communist, taxpayer-employed, “professor” Angela Davis, Critical Resistance is dedicated to eliminating prisons entirely.  Their mission statement:

We call our vision “abolition”, and take the name purposefully from those who called for the abolition of slavery in the 1800′s. Abolitionists believed that slavery could not be fixed or reformed – it needed to be abolished. As PIC [Prison Industrial Complex] abolitionists today, we also do not believe that reforms can make the PIC just or effective. Our goal is not to improve the system; it is to shrink the system into non-existence.

All of Us Or None — AOUON is at the forefront of a dangerous new legal campaign: promoting lawsuits against corporations like Home Depot when such deep-pocketed targets deign to choose to not hire ex-cons with criminal records.  That’s right — employers everywhere may soon be facing civil rights lawsuits if they choose any non-felon over a felon, or take applicants’ criminal histories into account in any way.  How would you like to not know the criminal background of your kid’s teacher — or your mom’s nursing home aide — or that guy Home Depot sent over to hang the new cabinets?  Disturbingly, Eric Holder is grandstanding on this issue and deploying the resources of the Department of Justice to “research” such discrimination claims.  The EEOC is, of course, on board through Holder’s Cabinet Level Prisoner Re-Entry working group.

Good luck not hiring muggers and robbers in the future.  See here for more shocking details.

Aw, heck.  The day is growing short.  I’ll just list the rest of the organizations agitating for wool hats for violent offenders.  Remember, all of these groups have joined hands with radicals seeking the release of all prisoners and the total elimination of incarceration.  Some things to ponder when reading this list:  Do most of these organizations and “organizations” really look like grassroots groups?  How many are part of the vast activist astroturfing being coordinated through “civil liberties” legal foundations?  How many are extreme left-wing or openly communist political and legal groups rebranding themselves as social justice advocates?  How many are directly or indirectly funded by George Soros?

[Answer: No, Lots, The Rest of Them, and Almost All the Big Ones]

A Better Way Foundation
A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment & Healing)
A New Way of Life Reentry Project, Los Angeles, CA
ACLU of California (Read Statement here)
ACLU of Mississippi
AIDs Foundation Chicago
All of Us or None
American Civil Liberties Union (National)
American Friends Service Committee
American Gruner: Coalition of Latino Leaders

American Public Health Association (Prisoner Health Committee, Medical Care Section)

ANSWER
Arkansas Voice for the Children Left Behind
Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco)
Black Awareness Community Development Organization
Breakout!, New Orleans, LA
Bristol Anarchist Black Cross
Building Locally to Organize for Community Safety (BLOCS) –Atlanta, GA
Cafe Intifada
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
California Prison Focus
California Prison Moratorium Project
Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)
Campaign to End Prison Slavery (UK)
Campaign to End the Death Penalty (Read statement here)
Cante Wanjila Native American Reentry and Support Project, South Dakota
Center for Community Alternatives
Center for Constitutional Rights (National) (Read statement here)
Center for New Community (national)
Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, Providence, RI
Center for Young Women’s Development
Certain Days Freedom for Political Prisoners Calendar
Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective (NC) (Read Statement here)
Chicago Anti-Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective
Chuco’s Justice Center
CLAC Legal Committee
Coalition for Prisoners Rights
COMITÉ DE SOUTIEN DE LA GRÈVE DE LA FAIM / HUNGERSTRIKE SUPPORT COMMITTEE
Comité pour un Secours rouge canadien
Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Community justice network for youth
Community Restoration Services (Los Angeles)
Courage to Resist (Read statement here)
Critical Resistance
CUAV: Community United Against Violence (San Francisco)
Defender Association of Philadelphia
Denver Anarchist Black Cross
Detention Watch Network
East Bay Saturday Diaologues with Dr. Nancy Arvold & April Schlenk
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
Fair Chance– Los Angeles Project
Families & Allies of Virginia’s Youth
Families to Amend California’s Three-Strikes (FACTS)
FedCURE
Florida Immigration Coalition (Miami, FL)
Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition
Freedom Archives
Freedom Inc (Madison WI)
Fresno County Brown Berets
Friends Committee of Legislation on California
Frontline Soldiers
Generation 5
Glen Cove Solidarity
HIV Prevention Justice Alliance
Human Rights Coalition- Fed Up! (Pittsburg)
Immigrant Workers’ Center
Immigration Law Clinic of UC Davis Law School
International Action Center
International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal
International Council for Urban Peace, Justice & Empowerment
International Health Workers for Peace Over Profit (Read Statement here)International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, SF Bay Area Chapter
Justice for Families
Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, New Orleans, LA
Kemba Smith Foundation
Kersplebedeb
L’En-Droit de Laval
La Raza Centro Legal
Labor/Community Strategy Center, Los Angeles, CA
LAGAI-Queer Insurrection
Law Office of Rebecca Young, East Boston, MA
Legal Services for Prisoners with Children
Little Lake Learning Center
Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network (Read statement here)
Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute (Read statement here)
Merced County Brown Berets
Milk Not Jails, New York
MIM Prisons
Modesto Anarcho Crew
Modesto Copwatch
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Jericho Movement
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild University of Pittsburg Chapter
National Policy Partnership for Children of the Incarcerated
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (Read statement here)
NC Piece Corps
Needle Exchange Emergency Program
New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter
New York City Anarchist Black Cross Federation
New York City Anti-Racist Action
November Coalition
Oakland Community Action Network
Oakland Education Association (OEA) Peace & Justice Caucus (Read Statement here)
Osiris Coalition
Parolees for Change (Los Angeles)
Parti communiste révolutionnaire
Pathways To Your FuturePeace & Justice of La Luz, New Mexico
Peace Over Violence Los Angeles
People’s Commission NetworkPeople’s Organization for Progress (NJ)
Peter Cicchino Youth Project of the Urban Justice Center (NY)
Prison Activist Resource Center
Prison Health News
Prison Law Office. (Read Statement here)
Prison Policy Institute, Massachusetts
Prison Radio
Prison Radio Show CKUT 90.3 FM Montreal
Prison Watch Network
Prisoner Correspondence Project
Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie
QPIRG Concordia
Real Cost of Prisons Project
Redwood Curtain Copwatch
Registered Society within Association for Probation and Offenders’ Assistance, Germany
Republicans for Change
Resurrection After Exoneration, New Orleans, LA
Rethinking Schools
Revolution Newspaper
Revolutionary Athletes Worldwide (R.A.W.)
Revolutionary Hip Hop Report
Riverside Church Prison Ministry
Safe Streets/Strong Communities, New Orleans, LA
San Francisco Women in Black.
SF Pride at Work/HAVOQ (Read statement here)
Shabazz Legal Services
Socialist Action
Solidarity Across Borders
Southern California Library
Stanislaus County Radical Mental Health
Stop the Injunctions Coalition
TalkBLACK, Atlanta, GA
Tamms Year Ten, Illinois
Texas Families of Incarcerated Youth
The Mobilization to Free Mumia-Abu Jamal
The New Orleans Loiterers Union
The New York Campaign Against Torture (NYCAT)
The New York Task Force for Political Prisoners
The Outs
The Termite Collective
The WE Project, Los Angeles
Time for Change Foundation
Toronto Anarchist Black Cross
Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois
Transgender, Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project
UHURU Solidarity Movement
United for Drug Policy Reform (Oakland, CA)
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
United National Anti-War Committee
United Panther Movement
Urban Justice Center (New York City)
Vermont Action for Political Prisoners
Visions to Peace Project, Washington, D.C.
Voice of the Ex-Offender (VOTE)
Voices Unbroken
W. Haywood Burns Institute
WESPAC Foundation (NYC)
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Pajaro Valley Chapter
Women’s Council of the CA Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers
Women’s Prison Book Project (Minneapolis, MN)
World Can’t Wait

Fascinatingly, the Open Society Foundation isn’t on the list.  But they don’t really need to be: they are the list.

~~~

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Star Wars Bar Fights, the Compassion Racket, and Prisoner Re-Entry

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Thanks to cost-cutting, or rather, thanks to the fact that there are lots of criminals in California, Los Angeles County is going to have to provide jail beds and parole supervision for 7,000 additional inmates a year who would have otherwise been sent to state prisons.

In the L.A. Times, County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich had this to say:

“It’s a system that’s meant to fail,” Antonovich said, “and who is it going to fail? Every neighborhood, every community where these people are going to be running around….It’s a Pandora’s box. It’s the bar scene — a violent bar scene that you saw in ‘Star Wars’ — except they’re all crazy and nuts.”

This is the only picture I could find of the bar scene in Star Wars.  Everyone looks pretty calm.  I imagine Los Angeles County is about to start looking a whole lot worse.

Meanwhile, San Francisco is predictably responding to the collapse of the justice system by trying to pass a law that would prevent landlords and employers from asking about applicants’ criminal histories, because doing so unfairly stigmatizes them.  Times criminal-activist-cum-reporter Alexandria Le Tellier predictably scolds people for being small-minded and “scared” at the prospect:

I understand the instinct to feel scared and to wonder if criminals deserve jobs when unemployment is so high. But people deserve second chances. They deserve an opportunity to reintegrate into society and to get it right this time. If we create obstacles rather than opening the door to a life that’s worth living, then, as a society, we fail. Beyond compassion, we need to give people a way out of the life that got them in trouble in the first place.

Wow, that’s big of her.  Because, you see, people aren’t trying to protect their employees and businesses, or homes and neighborhoods, by making informed decisions about the character of ex-cons: they’re just being vindictive and scared.  I’m sure Ms. Le Tellier won’t mind when the next violent thug comes knocking to share her loft space.   She’s already sharing her confusion about the difference between “compassion” and “lying to vulnerable people about threats of violence” with the equally contemptuous Father Gregory Boyle of the controversial Homeboy Industries.  Like Le Tellier, Boyle loudly and repeatedly accuses ordinary, non-criminal people of being “heartless” and hateful while insisting that his charges are choirboys underneath all that social misunderstanding.  It’s all our fault, you see, that they’re forced to commit crimes: Los Angeles is just one big scene from Les Miserables where gang members set out to steal loaves of bread to feed their starving young-uns.

Father Boyle.  He thinks the American public is “uncivilized”

Like many self-appointed saintly types, Father Boyle’s sermonizing is laced with threats and insinuations that the heartless public will get what it deserves if it doesn’t yield to his superior example:

We lose our right to be surprised that California has the highest recidivism rate in the country if we refuse to hire folks who have taken responsibility for their crimes and have done their time . . . As a society, we come up lacking in many of the marks of compassion and wisdom by which we measure ourselves as civilized.

Lose our right to be surprised?  There’s something very ugly about so-called religious leaders claiming the moral high ground through this sort of ethical shakedown.  How do offenders “take responsibility” for the harm they have done to society by lying about their pasts to those who would employ or house them?

The dishonest, accusatory, and self-serving moral drama enacted by people like Father Boyle (aka “G-Dog”) and Alexandria Le Tellier is the real barrier standing between offenders’ pasts and their potential for real redemption.  ”Doing time” doesn’t really “repay” society, or offenders’ victims: that’s a mere metaphor, no matter how many times it gets repeated.  Remorse isn’t possible without acknowledgment of harm.  And, like it or not, recidivism arises from criminal intentions, not career disappointment, as Boyle should know, having personally buried “173 of his homies” who apparently failed to find adequate satisfaction in building solar panels or baking bread at Homeboy Industry’s very pricey “campus.”

Romanticizing criminals while busking up their feelings of entitlement is a recipe for more crime, not less.

But if the federal government has anything to do with it, the insanity in San Francisco is poised to become national policy, now that the E.E.O.C. is getting into the “prisoner re-entry” game.  ”Re-entry,” also know as showering offenders with public resources — from massages to green jobs to paid positions as “community organizers” – is Eric Holder’s pet project and has been elevated to Cabinet status by President Obama.

The E.E.O.C. recently announced that they’re in the “information and best practices gathering” mode regarding criminal histories and employers, a sure sign that craziness lies ahead.  Who wants to bet that the “best practice” they find turns out to be precisely what the most radical activists want: a right to sue for discrimination if employers or landlords deign to ask applicants to tell the truth about their criminal pasts?

David Lee Powell Executed: “Restorative Justice” Activist Sissy Farenthold Blames The Victims for Not Appreciating Him Enough

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Texas executed David Lee Powell yesterday for the murder of police officer Ralph Ablanedo.

Ablanedo’s family has been waiting for Powell’s appeals to end for 32 years.  They have endured a lifetime of watching Powell be cast as some type of especially sensitive, peace-loving man as he manipulated the legal system — a spectacle they were forced to subsidize with their taxes.

David Lee Powell

They have also endured a lifetime of name-calling, rage, and accusation directed at them by Powell’s “peace-loving” supporters, including the editorial staff at the Austin Statesman, which disgraced itself last week by misrepresenting the family’s public statements in an editorial.

The Statesman was a little more careful in its news coverage of the execution.  For instance, they quoted entire sentences from the victims:

Afterward, Bruce Mills, a former Austin officer who was Ablanedo’s friend and later married his widow, said it felt as if a weight had been lifted.  “Relief would be the word to describe it,” Mills said. “No more hearings. No more appeals.”

But then the Statesman ran another editorial accusing the Mills/Ablenado family of “rage and revenge.”  The author of that op-ed, Francis “Sissy” Tarlton Farenthold, claims to represent the “Restorative Justice” movement — one presumes that is why she feels entitled to levy hateful, false accusations against crime victims.

You know, in the name of dignity and love.

Actually, she probably is speaking for the RJ movement: Restorative Justice was long ago hijacked by criminal’s rights activists who have taken resources, including federal tax dollars, designated for victim services and directed them against victims who believe the proper outcome for crimes like murder is incarceration.  It’s a shameful legacy, one that the original founders of Restorative Justice should be a whole lot more forthcoming about opposing.

Sissy Farenthold, who says Powell “brought the world to her”

Because what the movement has become is a parody, a cruel parody in which victims are scolded, bullied, and policed by “spiritual counselors” (many just academicians and activists) whose allegiance lies with the people who have victimized them — when the victims aren’t simply being ignored.  Ms. Farenthold, for one example, is associated with the anti-victim, pro-offender ACLU.  Now she claims to be speaking for crime victims?  In many places, Restorative Justice is just a front-name used by other activists groups to gain federal grant money they then use to attack the criminal justice system in general and incarceration in particular.

Although the movement was started by a group of well-intentioned pastoral workers, Restorative Justice is currently just another arm of the radical prisoner’s rights movement, fronted by useful idiots on and off the federal payroll.

“Useful idiot” is a good term to describe Farenthold’s op-ed. Like so much of this type of thing, she seems more interested in promoting herself as a special observer than actually practicing the virtues she loudly trumpets.  What sort of person feels comfortable imposing herself into a strangers’ intense pain at the loss of a loved one and claiming to know what they are thinking?  What sort of person claims such insight into other people’s souls, leveling ugly words at them like “rage” and “revenge” and “retribution”?

Even worse, Farenthold actually scolds the Ablanedo/Mills family for not being welcoming enough of David Lee Powell’s magical efforts at healing them.  I can’t believe the Statesman felt that this was appropriate for publication:

Restorative justice calls for Powell to be spared so that he can continue to address the needs and concerns of the Ablanedo family . . .

Address the needs and concerns of the Ablanedo family?  What is this, The Green Mile?  For the record, Powell didn’t apologize to his victims until his legal team decided it would be a good step . . . very recently.  Yet Ms. Sissy (her nickname, not mine), the ACLU activist, has a different story (she also downplays the “throwing a live hand grenade at officers” thing, observing that the pin wasn’t pulled):

Powell has demonstrated his remorse and humanity by living a redemptive life for three decades. He has taught illiterate inmates how to read, write and improve their lives. He had no history of violence before his crime and none in his 32 years on death row. And he has expressed his deep remorse to Ablanedo’s family.

Well, actually not.  And there are plenty of grade school teachers who teach people how to read without, you know, blowing them away with machine guns.

If you oppose the death penalty, oppose the death penalty, but stop pretending manipulative thugs like David Lee Powell are special humanity mascots.  Because taking an innocent man’s life should not be weighed against (allegedly) prepping people for the SATs.

Because it’s degrading. And “degrading” isn’t the same thing as “restorative,” unless what you’re seeking to restore is the special hell Powell and his supporters put the Ablenado/Mills family through with their three decades of legal antics.

The editorial is really just sick stuff, coming from an attention-seeking old woman:

Why do I want this convicted killer not to be put to death? As a legislator, lawyer and human rights campaigner, I have been opposed to capital punishment all my life. For decades, I fought without knowing anyone on death row. Then, 20 years ago, I met Powell.

I, I, I, me, me, me.  Like so much death row activism, attention-seekers glom onto other people’s tragedies to make themselves feel important.  They claim to have superior knowledge of murderers’ souls to enhance their own sense of superiority.  That pretty well describes the motley anti-death penalty activists you see publicly protesting.  And that would be just their own character burdens, until the media gives them a platform to lash out at the victims, and lash out they do, despite all their high-and-mighty rhetoric about love and respect and valuing life.

Which one of these photographs really reeks of “vengefulness”:

This one?

Officers gathering to support the Ablenado/Mills Family

Or this one?

Anti-Death Penalty Activist Frances Morey Crudely Attacking Powell’s Victims