More Questions Than Answers

On Saturday, Jeffrey Epstein, an inmate at Metropolitan Correction Center in lower Manhattan, was found unresponsive in his cell. He was taken to the hospital where he was declared dead. There are a lot of questions surrounding these events. There are very few answers available.

The New York Post reported yesterday:

The following account is from a former inmate of the Metropolitan Correction Center in lower Manhattan, where Jeffrey Epstein was found unresponsive Saturday, and declared dead at a hospital of an apparent suicide. The ex-convict, who spoke to The Post’s Brad Hamilton and Bruce Golding on the condition of anonymity, spent several months in the 9 South special housing unit for high-profile prisoners awaiting trial — like Epstein.

There’s no way that man could have killed himself. I’ve done too much time in those units. It’s an impossibility.

Between the floor and the ceiling is like eight or nine feet. There’s no way for you to connect to anything.

You have sheets, but they’re paper level, not strong enough. He was 200 pounds — it would never happen.

When you’re on suicide watch, they put you in this white smock, a straight jacket. They know a person cannot be injurious to themselves.

…But it’s my firm belief that Jeffrey Epstein did not commit suicide. It just didn’t happen.

Breitbart reported yesterday:

Rudy Giuliani reacted to Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged suicide Saturday morning, asking a series of questions about his death and stating, “Committing suicide on suicide watch doesn’t happen.”

Authorities found the convicted pedophile dead in his cell early Saturday morning, according to several reports.

Epstein committed suicide via hanging, according to reports from the New York Times and ABC News. The Associated Press reported that the “medical examiner’s office in Manhattan confirmed Epstein’s death.”

Many, including Giuliani, have questions.

“What does the word suicide mean in the phrase suicide WATCH? Who was watching? Did they fall asleep? Did the camera malfunction? Was there camera surveillance? Who was he about to implicate?” Giuliani tweeted Saturday.

Yesterday Bernie Kerik, former first deputy and commissioner of the New York City Department of Corrections and former commissioner of the New York (City) Police Department, posted an article at The Hill about the death of Jeffrey Epstein.

Commissioner Kerik notes:

The crime here — in my mind, with what is known at this point — is that Epstein was placed in solitary confinement at all. The government often uses every tool in its power to ensure you never have a fair day’s fight in court, including the use of psychological tools to force you to plead guilty or to force you to cooperate with the government.

Solitary confinement is one of those tools. It is a mechanism to demean, degrade and demoralize a prisoner. The mind-altering seclusion of “solitary” will force a prisoner into a deep depression from which, for some, there is no return.

Only time will tell if that’s what happened with Epstein or if something more sinister occurred.

But one thing already is crystal clear: There are flaws and failures in the U.S. criminal justice system that should disturb all of us. And in Jeffrey Epstein’s case, none of it makes any sense.

Right now we have questions, not answers. Hopefully in the future we will get some answers.

A Very Interesting Twist On The Current Media Narrative

Yesterday the U.K. Daily Mail posted an article about Michael Cohen, currently playing a role in front of the House Oversight Committee. The article reports that before the FBI raided his offices and threatened him with jail time, Mr. Cohen was trying to obtain a book deal for a book praising Donald Trump as President.

The article has a lot of interesting information, but there were a few things that really stood out to me.

The article reports:

Cohen was pushing a book with the working title ‘Trump Revolution: From The Tower to The White House, Understanding Donald J. Trump,’ that he proposed to write.

He sent his book to several potential publishers last year, and one, Hachette, reportedly was willing to pay him three-quarters of a million dollars for his wise words.

But Cohen, who is due to start a three-year prison term in May for crimes including tax evasion, lying to Congress and making false statements, thought he could do better and continued to seek more money, DailyMail.com can reveal.

…His book proposal was in stark contrast to his words to the oversight committee and to two other Congressional panels which he addressed in private. On Wednesday he said Trump ‘is a racist, he is a con man and he is a cheat.’

‘I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore,’ he added. ‘My loyalty to Mr. Trump has cost me everything: my family’s happiness, friendships, my law license, my company, my livelihood, my honor, my reputation, and soon my freedom.

Would someone please explain to this man that his predicament is the result of his own decisions as well as those of a crooked justice department out to unseat a duly-elected President. His choice to evade taxes, lie to Congress, and be involved in shady business deals has little to do with President Trump. The stupidest choice he made was to keep incriminating records in his office. His predicament is sad, but blaming it on the President is unfair. Why not blame it on those seeking to remove President Trump from office?

Justice Under The Law?

I have no idea why the sentence in this case was so skewed, but I think it is just wrong.

The New York Magazine posted an article on Friday about the sentencing of Brock Allen Turner. Brock Allen Turner was convicted on raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford University campus. He was sentenced to six months in the county jail and probation.

The story reports:

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him,” Persky (Judge Aaron Persky)said at Turner’s sentencing on Thursday. “I think he will not be a danger to others.” Meanwhile, the 23-year-old victim in the rape case, who had had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit at the time of the rape and who had no memory of the attack, gave important testimony at the trial.

“You took away my worth, my privacy, my energy, my time, my safety, my intimacy, my confidence, my own voice, until today,” she said, reportedly directly to Turner. “I am a human being who has been irreversibly hurt.” And yet it’s Turner who would be severely impacted in his sentencing? Right.

Does anyone else have a problem with this? I agree that the woman was drunk, but that still does not excuse the young man’s behavior. There is no doubt about his guilt, the assault was interrupted by two other students who chased him down and held him until the police arrived. I don’t understand why the judge feels that this man will not be a danger to others–he obviously has a problem with respecting women and their privacy. This behavior belongs in jail for at least five years. Otherwise, you are sending a message to all young men that it is okay to rape a woman if she is drunk–the penalty will be minor.

Who Gets Hurt In Our Hook-Up Society?

I realize that things have changed since the age of dinosaurs when I was dating. I don’t know how anyone survives the current dating scene unscathed. I assume there are people out there with some sort of moral values, but they don’t seem to be the ones getting the publicity. Even nice kids can make mistakes, though, and sometimes the cost of those mistakes is way out of proportion to the mistake.

RTV6 posted a story about a 19-year old boy from Indiana who is now a registered sex offender because a girl he hooked up with lied about her age. She told him she was 17 when she was 14. I am not condoning the behavior of either teenager, but I am wondering why he is the one who has to pay a very high price.

The story reports:

According to court documents, the girl’s mother told the judge, “I don’t want him to be a sex offender because he really is not.” Her daughter added, “I feel nothing should happen to Zach.”

But the judge condemned what he called a culture of “meet, hook-up, have sex, sayonara, totally inappropriate behavior,” according to court documents.

Zach was sentenced to 90 days in jail and ordered to register as a sex offender.

“The hardest part probably for me was to see him being led away, because he turned and looked at us, and it’s like, we want to give him a hug, and you don’t even have that opportunity,” said his father, Les Anderson.

Zach will be listed on the sex offender registry until 2040. His parents say the label is incredibly unfair.

I have no problem with the judge condemning the behavior and the hook-up culture, but I am not sure what is accomplished by declaring this young man a sex offender.

Spending Money We Don’t Have On Something We Don’t Need To Do

On Monday The Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama plans to restore funds for prisoners to get Pell Grants for college.

The article reports:

The plan, set to be unveiled Friday by the secretary of education and the attorney general, would allow potentially thousands of inmates in the U.S. to gain access to Pell grants, the main form of federal aid for low-income college students. The grants cover up to $5,775 a year in tuition, fees, books and other education-related expenses.

Prisoners received $34 million in Pell grants in 1993, according to figures the Department of Education provided to Congress at the time. But a year later, Congress prohibited state and federal prison inmates from getting Pell grants as part of broad anticrime legislation, leading to a sharp drop in the number of in-prison college programs. Supporters of the ban contended federal aid should only go to law-abiding citizens.

Shouldn’t Congress be the group to make this decision? The goal is to educate prisoners so that they can get jobs when they leave prison. The theory is that an educated prisoner is less likely to return to prison. That is the theory, but it seems to me that this is another example of rewarding bad behavior. What about the middle-class families struggling to pay for their children’s education? Shouldn’t we make more money available to them rather than to prisoners?

The article reports:

Stephen Steurer, head of the Correctional Education Association, an advocacy group, said two Education Department officials told him at a conferenceearly this month the agency was moving to restore Pell grants for prisoners and allow many colleges and universities to participate. Money from the grants would directly reimburse institutions for the cost of delivering courses in prisons rather than go to prisoners, Mr. Steurer said.

“It will be substantial enough to create some data and to create enough information for some evaluation,” said Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.), who is co-sponsoring a bill with Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.) to permanently restore Pell grants for prisoners.

Let’s let Congress vote on this bill–it shouldn’t be done by the President.

In The Midst Of All The Turmoil, There Is Good News

The Blaze posted a story today that illustrates why we shouldn’t throw people away when they make a serious mistake.

The article reports:

A Georgia man is being hailed as a hero after saving a baby he saw crawling near a highway last Friday.

The article goes on to explain that the baby was crying and that the man who rescued the baby, Bryant Collins, calmed the child down by playing gospel music on his phone.

Mr. Collins stated that  he is an ex-convict who served time and reformed himself in prison.

The article reports:

“I did ten years in the federal institution for manufacturing cocaine,” he said. “When I was in prison, I made a very conscientious effort to change, and I did.”

The baby was 15 months old, and had wandered from her house, into the woods, fallen down an embankment, and was crawling along the highway.

The Dangers Of An Unjust Judge

Today’s New York Post featured the story of former Judge Mark Ciavarella, a Luzerne County Pennsylvania judge, who is now serving 28 years in prison for accepting $2.2 million as a finder’s fee for the construction of a for-profit prison facility to house the teenagers he was sentencing to jail for minor infractions.

Kids for Cash is a movie that tells the story of some of the families that were impacted by the judge’s dishonesty. The trailer for the movie can be found on YouTube:

The stories of some of the children impacted by this dishonest judge can be found at the website kidsforcashthemovie.com. Please follow the link and read the stories. After you read the stories, take some time to hug your children today.

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Things That Make You Appreciate The Country We Live In

Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted a story about Shezanne Cassim, a young man from Minnesota who has lived and worked in Dubai for the past seven years. He works for PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mr. Cassim is currently in a maximum security prison in Dubia. His crime–making a YouTube video that mocked Dubai teenagers. Admittedly, it is bad manners to mock your host country, but putting people in maximum security prison for satire seems a little extreme. Mr. Cassim and four other men will be serving a one-year prison term for their offense. The video is posted at Hot Air. Follow the link above to view it.

The article reports:

It’s easy to joke about this, but it’s no joke to Cassim and his family. It’s outrageous of Dubai to have locked up Cassim for even a day, let alone for eight months — and adding another year in maximum security is absurd. Dubai and UAE want to position themselves as a modern, cosmopolitan oasis in the Middle East, but this suggests that they’re just another oppressive totalitarian state with enough money to buy good PR. The US should have demanded his release months ago, and his continued incarceration should be a high-profile story for anyone who cares about even rudimentary freedoms, such as the freedom to laugh.

The Cassim family spoke to CNN this morning in an attempt to raise Shezanne’s profile here in the US:

This story should be shouted from the rooftops in America. Why isn’t this story on the front page of all of our major newspapers? Where is our government? Do we have any international clout at all these days?

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What Sharia Law Means

France 24 reported today that Dubai has pardoned Marte Dalelv and will allow her to fly home to Norway. Marte Dalelv was sentenced to jail for 16 months in prison after a co-worker spiked her drink and raped her. Yes, you read that right.

When you hear people say that Sharia Law is compatible with American democracy, remember that Ms. Dalelv’s story does not represent an isolated incident.

According to a U.K. Mail article updated yesterday:

Gali (Australian Alicia Gali, 27) was working at hotel chain Starwood when her drink was spiked in the staff bar.

She awoke to find that three colleagues had raped her, but when she went to a hospital for help, they turned her over to the police and she was charged with illicit sex outside marriage.

Under UAE law, rapists can only be convicted if either the perpetrator confesses or if four adult Muslim males witness the crime.

Under the Sharia-influenced laws, sex before marriage is completely forbidden and an unmarried couple holding hands in public can be jailed.

Foreigners jailed in Dubai are deported immediately after completing their sentences.

This is an example of Sharia Law. This is one of many reasons some states in America have done a preemptive strike against Sharia by outlawing its use in their courts.

 

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Would Taxpayer Money Flow So Freely If The Taxpayers Were In Charge Of Spending It?

Yesterday I posted an article about the number of dead people collecting welfare benefits in Massachusetts (rightwinggranny.com). Well, it seems as if Massachusetts is not the only state that can’t keep track of where welfare dollars are going.

Yesterday the New York Times reported that prisoners in New Jersey had erroneously received welfare benefits.

The article reports:

Over a 22-month period, New Jersey paid nearly $24 million in unemployment, welfare, pension and other benefits to 20,000 people who did not qualify for them because they were in prison, according to a report from the state comptroller released on Wednesday.

…Some of the people in prison — those whose Medicaid benefits were paid out to managed care organizations, for instance — may not have been aware they were defrauding the state. In other cases, the fraud seemed deliberate; in addition to the $24 million in benefits improperly paid out, the audit found that 13 state employees had used sick leave to cover their time in prison. (The report said this resulted in “relatively immaterial amounts of improper payments.”)

One of the questions that immediately comes to mind when I read that last paragraph is, “What were the state employees doing in prison and how long were they there?” Can you imaging anyone in the private sector having enough sick leave to cover a prison term?

I think we can safely conclude at this time that the ‘safety net’ is broken. It’s not broken because it is not helping people who genuinely need it–it is broken because it is subsidizing lifestyles of people who do not need or deserve to be subsidized.

I suspect that what has happened in Massachusetts and New Jersey regarding welfare payments going to people who were either dead or not entitled to them is only the tip of the iceberg. We have people in this country working hard, scrimping to get buy, and being taxed to death to support fraud. It’s time we held states accountable for how they spend taxpayers’ money. If a state is not doing a good job, it’s time to elect new officials. Voters need to pay attention and take a stand.

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The Purchase Of Thomson State Prison In Illinois

Andrew McCarthy posted an article at National Review today about the government’s  purchase of Thomson State Prison in Illinois. Mr. McCarthy believes that the prison is being prepared to house the inmates currently at Guantanamo.

The article reports:

As the 9/11 Families point out, the Justice Department’s court filing on the purchase of the state prison took pains to keep open its option to transfer Gitmo prisoners there. DOJ declares that the purpose of the acquisition includes “provid[ing] humane and secure confinement of individuals held under authority of any Act of Congress, and such other persons as in the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States are proper subjects for confinement in such institutions.” The Gitmo detainees are being held under the authority of acts of Congress — in particular, the 2001 authorization for the use of military force. And Attorney General Holder has been insistent that, in his opinion, civilian federal prisons are fitting holding facilities for enemy-combatant terrorists captured in wartime.

As with many other things (the release of the Blind Sheik, the nasty parts of Obamacare, the crackdown on fracking, etc.), it is a safe bet that there will be no transfers of Guantanamo prisoners there until after the 2012 election.

What is the problem with moving Guantanamo prisoners there? Housing prisoners in the United States rather than on an island makes them easier for terrorists to access or to create hostage situations near the prison. Because the prisoners are actually on United States soil, it is only a matter of time before lawyers will get involved and find a legal loophole to let the prisoners loose on American streets. Generally, housing terrorists on American soil is just a bad idea.

This is another illustration of the need for a new administration in Washington.

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Hostage Taking For Fun And Profit

CNN is announcing that Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, two hikers who have been jailed in Iran since July 31, 2009, when they mistakenly crossed into the country from Iraq when they were hiking, will be released from prison after a $500,000 bail is paid for each of them.

The article reports:

Last month, Fattal and Bauer were convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison — five years for espionage and three years for illegal entry, according to Iranian media. Their attorney appealed the sentence. That appeal is still pending.

The article quotes Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad:

“They illegally crossed our borders and they were arrested by the border guards,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told NBC in an interview that aired Tuesday. “We tried last year to free one of the three persons and we are also trying to make arrangements for the freedom of the other two. I think these two persons will be freed in a couple of days.”

He said Fattal and Bauer are enjoying “very good conditions here in prison … it’s like staying in a hotel.”

I don’t mean to by cynical here, but I doubt very much that being in an Iranian prison is like staying in a hotel. I wonder if we could find a hotel like that for President Ahmadinejad when he comes to visit America.

At any rate, hopefully the two men will be home shortly. We need to remember the type of government we are dealing with when we deal with Iran. This was a very easy way for them to raise money and take money out of the American economy. Because we did not react strongly, we can expect them to do more of the same.

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