Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

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

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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

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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.

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NYT

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.”

Sean Delonas: The ID in Cartoon Form

Posted in Barack Obama, politics, racism by allisonkilkenny on February 19, 2009

By now, we’ve all seen the image of Sean Delonas’s cartoon, which was featured in the NY Post.

delonas-chimp

Oh, the hilarity. As you can see, the cartoonist has cleverly substituted the “stimulus bill” with a rendering of Travis, the 200-pound, murdered chimp, who was shot dead a few days ago in Stamford.

For those depraved readers out there, who are unaware of the genius of Sean Delonas, this cartoon is a microcosm of the Delonas oeuvres. I’ve always imagined Delonas as a giant baby that tears open the daily newspapers, rips apart the pages, and then aligns two totally unrelated stories side-by-side and declares: “DIS ONE GO WIF DAT ONE, OKAY?!”

Well, that metaphor is flawed. He’s that giant baby, if the baby was racist, homophobic, and generally more ignorant and xenophobic than your average baby.

Some civil rights groups see the cartoon as being more sinister than simply unfunny. Since Barack Obama signed the stimulus into existance, and African-Americans have historically been linked to the monkey via ugly racism, is it a stretch to link the image of a dead monkey with Barack Obama?

Works of art are inherently open to different interpretations, and one wades through murky uncertainties when trying to determine the REAL intention of artists. Because trying to analyze the deeper meaning of a cartoon is so speculative in nature, I offer readers Delonas’s other works of art as a window into the artist’s ID. 

Let’s see if we can find themes of intolerance in Delonas’s past cartoons.

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(in response to a gay marriage story)

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postiran6-28 delonas.jpg

Etc. Etc. This may shock you to learn, but Delonas has gotten into trouble with civil rights groups in the past. It’s easy to see why.

Eric Holder is right. We’re a nation of cowards when it comes to issues of race, and the biggest cowards among us hide behind their unfunny doodles. 

Update: Gawker has a similar post thisaways.

VIDEO: America’s Craziest Sheriff

Posted in Barack Obama, human rights, immigration, politics, racism by allisonkilkenny on February 18, 2009

Democracy Now

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Joe Arpaio: Crazy

Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Arizona’s Maricopa County has forced prisoners to march through the streets of Phoenix dressed in just pink underwear, housed prisoners in tents in the searing heat, and appears on a Fox reality-TV show. Now he could be facing a federal investigation for civil rights abuses and a trial on charges of racially profiling Latinos. He’s also been accused of focusing on immigration enforcement at the expense of other law enforcement duties. 

Guests:

Ryan Gabrielson, reporter with the East Valley Tribune. He’s just won the 2008 George Polk Award for Justice Reporting along with Paul Giblin for their five-part series on Sheriff Arpaio called “Reasonable Doubt.”

Salvador Reza, member of the Puente movement in Phoenix that grew out the spate of arrests and deportations under Sheriff Arpaio in 2007. He is part of a large group of organizations calling for a national demonstration in Phoenix next Saturday against 287(g) agreements.

 

WATCH VIDEO HERE

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Uphold the Voting Rights Act

Posted in civil rights, politics, racism, Supreme Court, voter disenfranchisement by allisonkilkenny on January 25, 2009

New York Times

m319-150bSome people claim that Barack Obama’s election has ushered in a “postracial” America, but the truth is that race, and racial discrimination, are still very much with us. The Supreme Court should keep this reality in mind when it considers a challenge to an important part of the Voting Rights Act that it recently agreed to hear. The act is constitutional — and clearly still needed.

Section 5, often called the heart of the Voting Rights Act, requires some states and smaller jurisdictions to “preclear” new voting rules with the Justice Department or a federal court. When they do, they have to show that the proposed change does not have the purpose or effect of discriminating against minority voters.

When Congress enacted Section 5 in 1965, officials in the South were creating all kinds of rules to stop blacks from voting or being elected to office. Discrimination against minority voters may not be as blatant as it was then, but it still exists. District lines are drawn to prevent minorities from winning; polling places are located in places hard for minority voters to get to; voter ID requirements are imposed with the purpose of suppressing the minority vote.

After holding lengthy hearings to document why the Voting Rights Act was still needed, Congress reauthorized it in 2006 with votes of 98 to 0 in the Senate and 390 to 33 in the House. Now, a municipal utility district in Texas that is covered by Section 5 is arguing that it is unconstitutional, and that it imposes too many burdens on jurisdictions covered by it.

If the Supreme Court — which is expected to hear arguments in the case this spring — strikes down Section 5, it would be breaking radically with its own precedents. The court has repeatedly upheld the Voting Rights Act against challenges, and as recently as 2006 it ruled that complying with Section 5 is a compelling state interest. It would also be an extreme case of conservative judicial activism, since the 14th and 15th Amendments expressly authorize Congress to enact laws of this sort to prevent discrimination in voting.

A perennial criticism of Section 5 is that it covers jurisdictions it should not, or fails to cover ones it should. There is no way to construct a perfect list, but Congress has done a reasonable job of drawing up the criteria, and it has built flexibility into the act. Jurisdictions are allowed to “bail out” if they can show that they no longer need to be covered, and courts can add new jurisdictions if they need to be covered.

In last fall’s election, despite his strong national margin of victory — and hefty campaign chest — Mr. Obama got only about one in five white votes in the Southern states wholly or partly covered by Section 5. And there is every reason to believe that minority voters will continue to face obstacles at the polls.

If Section 5 is struck down, states and localities would have far more freedom to erect barriers for minority voters — and there is little doubt that some would do just that. We have not arrived at the day when special protections like the Voting Rights Act are not needed.

No More Excuses?

Posted in Barack Obama, Economy, politics, poverty, racism by allisonkilkenny on January 24, 2009

Charles M. Blow

black-childrenFor the presidential inauguration, blacks descended on Washington in droves with a fanatical, Zacchaeus-like need to catch a glimpse of this M.L.K. 2.0. “Ooo-bama!” For them, he was it — a game changer, soul restorer, dream fulfiller. Everything. Ooo-K.

Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, tapped into the fervor Monday night at the BET Honors awards in Washington when he proclaimed, “Every child has lost every excuse.”

What? That’s where I have to put my foot down. That’s going a bridge too far.

I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility, but children too often don’t have a choice. They are either prisoners of their parentage or privileged by it. Some of their excuses are hollow. But other excuses are legitimate, and they didn’t magically disappear when Obama put his left hand on the Lincoln Bible.

Representative Clyburn and those like him would do well to cool this rhetoric lest the enormous and ingrained obstacles facing black children get swept under the rug as Obama is swept into power. For instance:

• According to Child Trends, a Washington research group, 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Also, black children are the most likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods. And, black teenagers, both male and female, were more likely to report having been raped.

• According to reports last year from the National Center for Children in Poverty, 60 percent of black children live in low-income families and a third live in poor families, a higher percentage than any other race.

• A 2006 report from National Center for Juvenile Justice said that black children are twice as likely as white and Hispanic children to be the victims of “maltreatment.” The report defines maltreatment as anything ranging from neglect to physical and sexual abuse.

Most of these kids will rise above their circumstances, but too many will succumb to them. Can we really blame them?

Malcolm Gladwell probably said it best in a November interview with New York magazine about his new book, “Outliers”: “I am explicitly turning my back on, I think, these kind of empty models that say, you know, you can be whatever you want to be. Well, actually, you can’t be whatever you want to be. The world decides what you can and can’t be.”

So black people have to keep their feet on the ground even as their heads are in the clouds. If we want to give these children a fighting chance, we must change the worlds they inhabit. That change requires both better policies and better parenting — a change in our houses as well as the White House.

President Obama is a potent symbol, but he’s no panacea.

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Voting Rights Act

Posted in Barack Obama, politics, racism, Supreme Court, voter disenfranchisement by allisonkilkenny on January 11, 2009

Note from Allison: Great news, everyone! Racism is OVER!

USA Today

mlkThe Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear a challenge to the landmark 1965 voting rights act, paving the way for a major decision this term on federal power to oversee state election laws.

In the backdrop is the recent election of Barack Obama and the question of whether America still needs an expansive law protecting against discrimination in voting now that a black man has won the presidency.

A decision in the case from Texas, to be heard in April, could impact the U.S. government’s authority to ensure that racial minorities — who were subjected to literacy tests and other devices to keep them from the polls for most of the 20th Century — continue to have as much of a chance as whites to elect candidates of their choice.

In dispute is the 2006 renewal of the Voting Rights Act, which Congress passed overwhelmingly and President Bush signed.

Richard Hasen, an election-law expert at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the dispute “has the potential to be the most important election case since Bush v. Gore.” That 2000 decision cut off Florida ballot recounts and ensured Bush the White House.

“The court has repeatedly upheld the constitutionality (of the disputed provision),” Hasen noted. “The question is whether the role of race in American politics has so changed in the last decade or two that remedies that were once constitutional are now considered impingements on state sovereignty.”

A Texas utility district says the provision known as Section 5, which gives the U.S. government authority to oversee state electoral-law changes, is no longer needed and is unconstitutional. The utility district uses the election of the first black president as evidence.

“The America that has elected Barack Obama as its first African-American president is far different than when Section 5 was first enacted in 1965,” say lawyers for the utility district.

Section 5 covers nine states and several counties and municipalities where, as Justice Department lawyers note, race discrimination “has been most flagrant.” Texas utility district lawyer Gregory Coleman says the continued use of that section attaches a “badge of shame … based on old data” and should be lifted.

Civil rights activists, backing the Justice Department’s defense of the renewed Voting Rights Act, have stressed that parts of the nation continue to vote along racial lines and argue that the law that opened the door to widespread black voting four decades ago is still needed.

“Obama’s election reflects an enormous advancement in race relations in the United States,” says Laughlin McDonald of the American Civil Liberties Union. “But voting, particularly in the southern states covered by the oversight provision, remains significantly polarized along racial lines.”

Exit polls from the Nov. 4 presidential election showed that whites in many southern states heavily favored John McCain to Obama. In Texas, 73% of whites favored McCain; in Georgia, 76%, and in Alabama, 88%. Nationally, the percentage of whites for McCain was 55%, exit poll data show.

Last May, a special lower court unanimously upheld the provision. U.S. Appeals Court Judge David Tatel wrote, “(G)iven the extensive legislative record documenting contemporary racial discrimination in voting in covered jurisdictions, Congress’s decision to extend Section 5 for another twenty-five years was rational and therefore constitutional.”

States covered by jurisdictions cannot make any changes to their electoral laws without getting approval from the Department of Justice or a federal district court in Washington. The requirement is designed to ensure that a local government does not draw new voting-district boundaries or enact rules that would dilute the votes of blacks or other minorities.

The law passed the Senate unanimously and the House by 390-33 in 2006.

U.S. Solicitor General Gregory Garre had emphasized in his filing to the court all the evidence Congress reviewed when it reauthorized the law, including “several instances of minority voters’ being threatened with arrest or prosecution for voting.” He said that significant gaps in registration rates between minorities and white citizens continue to exist and that the threat of Section 5 is a significant deterrent in states and municipalities where white majorities might want to adopt electoral plans that dilute the power of black voters.

The utility district, which conducts elections to select its board of directors, says its policies should not be subject to regular DOJ review. Coleman says federal law has sufficient protections for any voter racial bias that occurs.

The case is Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District Number One v. Mukasey.

Welcome?

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on November 8, 2008

I’m a bit of a statistics nerd, so I like to keep track of how people find my website. Recently, I’ve noticed disturbing patterns in the searches bringing people to my site.

Let me know if I’m being overly paranoid, or if I should officially greet my loyal following of clit-sucking racists.

PS: This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I’m sure they’ve come across my blog by accident or out of some angry desire to read what the enemy is writing. Still, WELCOME REDNECKS! 

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Black Church in Springfield Burns

Posted in Barack Obama, racism by allisonkilkenny on November 6, 2008

Fire began hours after vote, prompting fears it was arson

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A predominantly black church under construction in Springfield was destroyed by fire early yesterday, just hours after Barack Obama’s landmark victory, triggering concerns that the building was purposely set ablaze in a possible hate crime.

The blaze started at Macedonia Church of God in Christ at 3:10 and caused an estimated $2 million in damage.

Church officials pledged to rebuild, but the concerns that their building was targeted dampened a mood that had been so uplifted in the night of Obama’s historic win to become the nation’s first black president-elect.

“This was a special time in our nation’s history, but I also know not everybody was happy and celebrating,” said Bishop Bryant J. Robinson Jr., head of the church. “After 71 years of being an African-American, you know these things happen.”

Located on King Street, the church was moving to the site at 215 Tinkham Road, where the fire occurred.

Fire officials were quick to emphasize that the blaze remains under investigation, but the unknown nature of the fire triggered an inquiry that will involve local and state investigators and federal agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is standard procedure for the ATF and local and state officials to investigate after a place of worship burns, and the FBI agreed to assist because of the unknown cause of the blaze.

“I want to caution people not to jump to conclusions and to allow the investigation to take its time and allow the investigation to follow the evidence trail,” said state Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan.

He acknowledged that the congregation could be wary considering the fire’s timing, but said investigators have not fully examined what happened. Coan said investigators will inspect the building today using accelerant-sniffing dogs, and detectives will also interview people in the neighborhood. He said the investigation could be a lengthy process.

“Clearly, a fire that occurs in a house of worship, with the close proximity to national events yesterday, is something in the mind of investigators, but it’s most important we not reach any conclusions based on the circumstances of those events, but rather allow the evidence to lead us to the conclusion,” Coan said.

Responding firefighters found the steel and wood-framed structure fully engulfed.

Firefighters worked to prevent the blaze from spreading to houses, said Dennis G. Leger, a Fire Department spokesman. He said two garden sheds had minor heat damage.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, Leger said.

The church, with a construction price tag of $2.5 million, had been more than 75 percent complete, Robinson said. But nothing inside could have sparked a fire on its own, he believes. The electrical system had not been installed.

No one had done anything inside that could have started the fire, he said. Instead, he fears the building was targeted, with the timing of the fire too coincidental to make it random.

“Somebody came in there with an agenda of their own, I believe,” Robinson said, recalling days of black churches being torched in the South.

“I’ve seen segregation. I’ve seen Jim Crowism,” he said. “We’ve come quite a ways, but we’re not that perfect union yet. There’s obviously a remnant of that kind of behavior still being practiced, for whatever reason.”

The congregation had seen some resistance from the suburban neighborhood when construction was proposed, but the opposition was centered on having such a building in a residential area, and was not related to its 250 members, neighbors said.

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said the fire, regardless of the cause, is heart-rending for the community. He said he met early yesterday with Robinson, an old friend of his family, and promised that the city would assist with the rebuilding while a task force conducts an extensive investigation.

“Obviously, it’s a tragic event,” said Sarno, who attended the groundbreaking for the church a year ago.

“It’s a sensitive situation. Any house of worship would be a sensitive situation, and that’s why it’s imperative the experts do their investigation.”

Milton Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com.

 


McCain PA Racist Supporters

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on October 28, 2008

This kind of behavior is insane, racist, and unacceptable. McCain should condemn this rhetoric for the good of the country.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL20TdHjX2s