After storming into her apartment early in the morning while she was still in bed, Henrico, VA police tied up 75-year-old Ruth Hunter with zip ties and began grilling her about drug use and storage. Then, realizing that maybe, just maybe, she was not their target, they left for a neighboring apartment — leaving her tied up while their incompetent investigation continued.
So far, the police have done nothing to make amends. “I’m very irritated and angry, he never said I’m sorry, never apologized for having the wrong house…he said you got to get someone to fix that door,” Hunter said.
Read the whole story here.
10:35 am |
April 24 2014
| 51 notes
Iowa Cops Seize Almost $ 50,000 from a Couple, Didn’t Charge Them With A Crime
A Minnesota couple is suing the Iowa City Police Department to return almost $50,000, arguing police wrongfully seized that cash. Kearnice Overton was driving with his four kids on I-80 when Iowa City police pulled him over for speeding. Police brought a K-9 unit and based on the dog giving a “silent indicator on the vehicle,” police searched Overton’s car. They found $48,000.
Drug sniffing dogs can have a very high false positive rate, i.e., they alert even when there are no drugs. Yet as the Institute for Justice demonstrated in an amicus brief for the U.S. Supreme Court, “There are countless examples of police seizing large sums of cash based on nothing more than a positive dog alert.” Plus, in Iowa, law enforcement can keep 100 percent of the proceeds from forfeited property, creating an immense incentive to police for profit.
Overton denies the money he was carrying was the result of any illegal activity. Instead, he says he had the cash to buy property from his cousin in Illinois, but the sale fell through. “This money was wrongfully seized. I was not arrested, nor were any charges lodged against me in connection with this money. This money was in no way connected to any criminal activity,” Overton stated in a court document.
Iowa’s civil forfeiture laws make it difficult for innocent property owners to win in court, according to the Institute for Justice’s report, “Policing for Profit.” Owners have to prove their innocence to prevail. The government can forfeit property if it shows that it is linked to criminal activity by a preponderance of the evidence. That is a much lower evidentiary standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used for criminal convictions.
9:48 am |
April 24 2014
| 35 notes
mistakendisenchantment asked: I really hope you apply to be a Tumblr Fellow at the Personal Democracy Forum. You would be a perfect candidate.
Thanks! I think I applied for that last year and didn’t get it. I might apply again, but it would be difficult to go since they don’t cover travel costs. We’ll see, though :)
5:43 pm |
April 23 2014
| 5 notes
Riding the bus in Detroit is not fun: Half of the city’s bus routes have been cancelled over the last decade, and waiting for a bus to show up can take as long as two hours. A new project is trying to make that wait a little more pleasant by building mobile bus shelters—and since this is Detroit, the shelters are made out of recycled parts from abandoned buildings.
More about the Door Stops project here: These Makeshift Detroit Bus Shelters Are Recycled From Abandoned Houses | Co.Exist | ideas impact
This is a cool project, and a great example of voluntary action producing concrete improvements in a community. It’s not expensive, and it’s not complicated, but it is a big help for the people affected.
2:47 pm |
April 23 2014
| 135 notes
U.S. Imprisonment Rate Per 100,000 Residents, 1978-2012
The US incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation in the world: Approximately 1 in 100 adults or more than 2.2 million people are behind bars in the US, according to the Pew Center on the States. In addition, another 4.6 million (or a total of almost 7 million) people live under some form of correctional supervision.
Mass incarceration is not a result of higher crime rates: The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world not because it has higher crime rates, but because it imprisons more types of criminal offenders, including non-violent and drug offenders, and keeps them in prison longer. With the exception of homicide, US crime rates are comparable to other European countries with much lower incarceration rates.
Mass incarceration disproportionately impacts US racial minorities: Mass incarceration has had a devastating effect on blacks and Hispanics in the US. African Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person and non-white Latinos are almost three times more likely to be incarcerated, according to the Pew Center on the States.
Incarceration hits hardest at young black and Latino men without high school education. An astounding 11 percent of black men, aged between 20 and 34, are behind bars. Much of the racial disparity is a result of the US’ war on drugs - started by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. By 1988, blacks were arrested on drug charges at five times the rate of whites. By 1996, the rate of drug admissions to state prison for black men was 13 times greater than the rate for white men. This is despite the fact that African Americans use drugs at roughly the same rate as white Americans.
Mass incarceration is expensive: Imprisoning people is not cheap. The average cost of housing an inmate is approximately $20,000 to $30,000 per year. This price tag comes at the direct expense of public money that could be spent on public education, medical care and public assistance. And it is one reason why so many states face fiscal crises today.
It’s nice to see that my current state (Minnesota) is one of the best on this issue, but the map as a whole is devastating.
2:41 pm |
April 23 2014
| 722 notes
“Over the last year, thanks in large part to illegal leaks, we’ve learned that we’re living in a [REDACTED] republic. In the president’s version of ‘transparency,’ the Americans have no right to debate even the most basic public questions — like the legal standards for spying on or killing American citizens — unless, of course, that information leaks, at which point the administration ‘welcomes’ the debate.”
— Gene Healy, "The Most [REDACTED] Administration in History"
2:32 pm |
April 23 2014
| 171 notes
Let’s Give Every NSA Employee an Anonymous Whistleblowing Opportunity
What if every NSA employee and contractor was required, once a year, to fill out an anonymous civil liberties survey? The anonymity of respondents would be persuasively guaranteed, and a multiple choice format would prevent the disclosure of any classified information.
1. The NSA targets the communications of American citizens
2. In the last year I have witnessed Fourth Amendment violations
a) 0 times
b) 1 to 5 times
c) 5 to 10 times
d) 10 to 100 times
e) more than 100 times
3. Civil-liberties protections used by the NSA are
b) more than adequate
c) only sometimes effective
d) totally ineffective
4. Congressional oversight of the NSA is
a) if anything too onerous
b) just right
d) failing to stop serious abuses
e) Congress isn’t even aware of serious abuses
5. To your knowledge, how many of your colleagues are violating the law or the rights of Americans?
b) one outlier
c) a few
d) a significant number
e) more employees than not
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
10:06 am |
April 22 2014
| 277 notes