“Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners, saints” Reply

This Larry Krasner guy sounds too good to be true. But if he’s for real, I suppose it would be an illustration of the possibility of “reform within the system.” The idea that virtually any jurisdiction in the United States comes even remotely close to being “soft on crime” is nonsense. The USA has the distinction of being a First World nation with a Third World “criminal justice system” (a misnomer), and that’s being charitable. The legal systems of plenty of underdeveloped countries are no worse than those of the USA.

By Larry Platt

The Philadelphia Citizen

Make no mistake about it: We’re ground zero in a revolution, an epochal moment that asks—without necessarily answering—big questions: What is crime? What is punishment? What makes up our social contract? Throughout the country, funded by billionaire George Soros, a new breed of District Attorney has been taking the reins of power; when former public defender Mark Gonzalez, who has the words “Not Guilty” tattooed across his chest, was elected District Attorney in 2016 in Nueces County, Texas, it was a harbinger of sweeping change. The lines in our adversarial justice system were blurring. You could see it in our D.A. race last year, when ultimate victor Larry Krasner swung the debate leftward and suddenly those running to be our chief law enforcement officer sounded like they were seeking to become our Public Defender In Chief.

Now that Krasner, a lifelong defense and civil rights attorney who sued the Philadelphia police force some 75 times, is three months into his rocky tenure, it’s become clear that the revolution is upon us and that Krasner has become its poster boy. I’ve spent a good part of the last few weeks talking to former and current prosecutors, as well as police and victims. And let me tell you: They’re freaking out. They see Krasner as an existential threat; he’d say he is a threat—to the status quo of an unjust system. They counter that he’s ultimately a threat to safety on our streets.

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Sex ads website Backpage shut down by U.S. authorities Reply

It is interesting how the state always seeks to capitalize on whatever moral panics are going on at the present time. The biggest moral panics at present are arguably illegal immigration (for the Red Tribe), guns (for the Blue Tribe), opioids and “sex trafficking” (for both tribes). Immigrants are generally included under the umbrella of the Blue Tribe, and gun owners under the umbrella of the Red Tribe, and therefore have certain shields available. But drug users (except pot heads) and sex workers are not included in either tribe and therefore among the most easy targets for the state.

By Sarah N. Lynch, Lisa Lambert

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. law enforcement agencies have seized the sex marketplace website Backpage.com as part of an enforcement action by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a posting on the Backpage website on Friday.

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‘I have no thought of escaping’: inside the Brazilian prisons with no guards Reply

A self-managed, libertarian penal system? That sounds like something right out of the ARV-ATS program.

By Jo Griffin

In a country where jails are seen as ticking timebombs, a system of self-rule among inmates has proved a striking success

Renato Da Silva Junior was convicted of homicide five years ago, but now spends all his time studying and working to reduce his 20-year sentence

Renato Da Silva Junior was convicted of homicide five years ago, but now spends all his time studying and working to reduce his 20-year sentence. Photograph: Gustavo Oliveira

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The Trump Administration’s Death Penalty Daydream Reply

I suspect Trump and Sessions’ latest efforts to throw a bone to their redneck “base” will likely fail, and potentially backfire given that the general trend is toward liberalization of both drug and criminal  justice police.

By Matt Ford

The New Republic

In a speech Monday in Manchester, New Hampshire, President Donald Trump enthusiastically backed capital punishment as a tool to fight the opioid epidemic. “If we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we are wasting our time,” he said. “And that toughness includes the death penalty.” Now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to put Trump’s call into practice.

In one-page memo dated Tuesday, Sessions instructed U.S. attorneys nationwide to be more aggressive when prosecuting any drug-related crimes. In addition to the usual tools available to federal prosecutors, he urged them to consider “the pursuit of capital punishment in appropriate cases.” To that end, he noted a few specific federal offenses where Congress already authorized the death penalty as a punishment.

“I strongly encourage federal prosecutors to use these statutes, when appropriate, to aid in our continuing fight against drug trafficking and the destruction it causes,” Sessions wrote.

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Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner Promised a Criminal Justice Revolution. He’s Exceeding Expectations. Reply

An interesting example of modest but potentially genuine reform from “within the system.”

By Shaun King

The Intercept

When lifelong civil rights attorney Larry Krasner was elected in a landslide this past November to become the new district attorney of Philadelphia, to say that his fans and supporters had high hopes would be an understatement. Anything less than a complete revolution that tore down the bigoted and patently unfair systems of mass incarceration would be a severe disappointment.

Across the country, talking the talk of criminal justice reform has gotten many people elected as DA. Once in office, their reforms have often been painfully slow and disappointing. Krasner was the first candidate elected who publicly committed not just to intermittent changes, but a radical overhaul.

So far, having been in office less than three months, he has exceeded expectations. He’s doing something I’ve never quite seen before in present-day politics: Larry Krasner’s keeping his word — and it’s a sight to behold.

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Free Speech: What It Is and Why It Matters Reply

Aleksey Bashtavenko 

Academic Composition

“However unwilling a person who has a strong opinion may be to admit that his opinion might be false, he ought to be moved by this thought: however true it may be, if it isn’t fully, frequently and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma rather than as a living truth. ”

John Stuart Mill

The First Amendment guarantees that the “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of people peaceably to assemble”. This provision clarifies the point that the government cannot pass a law criminalizing the act of free expression. However, certain spoken statements could constitute an act of violence, provided they can be regarded as a root cause of violence against others.

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The Fear of the State Reply

Author’s note: This is not an attempt to debunk a Harvard professor’s 800 page book with a 900 word article from an underground WordPress Blog. The decline in violence is obvious, and it is over centuries, but the causes of violence are still with us.

1CBDB358-F736-4AC7-A8BE-4F9E8B6DFEF1Most research shows that we live in a far more peaceful time than previous periods in human history. It’s a complicated topic with a lot of incomplete data for a massively huge period of examination, but the current conventional wisdom follows from Dr. Pinker’s study of the long decline in violence, “The Better Angels of Our Nature.” I agree with Pinker’s specific argument that violence has declined generally, and Pinker does save for a break from the typical 10 o’clock news run about how you might get stabbed to death by some Sureños while walking to your car at night.

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Even Republican Luminaries Admit the Police State is a Problem Reply

This would be comical if it wasn’t so pathetic. A coalition of Republican luminaries admits that the police state and its related features are actually a problem. The list of signatories to this group’s manifesto includes many who were involved in creating the police state in the first place. The monster they helped create is now coming back to actually attack those whom they like rather than those whom they hate.

Right on Crime

THE ISSUE. Thousands of harmless activities are now classified as crimes in the United States. These are not typical common law crimes such as murder, rape, or theft.  Instead they encompass a series of business activities such as importing orchids without the proper paperwork, shipping lobster tails in plastic bags, and even failing to return a library book.  There are over 4,000 existing federal criminal laws.  (The exact number of laws is unknown because the attorneys at Congressional Research Service who were assigned to count them ran out of resources before they could complete the herculean task.)

In addition to the profusion of federal statutory crimes, there are additional state crimes (Texas alone has over 1,700), and federal regulatory offenses (approximately 300,000). The creation of these often unknowable and redundant crimes, the federalization of certain crimes traditionally prosecuted at the state level, and the removal of traditional mens rea requirements all contribute to a relentless trend known as overcriminalization.

THE IMPACT. Significant differences between criminal and civil law make criminal law an overly blunt instrument for regulating non-fraudulent business activities.  Whereas administrative rulemaking and civil proceedings may utilize a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the conduct at issue, no such balancing occurs in criminal proceedings because, theoretically, criminal law covers only those activities that are inherently wrong.

Also, because criminal law is enforced entirely by state prosecution, it tends to minimize the role of the victim.  Indeed, the prototypical “regulatory” offense does not include anyone actually being harmed as an element of the offense.  Finally, civil and criminal law have traditionally been distinguished by the requirement that a criminal must have a guilty state of mind.  An increasing number of regulatory offenses nevertheless dispense with this requirement or require mere criminal negligence rather than intentional, knowing, or reckless conduct.

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Posting or Hosting Sex Ads Could Mean 25 Years in Federal Prison Under New Republican Proposal Reply

More creeping Stalinism.

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Reason

Looking forward to a future when federal agents monitor Tinder? We won’t be far off if some folks in Congress get their way.

Under a proposal from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R–Va.), anyone posting or hosting digital content that leads to an act of prostitution could face serious federal prison time as well as civil penalties. This is obviously bad news for sex workers, but it would also leave digital platforms—including dating apps, social media, and classifieds sites such as Craigslist—open to serious legal liability for the things users post.

In effect, it would give government agents more incentive and authority to monitor sex-related apps, ads, forums, and sites of all sorts. And it would give digital platforms a huge incentive to track and regulate user speech more closely.

Goodlatte’s measure was offered as an amendment to another House bill, this one from the Missouri Republican Ann Wagner. The House Judiciary Committee will consider both bills on Tuesday.

Wagner’s legislation (H.R. 1865) would open digital platforms to criminal and civil liability not just for future sex crimes that result from user posts or interactions but also for past harms brokered by the platforms in some way. So platforms that followed previous federal rules (which encouraged less content moderation in order to avoid liability) would now be especially vulnerable to charges and lawsuits.

The bill currently has 171 co-sponsors, including ample numbers of both Republicans and Democrats.

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‘It falls woefully short’: Charlottesville residents criticize report on white supremacist rally Reply

By Ellie Silverman
Washington Post

William Fears, a white supremacist and neo-Nazi from Houston who is holding the flag, clashes with a counterprotester at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)
 
Charlottesville residents criticized the review of the city’s handling of the white supremacist rally in August, saying that it focused on the technicalities of the response but failed to discuss underlying racism.

Residents and officials packed a council meeting Monday evening, where former U.S. attorney Timothy Heaphy presented the findings of the independent review, which sharply criticized the police department for lacking the proper training and preparation to respond to the violent rally. At the first meeting since the report was publicly released Friday, residents expressed their anger and frustration with city officials and police.

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What Happened in Charlottesville? Reply

A summary of the findings of the investigation conducted by a private law firm commissioned by the city of Charlottesville. Assuming this summary is accurate, the findings are fairly consistent with my own observations about Charlottesville.

By Gregory Hood

American Renaissance

Independent report makes an honest effort to find out.

The law firm of Hunton & Williams has just issued an independent, 207-page report on the Unite the Right protest that took place in Charlottesville last August. The city of Charlottesville commissioned and paid for the report, but it is no cover up. It is a slashing indictment of the way the city prepared for and handled the demonstrations. It is a thorough vindication of the perspective of the Unite the Right demonstrators.

The report makes clear that the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) and its black chief, Al Thomas, had no intention of allowing the demonstration to take place. Astonishingly, the report leaves no doubt that Chief Thomas wanted the police to let enough violence go unchecked to justify an order to declare the event an “unlawful assembly” and shut it down. The report is also unflinching in its condemnation of police and city-administration bungling that virtually guaranteed continued violence even after the event was canceled.

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Anti-Nomianism 2

Anarcho-Dictator

Instead of a Blog

I do not want the police and courts to engage in activities normally approved of by minarchists and some anarchists – such as protecting private property or prosecuting murderers. This is for several reasons:

  1. Police are not legitimate representatives of the victims. As only a victim has the right to expropriatory or retaliatory force against the criminal (though this is transferable to third parties) the police have no authority to actually detain or prosecute criminals.
  2. The force deployed against a criminal act must be the minimum needed to dissuade or redress the criminal act. Even a violent criminal, who is not actively threatening others, may not be shot out of hand. And non-violent offenders – thieves and cheats – may not have physical force used against them except under circumstances where they are actively resisting duly transferred property made as compensation. Thus, the arrest, detainment and threats that police use in all their routine duties are in fact criminal aggression. The fact that their victim has committed criminal acts in no way counters this. Only an active threat – say a serial killer, or a soldier – may be met with open violence, even if he is attempting to evade capture. The sole exception would be where a capital offense occurs, i.e. a murder, and the victim’s heirs consent to have the criminal executed. In such a situation the outlaw may be slain out of hand by anyone, including third parties.
  3. The police do not actually redress wrongdoing and instead impose further costs on the victims and uninvolved parties. Even if the first and second problem were addressed – if it were somehow determined that the police and courts were representing the interests of the victim and were acting only with appropriate force – it would still be illegitimate to impose the costs of courts and imprisonment onto the general taxpayer. No one has a ‘right’ to justice or law or security – you have to pay for it or administer it yourself, if you want it.
  4. It is undesirable to promote the reliance of the citizenry on the apparatus of the state. The citizens should feel that the state is leaving them defenseless, that it takes from them but provides nothing. People should come to rely on themselves, their personal networks and alternative institutions to provide their protection and dispute arbitration – not agents of the state.
My position seems to make minarchism to be untenable – no tax-funded agency, regardless of its conduct otherwise, could possibly perform the ‘night watchmen’ function. I would also apply all of these considerations to so-called ‘national defense’. Soldiers are not ‘defending our country’, they’re defending the oligarchic ruling class and its tax-farm.

‘Crying Nazi’: Judge dismisses two charges against Cantwell 1

I’ve never been a fan of this guy, but I thought the charges that were put on him sounded like overkill. Apparently, the judge agreed. A thought: We need an “Anarchist Civil Liberties Union,” similar to the American Civil Liberties Union, but which defends all enemies of the state or all those who come under attack by the state, irrespective of ideological considerations and no matter how unsavory the defendants.

By Samantha Baars

C-Ville.Com

Christopher Cantwell posted a tearful video online before turning himself into police. Cantwell video Christopher Cantwell posted a tearful video online before turning himself into police.

Two of three felony charges were thrown out in a more than six-hour-long preliminary hearing November 9 for “Crying Nazi” Chris Cantwell, the New Hampshire man accused of pepper spraying multiple people at the violent August 11 tiki-torch march across the University of Virginia.

Hundreds of white supremacists were in town that weekend for homegrown whites-righter Jason Kessler’s Unite the Right rally, which left three people dead and many injured in its aftermath.

In Cantwell’s case, an Albemarle General District Court judge is allowing one count of illegal use of tear gas to go before the grand jury, after he said Commonwealth’s Attorney Robert Tracci was unable to prove that the two victims who brought the charges against Cantwell were actually sprayed by the shock jock, who continues to broadcast his show, the Radical Agenda, from the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

His supporters, known for their fashy haircuts and white polos and khakis, coordinated new outfits this time. About a dozen of them lined the courtroom’s benches wearing black, some dressed head-to-toe in the color.

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J20 protests: All you need to know about the nearly 200 people facing 60 years in jail for protesting Trump Reply

Defending all of those who come under attack by the state must be one of the first principles of a serious anarchist movement. This includes Communists protesting Donald Trump, Alt-Rightists protesting in favor of Confederate monuments, marijuana farmers attacked by the DEA, gun nuts attacked by the BATF, transgender prostitutes attacked by vice cops, purveyors of kiddie porn subject to illegal police entrapment schemes, gang members prosecuted under dubious conspiracy and racketeering laws, homophobic Christians who refuse to bake a gay wedding cake, and anyone else whom the state attacks.

disrupt J20

On 20 January, 2017, thousands of people poured into Washington DC to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration. Nearly half a million people brandished signs and shouted slogans for the Women’s March. Thousands of protesters sparked up joints for a “Trump 420” protest in Dupont Circle. And hundreds marched in an anti-capitalist, anti-fascist rally organized by Disrupt J20.

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Pining for Murderous Dictators is not the Path to Liberty 4

Far too many libertarians and anarchists, left and right, are losing sight of who the real enemy is.

Steven Horwitz

Bleeding Heart Libertarians

You’d think the statement in my title should be obvious, but if you were wondering why it’s been so easy for so many supposed libertarians to flip over to the alt-right, you might consider the recent Facebook post of Lawrence Reed, the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, the oldest of the free-market think tanks. Larry, who I’ve known for decades and have always respected, tagged a story on business closures in Venezuela with the following: “Venezuela desperately needs a Hayek right now. Short of that, how about a Pinochet?”

As I said on Facebook, I don’t even know what to say about this given my long association with FEE and respect for the work they and Larry have done. I deeply want to believe that it’s a really bad attempt at humor, yet nowhere in that original Facebook thread does Larry give any indication that he was making a horrible joke. Given the pushback he’s getting there, it would have been very easy for him to try to back out with that excuse, but it’s not there. Not only that, he explicitly argues for “helicopter dropping” Maduro.  Sure doesn’t sound like someone who is joking.

Even as really misguided humor, Larry’s remark fails in several important ways that are worth noting explicitly:

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Keith Preston: US war on drugs led to opioid epidemic Reply

Press TV. Listen here.

The US has been waging a war against drugs for half a century, viewing drug addiction as a criminal phenomenon instead of a health issue, therefore no headway has been made in curbing the US opioid crisis, an American analyst says.

The so-called ‘War on Drugs’ refers to a US government campaign launched during the administration of former President Richard Nixon, which included the prohibition of drugs and military intervention, with the stated aim being to reduce the illegal drug trade.

The United States leads the world in both recreational drug usage and incarceration rates. Many experts believe that the War on Drugs has been costly and ineffective largely because inadequate emphasis is placed on treatment of addiction.

The current opioid epidemic in the United States has multiple reasons, among them the excess prescription of pain killers, which in turn contribute to an increase in pharmaceutical financial gains, said Keith Preston, chief editor of AttacktheSystem.com.

“People become addicted to pharmaceutical drugs when undergoing medical treatment, and then because of the addiction, they develop they can’t stop the habit, so when their medical treatment is over with, and they are cut off their drug supply then they start buying prescription drugs off the street that are sold on the illegal market and often they will switch to heroin because heroin is actually cheaper than prescription opiods,” Preston said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday

“So we have now this wave of heroin addicts as well as people who are addicted to prescription opioids as well,” he added.

Preston said the Trump administration’s approach to the drug crisis is encouraging in the sense that it has not recommended the escalation of the war on drugs and instead has taken a non-criminal approach to the crisis recognizing the crisis is more of a health issue.

“There may be some signs of a turning of the tides there,” he said.

The White House Council of Economic Advisers said Monday that the true cost of the opioid epidemic in 2015 was $504 billion, more than six times the most recent estimate.

The council said a 2016 private study estimated that prescription opioid overdose, abuse and dependence cost $78.5 billion in the US in 2013.

Most of that expense was attributed to health care and criminal justice spending, along with lost productivity.

US President Donald Trump said Monday at a cabinet meeting in the White House that the “opioid epidemic that is ravaging so many American families and communities” would be among topics for discussion.

Last month, Trump declared the US drug crisis a “public health emergency.” He also announced an advertising campaign to combat the epidemic, but did not direct any new federal funding toward the effort.

Opioids are drugs formulated to replicate the pain reducing properties of opium. They include both legal painkillers like morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone prescribed by doctors for acute or chronic pain, as well as illegal drugs like heroin or illicitly made fentanyl.

The word “opioid” is derived from the word “opium.”

US government and healthcare officials have been struggling to stem the epidemic of overdoses, which killed more than 64,000 Americans last year alone, up from 52,000 the previous year. More than half were related to opioids.

Texas Town Fires Police Dept., Hires Private Citizens For Security — Guess What Happened to Crime? Reply

We need for anarchists to start running for mayor of cities and towns with this as part of their platform. I’m serious.

Truth Fight.

The community of Sharpstown, Texas decided that they didn’t need the police any longer. They made a controversial decision to fire the local police department and hire private citizens, granted no special rights that ordinary citizens do not have, to keep them safe.

That was back in 2012, and since then, Sharpstown residents say the private security company, SEAL Security Solutions, have done a much better job than the police used to. Crimes is down 61% in only 20 months.

James Alexander, the director of operations for SEAL Security Solutions says that, “Since we’ve been in there, an independent crime study that they’ve had done [indicates] we’ve reduced the crime by 61 percent,” according to Guns.com.

All of that and they don’t have any special rights that you or I don’t have. That means they can’t arrest for misdemeanor crimes… and why should people be arrested for them anyway? It also means that they are held accountable the same way as anyone else.

The SEAL security patrolmen don’t “receive the same protection, as we are in the private sector,” Alexander said. This, he explains, leads to constant accountability and vigilance of their employees making sure they don’t do something to get fired.

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