Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Media, Miseducation, and Mumia Abu Jamal

Posted in BTR, Citizen Radio, media, politics, prison by allisonkilkenny on April 22, 2009

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Mumia Abu Jamal

Mumia Abu Jamal

After the Unfunny But Totally Real Headlines, Citizen Radio discusses Australia, the cursed liberal media, torture memos, miseducation, prison, and Mumia Abu Jamal.

What’s more gross than grown adults pleasuring themselves to the thought of the U.S. military? When the press does it! Citizen Radio discusses the mainstream media, and how they’re miseducating America.

Next, Jamie talks about dropping out of high school and Allison comments on Noam Chomsky’s “On Miseducation,” a book that explores how institutionalized education encourages ideological domestication.

Upcoming guests include: Glenn Greenwald, Matt Taibbi, Janeane Garofalo, and Jeremy Scahill.

Citizen Radio aids every Wednesday on BTR. Listen to our archives here. Join us on Facebook!

VIDEO: NY Legislature to Vote on Overhauling Draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws

Posted in politics, prison, racism, War on Drugs by allisonkilkenny on March 3, 2009

Democracy Now

n52476290354_57251The New York State Assembly is set to vote Wednesday on legislation that would allow judges to send drug offenders to substance abuse treatment instead of prison. The legislation would also allow thousands of prisoners jailed for nonviolent drug offenses to have their sentences reduce or commuted. It’s the latest step in a long campaign to repeal the draconian Rockefeller laws. The laws impose lengthy minimum sentences on drug offenders, even those with no prior convictions. The laws have disproportionately targeted people of color, while giving prosecutors de facto control over how long convicts are jailed. [includes rush transcript]

Video Guests:

Kirk James, served nine years under the Rockefeller drug laws as a first-time offender. He’s now a social justice activist.

Caitlin Dunklee, coordinator of the Correctional Association’s Drop the Rock, a grassroots campaign to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws.

Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry, Representing New York’s 35th Assembly District in Queens, has led efforts in the New York state legislature to repeal the Rockefeller drug laws.

Watch videos here


Staggering New Prison Statistics

Posted in prison, racism by allisonkilkenny on March 3, 2009

Democracy Now

Study: 7.3 Million Americans Now in Prison, on Parole or Probation


Here in this country, a new study has found the number of people in prison, on parole or probation has reached a record 7.3 million. One in every thirty-one adults is now in the US corrections system. Twenty-five years ago, the rate was one in seventy-seven. The Pew Center on the States found that corrections spending is outpacing government spending on education, transportation and public assistance. The National Association of State Budget Officers estimates that states spent a record $52 billion on corrections last year—that’s one in every fifteen general fund dollars.



Prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid

One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole or probation, at a cost to the states of $47 billion in 2008, according to a new study.

Criminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance, based on state and federal data. Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending, which quadrupled in the past two decades, according to the report Monday by the Pew Center on the States, the first breakdown of spending in confinement and supervision in the past seven years.

The increases in the number of people in some form of correctional control occurred as crime rates declined by about 25 percent in the past two decades.

As states face huge budget shortfalls, prisons, which hold 1.5 million adults, are driving the spending increases.

States have shown a preference for prison spending even though it is cheaper to monitor convicts in community programs, including probation and parole, which require offenders to report to law enforcement officers. A survey of 34 states found that states spent an average of $29,000 a year on prisoners, compared with $1,250 on probationers and $2,750 on parolees. The study found that despite more spending on prisons, recidivism rates remained largely unchanged.

Pew researchers say that as states trim services like education and health care, prison budgets are growing. Those priorities are misguided, the study says.

“States are looking to make cuts that will have long-term harmful effects,” said Sue Urahn, managing director of the Pew Center on the States. “Corrections is one area they can cut and still have good or better outcomes than what they are doing now.”

Brian Walsh, a senior research fellow at the conservative-leaning Heritage Foundation, agreed that focusing on probation and parole could reduce recidivism and keep crime rates low in the long run. But Mr. Walsh said tougher penalties for crimes had driven the crime rate down in the first place.

“The reality is that one of the reasons crime rates are so low is because we changed our federal and state systems in the past two decades to make sure that people who commit crimes, especially violent crimes, actually have to serve significant sentences,” he said.

Over all, two-thirds of offenders, or about 5.1 million people in 2008, were on probation or parole. The study found that states were not increasing their spending for community supervision in proportion to their growing caseloads. About $9 out of $10 spent on corrections goes to prison financing (that includes money spent to house 780,000 people in local jails).

One in 11 African-Americans, or 9.2 percent, are under correctional control, compared with one in 27 Latinos (3.7 percent) and one in 45 whites (2.2 percent). Only one out of 89 women is behind bars or monitored, compared with one out of 18 men.

Georgia had 1 in 13 adults under some form of punishment; Idaho, 1 in 18; the District of Columbia, 1 in 21; Texas, 1 in 22; Massachusetts, 1 in 24; and Ohio, 1 in 25.

Peter Greenwood, the executive director of the Association for the Advancement of Evidence Based Practice, a group that favors rehabilitative approaches, said states started spending more on prisons in the 1980s during the last big crime wave.

“Basically, when we made these investments, public safety and crime was the No. 1 concern of voters, so politicians were passing all kinds of laws to increase sentences,” Mr. Greenwood said.

President Bill Clinton signed legislation to increase federal sentences, he said.

“Now, crime is down,” Mr. Greenwood said, “but we’re living with that legacy: the bricks and mortar and the politicians who feel like they have to talk tough every time they talk about crime.”

Mr. Greenwood said prisons and jails, along with their powerful prison guard unions, service contracts, and high-profile sheriffs and police chiefs, were in a much better position to protect their interests than were parole and probation officers.

“Traditionally, probation and parole is at the bottom of the totem pole,” he said. “They’re just happy every time they don’t lose a third of their budget.”

“Reform,” Bobby Jindal Style

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on December 17, 2008

James Rucker

Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox

We may be on the brink of inaugurating a Black president, but the miscarriage of justice unfolding in Louisiana with the case of the Angola 3 tells a different story about race, power and accountability in our criminal justice system. At the top of the food chain is self-styled reformer and the GOP’s supposed answer to Obama,Governor Bobby Jindal.

Albert Woodfox has spent the last 36 years in solitary confinement — 23 out of 24 hours each day in a 6×9 cell — for the murder of a white prison guard, a crime he didn’t commit.

Despite increasing evidence of Woodfox’s innocence, the State of Louisiana is digging in its heels. They’ve pushed back against a federal judge who has overturned Woodfox’s conviction and ordered his release. The reason is becoming crystal clear: It’s not because they believe that Woodfox or the other two people referred to as the “Angola 3” murdered anyone. It’s because the three men were organizing within the prison for better conditions, an end to sexual abuses, and the fair treatment of inmates. Apparently, in Louisiana, seeking justice means you deserve to be framed for murder and locked away forever.

James “Buddy” Caldwell, the state’s Attorney General, has led the state’s fight and Burl Cain, the warden at Angola, is acting as Caldwell’s henchman. Ultimately, it’s Governor Bobby Jindal who is giving them cover despite being presented with all the facts and being asked repeatedly to intervene. So much for the promise of Jindal and his self-description as a “reformer.”

A look at recent proceedings shows that the desire to keep Woodfox behind bars has nothing to do with whether Woodfox is guilty or innocent. Cain has made it clear that he doesn’t care. Cain wants him behind bars for no reason other than the fact that Woodfox has been a force for reform from within the prison walls. Says Cain, “The thing about him is that he wants to demonstrate. He wants to organize. He wants to be defiant.” Cain has said that even if he knew Woodfox hadn’t killed the guard, he would still want the man isolated. “I still would not want him walking around my prison because he would organize the young new inmates,” Cain said. It’s not that Woodfox is dangerous. It’s that he is unrepentant in organizing inmates to achieve a basic sense of decency and livable conditions.

Several months before Judge James Brady overturned Woodfox’s conviction, more than 25,000 members appealed to Governor Jindal to get involved. The head of the state legislature’s judiciary committee, Cedric Richmond, delivered the petitions to Governor Jindal and requested he intervene. Around the same time, Congressman John Conyers, chair of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, met with both Woodfox and Herman Wallace (one of the other Angola 3) and has publicly called for intervention. Jindal’s response has been utter silence.

In recent weeks, as pressure has mounted for Woodfox to be released, Caldwell, the Attorney General, has gone deeper in attempting to demonize Woodfox. He has taken to publicly referring to Woodfox as a “serial rapist,” a completely unsubstantiated claim. Once bail was ordered and it was expected that Woodfox would be released, Caldwell’s office clandestinely contacted members of the gated community where Woodfox was supposed to live, telling them that a murderer would soon be living among them. Woodfox had been planning to live with his niece. She and her family have now been subject to harassment, and the option of Woodfox living with her has been made virtually impossible.

We’ve seen unequal and unfair justice before in Louisiana. We can just look back at the case of the Jena 6 a year and a half ago. In that case, six black boys were charged with second-degree murder at the hands of a District Attorney who threatened that he could “take away [the students’] lives with a stroke of [his] pen.” The threat followed black students protesting the hanging of a noose above a “white tree” at their school, with the charges coming after a racially-charged fight characterized by some as a school-yard fight, where the victim was white.

In the case of the Jena 6, there was an outcry from across the country, culminating in a march of more than 20,000 in the town of Jena. While leaders across the country decried the injustice in Jena, surprisingly, Jindal called those protesting “outside agitators” — a phrase that echoed racist Southerners’ response to Civil Rights-era organizing efforts.

While Governor Jindal claims to be a reformer and has his eyes on the White House, his silence in the Angola 3 case and his language around the case of the Jena 6 tell a different story. His idea of “reform” seems more like an empty slogan and catchy rhetoric than something he’s willing to put into practice. Perhaps it’s time to confront Jindal and ask him what his idea of reform looks like.