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Prison Is Neoliberalism’s Social Safety Net: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 22/12/2020 - 12:15pm in

Image via Stocksnap/Matthew Henry

Hi here’s $600, please forget that guillotines are a thing.

If a $600 stimulus check isn’t enough for you, then don’t be poor. If you’re poor, get another job. If there are no jobs, find some money. If you find money in unauthorized ways, we’ll throw you in prison. If you decide to just be homeless, we’ll throw you in prison for that too. If all this drives you insane, don’t worry, mental illness is what we have prisons for.

Prison is the social safety net of neoliberalism.

Life is a series of psyops. When you’re little it’s psyops about Santa and the Tooth Fairy. When you go to school it’s psyops about your government being a democracy and the news being true. When you grow up it’s psyops about capitalism totally working and the economy being real.

As your world gets bigger, so do the manipulations. They start out as cute little lies told to children by parents, and by the time you’re grown it’s a vast power-serving worldview designed to ensure the perpetual domination of an omnicidal, ecocidal global empire.

The problem with trying to work within the system to fix the system is that the system is not broken; it’s working exactly as intended. Your very first step in that direction is therefore a step right into the mouth of the monster without your sword or shield. It will devour you.

Wanting to work within the system to fix the system is approaching a monster that is genetically engineered to destroy everything you desire, with your hands empty and outstretched, saying “Can we be friends?” And of course it’s going to say “Sure! Come on in” through its dripping fangs.

Western propaganda is like advertising and uses the same psychological hooks as advertising, but it’s far more effective because people don’t know it’s advertising. It’s like if Anderson Cooper kept giving breaking news reports that drinking Red Bull doubles your life expectancy. Imagine how many more Red Bulls would be sold if people thought they were receiving factual news reports about its miraculous health benefits instead of paid advertisements. It’d be astronomical.

Advertising is a trillion-dollar industry worldwide because it works. And propaganda works much, much more effectively.

There is no valid reason for the entire US-led world order not to have been completely dismantled after the invasion of Iraq.

“Progressives should not push for universal healthcare at this time, they should wait for the next once-in-a-century opportunity like the one being presented right now by this pandemic. I am much more intelligent and mature than you.”

“Now is not the time to push for Medicare for All. First you need to wait until Democrats have a veto-proof supermajority in the House and Senate, then you need to wait until all the Democrats who oppose Medicare for All have been primaried, then you need to wait until a fake MSM-driven antisemitism scandal takes it all away.”

In normal countries opposing universal healthcare is career suicide for any politician in any party; it’s impossible to win elections on that platform. The only reason politicians can get away with it in the US is because Americans have never experienced a real healthcare system.

And of course the US is kept different because it is the hub of a globe-spanning empire whose continued existence depends on keeping the local population too poor and propagandized to mobilize politically and stop the war and military expansionism which holds the empire together. An entire empire depends on keeping Americans too poor to compete politically with the plutocratic class which uses its wealth advantage to control the political/media class, and too propagandized to know that things ought to be different. That’s the real reason behind all this.

Shitlibs: “Elect them and then hold their feet to the fire!”

Jimmy Dore: “Here’s an idea, let’s hold their feet to the fire!”

Shitlibs: “Oh God no don’t hold their feet to the fire, you’ll burn their feet.”

Give me one loud, profanity-slinging leftist appealing to the people in an interesting and engaging way that everyone can understand over a thousand overeducated snobs putting people to sleep with dry and esoteric Marxist university jargon.

The revolutionary struggle is ultimately always a battle of movement vs inertia. One side says “We need to move!” and the other side makes clever-sounding arguments for why not moving is actually the better strategy right now. In such debates, the movement side is always correct.

You don’t push politicians to act in your interests because you think they will, you do it to show everyone that they won’t. You get them essentially making your argument for you: Oh we can’t fight for that right now because the system is rigged to nullify our attempts to do so.

It’s a win-win proposition. At worst they prove you wrong and actually do act in your interests. The only thing you risk losing is a few closet shitlib followers on social media.

Americans keep expecting a system that’s not built to serve their interests to serve their interests:

  • Progressives look to congress for economic justice.
  • Trumpers think the judicial system will overturn the election.
  • Liberals thought Mueller would arrest the entire Trump camp.

What these all have in common is a belief that the system can be used to radically change the system, and it just can’t. The system is built by the powerful to maintain power structures which serve the powerful. That’s it. It’s not going to suddenly start serving your interests.

This is why the main US factions keep being proven wrong about their predictions of apocalyptic revelations which will take out the other party: they’re taking it as a given that there’s some part of the system which works in opposition to the other parts on behalf of justice. Trump is obviously corrupt, so Democrats assumed an investigation would turn up corruption and he’d be punished for it, erroneously taking it as a given that the judicial system might turn against the president. Same with the Trumpers who think the election results will be overturned.

And that’s just not what the system is for. Even relatively awake people often cling to the delusion that there exists some part of their federal governmental structure which is there to serve them, when really its primary function is to protect the powerful from them.

You guys, Russia totally hacked the US right before a new president took office again, so now it’s important for that president to push more cold war aggressions against Russia again. The evidence is entirely classified again but we need to trust and support it anyway. Again.

The political/media class keeps telling us America is being “attacked” by hackers and every time they say it’s a new Pearl Harbor or 9/11. Isn’t it funny how all these Pearl Harbors and 9/11s are always completely invisible to the public, and the evidence for who perpetrated them is always classified?

After 9/11 you got people examining footage, examining the wreckage, examining the actual forensic evidence and forming their own opinions about what happened and who was responsible. If there is no footage, wreckage or forensic evidence for you to look at, this can’t be done.

If I made a major incendiary claim, you’d want to see some evidence. If I told you “Well the evidence is secret,” you’d rightly dismiss me as a crackpot. But if I worked for a government agency with an extensive history of lying, the political/media class would accept my claim as fact.

There’s no good reason to place your primary focus on “Trump bad” stories anymore. We’ve had four years of that, now he’s on his way out the door. Biden is the next president and he’s already doing lots of things that need criticism and scrutiny. Start punching up.

People who wrongly saw Russiagate as the deep state attacking Trump because they don’t like him won’t recognize the similarities to the Chinagate op. Those who know Russiagate was the US intelligence cartel manufacturing a case for aggressions against Russia will see the same thing happening with Chinagate.

Russiagate was not the deep state attacking Trump because they don’t like him; it was barely about Trump at all. It was about reigniting cold war hysteria and manufacturing support for a new cold war. All the China/Biden stuff will be used in the same way. Some analysts recognize the fact that during Russiagate, Trump actually greatly increased cold war aggressions against Russia, but not many make the jump to seeing that that was actually what it was all about. Escalations against Russia and China have been planned for many years.

“But Caitlin, Russiagate was fake and Chinagate is REAL!” No you dupe. You only believe that because you think Russiagate was about Trump. If you understood that it’s just the US intelligence cartel diddling narratives to force a confrontation before US hegemony is surpassed, you’d see them as the same.

The battle is between those fighting to turn the lights on and those fighting to keep the lights off. Those fighting to see what’s going on in their world uninhibited by propaganda, censorship, lies and government secrecy vs those who support the evils such things are made to hide.

Gonna quit this gig and become one of those superintelligent communists who spends their time explaining why it’s actually leftist to support western imperialism and the Democratic Party.

Gonna quit this gig and become one of those politicians who gets elected on a left populist platform and then spends their career slamming the brakes on leftist agendas because they’re just not realistic right now.

Since the Democratic Party has officially decreed that Americans can survive on empty platitudes it’s actually perfectly rational that there should be a place in the Biden cabinet for Pete Buttigieg.

Understand the mistakes of the past or you’ll keep repeating them into the future. The US progressive movement will make no progress until it understands that Obama was a corrupt mass murdering monster.

Almost all of the people who keep civilization functioning do so without recognition or acclaim. The few people at the top who show up to take credit for attainments in commerce, media, politics etc are standing on the heads of millions of people, most of whom they’ve never met.

When I was in a financially abusive relationship with young kids Christmas was the worst time of the year for me. Trying to scrape together enough Santa presents so my sweet children didn’t worry they’d been “naughty” is just one way capitalism tortures those who are struggling.

I thought I’d get more comfortable with the attention this job gets me as time went on, but I’m actually getting more and more reclusive. Lefty commentators are expected to do interviews and videos and podcasts and stuff, but I just want to write and make art and keep to myself. The expectation that I should do other things besides what I’m good at reminds me of an old Mitch Hedberg bit:

“When you’re in Hollywood and you’re a comedian, everybody wants you to do other things. All right, you’re a stand-up comedian, can you write us a script? That’s not fair. That’s like if I worked hard to become a cook, and I’m a really good cook, they’d say, ‘OK, you’re a cook. Can you farm?’ “

I’m just gonna focus on cooking.

___________________________

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Exclusive Extract: George Pell’s Prison Journal

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 25/11/2020 - 7:00am in

Day 1: A dear friend had taken me aside during my trial and given me a piece of advice should I find myself in prison. They said in jail, early on you need to seek out the biggest person in the yard and take them down or become their, forgive me Father for my language, become their bitch.

Suffice to say, I’m a lover, not a fighter and my cell mate Bruce has the softest hands.

Day 2: Very excited today to be told that I have a Visitor. Sadly, it was only Tony Abbott. Silly sod I asked him to bring in some smokes so that I could start doing business. Instead he brought in a bloody bible and some onions. What on earth would I do with those?

You can’t make a shiv from an onion, Lord knows I have tried.

Day 3: Have been called upon to coach my cell block’s football team. What an honour, I look forward to mucking in with the lads.

Day 4: We may have lost that football match in the exercise yard by a mere point, but I assertively told my disgruntled young players that unlike them, I have the best barristers who can overturn this decision at my behest. Mark my words, the screw who umpired the match will be convicted of dereliction of duty and imprisoned with us by the end of the week.

Day 5: Abbott came back today, thankfully he smuggled in some smokes. Not quite enough to cover the cost of having Bruce ‘taken care of,’ but enough to make a down payment.

Day 6: Had an unfortunate incident in the shower today. Despite dropping my soap a number of times no one would bend down and pick it up. What a sad World we live in when no one would pick up an old man’s soap.

Day 7: Abbott’s back again today. No smokes but he did give me a new toothbrush which will make a lovely shiv. Let’s see who sleeps on top tonight, Bruce.

Day 8: Didn’t sharpen the shiv enough, Bruce thought I was trying to tickle him. Called Abbott to ask for more cigarettes.

Day 9: Abbott came today with nicotine patches. The guards had to drag me off of him.

Day 10: Received a bag full of letters today from my dear supporters. After sifting through all 99 letters I found that most of them were from Abbott and the rest were from Andrew Bolt.

Day 11: Abbott’s back today and he’s brought me a present. Pope on a rope. If those guards were a little slower I would’ve successfully garroted him with the bloody rope from the pope.

Day 12: Meeting with the Warden did not go well. My plan to move more troublesome inmates, like Bruce to other parishes……err Jails, was not well received. Back to the drawing board.

Day 13: Another day another Abbott visit. He brings me a copy of the Australian, handy as the 1 ply toilet paper they have in here is not that great.

George Pell’s prison journal will be available for sale at your local parish gift shop and all good book stores clearance bins in the coming weeks.

Strangers Are Welcoming People Released from Prison into Their Homes

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 17/11/2020 - 2:41am in

The story was originally published by Next City.

When Impact Justice brainstormed what would later become the Homecoming Project, the concept was simple enough: The organization, founded to find better solutions to criminal justice reform, would act as matchmaker between Oakland residents with an extra bedroom to rent and people leaving prison who needed a place to stay. It wasn’t unlike Airbnb.

It also wasn’t always an easy sell. Tyler Jank had an empty room in his Oakland home. A teammate through his rec league, who works for Impact Justice, suggested he rent it through the program — an idea he initially deemed “weird.” When Eleanor Lefiti heard about it toward the end of her 27-year incarceration, she worried such a new program would be filled with drama.

Both, however, decided to give it a shot — and joined a growing group of people willing to open their homes and lives to one another. “We started this thinking we were building a housing project,” says Impact Justice president Alex Busansky. “What we ended up building was a relationship program.”

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In September, Impact Justice was announced as the winner of a $2.5 million award to both expand the Homecoming Project in the Bay Area and create a model for other cities to replicate. The grant provides much needed funding the organizers have struggled to secure since the pilot launched in 2018. “We now have a bank of resources to allow our participants to feel valued, included and supported,” says Terah Lawyer, program manager for the Homecoming Project.

Previously, she notes, the small team scrambled to meet the needs of the program and its participants. In two years they have placed 27 participants across Alameda County, spending roughly $10,000 to secure a six-month stay for each participant — meaning rent paid directly to their hosts — alongside case management and training for hosts.

On the front end, hosts learn about the school-to-prison pipeline, challenges with the traditional transitional housing model, what causes recidivism and needs of people returning from prison. Once a participant is placed in their home, the Homecoming Project provides case management to help them secure things like a driver’s license, Social Security card, bank account, employment and tools to navigate life on the outside.

For Jank, who decided to open his home through the Homecoming Project in the midst of this summer’s protest movement, it’s been about putting a human face and story to the challenges of returning home after years in prison. “You see the struggles firsthand — you realize this is necessary,” he says of the Homecoming Project. When his roommate faced barriers in opening a bank account, Jank wrote up a proof-of-residence form as his landlord.

For Lefiti, now adjusting to life outside after nearly three decades in prison, she still tears up when speaking of support provided by the program. “I cried when I saw the home and I’m still feeling it right now,” she says. “They made me feel so accepted — and there were a lot of fears coming out here, of how are people going to perceive us?”

homecomingThe Fruitvale section of Oakland. Credit: Melinda Young Stuart / Flickr

When she moved into her Fruitvale, Oakland home, Lawyer gave Lefiti bedding and took her food shopping. Her case manager provided her with a laptop and offered a crash course on the internet and email.

“I get attached to every placement and I know every single story of every placement,” Lawyer says of her role as matchmaker. Over two years, she intimately knew this program worked on multiple levels, by providing a more secure, safer residence than transitional housing offered by the state, by connecting formerly incarcerated individuals to a supportive community on the outside, and ultimately reducing the stigma of being incarcerated.

None of the participants recidivated; all are either employed or enrolled in school with an average of securing employment within two weeks. After six months participants are free to sign their own lease agreements with their hosts, which some have chosen to do, or move on to other housing.

But even as the program attracted media coverage and interest everywhere from New York to Wisconsin, funding the program was a challenge. “Before the grant, this was the most popular project I’ve ever been involved in that had no money,” as Busansky put it.

Beyond the challenge of pitching an outside-the-box proposal, private funders often hesitate to support housing initiatives (as opposed to programs like job training), as it’s seen as an expensive and daunting endeavor. An application for $3 million for rental assistance from California’s Board of State and Community Corrections, which connected the dots between reentry and homelessness, was denied.

But homelessness is expensive for cities, as is relying on new construction to solve housing needs. At the same time, reducing recidivism and prison populations can dramatically save taxpayer money. These were all arguments Impact Justice made in its application for the Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge offered by Enterprise Community Partners and Wells Fargo this January. Out of 885 proposals, they were one of six winners to secure a two-year, $2.5 million award.

“The fact they piloted this idea with such success gave our judges across three different application rounds a lot of confidence that this is not an idea that’s so out there, who knows if it could work?” says Christi Smith, senior program director at Enterprise. “They’re doing it, showing success and demonstrating impact. It’s a terrific opportunity to build as a model because every city, every state, is facing this challenge.”

This funding will house a total of 120 people returning home from prison, expanding it from Alameda County to neighboring Contra Costa County. That expansion will still not meet the huge post-prison housing need the Homecoming Project has identified, Lawyer notes.

That’s why their investment into evaluating the program impacts and creating a model for larger replication is so important. “Over the next year we are going to build that toolkit,” Busansky says.

He points out Impact Justice is not a housing organization; rather it works in innovation and research. “We want to stand up ideas, prove they work and show how they could be replicated,” he says. “Homecoming Project is cheaper than any other housing option that government has — they should take it on. There may be other nonprofits that want to do this — a church group or community-based organization — they should take it on. If we can give them the tools to do that, it will spread across the country in a way we could never do.”

The Impact Justice team already planted seeds with people around the country showing this model works. “They’re all really interested but don’t quite know how it works or why it works,” says Busansky. “We tell them there’s nothing magical about it, it’s all practical.”

In her transition home from prison, what Lefiti knows is that a welcoming home and community have become crucial components to rebuild her life. “Being around everyone I was around for Homecoming Project,” she says, “It basically gave me the sense that I was going to succeed.”

The post Strangers Are Welcoming People Released from Prison into Their Homes appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Criminal Neglect

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 30/10/2020 - 10:41am in

A recent article in the London ‘Evening Standard’ starts: Long before lockdown, lawyers warned the criminal justice system had reached breaking point. Investigations were under-resourced, courthouses had been sold off as hotels, courtrooms sat idle and by the end of 2019 the queue for crown court justice was over 37,000 cases long. Complainants, witnesses and... Read more

‘The Aboriginal Gulag’: The Northern Territory’s Criminal Legal System

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 3:03am in

Editor’s note: This article was sent to the Australian Lawyer’s Alliance’s publication Precedent in the hope of offering critique of NT legal professionals’ complicity with the disgraceful status quo of mass Aboriginal incarceration. Precedent proposed heavy edits to the article, including the very notable extraction most of the critical references to NT legal professional organisations. Such proposed censorship of dissenting voices shows a shocking lack of willingness to critically reflect on uncomfortable truths in the legal profession and adds additional weight to the arguments presented below.

Introduction

As you fly into Darwin you can’t fail to see through the window of your aircraft the real symbol of the Northern Territory. This initial image is no Eiffel Tower, and it’s certainly no Statue of Liberty. Neither is it some amusing giant crocodile. It’s an enormous, ugly footprint on the ground, 36 kilometres south of Darwin: the Darwin ‘Superjail’. In these Orwellian times it’s officially called the ‘Darwin Correctional Precinct’. Of course, it doesn’t correct anything or anybody and it’s not a ‘precinct’. It’s just a very big jail. It doesn’t as yet have signage declaring ‘Freedom is Slavery’ or ‘Work Sets You Free’. Perhaps later. Costing $1.8 billion, it represents the largest outlay ever made by any Territory government, and although it only opened at the end of 2014 it is already overcrowded, so a new one will be required soon.

Figures of shame

The Northern Territory’s imprisonment rate continues to be the highest on the planet. The adult imprisonment rate is four to five times higher than that of all other Australian states and territories. The detention rate for NT juveniles is six to seven times higher than that of all other Australian states and territories. The statistics beggar belief.

The highest international imprisonment rate is that of the United States: 655 people per 100,000 of  population, of whom 34 per cent are African American, 24 per cent are Hispanic and 30 per cent are white. The Australian national figure is 170, of whom 27 per cent are Aboriginal (yet only 3 per cent of Australia’s population is Aboriginal); New Zealand’s figure is 201, Canada’s 107, England’s 140, Victoria’s 170 and Western Australia’s 344.

The NT figure is a catastrophic 913, of whom 86 per cent are Aboriginal. All—100 per cent—children in NT detention are Aboriginal (yet only 30 per cent of the Territory’s population is Aboriginal).These NT figures are more disturbing by virtue of their marked acceleration in the last decade, particularly for women.

The Territory’s imprisonment rate has always been too high and disproportionately Aboriginal, but in the last ten years it has accelerated past Pluto.

How could such a shameful situation exist in 2020 Australia?

The drop in professional standards

Over the last twenty years, instead of pursuing excellence and improving professional standards, the NT legal system has deteriorated. Jurists and jurisprudence have been replaced by managers and ‘efficiency’.

I have been practising criminal law in this jurisdiction since 1987. In the last five years I have seen the ‘system’ go past tipping points to the extent that its functioning now falls somewhere between absurd and surreal. It is no longer an overworked, under-resourced and at times chaotic legal system. It is now not fit for purpose and has become a depraved jailing machine consuming Aboriginal men, women and children at an ever-increasing rate. Most of the players in this theatre of the absurd—Supreme Court justices, local court judges, and lawyers—are just going through the motions. Most of them have either become inured to the process or are unaware of any proper alternative to its absurdity and inadequacy. The criminal courts now operate like clearing houses rather than vehicles for due process.

Inadequate resources, inadequate time, inadequate experience, inadequate training and supervision, inadequate, inadequate.Inadequate. This has been one of the factors that have led to more, and longer, Aboriginal imprisonment. The legal profession has presented no real opposition to this incremental slide and is now effectively muted, if not signed up to this mediocrity.

Racism

Perhaps of more concern is that this legal ‘system’ is locked on this trajectory, which has now become unsustainable. It’s locked in because in 2020 there is very little, if any, genuine desire on the part of the players  in the system to change it. It has now become a given.  

Representative groups such as the Criminal Lawyers’ Association of the Northern Territory (CLANT) and the Northern Territory Bar Association (NTBA), and publicly funded service providers such as the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) and the Northern Territory Legal Aid Commission (NTLAC) have become mere enablers of this disgraceful status quo. There is no longer any real opposition, protest or dissent from anywhere. No one in the NT legal world seems capable of saying; ‘No, I disagree’. The main explanation for this deplorable state of affairs, which of course will be strenuously denied by all, is racism.

The reality is that this calamity could never occur, nor would it be allowed to continue, if these imprisonment levels applied to non-Aboriginal Australians. This situation is another example of Australia’s woeful relationship with Aboriginal Australians. An important feature of Australian racism that plays a key role here is the way the true history of Australia’s relationship with Aboriginal people has been either ignored or buried. That silencing of Australian history was first articulated by Professor W. E. H. Stanner in his groundbreaking Boyer Lectures in 1968. Entitled ‘The Great Australian Silence’, the lectures reminded listeners not only of the historical injustices and massacres committed against Aboriginal people but how that history was deliberately buried and forgotten. Stanner explained that Australia’s sense of its past, its very collective memory, had been built on a state of forgetting that couldn’t ‘be explained by absentmindedness’. He called it a ‘cult of forgetfulness’ practised on a national scale. He also described white Australia’s ‘sightlessness’: the aversion of our eyes from the facts.

This feature also figures in explaining how this Aboriginal incarceration horror continues to worsen and has now become the norm in the Northern Territory.

An obvious recent example is the shameful treatment of Aboriginal children in Don Dale detention centre, the resultant White/Gooda Royal Commission, and the failure of that inquiry to effect any real change. Contrast that with another recent Royal Commission: the inquiry into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which led to real and significant changes, including large numbers of offenders being prosecuted and jailed. Could the explanation for these different outcomes be that the White/Gooda commission’s subject matter was merely the physical and mental abuse of vulnerable Aboriginal children detained in the custody of the state?

The Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory of Australia

The White/Gooda Royal Commission, set up by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in July 2016 to investigate the horrors exposed by the Four Corners program ‘Australia’s Shame’, confirmed the abuses that were being inflicted upon Aboriginal children in Don Dale and Alice Springs detention centres. Four Corners revealed, through graphic film, boys being tear-gassed, beaten, held down, spit-hooded, shackled, hosed and unlawfully placed in isolation. It showed what is now the unforgettable symbol of the NT legal system: Dylan Voller in a cell, bound to a chair, hooded, catatonic. The Royal Commission discovered unequivocally the individuals who were responsible for these unlawful and barbaric acts, and yet no one was charged. Further, despite the evidence revealing which individual politicians, high-level bureaucrats and detention-centre staff were responsible for the unlawful solitary confinements—for 14-year-old Jake Roper it was twenty-three out of twenty-four hours each day in a 3- by 2-metre cell for sixteen straight days and nights—no real consequences followed for any of them. Also, it was discovered during the hearings that, throughout this entire period, each and every one of the children who were beaten, abused, unlawfully kept in isolation and subjected to other cruelties were represented by lawyers from NAAJA or the NTLAC. What, if anything, did the lawyers do for their clients in this situation? And yet the Royal Commission refused to inquire into this highly relevant feature of the systemic racist abuse of these Aboriginal children. The refusal to scrutinise the performance of the children’s lawyers rendered it the White/Gooda Royal Omission of Inquiry.

Further, the fact that this Royal Commission failed so miserably is particularly dipiriting as, unlike the many previous reviews and inquiries, this one stated from the outset, through counsel assisting’s opening statement, that this was a Royal Commission that ‘had to produce action and results’.

Consistent with that, on the second day of evidence Pat Anderson, co-chair of the Referendum Council, chair of the Lowitja Institute, former president of NAAJA and co-author of the Little Children are Sacred Report, gave compelling evidence warning against more ‘nothingness’. While thumping the table, eyeballing both commissioners and holding the whole court spellbound, she implored them:

We spend a lot of time talking about Aboriginal issues and the problems and everything, but very little has been done.

It’s just the nature of these things. And I really fear—our hope is, Commissioners, that this isn’t the fate of this Inquiry. In fact, I would go so far as to say the very survival of Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory depends on this Commission making a real impact here, that it not just be—we all feel good about talking about it, and we go away feeling all warm and fuzzy, and it’s dropped into a filing cabinet somewhere. That cannot happen here today—this, this, this report. Please, I beg you, do not just put it in a filing cabinet. You are morally bound to do something, not just talk about it. That’s all this country ever does is talk about blackfellas.

Her plea fell on deaf ears. The White/Gooda report and recommendations went into that filing cabinet more quickly than any of its many predecessors.

Referring to the shocking things seen on Four Corners, she went on:

You know 10 years ago when we did the Little Children Are Sacred (report) it was inconceivable that that might happen here even in the Northern Territory. I watched the Four Corners program, like most Australians that night, and…that was my thought, you know 10 years ago this would not have happened. So I think it is part of this general moral decay. Australia’s…in a really bad way here and I don’t know how you return it to a mature, sophisticated, civil society.

In November 2017 the White/Gooda commission made 147 findings and 227 recommendations. To date, few of these have been implemented, and some have even been contradicted. The interim report recommended the immediate closure of Don Dale and the construction of a purpose-built juvenile facility, not anywhere near the adult jail. The NT government ignored this. The children are still in the old Berrimah jail, and the new facility is slated to be built beside the adult Superjail.

The commissioners even failed to establish a mechanism to monitor the implementation of their recommendations, even though such mechanisms have often been established in relation to other Royal Commissions.

Meanwhile, Aboriginal children have continued to be detained in the ‘new’ Don Dale, which is the old, condemned, adult Berrimah Prison. Aboriginal children have now been locked up there since 2014. Aboriginal children have been detained in a condemned adult men’s jail for six years, and no one in the system is saying that that’s wrong. 

This includes NAAJA, CLANT and the NTBA, who are now embedded in this status quo and have become its functionaries. They say little and do less. The only people in the Territory who mount any opposition are the children themselves, who, confirming Martin Luther King’s words that ‘a riot is the language of the unheard’, regularly attempt protests and breakouts, and in one instance in November 2018 burned down the education section of the prison.

***

US Civil Rights heroine Fannie Lou Hamer said back in 1964, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired’, and  Pat Anderson echoed these sentiments in her evidence to the Royal Commission.The mistreatment of Aboriginal children that the Royal Commission exposed was bad enough. That no action was taken against those responsible and that the inquiry’s recommendations have been ignored gives you a real insight into the Northern Territory and Australia in 2020. Welcome to the Aboriginal Gulag. This status quo is maintained with little prospect of change. The national outrage and shock following the Four Corners exposé have given way to the cult of forgetfulness. The day after Four Corners screened, Aboriginal journalist Stan Grant, describing his reaction, wrote in The Guardian, ‘Things once seen cannot be unseen’. However, once again, Australians have unseen.

Pat Anderson, Aboriginal activist of thirty years’ experience, and not a journalist, was spot on. All of this deterioration has occurred within a period of general moral decline. This failure sits within a jarring epoch in which we are losing our basic humanity. We now live officially in the post-truth age. The only positive word in the proffered analysis is ‘unsustainable’: this broken, failed system is bound to fall over before any effective improvements are made to it. Simmering and about to occur are further deaths in custody, further police tragedies like the Yuendumu shooting and further attempts by children to break out of detention.

We are at a critical moment. Climate change, COVID-19, economic collapse and more mean that this period of history has become an interregnum between the old and whatever is to come next. There exists a common thread between the Belarus protest movement, Yuendumu, the Hong Kong protest movement, Extinction Rebellion, Don Dale and more.

It’s time the lawyers and others within the Territory’s criminal legal system broke out of their day-to-day sense of normal. As the Black Lives Matter slogan says, ‘Doing Nothing Time Is Over’. 


What the victory of Territory Labor means for Aboriginal children and youth justice

Thalia Anthony, 10 Sep 2020

This commitment to law and order in a society that has deep roots in discriminatory justice practices—overtly legitimated under the NT Intervention in 2007—signals another four years of the state’s punitive management of Aboriginal children.

Corruption at the Heart of the Prison System

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 9:14pm in

There is a deep problem within the criminal justice system which needs to be addressed.

The post Corruption at the Heart of the Prison System appeared first on Renegade Inc.

Chris Hedges: The Cost of Resistance

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/09/2020 - 12:23am in

Princeton, New Jersey (Scheerpost) — Two of the rebels I admire most, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks publisher, and Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, are in jail in Britain. That should not be surprising. You can measure the effectiveness of resistance by the fury of the response. Julian courageously exposed the lies, deceit, war crimes and corruption of the ruling imperial elites. Roger has helped organized the largest acts of mass civil disobedience in British history, shutting down parts of London for weeks, in a bid to wrest power from a ruling class that has done nothing, and will do nothing, to halt the climate emergency and our death march to mass extinction.

The governing elites, when truly threatened, turn the rule of law into farce. Dissent becomes treason. They use the state mechanisms of control – intelligence agencies, police, courts, black propaganda and a compliant press that acts as their echo chamber, along with the jails and prisons, not only to marginalize and isolate rebels, but to psychologically and physically destroy them. The list of rebels silenced or killed by ruling elites runs in a direct line from Socrates to the Haitian resistance leader Toussaint L’Ouverture, who led the only successful slave revolt in human history and died in a frigid French prison cell of malnutrition and exhaustion, to the imprisonment of the socialist Eugene V. Debs, whose health was also broken in a federal prison. Rebel leaders from the 1960s, including Mumia Abu Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, Kojo Bomani Sababu, Mutulu Shakur and Leonard Peltier, remain, decades later, in U.S. prisons. Muslim activists, including those who led the charity The Holy Land Foundation and Syed Fahad Hashmi, were arrested, often at the request of Israel, after the hysteria following 9/11, and given tawdry show trials. They also remain incarcerated.

Resistance, genuine resistance, exacts a very, very high price. Those in power drop even the pretense of justice when they face an existential threat. Most rebels, like Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and the tens of thousands of rebels the U.S. has had kidnapped, disappeared and brutally tortured and killed throughout American history end up as martyrs.

Once a rebel is caged the state uses its absolute control and array of dark arts to break them. Julian, whose extradition hearing is underway in London, and who spent seven years trapped as a political prisoner in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, is taken from his cell in the high security Belmarsh Prison at 5:00 am. He is handcuffed, put in holding cells, stripped naked and X-rayed. He is transported an hour and a half each way to court in a police van that resembles a dog cage on wheels. He is held in a glass box at the back of court during the proceedings, often unable to consult with his lawyers. He has difficulty hearing the proceedings. He is routinely denied access to the documents in his case and is openly taunted in court by the judge.

It does not matter that Julian, being prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act, is not a U.S. citizen. It does not matter that WikiLeaks, which he founded and publishes, is not a U.S.-based publication. The ominous message the U.S. government is sending is clear: No matter who or where you are, if you expose the inner workings of empire you will be hunted down, kidnapped and brought to the U.S. to be tried as a spy and imprisoned for life. The empire intends to be unaccountable, untouchable and unexamined.

Julian Assange Cartoon

Illustratin by Mr. Fish for Scheerpost

The U.S. created in the so-called “war on terror” parallel legal and penal codes to railroad dissidents and rebels into prison. These rebels are held in prolonged solitary confinement, creating deep psychological distress. They are prosecuted under special administrative measures, known as SAMs, to prevent or severely restrict communication with other prisoners, attorneys, family, the media and people outside the jail. They are denied access to the news and other reading material. They are barred from participating in educational and religious activities in the prison. They are subject to 24-hour electronic monitoring and 23-hour lockdown. They must shower and go to the bathroom on camera. They are permitted to write one letter a week to a single member of their family, but cannot use more than three pieces of paper. They often have no access to fresh air and must take the one hour of recreation in a cage that looks like a giant hamster wheel.

The U.S. has set up a segregated facility, the Communication Management Unit, at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. Nearly all the inmates transferred to Terre Haute are Muslims. A second facility has been set up at Marion, Ill., where the inmates again are mostly Muslim but also include a sprinkling of animal rights and environmental activists. Their sentences are arbitrarily lengthened by “terrorism enhancements” under the Patriot Act. Amnesty International has called the Marion prison facility “inhumane.” All calls and mail – although communication customarily is off-limits to prison officials – are monitored in these two Communication Management Units. Communication among prisoners is required to be only in English. The highest-level “terrorists” are housed at the Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility, known as Supermax, in Florence, Colorado, where prisoners have almost no human interaction, physical exercise or mental stimulation. It is Guantánamo-like conditions in colder weather.

Julian is already very fragile. His psychological and physical distress include dramatic weight loss, severe respiratory problems, joint problems, dental decay, chronic anxiety, intense, constant stress resulting in an inability to relax or focus, and episodes of mental confusion. These symptoms indicate, as Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on torture who met and examined Julian in prison has stated, that he is suffering from prolonged psychological torture.

If Julian is extradited to the U.S. to face 17 charges under the Espionage Act, each carrying a potential 10 years, which appears likely, he will continue to be psychologically and physically abused to break him. He will be tried in the burlesque of a kangaroo court with “secret” evidence, familiar to Black and Muslim radicals as well as rebels such as Jeremy Hammond, sentenced to 10 years in prison for hacking into the computers and making public the emails of a private security firm that works on behalf of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security, and corporations such as Dow Chemical.

Roger is being held in Pentonville Prison in London which was built in 1842 and is in disrepair. He is charged with breaking bail conditions over an action that saw activists throw paint on the walls of the four major political parties, as well as conspiracy to cause criminal damage. A Green Party member leaked to the British police a recorded Zoom discussion Roger was having with three other members of Burning Pink, an anti-political party organized to create citizen assemblies to replace ruling governing bodies, as they discussed upcoming actions. The homes of the four activists on the Zoom meeting – Roger Hallam, Blyth Brentnall, Diana Warner, Ferhat Ulusu and Anglican priest Steven Nunn – were raided on August 25. Their electronic devices were confiscated by police and they were arrested.

Roger is housed in a dirty, vermin-infested cell and denied books and visitors. A vegan, he is forced to live on a diet of cold cereal and bread. On many days there is no hot food served in the prison. Violent altercations within the prison are commonplace. The overcrowded cells often lack lighting and heat. He has no change of clothes and has been unable to wash the clothes he is wearing for weeks. He stuffs bed sheets and paper in the cracks of the door to block mice and cockroaches. The toilet in his cell has no seat, is covered in excrement and does not flush properly. He goes days without access to the outside. His reading glasses are broken. He is waiting on a request for tape to fix them. The COVID-19 pandemic is in the prison. Two of the staff have died from the virus. Roger could be imprisoned in these conditions until February if he is denied bail in a hearing scheduled for Tuesday.

Roger’s arrest came as Extinction Rebellion was planning the blockade of the printing presses of News Corps Printworks, which prints the newspapers The Times, Sun on Sunday, Sunday Times, The Daily Mail and The London Evening Standard. The blockade took place on September 4 to protest the failure of the news outlets to accurately report on the climate and ecological emergency. The blockade delayed distribution of the papers by several hours.

“The days of standing up to tyranny have long faded,” Roger writes from prison. “The life-and-death struggle against Hitler and fascism is consigned to the history books. Today’s liberal classes believe only in one thing: maintaining their privilege. Their one priority is power. The number one rule is: preserve our careers, our institutions at all cost. The historical rule number one of fighting evil is the willingness to lose your career and to risk the closing down of your institution. The prospect of death and destruction is lost in a postmodernist haze. Leadership has decayed into sitting behind a desk, following public relations protocols (otherwise known as lying). Leading from the front, the first to go to prison Martin Luther King-style died with the passing of the World War II generation.”

“The game is up,” Roger continued. “The old alliance with the liberal classes is dead. New forms of revolutionary initiative and leadership are rising up. Members of the new political party Burning Pink have thrown paint at the doors of the NGOs and political parties calling for open dialogue and public debate. The response, true to form, has been a lethal and deafening silence. We are now in prison from where I write this article after a Green Party member recorded a Zoom call and passed it to the police. We have not been let out for exercise for the first five days. We have no kettle, no pillows, no visits. But we don’t give a shit. We are doing something about Evil.”

Feature photo | Protesters move a banner at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, in London, Sept. 21, 2020, as the Julian Assange extradition hearing to the US continues. Frank Augstein | AP

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He wrote a weekly column for the progressive website Truthdig for 14 years until he was fired along with all of the editorial staff in March 2020. [Hedges and the staff had gone on strike earlier in the month to protest the publisher’s attempt to fire the Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer, demand an end to a series of unfair labor practices and the right to form a union.] He is the host of the Emmy Award-nominated RT America show On Contact.

The post Chris Hedges: The Cost of Resistance appeared first on MintPress News.

Being wanted – even if only by the Police

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/09/2020 - 6:00pm in

The piece below is characteristically dishonest from Johnson – not only because he says he is investing in policing when he supported and was a member of a government that actually (should we say?) defunded the Police. However since he has promised to ‘refund’ them, then by all accounts there are now an extra 4,000... Read more

Prison Spending ‘Travesty’- NFP

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 26/02/2015 - 9:34am in

Tags 

prison, spending