Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stop the Bleed

U.S. Wants Students to Learn Bleeding Control Methods for School Shootings:

In a nod to the sad reality that shootings at the nation’s schools are far too prevalent, the United States government will award a $1.8 million grant to create a program to teach high school students proper bleeding-control techniques.
The goal of the program, called School-Age Trauma Training, is “to enhance a bystander’s ability to take decisive, lifesaving action to assist victims with traumatic injuries,” according to the Department of Homeland Security, which posted notice of the grant online last month.
“Similar to how students learn health education and driver’s education, they must learn proper bleeding control techniques using commonly available materials,’’ according to the notice, “including how to use their hands, dressings and tourniquets.”
LOL. "Similar to heath or driver's education?" I don't remember any part of driver's ed focusing on how to tie off tourniquets or perform emergency tracheotomies in case you're in a car wreck. And we damn sure never learned such things in health.

This is sick, beyond the level of depravity that allows an organization like this (below) to even exist with a straight face.
The Stop the Bleed campaign, a national campaign by the Department of Homeland Security, encourages bystanders to act before emergency medical workers arrive. Some groups have based similar trainings on the campaign or started their own.
More than 1,000 people have attended a program put together by Ujimaa Medics, a grass-roots organization in Chicago that hosts workshops for residents on “urban emergency first response,” according to its website. It notes that five gunshot victims have been helped by the organization’s trainers and that the organization has eight trainers younger than 18.
Cathy Wilson, the outreach and injury prevention coordinator at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in an interview on Monday that she teaches at least one Stop the Bleed session a week. When she teaches high school students, she said, she mentions cases of active-shooter situations, but lets them know the training they get will be useful in everyday life. Learning bleeding control techniques is another useful tool, like CPR, she said.
"Stop the Bleed"... can you imagine? I wonder what the reaction would be if we started, say, "Stop the Free Fall," a campaign that says before you get on an airplane again, you have to take a course on first-aid and other life saving measures, "just in case the plane goes down." How many people would either A. choose never to fly again, or B. choose never to fly again? And why should we expect students not to have the same reaction?

They even mention the "education secretary" Betsy Devos in this article from Time and her brilliant response to the obvious re school shootings:
But some gun control advocates worry that training students on responding to gun violence is not enough of a solution, and they have called on the Trump Administration to pursue measures that prevent shootings in the first place. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is in charge of the Federal Commission on School Safety — established after the deadly Parkland shooting “to address school safety and the culture of violence.” But she has said the group won’t look into the role of guns in school shootings.
Of course not, because guns don't kill people, remember. And people with AR-15's and other semi and automatic weapons, they don't either, apparently. Not even the crazies. No, it's the failure of shell-shocked and hysterical students who can't "stop the bleeding" that are the real culprits here.

It really makes you wonder who's in charge of the nuthouse: the guns everywhere nuts, the spineless politicians they've bought over the years, or the poor students, who are now being asked to slide limb amputation right in between AP World and PE?

We should be ashamed of ourselves. As I've written previously, this isn't prevention, it's surrender.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Nebraska: The Corn Hustle State

Nebraska Plans First Execution in 21 Years:

Carey Dean Moore, who faces the death penalty next week for killing two taxi drivers in Omaha in 1979, has stopped fighting his looming execution. But his life may be extended by a German drugmaker that says it produced two of the drugs that are to be injected into Mr. Moore’s veins.
Fresenius Kabi, one of Germany’s largest companies, has asked a judge to block the use of its drugs in Nebraska’s first execution in 21 years and its first-ever lethal injection. Use of the drugs, the company says, will cause grave harm to its reputation if products intended to help treat people are used to kill.
Fresenius says it takes no position on capital punishment, but that it has strict contracts with distributors that ban sales to prisons for executions or to anyone other than hospitals and other medical users. It says Nebraska illegally obtained both a muscle relaxant and a drug that, when given at extremely high doses, can stop a beating heart.
And like any good junkie or drug hustler, Nebraska is pulling out all the stops to conceal the source of their smack.
Nebraska is fighting separate legal efforts to force it to disclose where it got the drugs. A statement issued by Attorney General Doug Peterson said the drugs “were purchased lawfully and pursuant to the state of Nebraska’s duty to carry out lawful capital sentences.”
But neither the statement, nor state officials on Thursday, said which company manufactured the drugs, what temperature they are being stored at or whether an injunction would delay the execution. The offices of Mr. Peterson and the Nebraska governor, Pete Ricketts, did not respond to messages on Thursday.
I discussed the allegedly Catholic Governor Ricketts, who told the Pope to go to hell recently, in my last post.
Leslie Rutledge, the attorney general of Arkansas, one of the 15 states, argued that the companies “are being pressured by anti-death-penalty advocates to stop supplying the drug to carry out lawful executions,” adding: “The families of these victims deserve justice.”
The other states supporting Nevada’s effort to execute Mr. Dozier over the drug companies’ objections are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.
LOL. You knew Texas and Georgia would be involved somehow. Tennessee is a surprise, given the botched execution that took place last week. 
On Thursday night, Tennessee carried out its first execution since 2009, putting Billy Ray Irick to death for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl in 1985. The state used a combination of drugs that Mr. Irick’s lawyers had argued could make the condemned feel like they were burning alive and drowning.
According to The Tennessean newspaper, Mr. Irick “was coughing, choking and gasping for air” and “his face turned dark purple as the lethal drugs took over.”
Good ol' Rocky Top.

Should be interesting to watch as these junkie states, desperate to get their next fix of killin' drugs, keep going to court to defend themselves from allegations of drug hustling and dealing. 

I guess it's true, you really can't embarrass some people.

UPDATE: Got eem
Nebraska carried out its first execution in more than two decades on Tuesday with a drug combination never tried before, including the first use of the powerful opioid fentanyl in a lethal injection.
Carey Dean Moore, 60, was pronounced dead at 10:47 a.m. Moore had been sentenced to death for killing two cab drivers in Omaha in 1979. He was the first inmate to be lethally injected in Nebraska, which last carried out an execution in 1997, using the electric chair.
Moore’s execution comes a little more than three years after Nebraska lawmakers abolished the death penalty, only to have it reinstated the following year through a citizen ballot drive partially financed by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. The governor, a wealthy former businessman, has said he was fulfilling the wishes of voters in the conservative state.
Better get right with the Lord, Pete.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Execute... And Burn In Hell

Pope's Death Penalty Ban Won't Stop Nebraska Execution, Catholic Governor Says:

When Nebraska lawmakers defied Gov. Pete Ricketts in 2015 by repealing the death penalty over his strong objections, the governor wouldn’t let the matter go. Mr. Ricketts, a Republican who is Roman Catholic, tapped his family fortune to help bankroll a referendum to reinstate capital punishment, a measure the state’s Catholic leadership vehemently opposed.
After a contentious and emotional battle across this deep-red state, voters restored the death penalty the following year. Later this month, Nebraska is scheduled to execute Carey Dean Moore, who was convicted of murder, in what would be the state’s first execution in 21 years.
The prospect has renewed a tense debate in a state that has wrestled with the moral and financial implications of the death penalty for years, even before the 2015 attempt to abolish it. Protesters have been holding daily vigils outside the governor’s mansion to oppose Mr. Moore’s execution.
Complicating matters, Pope Francis this week declared that executions are unacceptable in all cases, a shift from earlier church doctrine that had accepted the death penalty if it was “the only practicable way” to defend lives. Coming only days before the scheduled Aug. 14 execution here, the pope’s stance seemed to create an awkward position for Mr. Ricketts, who is favored to win a bid for re-election this fall.
Ricketts is the same clown I wrote about back in 2015 when, over the will of the duly elected representatives of his state, he footed the bill for and rammed through an unconstitutional referendum on the death penalty that managed to bring it back.  

And now clowny is having to rectify his zest for killing with the Church's admonition that executions are wrong in all circumstances (an announcement, btw, that caught the world by surprise, including this writer).
Mr. Ricketts, who in the past has said that he viewed his position on the death penalty as compatible with Catholicism, on Thursday issued a statement about the pope’s declaration.
“While I respect the pope’s perspective, capital punishment remains the will of the people and the law of the state of Nebraska,” Mr. Ricketts’s statement said. “It is an important tool to protect our corrections officers and public safety. The state continues to carry out the sentences ordered by the court.”
LOL. Of course it has nothing to do with public safety or corrections officer's safety. In fact, death rows and working there is more of a danger to correctional officer safety than regular maximum security facilities. 

But facts don't matter when you start mixing faith and politics while ignoring the people's wish and desire to get rid of the death penalty.
While 31 states still have death penalty statutes, only 10, including Texas, Ohio and Florida, have carried out executions since 2014, according to the center. During the past decade, several states have placed moratoriums on capital punishment or abolished it altogether. The most recent was Delaware, which banned the death penalty in 2016.
“No one’s happy a man’s life is going to be taken,” said Michael Fischer, 35, a Republican and a financial planner in Omaha who, like many along the streets here, said he supported capital punishment. “But if you take the death penalty off the books, the fear is there won’t be strong discouragement for people to commit crimes.”
Even though crime is at an historic low in states without the death penalty, not to mention the rest of the civilized world which long ago got rid of it.

But old times in Nebraska ain't forgotten, etc. And another guy will perish needlessly while the trend continues to abolish the death penalty.

I will say, however, that the Pope's anti-death penalty order is a helluva twist (forgive me father) in the debate. For decades now, Catholic pols, largely of a Republican nature, have tried to jump over the "pro-life" conundrum of being anti-abortion and pro-death penalty with a lot of mental gymnastics and gobbledygook. How many of them will follow the Church's teachings on this remains unknown, but at least this latest order puts the Church in a consistent pro-life track now. 

And it puts those pro-dp Catholic politicians in an existential conundrum regarding faith and eternity

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Scam of Private Detention

So, while the country was up in arms over the Trump administration's "crackdown" on migrants and their children coming over the border, sharper eyes were noticing the connection between this latest fracas, private detention companies, and Wall Street (because, as I've noted for more than a decade on this blog, ALWAYS follow the money):

Many of the nonprofits, corporations and religious groups watching over migrant children detained at the southwest border have been in this business for years — and they have a history of political connections, donating millions of dollars to Democrats and Republicans alike.
Now, as new federal policies greatly expand the number of migrants held in detention, it is also becoming clear that some of the players in this billion-dollar industry have particularly strong ties to the Trump administration.
The president’s education secretary provided funding to one of the groups. His defense secretary sat on the board of another. Mr. Trump’s own inauguration fund collected $500,000 from two private prison companies housing detained migrant families. And some of the contractors employ prominent Republican lobbyists with ties to Mr. Trump and his administration, including someone who once lobbied for his family business.
There is no indication that political favors or influence motivated any of the contracts, and the service providers have no apparent ties to the agency awarding most of the contracts, the Department of Health and Human Services. Many of the groups had federal contracts to work with migrant children long before President Trump took office.
True, but as I noted after the election in 2016, private dungeon stocks soared by more than 40% upon news of his election, in particular among the two largest dungeon companies CoreCivic and the GEO Group.
Two private prison companies are already operating a pair of family detention centers in Texas. Planned new emergency shelters at military bases are also likely to be operated by contractors, as were similar facilities that opened temporarily on bases as a result of a surge in border crossings during the Obama administration.
The two private prison companies that run family centers, the Geo Group and CoreCivic, are among the politically connected contractors. Each donated $250,000 to Mr. Trump’s inaugural fund. And the Geo Group’s political action committee, while bipartisan in its giving, allocates many of its biggest donations to Republicans. These include $170,000 to a joint fund-raising committee set up between the Republican Party and the Trump campaign; $50,000 to a “super PAC” supporting the president; and, more recently, donations to Republican Party organizations focusing on the House and Senate.
The Geo Group also hired a lobbyist, Brian Ballard, who lobbied for Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Florida before he became president. A recent disclosure form shows that, on behalf of the Geo Group, Mr. Ballard’s firm was registered to lobby about “immigration regulation.”
In a statement, the Geo Group said that its family center has “cared exclusively for mothers together with their children since 2014 when it was established by the Obama administration.”
LOL. It wasn't "established by the Obama administration." The contract may have been signed during the Obama years, but the administration didn't "establish" the GEO Group's system of immigration concentration camps.
The company said the political contributions “should not be construed as an endorsement of all policies or positions adopted by any individual candidate,” adding that it does “not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against criminal justice or immigration policies.”
Steve Owen, a spokesman for CoreCivic, said that the company’s donation to Mr. Trump’s inauguration was “consistent with our past practice of civic participation in and support for the inauguration process.” He added that “under longstanding policy, CoreCivic does not draft, lobby for, promote or in any way take a position on proposals, policies or legislation that determine the basis or duration of an individual’s incarceration or detention.”
No, they just support candidates who do, via their PAC contributions, which is good for business. And as the FEC filings showed in the postmortem of the 2016 election, these private dungeons gave WAY more to the Trumpers than they did the Clintonites, and then really turned on the spigot for the inauguration.

Worse is the participation in politics of so-called non-profit and "faith-based" organizations which stand to reap said quid-pro-quo benefits. True, they can't donate directly to campaigns, but as the article notes, their connections to the Trumpers was beyond coincidental.
Although these nonprofits are not doling out campaign donations, some nonetheless have ties to the Trump administration.
Bethany Christian Services, a social services group that provides foster care to migrant children, has long been backed by the family foundation of Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s education secretary. Over the years, the group has received more than $419,000 in grants from the foundation, tax records show.
Another member of the Trump cabinet, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, once sat on the board of General Dynamics, which over the last 18 years has received millions of dollars in contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services office that works with migrant children. The company does not operate or construct any migrant shelters, but instead offers training and technical assistance to the shelters and provides other administrative services to the government. The company, which has a number of government contracts unrelated to the migrant children program, said it has “no role in the separation of children and families.”
General Dynamics, which has registered to lobby on the issue of “border security,” also operates a PAC that has donated to members of both parties, including more than $1.1 million to Republican candidates and causes during this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The company, which says its PAC “supports Congressional candidates who support a strong national defense, regardless of their party affiliation,” made one of those donations to the congressional campaign of Greg Pence, the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.
BCFS — a nonprofit group that operates a number of shelters housing migrant children, including a tent city outside of El Paso that has been the focus of protests — counts a former Republican congressman, Henry Bonilla, as a longtime board member and a lobbyist. In December 2016, Mr. Bonilla met with Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, to discuss joining his cabinet as agriculture secretary. BCFS has also long retained Ray Sullivan, a lobbyist and onetime chief of staff to Rick Perry, the former Texas governor who is now Mr. Trump’s energy secretary.
And on and on it goes. The point being, as per usual when some form of criminal justice crackdown happens (war on immigration, war on drugs, war on terror, war on whatever), the rule of thumb you should always apply is follow the money. Who's making money off this and why? How are corporations and other so-called non-profits making coin off of human tragedy?

And the answers will inevitably explain said crackdown phenomenon, along with the depravity of capitalism and for-profit companies operating in the criminal justice system.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Billion Dollar Concentration Camp Industry

Operating Concentration Camps for Migrant Children Extremely Lucrative:

The business of housing, transporting and watching over migrant children detained along the southwest border is not a multimillion-dollar business.
It’s a billion-dollar one.
The nonprofit Southwest Key Programs has won at least $955 million in federal contracts since 2015 to run shelters and provide other services to immigrant children in federal custody. Its shelter for migrant boys at a former Walmart Supercenter in South Texas has been the focus of nationwide scrutiny, but Southwest Key is but one player in the lucrative, secretive world of the migrant-shelter business. About a dozen contractors operate more than 30 facilities in Texas alone, with numerous others contracted for about 100 shelters in 16 other states.
If there is a migrant-shelter hub in America, then it is perhaps in the four-county Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas, where about a dozen shelters occupy former stores, schools and medical centers. They are some of the region’s biggest employers, though what happens inside is often highly confidential: One group has employees sign nondisclosure agreements, more a fixture of the high-stakes corporate world than of nonprofit child-care centers.
Note that the mainstream media continues to use the word "shelter" when discussing these internment camps for migrant children because "shelter" is much more antiseptic and pleasing to the ears. In fact, these "shelters" are nothing more than internment or concentration camps, popping up in various locations such as old Wal-Marts and other vacant big box retailing space left empty by the devastation of online shopping. Pretty soon, instead of the Mall of America, we'll have Mall of Concentration Camps for migrant children, or whoever.

 And it's big f'ing business.
The group’s shelter capacity has grown significantly: In 2010, it had capacity for up to 500 children a day across 10 shelters. Now it can serve up to 5,000 children a day across 26 shelters. The recent surge in family separations has put even more of a demand on its facilities.
Many of these contractors, including Southwest Key, whose president and chief executive, Juan Sánchez, has been a well-known and politically connected figure in South Texas for years, saw themselves as the good guys in all the years they were sheltering, housing and educating young people who had crossed the border on their own. But as their client base increasingly has included children forcibly removed from their parents, that public good will has eroded.
Critics have released tax records showing Mr. Sánchez’s compensation — more than $770,000 in 2015 alone — and his organization’s usually under-the-radar efforts to open new shelters have become pitched public battles. In Houston, a number of Democratic officials, including Mayor Sylvester Turner, called on Mr. Sánchez to abandon plans to turn a former homeless shelter into a new migrant youth shelter near downtown. Mr. Turner and others said they would urge state regulators to deny the proposed shelter a child-care-facility license.
Pre-Trump, Southwest Key was warmly received by left-leaning immigration activists and civil rights organizations. Post-Trump, some of the group’s former allies are now leading the outcry.
Which also shows you the hypocrisy I've noted on this blog for well over a decade. When Bush passed Secure Communities, there was outrage on the left and acquiescence on the right. When Obama expanded the use of concentration camps and deported more "illegals" during his 8 years than anyone in the history of ever, the left acquiesced and the right pretended it didn't happen because they couldn't believe Obama had co-opted the issue from them. And now Trump ramps it up again, the left melts down, and the right does whatever... pretends to hate it but not really? Kind of clueless what happened to the Republican party of yore.

Regardless, it shows you in our capitalist society that you can make a buck off of anything, including putting children in concentration camps. And btw, if you're sitting there right now going, "well that sounds like a good career option, I'm going to start my own concentration camp, er, detention shelter, and go into the business of warehousing children," think again. The monopolistic forces that crush competition in the U.S. economy in general will also crush you. You'll either never be allowed to open up your own concentration camp, or get quickly bought out by the larger concentration camp companies. So good luck. 

Ours is a sick society.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Down At The Border

Trump Caves on Separating Families At Border:

President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order meant to end the separation of families at the border by detaining parents and children together for an indefinite period.
“We’re going to have strong — very strong — borders, but we are going to keep the families together,” Mr. Trump said as he signed the order in the Oval Office. “I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated.”
But ending the practice of separating families still faces legal and practical obstacles. A federal judge could refuse to give the Trump administration the authority it wants to hold families in custody for more than 20 days, which is the current limit because of a 1997 court order.
And the president’s order does nothing to address the plight of the more than 2,300 children who have already been separated from their parents under the president’s “zero tolerance” policy. Federal officials initially said those children would not be immediately reunited with their families while the adults remain in federal custody during their immigration proceedings.
So funny, because for the last several weeks, as the hue and cry mushroomed over the inhumane treatment of these children, Trump insisted he didn't have the authority to stop the practice, only Congress could. 

But, when the politics of it overwhelms you, and you start losing big time in the political polls, you suddenly find out you do have the authority, and so you sign a big piece of cardboard that looks like an Executive Order, pretending to stop the practice. And your "base" is still pissed. 
President Trump has railed against undocumented immigrants in recent days, branding many of them “murderers and thieves” who want to “infest our country.” Not long ago, he referred to them as “animals,” although he insisted he meant only those who join a violent gang.
The president’s unpresidential language has become the standard for some on his team. This week his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, made a mocking noise, “womp womp,” when a liberal strategist raised the case of a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome separated from her parents at the border.
Mr. Trump’s coarse discourse increasingly seems to inspire opponents to respond with vituperative words of their own. Whether it be Robert De Niro’s four-letter condemnation at the Tony Awards or a congressional intern who shouted the same word at Mr. Trump when he visited the Capitol this week, the president has generated so much anger among his foes that some are crossing boundaries that he himself shattered long ago.
The politics of rage that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise now dominate the national conversation, as demonstrated repeatedly during the debate over his “zero tolerance” immigration policy that separated children from parents apprehended at the border.
The "zero-tolerance" hardliners, whose rage against immigrant children is directly correlated with their inability to get laid, are still pissed about his reversal after they spent what was left of their professional reputations supporting children in concentration camps.

But somehow the idea that objecting to these kooks and their delusional policies, by using rhetoric the knuckle-dragging base will understand, is now being used as a false equivalent by pearl-clutching liberals.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a decline in civility and an uptick in incivility,” said Christine Porath, a Georgetown University professor and author of “Mastering Civility,” a book on behavior in the workplace. “It seems like people are not only reciprocating, but we tend to stoop lower rather than higher. It’s really putting us in an unfortunate place.”
Ms. Porath said the current harsh climate was affecting people beyond politics, injecting itself into everyday life at home and work. “We know that incivility is contagious,” she said. “It’s like a bug or virus. It’s not only when people experience incivility, it’s when they see or read about it.”
Gary Payne, who teaches sociology at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn., said that he opposed the president, his policies and also the trading of crude insults on both sides.
“People are looking for the simplest signals to go by,” Mr. Payne said as he stood outside the arena after trying unsuccessfully to attend the rally. “People pay more attention to demeanor than they do to policy.”
Gasp... what will we do? People objecting to putting children in concentration camps are being uncivil? Oh no!

Uh, I think one can certainly pay attention to policy while at the same time using vulgar language. The idea that "only Trump" can get away with be a vulgarian is beyond ridiculous.

But anyway, Trump's capitulation and waffling on this issue got so bad, even the airlines refused to move these kids to other undisclosed locations when they ran out of room in the concentration camps at the border.
American Airlines asked the federal government on Wednesday to stop using its commercial planes for “transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy.”
The announcement, which was posted on American’s website, was the latest fallout from the Trump administration’s decision to separate parents who have arrived at the southern border illegally from their children. Soon after American’s announcement, and similar statements by other major airlines, President Trump signed an executive order to end the separation of families and detain parents and children together.
The involvement of the airline industry in the drama showed just how pervasive and passionate the opposition to the original policy had become. Several flight attendants for American, the world’s largest airline, had posted testimony on public and private social media channels in recent days, describing how they had seen groups of Latino children on domestic flights, accompanied not by parents but by federal agents.
In a tweet Wednesday, Frontier Airlines stated that it would “not knowingly allow our flights to be used to transport migrant children away from their families.” United Airlines said it had told federal officials that they “should not transport immigrant children” who had been separated from their parents. Southwest Airlines asked that “anyone” involved in separating children from their parents not fly with them.
You know you've stepped in it when the greedy airlines are turning down guaranteed bought seats by the government.
A press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Tyler Q. Houlton, said it was unfortunate that airlines “no longer want to partner with the brave men and women of D.H.S. to protect the traveling public, combat human trafficking, and to swiftly reunite unaccompanied illegal immigrant children with their families.”
“Despite being provided facts on this issue, these airlines clearly do not understand our immigration laws and the longstanding devastating loopholes that have caused the crisis at our southern border,” Mr. Houlton said.
LOL. Like the airlines give a shit. They don't want the bad optics and the ensuing boycotts by an angry, outraged American public. As far as the airlines are concerned, just put those kids on trains, or spirit them away under cover of the night via government automobiles. Not their fight, partner.

The whole thing has been a total disaster and shows you exactly how incompetent the administration is. There are even different agencies saying today, the day after they supposedly stopped the separation policy, that they're gearing up for another 20,000 kids to be put in concentration camps.

I hate to say things are going to get worse before they get better, because frankly it's hard to conceptualize of scenarios even more f'd up than the past 18 months. But it will... it will get far, far worse before this national nightmare ends.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Death By Budget Cuts

Safety Concerns Grow in Federal Prisons:

As the shortage of correctional officers has grown chronic under President Trump — and the practice of drawing upon other workers has become routine — many prisons have been operating in a perpetual state of staffing turmoil, leaving some workers feeling ill-equipped and unsafe on the job, according to interviews and internal documents from the Bureau of Prisons.
Dozens of workers from prisons across the country said inmates had become more brazen with staff members and more violent with one another. At a prison in West Virginia, violent incidents increased almost 15 percent in 2017 from the year before, according to data obtained by The New York Times. Workers blame the problems on their depleted numbers and the need to push often inexperienced staff members into front-line correctional roles, changes not lost on the prison population.
The Times interviewed about 60 employees of the Bureau of Prisons, some of whom, like Mr. Lloyd and Ms. Gregg, were able to speak openly because they are protected by their status as officials in the prison employees’ union. The bureau did not authorize them to talk, and many other workers who spoke to The Times requested anonymity out of fear of retaliation.
The Bureau of Prisons provided some information, but declined an interview request and, in response to a detailed list of facts in this article, said it had no comment. Big Spring allowed a reporter to tour its facilities, but declined a request to interview its warden and said it forwarded other questions to bureau headquarters. The other prisons named in this article did not respond to requests to interview their wardens.
In other words, a complete gag order was issued by Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions on the BOP regarding the devastating effects his budget process has had on the prisons and officer/inmate safety. This is more than ironic, given his chest-thumping and pride over ripping children from their parents at the border and interning more than 2,000 children in concentration camps over the past few months.
From December 2016 to March 2018, the number of correctional officer vacancies, including supervisory roles, grew by almost 64 percent, to 2,137 from 1,306, according to the bureau — nearly 12 percent of all correctional officer positions.
In the last two years of the Obama administration, the bureau increased the number of correctional officers it hired, with 2,644 in 2016. Last year, the number dropped to 372. The administration has also begun eliminating about 5,000 unfilled jobs within the bureau, including about 1,500 correctional positions.
Cuts are occurring even though Congress increased the bureau’s budget for salaries and expenses by $106 million this year, and both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have called for hiring more correctional officers. As of March, there were 15,927 officers in federal prisons.
Because the bureau is focused on eliminating vacant positions, a press officer said, the cuts “will not have a negative impact on public safety or on our ability to maintain a safe environment for staff and inmates.”
During the last years of the Obama administration, the inmate population shrank as the Justice Department moved away from mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses, a change that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, the attorney general, has since reversed.
The bureau expects the inmate population to grow by 2 percent this year and 1 percent next year. The Trump administration is also temporarily transferring at least 1,600 immigration detainees to prisons.
And check out Ernie's rationale for increasingly using non-union, untrained, "augmented" volunteers to pick up the slack:
“I mean, you would have to hire an entirely new guard for one person to spend two hours through the lunchroom helping keep an eye on things,” Mr. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions told a Senate committee.
Documents and interviews with prison workers suggest otherwise. Many prisons have increasingly turned to augmentation, and not for isolated two-hour bursts.
LOL. Like being a professional correctional officer is no different than the "lunch monitors" during lunch time at the local high school. Or thinking maintenance workers, secretaries, teachers or other untrained individuals who work in prison support can just jump into the job of CO and do it.

It's ironic: as much as I bashed Eric Holder for his sloppy leadership and cowardice to prosecute real crime during the Obama years, I never thought the position of AG could be filled by someone even dumber or more unqualified. And yet, here we are, with the DOJ being destroyed from the top down: driving away career prosecutors who are leaving en masse, allowing federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to undergo withering political attacks from his boss and the congress, and now destroying the BOP one chain link at a time. I guess all we'll have left pretty soon, at the federal level anyway, are the concentration camps that are quickly being privatized.

At the end of the day, safety is being compromised in our federal prisons, not just for the inmates, but for the men and women who put on the uniform and work in these prisons, taking care of the inmates, and hoping like hell they make it home at the end of their shifts. And with immigration detention and the overall BOP population expected to rise another 2% this year, we're facing a calamity of riots, violence, prison rape, and deaths that are totally avoidable.
A maintenance worker here at Big Spring, who has stepped in to replace correctional officers as often as twice a week, said the current approach was not sustainable.
“People are going to get hurt,” said the worker, who was not authorized to speak to the media, “all because they want to save a little money.”
Helluva job there, Ernie.