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Why Right Wingers Don’t Belong In Positions of Responsibility

It is a simple fact that you can’t punish your way out of a social,  or criminal situation.

If you could, there would be no crime in the world at all.

We have a situation in America where right wing types have reinstituted Debtors Prisons, and as the FBI Report on Ferguson, Missouri lays out, where the Judicial System is corrupted as a tool to drive racial punishment against the poor.

There are clowns like this Judge appointed every single day by the Chumph to our Federal Courts. This racist assh*le is probably on the Chumph’s short list.

“As a Mississippian with deep roots in this state that I love, I am deeply troubled by the many ways in which poor Mississippians, especially African Americans, are victimized by Mississippi’s legal system,” Johnson said. “We have litigated matters involving excessive bail, illegal jailing of misdemeanor offenders for unpaid fines and the refusal to provide poor criminal defendants with counsel, and now we see that not even the right to raise one’s children is beyond the reach of the injustice that befalls poor Mississippians.”

Mississippi judge resigns after barring mother from seeing her baby for 14 months over unpaid court fees

A Mississippi judge who barred a mother from seeing her newborn baby for 14 months because she hadn’t paid court-imposed fees has stepped down.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that Pearl Youth Court Judge John Shirley has resigned under pressure from local activists who decried his decision to impose a no-contact order on a resident of Jackson, Miss., who is identified in court documents only as “Mother A.”

The judge first issued the order after the woman and a friend, who were driving through the city of Pearl looking for work, were pulled over by a police officer who discovered both women had outstanding warrants for routine misdemeanor offenses. The police officer who made the arrest told the Mississippi Department of Human Services that the child who was in the car with the two women was “abandoned,” despite the fact that it was the officer’s own arrest that forced the child to be separated from the mother.

Judge Shirley awarded custody to the baby’s grandmother, while also blocking the mother from coming into contact with the child until she paid off court-imposed fees.

The Clarion-Ledger’s report does not say how much money the mother owed in court fees, however local legal justice advocates say that unpaid fees do not justify separating a mother from a four-month-old child for 14 months.

“As a civil rights lawyer in Mississippi, I am no stranger to injustice, but for a judge to prohibit an impoverished mother from having any contact with her baby until monetary payments are made is shocking and repugnant,” said Cliff Johnson, the director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law. “Such orders are tantamount to judicial kidnapping.”

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Bible Thumping School Board Gets Slammed

Had a boss one time that would call his staff together to pray over our business proposals. Never quite figured out how somehow God had any reason to favor us over the other 10 of 15 companies making proposals, because at least some of those companies were made up of some folks who went to church too. Needless to say, it didn’t improve our win percentage.

One of the biggest problems with the far right is not understanding, and trampling all over the basic rules of our Constitution, and the rights of everyone who believes differently than they do. My personal philosophy always has been that if someone feels the need to pray to whatever Deity they believe in, then I owe them the common human decency to let them go about their personal business. That decency doesn’t extend to being forced to pray with them. Respect for other people seems to be the first thing the zealots lose, whether christians or any of the world’s other religions.

This Bible-thumping school board just learned the cost of willfully defying the US Constitution

Members of a California school board who heavily used prayer during public meetings are being ordered to pay more than $200,000 in lawyers fees, theSan Bernardino Sun reports.

On February 18, U.S. District Judge Jesus Bernal ordered the Chino Valley Unified School Board to stop a years-long practice of “reciting prayers, Bible readings and proselytizing at board meetings,” the Sun reports.

On Thursday, the judge ordered board president Andrew Cruz, along with board members James Na and Sylvio Orzco to pay out  $202,971.70 to the Freedom From Religion Foundation in association with their November 2014 lawsuit.

In the suit, the FFRF claimed that Na “often injects religion into his comments” at meeting conclusions while Cruz regularly concluded with a Bible reading. Prayers were also used to open the public meetings. But it didn’t stop there. Regular attendees complained the board members often stopped business to make long professions of their faith, according to the Sun.

Na at one meeting either mentioned or discussed Jesus 10 times.

“Our plaintiffs told us the board proceedings were more like a church service than a school board meeting,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in February, according to American School and University. “So my reaction to the ruling is, ‘Hallelujah!’”

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2016 in Domestic terrorism

 

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Highway Robbery…And Debtors Prison

One of the problems with the Great White Wing Tax Giveaway is the municipalities are increasingly strapped for cash to pay for basic services. Heaven forbid that the very clowns who voted to cut taxes to the point their jurisdictions are insolvent (Louisiana and Kansas to mention a few states whose Republican Governors and legislatures have led them down that desolate garden path), pay any of the costs.As such, along with other failed draconian measures like requiring that Welfare recipients be Drug Tested (In Tennessee, Out of more than 16,000 applicants from the beginning of July through the end of 2014, just 37 tested positive for illegal drug use, meaning only .2% – which is mirrored by results in other White Right states), the concept supported by the White Wingers has been to shift the tax burden onto the poor through increasingly punitive and regressive measures…

Never mind those poor folks wouldn’t be poor if they could afford to pay the bill in the first place, or that the State has become the singular major hurdle for most of these folks to build any sort of financial nest egg to escape poverty.

In most Reprobate run states, this takes the form of massively escalating fines and penalties for civic and traffic fines. Can’t pay your $100 in Car/property tax on time? Well you now owe $300.

Got a Parking Ticket? They used to be $20…Now they are $100. And in the case of one municipality near where I live, they jacked them to $300, until the local businesses complained about the drop in revenue from shoppers who chose to shop elsewhere rather than risk the Meter Nazis. In any event, that Parking Ticket, now $50 – just doubled or tripled if you can’t pay the fine. As extreme, but not uncommon as the situation in Ferguson, Mo, as described in the Ferguson Commission Report, the poor are the overwhelming victims of these punitive measures. Measure which further erode the public trust.

Biloxi, Mississippi, apparently yearning for the long gone days of real slavery – takes it a step further by jailing debtors.

Meaning they have now just lost their $8.00 an hour jobs, putting them further in the hole.

One of the reasons for the American Revolution was just this kind of shit.

Qumotria Kennedy, 36, stands at the baseball field in downtown Biloxi where she works as a contract maintenance employee, making just $10 an hour one to two days per week.

 

A poor single mother seeks justice against Biloxi after she was imprisoned for not paying $400 in court fees, a practice that systematically criminalizes poverty

Qumotria Kennedy, a 36-year-old single mother with teenage kids from Biloxi,Mississippi, was driving around the city with a friend in July when they were pulled over by police for allegedly running a stop sign. Though Kennedy was the passenger, her name was put through a police database that flashed up a warrant for her arrest on charges that she failed to pay $400 in court fines.

The fines were for other traffic violations dating back to 2013. At that time, Kennedy says she told her probation officers – a private company called Judicial Corrections Services Inc (JCS) – that she was so poor there was no way she could find the money.

She worked as a cleaner at the baseball field in downtown Biloxi, earning less than $9,000 a year – well below the federal poverty level for a single person, let alone a mother of two dependent children. Her plea fell on deaf ears: a JCS official told her that unless she paid her fines in full, as well as a $40 monthly fee to JCS for the privilege of having them as her probation officers, she would go to jail – an arrest warrant was duly secured to that effect through the Biloxi municipal court.

Nor was Kennedy’s inability to pay her fines as a result of poverty taken into account by the police officer when he stopped her in July, she said. Discovering the arrest warrant, he promptly put her in handcuffs and took her to a Gulfport jail.

There she was told that unless she came up with all the money – by now the figure had bloated as a result of JCS’s monthly fees to $1,000 – she would stay in jail. And so she did. Kennedy spent the next five days and nights in a holding cell.

“It was filthy,” she told the Guardian. “The toilet wasn’t working, there was no hot water and I was put in the cell with a woman who had stabbed her husband, so I was scared the entire time. For the first three days, they wouldn’t even let me tell my kids where I was.”

Kennedy is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit lodged on Wednesday with a federal district court in Gulfport against the city of Biloxi, its police department, the municipal court system and the private probation company JCS. The filing, drawn up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), claims that the agencies collectively conspired to create a modern form of debtors’ prison as a ruse to extract cash from those least able to afford it – the city’s poor.

In a statement, the city of Biloxi said it had not yet seen the lawsuit but insisted that it treated all defendants fairly. “We believe the ACLU is mistaken about the process in Biloxi,” the city said. “The court has used community service in cases where defendants are unable to pay their fines.”

A request for comment from the Guardian to JCS was not immediately answered.

Kennedy v City of Biloxi discloses that between September 2014 and March this year, at least 415 people were put in jail under warrants charging them with failure to pay fines owed to the city. According to court records, none of these 415 people had the money available when they were locked up.

Nusrat Choudhury, an ACLU attorney involved in the lawsuit, called the Biloxi system “a debtors’ prison from the dark ages”. She said that people were being “arrested at traffic stops and in their homes, taken to jail and subjected to a jailhouse shakedown. They are told that unless they pay the full amount they will stay inside for days”.

That’s not just an idle threat. One of the plaintiffs in Kennedy v City of Biloxi, a 51-year-old homeless man named Richard Tillery, spent 30 days in jail for failure to pay fines for misdemeanors that mainly related to his homelessness and poverty. Another of the plaintiffs, Joseph Anderson, 52, who was physically disabled having had four heart attacks, was handcuffed in front of his girlfriend and her son and put in jail for seven nights for failure to pay a $170 police ticket for speeding.

Debtors’ prisons were abolished in the United States almost two centuries ago. The informal practice of incarcerating people who cannot pay fines or fees was also explicitly outlawed by the US supreme court in 1983 in a ruling that stated that to punish an individual for their poverty was a violation of the 14th amendment of the US constitution that ensures equal protection under the law.

In that judgment, the nation’s highest court ordered all authorities across the country to consider an individual’s ability to pay before jailing them or sentencing them to terms of imprisonment. Yet the plaintiffs in the Biloxi lawsuit all found themselves carted straight to jail without any prior legal hearing and with no representation by a lawyer – a fast-tracking to detention that the complaint argues is a flagrant abuse of the supreme court’s ruling, now more than 30 years old.

The pattern of judicial behavior outlined in Kennedy v City of Biloxi is replicated throughout the US as local authorities seeking new revenue sources jail their poor citizens, allegedly as a way of intimidating them to hand over money they do not have. In 2010, the ACLU exposed similar practices they say are akin to modern-day debtors’ prisons in Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio and Washington. Lawsuits have followed, with Georgia and Washington both being sued this year.

At its most extreme, the incarceration of poor debtors can cost them their lives. Last month David Stojcevski, 32, died in a Detroit jail 16 days into a 30-day sentence for failing to pay a $772 fine for careless driving – a sum which he could not afford, his family said. Ray Staten died in 2011 in the same Gulfport jail in which Qumotria Kennedy was held five days after he was locked up for failure to pay a $409 court fine.

There is no nationwide database of the syndrome of pay-or-stay incarceration, but Choudhury said that anecdotal evidence pointed to a growth in the practice in recent years. “We see cities relying increasingly on court fines and fees as a way of generating revenue.”

In Biloxi, a town of 44,000, the amount of money raised is disclosed in the budget of the city’s municipal court general fund. In the 2014-15 budget it was $1.27m; in the 2015-2016 budget it had risen to $1.45m.

Yet census data from the American Community Survey shows that the percentage of the city’s population that lives below the federal poverty level doubled between 2009 and 2013, from 13% to 28%.

That makes people like Qumotria Kennedy increasingly vulnerable to the trap set for them – pay up or go to jail. As a result of her jail time in July, she lost her job at the MGM Park baseball fields having failed to turn up for work and currently she only gets one or two days cleaning a week.

A judge at the municipal court placed her on 12 months’ probation under a new private company – JCS having ceased to operate in Mississippi – and she is still clocking up an additional $40 a month in fees owing to them. Her current burden to the city, rising with every month that passes, stands at $1,251; unless she can find a new, well-paying job and begin to pay off the fines soon, she faces a return to the holding cell.

“The probation person told me if I don’t pay it, I will be arrested again sooner or later,” Kennedy said. “I don’t believe this is right. I just hope other people in the world don’t get treated like I have.”

 

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