2020 presidential election

All These Democrat Criminal Justice Reform Plans Is A COP!

Just teasing, lots of good ideas in here!

In the last week, both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren released plans for criminal justice reform, joining a big crowd of Democratic candidates with proposals to fix our dysfunctional justice system. Whoever gets the nomination, there's no shortage of good ideas that deserve action if WHEN Dems take back the White House and Senate in 2020. The Warren and Sanders plans join similarly ambitious calls for remaking criminal justice from Joe Biden, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar. (it's a priority for Kamala Harris too, but she hasn't yet released a full policy paper.) On the whole, the plans emphasize reducing incarceration for low-level offenses (especially nonviolent drug charges), orienting prisons toward rehabilitation and reducing re-offense rates, and reforming institutional structures to address the worst crimes, as opposed to just routinely locking up the poor, black and brown people, and people with mental illnesses.

We appreciate a good epigraph as much as anyone, and for this topic, it would be hard to top the quote that leads off the Sanders plan. It's from Nelson Mandela, who knew a thing or 27 years about prison: "It is said that no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails."

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Appeals Court: All God's Children Get Soap

Yes, even if they're in cages. And about those cages...

A federal appeals court has rejected the Trump administration's claim that detained immigrant children don't necessarily need little luxuries like soap, toothbrushes, edible food, or even a place to sleep. In a ruling yesterday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals said the government really and truly does have to comply with the 1997 Flores agreement that sets requirements for how the government treats undocumented children in detention.

Flores requires children be held in "safe and sanitary conditions," but in June, DOJ lawyer Sarah Fabian argued that since the consent decree doesn't specifically define "safe and sanitary," then the government can treat detained kids however it wants, as long as it's not actively injuring them too badly. You're alive and not up to your needs in filth? You're safe and sanitary! Next you'll be complaining the water in cells tastes like bleach, even though bleach is very very sanitary indeed.

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Cops Behaving Badly

New Bill: Maybe Cops Shooting To Kill Could Be A Last Resort?

Usual suspects fucking outraged.

Two Democratic members of Congress have introduced a bill aimed at dialing back the overall shootiness of America's police. Fatal shootings by cops have increased every year since 2016, although that is, of course, all Barack Obama's fault. The PEACE Act, by Reps. Ro Khanna (D-California) and Lacy Clay (D-Missouri), would require all federal law enforcement officers to use deadly force only as a last resort, and only "after exhausting reasonable alternatives to the use of such force." The bill would use the leverage of federal law-enforcement funding to nudge state and local governments to adopt similar use-of-force policies.

To underline the need for changes in policing, Khanna and Clay unveiled the bill last Friday, on the five-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. And to suggest just how much attitudes among law enforcement need changing, that anniversary was followed Monday by Attorney General Bill Barr's speech in which he said police are literally "fighting ... a war" against the very worst evildoers, every day. The bill clearly won't go anywhere while Fascism and Order Republicans control the White House and Senate, but after 2020, that could change.

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Cops Behaving Badly

'Black Friends' Forgot To Vet Holy-F*ckballs Racist Video For NYPD Union Boss

His black friends are probably the 'good ones.'

Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, is in mildly tepid water for acting like a common Donald Trump this weekend and sharing openly racist content on social media. The SBA is New York's second largest police union, because the NYPD needs a lot of help avoiding accountability for strangling black men in public. Mullins also hyped the video in a deranged email he sent to union members on Saturday.

"Pay close attention to every word. You will hear what goes through the mind of real policemen every single day on the job. This is the best video I've ever seen telling the public the absolute truth."

Mullins didn't give the video four stars or two thumbs-up or anything, but it's probably on his short list for 2019's Most Outstanding Achievement In Racist Videos. Radio host and conspiracy theorist Willie Shields reads a letter from an unnamed "street cop" who complains that police are "continuously cut down at the knees and stripped of their abilities to do their jobs in the name of 'criminal justice reform.'" He claims police in "urban environments" valiantly choose to play a game of "try not to die."

"When a suspect chooses to run from police, it's never for anything good. When a suspect flees a [police] car at night in the projects, it can only be for something incredibly bad."

This is not entirely true or at least the motivations for running are more complex than the anonymous officer assumes.

One of the most astonishing aspects of police work in an urban environment is that almost literally no one has a job. Section 8 scam artists and welfare queens have mastered the art of gaming the taxpayer. Bounce from baby mama to baby mama, impregnate as many women as possible. She gets the welfare benefits and you get the flop house benefits.

We're just five minutes into the 15-minute video and it's already earned an "R" rating for "racist."

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Cops Behaving Badly

Bill Barr: Fascism Is Freedom, And Resistance Is Futile

You wanna hear something REALLY scary?

Attorney General William P. Barr made a bit of news Monday when he said he was "appalled" that Jeffrey Epstein managed to kill himself while in federal custody. As he should have been, although it's also appalling that the conditions at the Manhattan jail where Epstein died are seen as nigh unto torture by civilized countries. But some other words coming out Barr's mouth-hole Monday haven't gotten nearly as much attention. Barr gave a speech to the national convention of the Fraternal Order of Police in New Orleans where he explained some very simple facts about how the Trump administration sees law enforcement: It's all about a war to impose order on evil people who keep thinking they have rights. It was an impressive display of support for Tuff Guy policing, if you're impressed by a bit of casual fascism.

Barr's speech used all the expected cop-loving tropes you'd expect from the Right, repeatedly invoking the "thin blue line" that stands between civilization and anarchy, as if Errol Morris's 1988 film hadn't weighed the phrase down with irony even before Barr's first stint as attorney general under George H.W. Bush. Cops, you see, are brave and fearless and they protect us all. For a certain value of "us all."

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ICE Raids Leave Kids All Alone In Mississippi Streets, America Very Great

Abolish ICE.

While Donald Trump was on his way to visit victims of the mass shooting in El Paso yesterday -- an attack by a killer who shares Trump's belief that America is being "invaded" by undocumented immigrants -- another part of Trump's deport-everyone agenda was rolling into action. In Mississippi, ICE agents raided multiple food processing plants, arresting nearly 700 people suspected of being in the country illegally. All over the state, workers were made to line up, and those suspected of being undocumented were rounded up, put on buses, and taken away. Oh, yes, and if their children were at school, tough luck -- a reporter for Jackson station WJTV tweeted that in Forrest, Mississippi, confused, crying children were simply "left alone in the streets." That's how we treat US citizens born to the invaders who take Americans' precious chicken-slaughtering jobs.

But don't worry, several good Christians in the replies were quite certain that's entirely proper, since their parents BROKE THE LAW, and the children should be deported right along with their criminal parents.

Kind of makes you wonder why that shooter in Texas could possibly have seen Latinos as less than human.

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Cops Behaving Badly

White Cops Just *Hate* Don't-Be-Racist Training

It really gets in the way of doing their job.

With the five-year anniversary of Michael Brown's killing coming up tomorrow, Aug. 9, CBS News did an investigation of 155 police departments' efforts to teach officers to try not to be quite so racist and shooty. And along the way, the reporters also managed to get a couple of white cops talking on video about just how much they despise any attempt to address implicit bias. The cops' faces are hidden and their voices are altered, but their racism is clear as day: Implicit bias training is bad for morale because it might prevent cops from administering beatdowns to black people who need beatdowns. Yes, we're paraphrasing, but only a bit. The training, they complain, is worthless because it reinforces a mean stereotype that "the police are racist, but specifically the white male police are racist." The poor dears!

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Post-Racial America

Nice Time! Philly DA Breaking Innocent People Out Of Prison!

Bad times: Innocent people are in prison!

Badass Philly District Attorney Larry Krasner is at it again. After spending half of his life in prison for a murder he didn't commit, 44-year old John Miller was released from the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution -- Mahanoy last week.

John Miller isn't alone; wrongful convictions are much more common than most people think. Nearly 2,500 people have been exonerated nationwide since 1989 -- and lost a collective 21,725 years to a flawed criminal justice system.

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Haha Suckers Who Thought Family Separation 'Ended'

We've taken 911 kids from their parents since we 'stopped.' Never forget.

The American Civil Liberties Union advised a federal judge yesterday that the government has continued to take children away from migrant families, often on the flimsiest of pretexts. That's despite the judge's court order last year requiring all children separated from their parents be reunified, and mandating that the only reason the government can separate kids is if there's clear evidence the parent is a danger to the child. Instead, according to the government's own records, parents have had their kids removed because parents had committed minor traffic offenses; they also faced long-past accusations of crimes, spurious accusations of "unfit" parenting, and border agents who simply didn't believe parents' documents showing the kids were really their own. The ACLU is asking US District Judge Dana Sabraw to order an immediate halt to separations for trivial reasons, and to define clear guidelines to limit new separations going forward.

The ACLU filing is long and horrific, detailing the often ridiculous reasons the government has given for taking kids from their parents. It shows that a shocking number of the kids affected are very young -- half are younger than 10 years of age, and 20 percent are under five years old.

Some examples: The government took kids away from parents for very minor offenses like these:

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Immigration Roundup: Oh, Like A Roundup Of Stories And Also We Are Rounding Up *People*, Isn't That Fun?

Not in our name.

While Donald Trump has been trying to get some members of Congress killed, his administration continues its holy mission of attempting to make America such a shithole nation that no one would ever want to seek refuge here. Here are four or five (probably six by the time we post!) things that have happened just since Friday in the name of making this country great.

'You Have No Rights '

Last week, US Customs and Border Protection finally released Francisco Galicia, an 18-year-old US citizen, after holding him for 23 days. Yes, you read that right, a US citizen was kept locked up in a filthy, overcrowded border detention center for just under a month, then transferred to ICE for removal proceedings. When he was arrested at a highway checkpoint in Texas on June 27, Galicia had a wallet version of his birth certificate, his Social Security card, and a Texas ID card. But agents were certain the documents were fake, so they continued to hold him even after his attorney submitted his long-form birth certificate. Because America is being invaded, by American citizens. Galicia was only released after the Dallas Morning News brought attention to his detention.

During his detention, Galicia lost 26 pounds, and says he was pressured by Border Patrol agents to sign papers allowing his deportation. He told CNN, "It was like psychological torture to the point where I almost (agreed to be deported). I felt safer to be in the cell than to be with the officers." The officers threatened to bring felony charges against him for counterfeiting his real documents, and when he asked to call his family and to contact an attorney, was told "You have no rights." Apparently the Border Patrol is getting legal counsel from Twitter now.

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ICE Don't Need No Stinking Judges

We must do something about these lawless aliens. Like get rid of due process!

In yet another brilliant move that has to have its origins in the mind of Stephen Miller, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new rule Monday that will vastly expand its ability to deport undocumented immigrants -- without so much as a hearing. The new regulation will broaden the ability of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to subject people to "expedited removal," a process for instant deportation that currently is used only against a limited number of undocumented migrants. When the rule is published in the Federal Register today, it will immediately go into effect, because we're in an EMERGY, remember? One that Donald Trump created for political purposes, but an emergy all the same.

Currently, only certain undocumented immigrants are subject to "expedited removal": those who have been in the country less than two weeks, and who are caught within 100 miles of the border, usually by the Border Patrol. Unless they request asylum (and can demonstrate a "credible fear" of persecution or torture if they're returned to their home countries), such recent arrivals can generally be deported without a hearing under the Immigration and Naturalization Act.

But DHS has decided to scrap those limits. Instead, ANYONE who doesn't have a pending asylum or other immigration hearing can be placed into expedited removal, anywhere in the country. Expedited removal can be used on anyone who's unable to demonstrate, "to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that they have been physically present in the United States continuously for the two-year period immediately preceding the date of the determination of inadmissibility." Quick, can YOU prove, right now, with only the documents you have on you, that you have physically been in the US for the past two years? To the "satisfaction" of a federal officer who has instructions to deport you if at all possible?

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Elijah Cummings, AOC Tapdancing On Assholes' Faces Again

Acting Homeland Security secretary Kevin McAleenan, COME ON DOWN!

The House Oversight Committee grilled acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan yesterday about the current strategic incompetence and mistreatment of migrants at the border. McAleenan insisted the Border Patrol was doing the very best it could to deal with increased numbers of border crossers, but parroted the administration line that overcrowding in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities were simply a result of Congress's failure to fund Donald Trump's beautiful dream of detaining all asylum-seekers and their families forever. For some reason, Democrats on the committee weren't buying it!

Americans' frustrations with the cruelty at the border were channeled by Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), who reminded McAleenan what moral outrage looks like.

Here's the start of the exchange. Cummings starts off measured, but as he discusses a federal judge's finding that DHS "did a better job of tracking immigrants' personal property than their children" during last year's family separation crisis, he gets more and more pissed off, wondering why the entire administration seems to suffer from a "empathy deficit."

I'm talking about human beings. I'm not talking about people that come from, as the president said, s.h.-holes. These are human beings. Human beings. Just trying to live a better life.

As the questioning continued, Cummings presented the facts: DHS -- and McAleenan, as then-head of CBP -- had lied when it said it kept careful records of all the children taken from their parents. The DHS inspector general documented there was no such database, and the judge in the case repeatedly excoriated the administration for not keeping track of the children.

Eventually, Cummings built to a crescendo of righteous anger over McAleenan's bland assurances that since most of the separated children were eventually reunited with their parents, everything worked out just fine.

"And therefore, I guess — you feel like you're doing a great job right?" Cummings asked. McAleenan started replying that golly, DHS is "doing our level best," but Cummings had had enough:

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Post-Racial America

Eric Garner's Death To Go Unpunished Forever Not With A Bang But With Bill Barr

When Civil Rights Division attorneys and the EDNY disagreed, Bill Barr knew which side to come down on.

The day before the fifth anniversary of Eric Garner's death, the United States Department of Justice announced that there will be no justice for Eric Garner's family or NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo. Attorney General William Barr personally stepped in to override the recommendation of career lawyers in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division and ensure that Pantaleo would face no charges, because god forbid a white cop ever faces accountability for murdering a black man.

On July 17, 2014, NYPD officers went to arrest Eric Garner for selling loose cigarettes to people who can't afford to buy a whole pack. As the world saw after a video taken by a bystander went viral, Pantaleo took Garner down from behind and then struggled with him until his arms were wrapped tightly around Garner's neck. Other officers put their weight on Garner's back, pushing his chest against the ground. Garner, who had asthma, said "I can't breathe" 11 times before going into cardiac arrest. New York City's medical examiner ruled Garner's death a homicide. Garner's death caused nationwide protests, and his last words became a rallying cry for the Black Live Matter movement.

Tuesday's announcement was the culmination of nearly five years of investigations and infighting among DOJ officials about whether Pantaleo should be charged with a federal crime for Eric Garner's death. Prosecutors and FBI agents in the Eastern District of New York, who regularly work with the NYPD, were wary of prosecuting Pantaleo. Officials in the Civil Rights Division, however, believed they had a strong case. ThinkProgress described what happened:

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Post-Racial America

Mike Pence: The Border IS FINE, Also DEMOCRATS' FAULT

Cartoon dog in flaming room wonders how Pence can think this is fine.

Vice President Mike Pence visited two Border Patrol detention facilities in Texas Friday and declared them perfectly fine, despite the complaints of men in one location who said they'd been caged for 40 days without being allowed to shower. Then Pence complained that CNN hadn't reported accurately on conditions at the border, so chalk up another Mission Accomplished moment.

Pool reporter Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post described conditions in a holding area at the detention center in McAllen, Texas.

Here's some video of the pool's visit to McAllen, with detainees saying they'd been held for up to 45 days, in a facility where migrants are supposed to be held no more than 72 hours.

Border detainees say they haven't showered for 45 days

A bit more detail on that CBP denial:

Michael Banks, the CBP officer in charge of the facility, disputed the narratives shared by the detained migrants. He told reporters all detained people were allowed to shower, but admitted a trailer shower had just been brought onto the premises Thursday, and said some of the men at the facility had not yet had a chance to use it. Because of the lack of shower facilities, Banks estimated some of the men had been forced to go 10 to 20 days without showers.

Ah, well in that case things are probably fine -- after two months of DHS Inspector General's reports detailing overcrowding and sanitation that was so bad that one facility manager described it as a "ticking time bomb," they finally brought in a shower trailer, the day before the Veep showed up.

But don't worry -- this was definitely not a carefully stage-managed border visit, because you see, Pence's office released a statement saying it

specifically instructed CBP to not clean up or sanitize the facility beyond what is routine so the American people could see how serious the crisis at our border is.

Dawsey also noted the VP's office said Pence magnanimously "wanted press to see the McAllen facility," although the Secret Service "had concerns about him going inside." And yet Pence somehow survived -- possibly because he and the reporters were hustled out of the McAllen facility after just 90 seconds.

Mike Pence and Lindsey Graham stare down the North Koreans. Or caged migrants who haven't showered in 40 days.

We like the part where you can see the big Igloo water jugs -- strategically placed outside the cages, because who even knows what those animals would have done if allowed to get water for themselves.

Earlier in the day, Pence visited a family detention facility in Donna, Texas, that has only been open for two months. Conditions there were considerably less crowded; the 800 people being held there constituted well under its maximum capacity.

Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, spoke through translators to children held in a room where they watched Spanish-language cartoons.

Several children nodded "yes" when the vice president asked them if they had enough food and if they were being taken care of; others, however, shook their heads "no" when Pence asked if they had a "place to get cleaned up," according to reports.

The children wore winter jackets and hats indoors because of the air conditioning in the center.

"God bless you," Pence said. "Gracias."

Naturally enough, Pence praised that facility as a bold fresh piece of humanity, because please ignore the lawyers who documented little kids being forced to care for babies, or the DHS inspector General reports documenting overcrowding and poor sanitation, or this:

But Pence had a nice visit to Teresienstadt on the Border, where everything was lovely, just lovely!

"And while we hear some Democrats in Washington DC referring to US Customs and Border facilities as 'concentration camps', what we saw today was a facility that is providing care that every American would be proud of," Pence said.

After "touring" the McAllen facility for a minute and a half (fine, he probably saw other parts where there were no smelly Central Americans, too), Pence explained it was all Democrats' fault that CNN only showed video of his 90 Seconds Over McAllen Friday night, instead of also showing the better camp. On Twitter, Pence huffed, "These men were in a temporary holding area because Democrats in Congress have refused to fund additional bed space." (That would be the funding Dems reluctantly approved two weeks back because Republicans refused to let the money come with "strings" about minimum standards of care for imprisoned children.) Oh, Pence was MAD!

Shame on CNN! SHAME! Also, here's CNN's video of Pence's visit to the family detention camp and the one in McAllen.

Pence also explained that while the facility was a tad overcrowded, that's just the way things go, and also Democrats' fault:

"What you saw today was a very clean facility where people were being detained indoors," he said, "and then you saw a temporary facility that was constructed because this facility is overcrowded.

"And we can't keep people in a cell beyond what the rules and regulations allow for, but everyone in that temporary facility is getting healthcare, they're getting hygiene and CBP is doing their level best in an overcrowded environment and a difficult environment to address this issue, but Congress has got to act."

Honestly, the people wearing surgical masks to keep some of the stench out are SO BRAVE, keeping America safe (and the water jugs on the AMERICAN side of the fencing).

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro told Pence to get stuffed, because it's not CNN that has insisted that every single asylum seeker be jailed forever.

But please, listen to Mike Pence, who believes the horrors at the border simultaneously don't exist, and are also the fault of Democrats who stubbornly refuse to eliminate asylum like Pence and Trump want. You certainly wouldn't want to listen to Friday's' congressional testimony from Elora Mukherjee, a law professor at Columbia University who was one of the attorneys who interviewed children held at the Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas. In testimony before the House Oversight Committee, Mukherje said the children hadn't been bathed, and reeked of urine, vomit, and sometimes of rancid breast milk, making it difficult even for lawyers on her team to get close to them. She said one 6-year-old boy just sat for nearly an hour and sobbed during his interview.

Children could not wash their hands with soap because none was available, she said, her voice cracking. They wore the same clothes on them when they crossed the border and were not able to change underwear. Children were traumatized, hungry and constantly crying. Others, as young as 8 years old, were forced to care for the younger ones.

A guard would come into a cell with a small child in tow, and ask: "Who is going to care for this one?" Mukherjee told lawmakers.

"One 6-year-old girl, detained all alone could only say: 'I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm scared,' over and over again," the professor said. "She could not even tell me her name."

As of this morning, Trump has not yet told Mukherjee to go back where she came from.

Then again, the hearings were held by Democrats, so none of that probably ever happened. Donald Trump said before Pence's trip that reports of mistreatment of migrant kids were "phony," so that seems like a valid counterpoint. Also too, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, went on the Sunday shows to explain it's ridiculous to consider the conditions in the border facilities any kind of human rights problem:

Get back to the administration when it starts withholding food, and we're sure Cuccinelli will explain everything's fine, because we're still letting them breathe, aren't we? Not that we have to -- they're illegal, after all.

[Guardian / NYT / Vox / Courthouse News / HuffPo]

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Ahead Of ICE Raids, Nancy Pelosi Says KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!


With mass arrests of immigrants apparently going forward this weekend, immigration rights groups are ramping up efforts to advise immigrant communities that they have legal rights and don't have to open the door to ICE unless the officers have a warrant from a judge. This really pisses off law-and-order types, because how can you have any order if people know their "rights" under the law? After all, "rights" are for people like national security advisers who weren't explicitly warned that lying to the FBI is a crime.

Now the wingnuts have another thing to freak out about, and it is a little thing called "Nancy Pelosi."

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Of Course There's Sexual Abuse In Trump's Concentration Camps. Did You Assume There Wasn't?

You knew these stories were coming. Now they're here.

In case anyone had any illusions that overcrowding and mistreatment of migrant kids in Border Patrol stations was purely a Texas thing, NBC News reported last night on terrible conditions -- including one accusation of sexual assault by a Border Patrol officer -- at the Border Patrol facility in Yuma, Arizona. The "significant incident reports" were filed by case managers with the US Department of Health and Human Services who interviewed children after they were transferred from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for longer-term storage in HHS's also-overcrowded system of shelters.

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