Everyday Erinyes #68

 Posted by at 10:48 am  Politics
Apr 012017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

Alecto is the Fury normally charged with dealing with issues which are unceasing, semper ubique et ab omnibus, to use a legal term (always, everywhere, and from everyone).  The phrase crossed my mind when I read an article in The Nation, itself an abstract from the book A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes. The article is called "Policing the Colony: From the American Revolution to Ferguson," and it takes an amazing look at how similar too many modern police procedures in the United States are to the police procedures of the British police in the American colonies, and how little the Bill of Rights has to do with either.  The driving rationale of both is not public safety, nor public welfare, but revenue.

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the DOJ report is how open and honest the city officials are about their police department’s purpose, how certain they seem that no one is watching them. Their comments suggest no winking and nudging, no ironic and knowing smiles. Just plain statements of financial goals, of dollars and cents. At one point the department started a new “I-270 traffic enforcement initiative” in order to “begin to fill the revenue pipeline.” The masterminds behind it warned that the initiative would require “60 to 90 [days] of lead time to turn citations into cash.”  None of the people administering this enterprise appear concerned that what they’re doing is a gross violation of their duty to their constituents. And when you ask yourself how this report came to be written, the reason for their nonchalance is evident. The damning pages of the report exist only because a 17-year-old black boy was shot and killed by a police officer, and because that shooting led to an uprising. That uprising in turn led to the DOJ getting involved, which in turn led to the investigation that produced this audit.

I could have quoted almost any paragraph of this article and made a point of some kind.  The whole article is well worth a read, which suggests that the whole book is well worth a read.  And that Alecto will be very busy.

The death of Darren Rainey, an inmate in the Dade Correctional Institution, a state prison about 40 miles south of Miami, FL, was so shocking that everyone will probably remember having read about it.  He was locked inside a scorching shower for nearly two hours.  Another then-inmate, Mark Joiner, was ordered to clean up the shower by removing the pieces of skin which had peeled from Rainey's body.  This was, of course, not made public in 2012.  It took about a year for Joiner to, first, be transferred to a different facility, and second, make contact with someone who would listen (needless to say, that someone was NOT a Florida law enforcement agency of any kind, although he tried.)

The reason the story is news again is that on Friday, March 17, the state attorney for Miami-Dade County, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, announced that the investigation was being closed and that no charges would be filed.  Because "the evidence does not show that Rainey’s well-being was grossly disregarded by the correctional staff.”

Right.

As the rest of the article amply demonstrates, the well being of not only Rainey, but of all the inmates, as well as the professional staff, and incidentally, the families of all of the inmates, were grossly disregarded "on a regular basis."

Tisiphone – help.  Please.

Finally – in California – the self-proclaimed "activists" (whom I would call "grifters") who made the fake film designed to destroy Planned Parenthood have been charged with fifteen felonies.  This in a state where there is a chance they will be convicted.  However, there is a way to go from being charged to actually being put away.  Megaera, I hope you will follow this up and nudge in the right direction any participants who need a nudge.

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4045401

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Everyday Erinyes #66

 Posted by at 2:15 pm  Politics
Mar 182017
 

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

One of the detainees released from Guantánamo by President Obama before leaving office was Abdul Zahir.  It's not clear how long he was held after the government conceded that he was not the man they had intended to arrest, another Abdul (not Zahir) who shared a nickname ("Abdul Bari") with him.  This is as if white supremacist terrorists had bombed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), not on account of public lands, but because they were under the impression that it was Black Lives Matter (BLM).

I don't want to go into everything that Zahir suffered while in Guantánamo, though it would make a column by itself – possibly two.  Rather, I want to emphasize, with the author of the linked column, that release after fourteen years of being unlawfully detained (and tortured) may be a step in the right direction – but it does not by any means constitute justice.

Moving on could be difficult for Zahir. Many former Guantánamo and CIA black site detainees continue to face mental health problems even after being released, such as depression and post-traumatic stress. That makes it difficult for them to readjust into normal society. This means true justice for Guantánamo detainees entails more than just releasing them to another country. It also must include redress for the torture inflicted upon them and the physical, mental and emotional problems resulting from that abuse.

However, true justice does not currently seem within reach for current and former Guantánamo detainees. There arecurrently 41 detainees in Guantánamo, including 26 held in indefinite detention — people whom the government does not have enough untainted evidence to prosecute but claims are too dangerous to release.

I think that the details of Abdul Zahir's suffering (though I didn't share them), as well as the sufferings of those still detained (though I don't have those details) make this a case for you, Tisiphone.  I should note also that the photo here shows protestors, NOT actual current or former detainees.

Next, I'd like to share a story from California (but which I'm sure has its counterparts all over the US and likely the world). 

In what is commonly called “pay-to-stay” or “private jail,” a constellation of small city jails — at least 26 of them in Los Angeles and Orange counties — open their doors to defendants who can afford the option. But what started out as an antidote to overcrowding has evolved into a two-tiered justice system that allows people convicted of serious crimes to buy their way into safer and more comfortable jail stays.

An analysis by the Marshall Project and the Los Angeles Times of the more than 3,500 people who served time in Southern California’s pay-to-stay programs from 2011 through 2015 found more than 160 participants who had been convicted of serious crimes including assault, robbery, domestic violence, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children and possession of child pornography.

California law allows someone convicted of a misdemeanor to serve his/her time in the county jail of the county in which convicted, with judicial discretion.  But judges are allowing the privilege to felons, and extending it past county lines, neither of which is an option specified in the law.  Perhaps what shocked me most in this story, though, is that there are cities with jails which actually ADVERTISE their services on their websites"The Pay to Stay Program assists persons interested in serving their commitments over a series of weekends, who need a program that permits them to attend work daily or who are simply searching for a less intimidating environment.  Options such as these provide the opportunity to preserve career standing, maintain family support obligations and the ability to serve a commitment in safety and with dignity."

Some people are saying, like John Eum, a detective with the LAPD, that "The whole criminal justice system is becoming more and more about: How much money do you have? Can you afford better attorneys? Can you afford to pay for a nicer place to stay?”  Others, like be, believe that this has always been the system, but it is certainly coming more and more out into the open.  Alecto, is there anything you can do?

With 65 prior Erinyes columns under my belt, plus one special edition, you may wonder just what it would take to render me speechless.  Well, wonder no more.  It is not a huge atrocity with blood and guts and explosions.  It it just so darned petty that I can't find words for it.

A ban on crayons. That’s what it came to at the visitors’ center at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas, one of three immigration detention centers that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) currently uses to house mothers and children who’ve been stopped seeking asylum in the United States. Six volunteer lawyers who work with detained families wrote a letter to ICE explaining why they liked to bring crayons when they met with clients: “Having children color and draw provides a distraction for children while their mothers relate incidents of trauma, violence and abuse. Other children sit outside the interview rooms and draw at the tables, so they are not forced to listen to their mothers’ harrowing narratives nor witness their mothers’ fragile emotional states during these interviews.” But ICE determined some of the children were doing “damage” to tables and walls in the visitors’ center while coloring. The crayon ban was just another blow to children already essentially being housed as prisoners by the federal government. The latest memos from the Department of Homeland Security outlining plans for enforcing the executive orders on immigration issued by President Donald Trump mean the numbers of children and mothers being detained this way (in America) will only swell.

A. ban. on. crayons.

My. God.

Megaera, could this possibly be the definition of "grudging"?

The Furies and I will be back.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4042940

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