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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stories you WON'T see in the mainstream press today

One the main points of the book is that you cannot (and should not) rely on the mainstream media exclusively for your information. Why not? Because it is owned and operated by corporations, which clearly have a bias in terms of keeping some things out of the news.

So, you can check out alternative sources on the left or right of the political spectrum, as well as objective advocacy journalism organizations for stories about powerful people that do not tend to appear in the mainstream news.

Here are some examples from why would the corporate owned media NOT be interested in such stories?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is elite deviance? And when is it in the news?

The term elite deviance was created by David Simon and put forth in a book by the same name: Elite Deviance.

Elite deviance is comprised of harmful acts committed by elites (powerful people), some of which are illegal but others legal. That is why it is called deviance instead of crime. Yes, elite deviance includes things like white-collar crime and corporate crime, but those terms refer to actual violations of the criminal law. And it turns out that most hamrful acts of elites are "perfectly legal" (I like that term, by the way, for it is perfect for them that their harmful acts remain legal).

Today I did a search in Google News for "criminal justice policy." And these are some of the stories leading the news'll see a story about yet another financial giant getting off with a slap on the wrist for serious immoral and illegal manipulation of energy markets, a story about an explosion at a propane plant (likely caused by some form of negligence or recklessness, as such cases usually are), a story about how doctors do not follow suggested treatment protocols for back pain thereby assuring millions and millions of dollars in spending on unnecessary tests and procedures, and a story about an elite baseball player who might be banned from the game).

So there you have it, more proof that elite deviance occurs in all areas of life.

Yet, you won't see it on the front page of CNN, or Fox, or any other network. Because they are owned by elites, too.

See realtime coverage

JPMorgan pays hefty sum to settle 'manipulation' charges - ‎17 minutes ago‎
JPMorgan Chase announced Tuesday it would pay a total of $410 million to settle allegations of energy market manipulation in California and the Midwest.

See realtime coverage

Explosions rock propane plant in central Florida, 7 hurt

Chicago Tribune - ‎44 minutes ago‎
ORLANDO, Florida -- Dozens of explosions rocked a propane tank servicing plant in central Florida, northwest of Orlando, late on Monday, injuring seven workers, at least three critically, and prompting the evacuation of nearby homes, authorities said.

See realtime coverage

See realtime coverage

MLB reportedly threatens to permanently ban Alex Rodriguez

Los Angeles Times - ‎37 minutes ago‎
Major League Baseball reportedly has evidence that proves Alex Rodriguez used banned performance-enhancing substances and has offered the New York Yankees third baseman a deal that could salvage the final $61 million of his contract while effectively ...

Doctors don't follow back pain guidelines, study finds

Fox News - ‎1 hour ago‎
A new study has found that many physicians are not following expert recommendations for the treatment of back pain. By not doing so, they are subjecting patients to unnecessary imaging tests, ineffective surgeries and unnecessary exposure to addictive ...

Monday, July 29, 2013

What are prisons for, really?

In the book, I show that prisons (and prisoners) are the least likely component of the criminal justice system to be depicted in the news.

This has changed to some degree with shows that depict life in prison--both infotainment shows and fictional crime dramas & movies.

Yet, it remains true that rarely do mainstream media outlets examine the (in)efficacy of prisons and punishment more generally.

Criminologists have long asserted that taxpayers expect at least two things from prison and other severe punishments:

1) Punishment--offenders get their "just desserts" (i.e., what they deserve for the crimes they commit)
2) Crime prevention--offenders are incapacitated and thus unable to commit crime in the free world, and presumably would-be offenders are deterred by the thought of going to prison.

Leaving aside the debate over whether prisons actually accomplish these assumed goals, there is another body of thought that asserts that prisons (and criminal justice more generally) are really aimed at something else entirely: population control and serving financial interests.

Check out Jeffrey Reiman and Paul Leighton's book, The Rich Get Rich and the Poor Get Prison, as an example of this school of thought.

Some scholars assert the prison system is really about a racial caste system. Others suggest it is system set up to maintain control over the dangerous classes--poor people, for example.

Yet, rarely do we see coverage of such arguments in the press.

Chris Hedges has a new piece titled, "The Business of Mass Incarceration."  In the article, Hedges writes:

"Poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. This use of the bodies of the poor to make money for corporations fuels the system of neoslavery that defines our prison system."

Sound harsh? Well, read the rest and see what you think:

In the article, Hedges outlines why the prison system fails, shows who benefits from it, and then places the blame squarely at the feet of President Bill Clinton. That is interesting to me because mass incarceration started before Clinton's two terms, as did the move to utilize criminal justice to try to punish our way out of crime problems that were largely invented in the first place (serious street crime has been going down since the early 1970s and violent crime has been declining since the early 1990s).

I'm now finish a book that places the blame on conservative politicians of both parties (and Bill Clinton is included among this group). Yet, it started in the 1960s with people like Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon and really took hold in the 1980s with Ronald Reagan. Hopefully people will check out my new book--tentatively titled, Criminal Injustice--and let me know what they think of my argument.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The beginning of the end?...

... of mass incarceration?

Well, call me skeptical, but according to this article in the New York Times, this is the third year in a row where imprisonment rates have fallen.

Why? According to the article, "in recent years, tightened state budgets, plummeting crime rates, changes in sentencing laws and shifts in public opinion have combined to reverse the trend."

Isn't that something? It is not because prisons don't work in the long run to reduce crime. It's not because incarceration is a destructive experience that tends to "prisonize" people, making them completely dependent on the goverment for even basic skills. It's not that prisons are the "colleges of crime." It's not that study after study shows that incarceration is plagued by serious racial (and social class) disparities.

It's about the money. We just cannot afford it anymore.

See? "Most observers agree that the recession has played a role in shrinking prison populations. In 2011 and 2012, at least 17 states closed or were considering closing prisons partly for budgetary reasons, representing a reduction of 28,525 beds, according to a report by the Sentencing Project published last year."

But perhaps it is not that bad. According to the article: "Adam Gelb, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project, said that while fiscal concerns might have led to the turnaround in some states, the need to cut budgets had not been the deciding factor."

He explained: “They’re not simply pinching pennies. Policy makers are not holding their noses and saying we have to scale back prisons to save money. The states that are showing drops are states that are thinking about how they can apply research-based alternatives that work better and cost less.”

Well that would be something--very newsworthy! Policy-makers using evidence to inform practice! Yet, notice his last three words: "and cost less."

So it really is about the money.

After all, it is conservative politicians who were behind the increase in imprisonment in the first place (I'm writing a book about this now). And so it is they who are now pushing for reductions in prisons.

The author of the New York Times piece called this an "unusual bipartisan effort to reduce the nation’s reliance on prisons, with groups like Right on Crime, devoted to what it calls the 'conservative case for reform,' pushing for lower-cost and less punitive solutions than incarceration for nonviolent offenders."
According to the article: "Marc Levin, senior policy adviser for Right on Crime, described the change in conservatives’ position on parole violators: It used to be 'Trail ’em, nail ’em and jail ’em,' he said, 'but there’s been a move to say, ‘Yes, there’s a surveillance function, but we also want them to succeed.’”
Why? Money. Don't believe me? Read the rest of the article:

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

With lead stories like these ...

... it's no wonder that polls continue to show how uninfomed we tend to be.

So, THIS is what is important in our lives?

a) A politician who tweeted pictures of his crotch?

'Not an easy choice' to stay

Weiner's wife takes spotlight this time

Huma Abedin was front and center as mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner confessed to further explicit exchanges online. FULL STORY
b) A baby born to royals in a foreign country?
Prince William, his wife Catherine and the little prince start their first full day at home together, but something is missing -- his name. FULL STORY
So, have you heard what's going on in my state?
How the North Carolina legislature just might be one of the worst in US history? How it is dismantling public education, stripping local jurisdictions of their right to control their own water supplies right before our very eyes, reducing our ability to vote, reforming the tax code to increase the burden on the poor in order to give more money to the rich? etc. etc.
Nope, it's not national news, at least not on the websites of the major television and newspapers. And so now you understand why it is happening.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fascinating new book on race and criminal justice

In the media book, I show how the media focus on people of color far more than whites when it comes to crime. People of color tend to be portrayed as offenders, and white people tend to be depicted as victims as well as criminal justice personnel.

Just how bad is it? When the race of offenders is not identified, people tend to assume they are black; when the race of victims is not identified, people tend to assume they are white.

A new book--Justice in America: The Separate Realities of Blacks and Whites--shows how blacks and whites see the criminal justice system in very different ways. A recent interview with the authors by a reported with the Washington Post helps understand the significance of the work for issues including how people react so differently to national cases such as OJ Simpson and George Zimmerman.

In a nutshell, blacks are more aware of problems of the criminal justice system, are less supportive of it, more skeptical of its fairness, and why? Because of their personal experiences.

Read the stunning summary, including an exlanation of experiements that discover unconscious bias and stereotypes held by people here:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Can you really believe THIS is the lead story in the news?

British royal baby finally arrives

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince William welcome their first child. The baby weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces. FULL STORY

Kate in Labor as World Awaits Birth of Royal Baby

VIDEO: Kate in Labor in London
PHOTOS: Lovely Kate Middleton
PHOTOS: William and Kate Throughout the Years

One of the main themes of the book is that the new focus on trivial matters (in addition to random crimes) in order to keep us fixated on things that don't matter so that things that do will be decided by elites.

Well, what could be more trivial than the birth of a child who is born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who were born to people who long ago took power and oppressed the masses based on the subjective claim that they were endowed by God to be rulers and thus had more food and land and all other resources?

These are the same people whose abuses became so outrageous that we broke away from them are fought wars in order to be our own independent nation and whose crimes are listed in our very own Declaration of Independence.

This child is a descendant of those people.

And those people own about $1billion in wealth, yet rely on the people of the UK for security, food, shelter, etc. even while cutting salaries for the masses.

Sure, I will celebrate that! Not!

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm back from Israel and Europe! What happened while I was gone?

Whew, what a five week period that was:

Tel Aviv, Israel
London, England
Paris, France
Frankfurt, Germany

And places in-between.

It was interesting watching the news over there. Very little to none of the trivial nonsense we focus on here in the states.

But there was international coverage of the Trayvon Martin ruling. Incredibly, George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the killing of an unarmed teenager.

Yet, the best coverage of the ruling was, yet again, from a comedy show. Here, The Daily Show illustrates the absurdity of it all.