UN Claims Uruguay Not Allowed to End Marijuana Prohibition

  UN Claims Uruguay Not Allowed to End Marijuana Prohibition

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As the United Nations, which is widely ridiculed as the “dictators club,” becomes increasingly bold in purporting to dictate policy to nations and governments, the controversial global body is now under fire from many of its traditional allies after claiming that Uruguay’s recent decision to end marijuana prohibition violates “international law.” The United Nation‘s claim about Uruguayan drug laws follows recent demands by it that Obama defy state voters and the U.S. Constitution to smash cannabis legalization in American states.

With the recent decision to end decades of pot prohibition in Uruguay making it the first entire nation to take the step, analysts widely anticipate similar efforts around the world to accelerate. Already, voters in Colorado and Washington state have completely nullified the federal and international marijuana regimes, and other states have come close. Across Latin America and Europe, meanwhile, drug policy more broadly…

Read more:  http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/south-america/item/17174-un-claims-uruguay-not-allowed-to-end-marijuana-prohibition

Nearly Half of U.S. States Enact Juvenile Justice Reforms

The gate to to nowhere - Juvenile Court on New...

The gate to to nowhere – Juvenile Court on Newton Street – gate handles (Photo credit: ell brown)

Nearly Half of U.S. States Enact Juvenile Justice Reforms.

Nearly Half of U.S. States Enact Juvenile Justice Reforms

From the Campaign for Youth Justice's State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System report.

Campaign for Youth Justice

From the Campaign for Youth Justice’s State Trends Legislative Victories from 2011-2013 Removing Youth from the Adult Criminal Justice System report.

WASHINGTON – Nearly half of U.S. states have made great strides in the past eight years toward reducing the prosecution of juveniles in the adult criminal justice system or preventing youths from being placed in adult jails and prisons, a report released Thursday found.

The report, by the Washington-based Campaign for Youth Justice — a national advocacy group that seeks to end the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating youth under 18 in the adult criminal justice system –- reviewed reforms among states nationwide.

The report highlights reforms in 23 states that include limiting states’ authority to house young people in adult jails and prisons; raising the age for juvenile court jurisdiction to 18 so older teens are no longer automatically prosecuted as adults; revising laws so youths are more likely to stay in the juvenile justice system instead of being transferred to the adult system; and changing mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Carmen Daugherty, policy director at CFYJ, pointed out that many of the reforms had been passed unanimously, reflecting the results of research on prosecuting juveniles in the adult criminal justice system or placing them in adult jails and prisons.

“We know that a lot of research and data have come out to show that past policies didn’t work to increase public safety or reduce juvenile crime,” Daugherty told JJIE.org.

“Policymakers are really taking into account the research, that data that is now available, in really realizing that the past practices of treating youths as adults did not work.”

The report notes many states enacted harsh laws in the 1980s and 1990s aimed at cracking down on youth crime by making it easier for young people to be prosecuted in adult criminal courts.

Despite juvenile justice reforms, the report said, about 250,000 juveniles are tried in adult courts annually and nearly 100,000 youths are paced in adult jails and prisons each year. And half the states have undertaken no juvenile justice reforms, the report said.

Jessica Sandoval, CFYJ’s vice president and deputy director, said the public remains largely unaware that 95 percent of juveniles tried in adult courts nationwide are non-violent offenders.

“We don’t think the public is aware of it mostly because of the news that we see highlighting the most heinous crimes but not the kid who …  gets in a schoolyard fight and gets charged as an adult,” Sandoval told JJIE.org.

Despite the lack of progress in many states, the CFYJ officials said they’re heartened by reforms that have taken place.

The officials point out research showing youths placed in the adult criminal justice system have a much higher rate of recidivism than those in the juvenile system and that youths are 36 times more likely to commit suicide in an adult jail than in a juvenile detention facility. And the U.S. Supreme Court has noted research showing young people’s brains are still developing and that they lack the maturity of adults.

Among the reforms highlighted in the report:

    • Eleven states – Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Nevada, Hawaii, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Oregon and Ohio – have enacted laws limiting states’ authority to house youths in adult jails and prisons.
    • Four states – Connecticut, Illinois, Mississippi and Massachusetts – have increased the age for juvenile court jurisdiction. This means older teens are no longer automatically tried in adult criminal courts.
    • Twelve states – Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Ohio, Maryland and Nevada – have revised laws on the transfer of youths to the adult criminal justice system, making it more likely young people will remain in the juvenile justice system.
    • Eight states – California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Missouri, Ohio and Washington – have changed mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Among other things, the changes take into account the differences in brain development between youths and adults and allow for post-sentencing review for young people facing juvenile court sentences of life without parole.

“We are finding that states are moving away from prosecuting youths in the adult criminal justice system and from placing youths in adult jails and prisons,” Sandoval said. “We think that there’s work to do obviously. But we think this is a good direction we’re heading in.”

Tracy McClard lobbied hard for the reforms in Missouri. She did so in memory of her son, Jonathan McClard, who hanged himself in a Missouri prison in January 2008, three days after his 17th birthday — and after a month of being held in solitary confinement for placing his hands in his lap, violating prison rules, during a visit from his mother.

Jonathan was 16 when he was tried as an adult, charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon in the shooting of a youth who was dating Jonathan’s ex-girlfriend — and who he believed had threatened to harm her. The victim survived the shooting.

Juvenile justice officials who reviewed Jonathan’s case concluded he could be rehabilitated and recommended to a judge that he be placed in a juvenile facility offering education and rehabilitation programs under the state’s dual jurisdiction program. The program allows youths to receive a suspended adult sentence and be placed in a juvenile detention facility.

Among other things, “Jonathan’s Law,” named for the teen, requires judges to state in writing why they reject Division of Youth Services recommendations that a youth be placed in a juvenile facility under the dual jurisdiction program.

The law also raises the age that youths must be considered for dual jurisdiction from 17 to 17 years and six months. (In Missouri, 17-year-olds are tried as adults automatically.)

Jonathan’s mother founded Families and Friends Organized to Reform Juvenile Justice, which urged legislators to approve the law and continues to seek juvenile justice reform.

“The general public really does not know what we do to kids when they get arrested, and policymakers don’t know what we do to these kids,” McClard said.

Michele Deitch, a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, said her research has shown many young people charged with crimes can be rehabilitated through education and treatment.

“So the more we can expose these youths to the rehabilitative-type programs in the juvenile system, the better the outcomes are going to be for the youths and, as a result, for the community,” Deitch told JJIE.org.

“It improves public safety. It reduces the number of victims. It reduces the chance that these kids are going to ultimately be repeat criminals or end up in the adult system and a burden to society in that way.”

Other research by Deitch helped persuade lawmakers to enact a 2011 law enabling those youths under 17 tried as adults to be held in a juvenile facility rather than an adult jail while awaiting trial.

“It’s a very poor fit to put children in adult facilities where they are at physical risk and their mental health is at risk and where the programs and services that are offered are just completely inappropriate for this age group,” Deitch said. “Jails are not equipped to provide children with education or treatment or services.”

She noted youths housed with adults are at high risk of being sexually or physically assaulted and if they’re placed in solitary confinement away from adults, it causes psychological harm and increases their risk of suicide.

LA County leads the US in imposing the death penalty

Los Angeles County leads the U.S. in imposing the death penalty

Seven of the top 12 counties for sentencing convicts to die were in California, according to a report showing death rows are primarily filled by just 2% of counties.

San Quentin Prison                                            The lethal injection chamber at San Quentin State Prison.                                                 (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / September 21, 2010)
By David G. SavageOctober 1, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Although Texas executes far more prisoners than any other state, Los Angeles and three other Southern California counties lead the nation in sentencing convicts to die, according to a report released Wednesday.

Los Angeles County had 228 inmates on death row at the start of the year, more than double that of second-place Harris County, Texas. Riverside, Orange, San Diego and San Bernardino counties also ranked in the top 12, as did Alameda and Sacramento counties. In all, seven of the top 12 were in California.

The data were compiled by the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington to show how capital punishment is concentrated in relatively few places in the United States.

“The death penalty is not as American or as widespread as people might assume. It is clustered in a few counties,” said Richard Dieter, the group’s executive director.

Because most criminal cases are prosecuted by county district attorneys, not state officials, Dieter examined the death penalty data by county. Some district attorneys regularly seek death sentences, while others never do, he said.

“Only 2% of the counties in the U.S. have been responsible for the majority of cases leading to executions since 1976. Likewise, only 2% of the counties are responsible for the majority of today’s death row population,” the report says.

There is little correlation between the counties that condemn the most prisoners to die and those that execute the most. That may reflect the differences between the judges who hear inmates’ appeals: In California, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, and the often liberal state appellate judges; in Texas, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, and conservative state appellate jurists. Prisoners can challenge their convictions and sentences with multiple appeals through state and federal courts.

Since 1976, Texas has executed 502 convicts, while California has put 13 to death. The report lists 62 counties that are responsible for the most executions, none of which are in California.

Nonetheless, the report demonstrates that California district attorneys have been willing to seek, and California juries have been willing to impose, the death penalty on convicted murderers.

At the start of 2013, the counties that had sent the most inmates to death row across the nation were Los Angeles, 228; Harris (Houston), Texas, 101; Philadelphia, 88; Maricopa, Ariz., 81; Riverside, 76; Clark, Nev., 61; Orange, 61; Duval, Fla., 60; Alameda, 42; San Diego, 40; San Bernardino, 37; and Sacramento, 35.

Nine of the top counties for executions were in Texas or Oklahoma. Harris was first with 115, followed by Dallas County, Texas, with 50. …

Whole article here:  http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-california-death-penalty-20131002,0,1736185.story

david.savage@latimes.com

Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times

Rabbi Joachim Prinz with Dr. M.L. King 28. August 1963!

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TODAY IN HISTORY – WJC leader at 1963 March on Washington: ‘Silence in the face of bigotry is shameful’

28 Aug 2013

Prinz (c) with King at the March on Washington, 28 August 1963Prinz (c) with King at the March on Washington, 28 August 1963

Rabbi Joachim Prinz devoted much of his life in the United States to the Civil Rights movement. He saw the plight of African American and other minority groups in the context of his own experience under the Hitler. From his early days in Newark, a city with a very large minority community, he spoke from his pulpit about the disgrace of  discrimination. He joined the picket lines across America protesting racial prejudice  from unequal employment to segregated schools, housing and all other areas of life.

Serving as president of the American Jewish Congress and as a vice-president of the World Jewish Congress, Prinz represented the Jewish community as an organizer of the 28 August 1963 March on Washington. He came to the podium immediately following a stirring spiritual sung by the folk singer Odetta and just he before Martin Luther King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Prinz’ address is remembered for its contention that in the face of discrimination, “the most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.”

Speech by World Jewish Congress Vice President Joachim Prinz at the March on Washington rally on 28 August 1963

I speak to you as an American Jew.

As Americans we share the profound concern of millions of people about the shame and disgrace of inequality and injustice which make a mockery of the great American idea.

As Jews we bring to this great demonstration, in which thousands of us proudly participate, a two-fold experience — one of the spirit and one of our history.

In the realm of the spirit, our fathers taught us thousands of years ago that when God created man, he created him as everybody’s neighbor. Neighbor is not a geographic term. It is a moral concept. It means our collective responsibility for the preservation of man’s dignity and integrity.

From our Jewish historic experience of three and a half thousand years we say: Our ancient history began with slavery and the yearning for freedom. During the Middle Ages my people lived for a thousand years in the ghettos of Europe . Our modern history begins with a proclamation  of emancipation.

It is for these reasons that it is not merely sympathy and compassion for the black people of America that motivates us.

It is above all and beyond all such sympathies and emotions a sense of complete identification and solidarity born of our own painful historic experience.

When I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime, I learned many things.

The most important thing that I learned under those tragic circumstances was that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem.

The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.

A great people which had created a great civilization had become a nation of silent onlookers. They remained silent in the face of hate, in the face of brutality and in the face of mass murder.

America must not become a nation of onlookers. America must not remain silent. Not merely black America , but all of America.

Prinz addressing the estimated 250,000 participants in the rallyPrinz addressing the estimated 250,000 participants in the rally

It must speak up and act, from the president down to the humblest of us, and not for the sake of the Negro, not for the sake of the black community but for the sake of the image, the idea and the aspiration of America itself.

Our children, yours and mine in every school across the land, each morning pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States and to the republic for which it stands. They, the children, speak fervently and innocently of this land as the land of “liberty and justice for all.”

The time, I believe, has come to work together – for it is not enough to hope together, and it is not enough to pray together, to work together that this children’s oath, pronounced every morning from Maine to California, from North to South, may become. a glorious, unshakeable reality in a morally renewed and united America.

Source: JoachimPrinz.com

Story from: http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/13888/today_in_history_wjc_leader_at_1963_march_on_washington_silence_in_the_face_of_bigotry_is_shameful_

Martin Luther King’s Words in a Surveillance World

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deutsch: 1964: Martin Luther King Português: Martin Luther King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Mar...

English: Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she unwillingly began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93). Source: Ebony Magazine Ελληνικά: Φωτογραφία της Rosa Parks με τον Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (περ. 1955.) Español: Fotografía de Rosa Parks con Martin Luther King jr. (aprox. 1955). Français : Photographie Rosa Parks (ca. 1955) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr. & Cor...

English: Tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr. & Coretta Scott King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Martin Luther King’s Words in a Surveillance World.

A Time for Creative Suffering
Martin Luther King’s Words in a Surveillance World

By Ariel Dorfman

August 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House - So much has changed since that hot day in August 1963 when Martin Luther King delivered his famous words from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. A black family lives in the White House and official segregation is a thing of the past. Napalm no longer falls on the homes and people of Vietnam and the president of that country has just visited the United States in order to seek “a new relationship.”

A health-care law has been passed that guarantees medical services to many millions who, 50 years ago, were entirely outside the system. Gays were then hiding their sexuality everywhere — the Stonewall riots were six years away — and now the Supreme Court has recognized that same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits. Only the year before, Rachel Carson had published her groundbreaking ecological classic Silent Spring, then one solitary book.  Today, there is a vigorous movement in the land and across the Earth dedicated to stopping the extinction of our planet.

In 1963, nuclear destruction threatened our species every minute of the day and now, despite the proliferation of such weaponry to new nations, we do not feel that tomorrow is likely to bring 10,000 Hiroshimas raining down on humanity.

So much has changed — and yet so little.

The placards raised in last week’s commemorative march on Washington told exactly that story: calls for ending the drone wars in foreign lands; demands for jobs and equality; protests against mass incarceration, restrictions on the right to an abortion, cuts to education, assaults upon the workers of America, and the exploitation and persecution of immigrants; warnings about the state-by-state spread of voter suppression laws. And chants filling the air, rising above multiple images of Trayvon Martin, denouncing gun violence and clamoring for banks to be taxed. Challenges to us all to occupy every space available and return the country to the people.

Yes, so much has changed — and yet so little.

In my own life, as well.

Words for an Assassination Moment

I wasn’t able to attend last week’s march, but I certainly would have, if events of a personal nature hadn’t interfered. It was just a matter of getting in a car with my wife, Angélica, and driving four hours from our home in Durham, North Carolina.

Fifty years ago, that would have been impossible.  We were living in distant Chile and didn’t even know that a march on Washington was taking place. I was 21 years old at the time and, like so many of my generation, entangled in the struggle to liberate Latin America.  The speech by King that was to influence my life so deeply did not even register with me.

What I can remember with ferocious precision, however, is the place, the date, and even the hour when, five years later, I had occasion to listen for the first time to those “I have a dream” words, heard the incantations of that melodious baritone, that emotional certainty of victory. I can remember the occasion so clearly because it happened to be April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King was killed, and ever since, his dream and his death have been grievously conjoined in my mind as they still are, almost half a century later.

I recall how I was sitting with Angélica and our one-year-old child, Rodrigo, in a living room high up in the hills of Berkeley, the university town in California.  We had arrived from Chile barely a week earlier. Our hosts, an American family who generously offered us temporary lodgings while our apartment was being readied, had switched on the television.  We all solemnly watched the nightly news, probably delivered by Walter Cronkite, the famed CBS anchorman. And there it was, the murder of Martin Luther King in that Memphis hotel, and then came the first reports of riots all over America and, finally, a long excerpt from his “I have a dream” speech.

It was only then, I think, that I began to realize who Martin Luther King had been, what we had lost with his departure from this world, the legend he was becoming before my very eyes. In later years, I would often return to that speech and would, on each occasion, hew from its mountain of meanings a different rock upon which to stand and understand the world.

Beyond my amazement at King’s eloquence, my immediate reaction was not so much to be inspired as to be puzzled, close to despair. After all, the slaying of this man of peace was answered not by a pledge to persevere in his legacy, but by furious uprisings in the slums of black America.  The disenfranchised were avenging their dead leader by burning down the ghettos in which they felt themselves imprisoned and impoverished, using the fire this time to proclaim that the non-violence King had advocated was useless, that the only way to end inequity in this world was through the barrel of a gun, that the only way to make the powerful pay attention was to scare the hell out of them.

King’s assassination, therefore, savagely brought up a question that was already bedeviling me — and so many other activists — in the late sixties: What was the best method to achieve radical change? Could we picture a rebellion in the way that Martin Luther King had envisioned it, without drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred, without treating our adversaries as they had treated us? Or did the road into the palace of justice and the bright day of brotherhood inevitably lead through fields of violence?  Was violence truly the unavoidable midwife of revolution?

Martin Luther King and the Dream of a Revolutionary Chile

These were questions that, back in Chile, I would soon be forced to answer, not through cloudy theoretical musings, but while immersed in the day-to-day reality of history-in-the-making.  I’m talking about the years after 1970 when Salvador Allende was elected Chile’s president and we became the first country to try to build socialism through peaceful means. Allende’s vision of social change, elaborated over decades of struggle and thought, was similar to King’s, even though they came from very different political and cultural traditions.

Allende, for instance, was not at all religious and would not have agreed with King that physical force must be met with soul force.  He favored instead the force of social organizing. At a time when many in Latin America were still dazzled by the armed struggle proposed by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, however, it was Allende’s singular accomplishment to imagine the two quests of our era to be inextricably connected: the quest by the dispossessed of this Earth for more democracy as well as civil freedoms, and the parallel quest for social justice and economic empowerment.

Unfortunately, it was Allende’s fate to echo King’s.  Three years after King’s death in Memphis, it was Allende’s choice to die in the midst of a Washington-backed military coup against his democratic government in the presidential palace in Santiago, Chile.

Yes, on the first 9/11 — September 11, 1973 — almost 10 years to the day since King’s “I have a dream” speech, Allende chose to die defending his own dream, promising us, in his last speech, that sooner, not later, más temprano que tarde, a day would come when the free men and women of Chile would walk through las amplias alamedas, the great avenues full of trees, toward a better society.

It was in the immediate aftermath of that terrible defeat, as we watched the powerful of Chile impose upon us the terror that we had not wanted to visit upon them, it was then, as our nonviolence was met with executions and torture and disappearances, it was only then, after that military coup, that I first began to seriously commune with Martin Luther King, that his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial came back to haunt me. It was as I left Chile and headed, with wife and child, into an exile lasting many years that King’s voice and message began to filter fully, word by word, into my life.

If ever there were a situation where violence could be justified, it would have been against the military junta in Chile led by Augusto Pinochet. He and his generals had overthrown a constitutional government and were now murdering, torturing, imprisoning, and persecuting citizens whose radical sin had been to imagine a world where you would not need to massacre your opponents in order to allow the waters of justice to flow. 

The Dogs of Mississippi and Valparaiso

And yet, very wisely, almost instinctively, the Chilean resistance embraced a different route: slowly, resolutely, dangerously taking over every possible inch of public space in the country, isolating the dictatorship inside and outside our nation, making Chile ungovernable through civil disobedience. It was not entirely different from the strategy that the civil rights movement had espoused in the United States; and, indeed, I never felt closer to Martin Luther King than during the 17 years it took us to free Chile of the dictatorship.

His words to the militants who thronged to Washington in 1963, demanding that they not lose faith, resonated with me, comforted my sad heart. He was speaking prophetically to me, to us, when he said, “I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells.”

He was speaking to us, to me, when he thundered, “Some of you come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering.” He understood that more difficult than going to your first protest was awakening the following morning and heading for the next protest, and then the one after, engaging, that is, in the daily grind of small acts that can lead to large and lethal consequences.

The sheriffs and dogs of Alabama and Mississippi were alive and well in the streets of Santiago and Valparaiso, and so was the spirit that had encouraged defenseless men, women, and children to be mowed down, beaten, bombed, harassed, and yet continue to confront their oppressors with the only weapons available to them: the suffering of their bodies and the conviction that nothing could make them turn back.

Like the blacks in the United States, so in Chile we sang in the streets of the cities that had been stolen from us. Not spirituals, for every land has its own songs. In Chile we sang, over and over, the Ode to Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the hope that a day would come when all men would be brothers.

Why were we singing? To give ourselves courage, of course, but not only that. In Chile, we sang and stood against the hoses and tear gas and truncheons, because we knew that somebody else was watching. In this, we were also following in the media-savvy footsteps of Martin Luther King.  After all, that mismatched confrontation between a police state and the people was being photographed or filmed and transmitted to other eyes. In the deep south of the United States, the audience was the majority of the American people; while in that other struggle years later in the deeper south of Chile, the daily spectacle of peaceful men and women being repressed by the agents of terror targeted national and international forces whose support Pinochet and his dependent third world dictatorship needed in order to survive.

The tactic worked because we understood, as Gandhi and King had before us, that our adversaries could be influenced and shamed by public opinion, and could in this fashion eventually be compelled to relinquish power. That is how segregation was defeated in the South; that is how the Chilean people beat Pinochet in a plebiscite in 1988 that led to democracy in 1990; that is the story of the downfall of tyrannies around the world, more than ever today, from the streets of Burma to the cities of the Arab Spring.

King in the Age of Surveillance

And what of this moment? When I return to that speech I first heard 45 years ago, the very day King died, is there still a message for me, for us, something we need to hear again as if we were listening to those words for the first time?

What would Martin Luther King say if he could return to contemplate what his country has become since his death? What if he could see how the terror and slaughter brought to bear upon New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, had turned his people into a fearful, vengeful nation, ready to stop dreaming, ready to abridge their own freedoms in order to be secure? What if he could see how that obsession with security has fed espionage services and a military-industrial complex run amok?

What would he say if he could observe how that fear was manipulated in order to justify the invasion and occupation of a foreign land against the will of its people? How would he react to the newest laws disenfranchising the very citizens he fought to bring to the voting booths? What sorrow would have gripped his heart as he watched the rich thrive and the poor be ever more neglected and despised, as he observed the growing abyss between the one percent and the rest of the country, not to speak of the power of money to intervene and intercede and decide?

What words would he have used to denounce the way the government surveillance he was under is now commonplace and pervasive, potentially targeting anyone in the United States who happens to own a phone or use email? Wouldn’t he tell those who oppose these policies and institutions inside and outside the United States to stand up and be counted, to march ahead, and not ever to wallow in the valley of despair?

That’s my belief. That he would repeat some of the words he delivered on that now-distant day in the shadow of the statue of Abraham Lincoln.  My guess is that he would once again affirm his faith in the potential of his country.  He would undoubtedly point out that his dream remained rooted in an American dream which, in spite of all the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, was still alive; that his nation still had the ability to rise up and live out the true meaning of its original creed, summed up in the words “we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

Let us hope that his faith in us was and still is on the mark. Let us hope and pray, for his sake and ours, that his faith in his own country was not misplaced and that 50 years later his compatriots will once again listen to his fierce yet gentle voice calling on them from beyond death and beyond fear, calling on all of us, here and abroad, to stand together for freedom and justice in our time.

Ariel Dorfman, the Chilean-American writer and professor at Duke University, has written many books and plays translated into more than 50 languages. Among them are his play and film Death and the Maiden and his memoir of the coup against Allende, Heading South, Looking North. His latest book is the second part of that memoir, Feeding On Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile. He lives with his wife Angélica in Durham, North Carolina, and from time to time, in Chile.

Copyright 2013 Ariel Dorfman

This article was originally published at Tom Dispatch

“How Expensive is Justice?”

How expensive is justice?

Please, read whole article here: http://www.creditloan.com/infographics/how-much-does-it-cost-to-keep-a-criminal/

Pretty darn costly. But depending on your point of view, the costs of keeping criminals behind bars or executing them might be worth it.

What can’t be argued, though, is that incarceration and execution are both terribly cost-ineffective methods of dealing with criminals. Probation and parole, for instance, are far less expensive.

It costs an average of $3.42 a day to keep a prisoner on probation, and $7.47 to keep that same prisoner on parole. Compare that with how costly it is to keep prisoners locked up; it costs an average of $78.95 each day to keep a criminal behind bars.

Now, depending on the crime, you might think that cost is worth it to keep dangerous criminals off the street. Consider this, though: It costs more to keep someone in prison for one day that it costs to keep that person on parole or probation for 22.

What about execution?

This isn’t cheap, either. It costs $86.08 to provide the drugs needed to perform a single lethal injection. Overall, executions are extremely costly to the states that perform them.

The average execution in California, for instance, costs $90,000. In Washington state, this cost stands an even higher $700,000.

The death penalty has been even costlier in New Jersey. The state pays $253 million to house all of its death-row inmates each year. That’s because, as of the writing of this story, New Jersey had suspended its executions. Of course, it still has to do something with those death-row inmates.

States, though, aren’t cutting back on the amount of money they are spending on new prisons. Eight states, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming, have spent 88 percent of their additional corrections spending since 1983 on prisons.

Overall, based on 2007 data, one in every 31 adults in the United States is under correctional control. Georgia has the dubious distinction of leading the nation in the percentage of its residents under correctional control, one out of every 13.

Other states aren’t far behind. They include Idaho, one in 18; Texas, one in 22; Massachusetts, one in 24; Ohio, one in 25; and Minnesota, Indiana and Louisiana, all of which stand at one in 26.

The states on the other end of the spectrum include New Hampshire, with one out of every 88 adults under correctional control; Maine, one in 81; West Virginia, one in 68; Utah, one in 64; and North Dakota, one in 63.

Don’t think that inmates are complete deadbeats, either.

About 80 percent of them work while in prison to offset the costs associated with housing and feeding them. Most often, these inmates work on farms and gardens to produce their own food or perform renovations and repairs on prisons. They also serve food to their fellow inmates, maintain the grounds and participate in their prison’s sanitation and recycling processes.

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How Much Does It Cost to Keep a Criminal? | http://www.creditloan.com/infographics/how-much-does-it-cost-to-keep-a-criminal/#ixzz2S7TQLoYw

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new efforts under way to abolish death penalty in washington

Death penalty statutes in the united states2

Death penalty statutes in the united states2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New efforts under way to abolish death penalty in Washington http://www.komonews.com/news/local/New-efforts-under-way-to-abolish-death-penalty-in-Washington-181464381.html