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CI: Collective Non-Cooperation

January 22, 2014 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Corrupt Legislature, Criminal Defense, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, Prisoner Rights, What People are Doing to Change the World

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Collective Non-Cooperation
by nancy a heitzeg

One of the least discussed realities of criminal injustice is this: the entire endeavor rests on the cooperation of everyday citizens. Uniform Crime Report (UCR) data primarily depends on citizens to call and report crimes to the police. Gaps in UCR data (i.e. unaccounted for crimes that are neither detected by police nor reported by citizens) are estimated by administering the National Crime Victimization Survey to a random subset of the population. The over-whelming majority of everything that is known about crime, especially the Index Offenses, comes from us.

Further, Arrest Rates or Clearance Rates rely heavily – not on super-tech CSI techniques – but on victim and/or bystander descriptions. Prosecutors depend on a snitch system of informants to further investigations especially in so-called “victimless” crimes such as drug deals. The courts count on 90% of all those charged to accept a “negotiated guilty plea” otherwise known as plea-bargaining.

Professor Alexandra Natapoff on Snitching

The Criminal InJustice System is Nothing without our Cooperation.

As it becomes increasingly clear that reporting crime does little to protect us and that state violence often further victimizes those that seek help, what if we stopped calling ? What if some of us already have?

As police become increasingly violent in their responses to even 911 calls for help, what if we stopped calling them?

As the Drug War system of mass incarceration becomes ever more dependent on confidential informants, what if we stopped snitching?

As we are increasingly asked to give up our constitutional rights, what if, as Michelle Alexander wonders,  we went “to trial and crashed the system”?

What would that look like? How could that be collectively organized? What alternatives would need to be in place?

Think about it..

In the meantime, Know Your Rights.

 

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Government Shutdown Planned by GOP, Paid for by their Corporate Masters

October 06, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, 2014 Mid-term Elections, Corrupt Legislature, Economic Terrorism, Intersectionality

us-gov-shutdown-4oct2013-2

A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning, New York Times

To many Americans, the shutdown came out of nowhere. But interviews with a wide array of conservatives show that the confrontation that precipitated the crisis was the outgrowth of a long-running effort to undo the law, the Affordable Care Act, since its passage in 2010 — waged by a galaxy of conservative groups with more money, organized tactics and interconnections than is commonly known…

The current budget brinkmanship is just the latest development in a well-financed, broad-based assault on the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature legislative initiative. Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation.

The billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, have been deeply involved with financing the overall effort. A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight. Included was $5 million to Generation Opportunity, which created a buzz last month with an Internet advertisement showing a menacing Uncle Sam figure popping up between a woman’s legs during a gynecological exam.

The groups have also sought to pressure vulnerable Republican members of Congress with scorecards keeping track of their health care votes; have burned faux “Obamacare cards” on college campuses; and have distributed scripts for phone calls to Congressional offices, sample letters to editors and Twitter and Facebook offerings for followers to present as their own.

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In 2012 Election, African American Voters Surpassed White Turnout For The First Time Ever

April 29, 2013 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Voting Rights

From ThinkProgress:

Though Republican election officials in battleground states sought to dampen voter turn out of traditionally Democratic voters through by instituting identification requirements and limiting early voting hours, a new analysis of census data by the Associated Press shows that African Americans “voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time.”

More significantly, the battleground states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida and Colorado would have tipped in favor of Romney, handing him the presidency if the outcome of other states remained the same.

African Americans outperformed their voter share, representing 13 percent of total votes cast in 2012
while making up 12 percent of the population — despite facing great obstacles to exercising the franchise.
A poll conducted by Hart Research poll immediately after the election reported that 22 percent of African-Americans waited 30 minutes or more to vote, compared to just 9 percent of white voters. A more thorough analysis from Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed that black and hispanic voters waited nearly twice as long to vote as whites. In Florida, home to the longest lines, at least 201,000 people may have been deterred from voting by the long waits.

Black youth was also far more likely to be asked to show ID, a study by professors at the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis found, and many did not even try to vote because they lacked the required identification.

Front Pages from Around the Globe: President Obama’s Second Inaugural (PHOTO HEAVY)

January 27, 2013 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality

Coal Company Rehires Workers After Pinning Blame For Layoffs On Obama

January 27, 2013 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Workers' Rights

From ThinkProgress:

Throughout the 2012 presidential election, Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray used his employees as a political tool to try to defeat President Obama. Murray allegedly forced miners to attend a pro-Romney rally without pay and to contribute to Republican candidates. He announced layoffs at mines in Ohio and Utah, claiming that Obama’s “war on coal” has cost jobs and hurt his business.

But months after blaming Obama for layoffs, Murray Energy is looking to hire back workers. Alec MacGillis reports this includes mines in Ohio and Utah, which had announced layoffs in the days following the election. At the time, Murray claimed the “drastic time” forced “survival mode layoffs”:

“It’s opened back up…they’re hiring people,” said Gary Parsons, a former superintendent at the mine who worked there for five years before being laid off with the announcement of the shutdown last summer. Parsons himself has not been called back, and is planning simply to retire early, but he said he had talked to several locals who were taking steps to get hired back on. He said he did not understand why, after the big headline-making closure last year, things were perking up at the mine. “I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “They said they was going to close the mine down.”

Company officials maintain the rehiring is part of a reclamation project that can go on for several years, but they may have up to 43 people working at the Ohio Red Bird West operation after originally laying off 56.

Pew Report: Young Voters Played Bigger Role In 2012 Than Expected

December 05, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Voting Rights

From CampusProgress:

It’s been widely reported that young voters (18-29) made the difference in re-electing President Obama, but Pew released a new report showing that young voters played a bigger role than expected.

While Obama’s national support among young voters was slightly down from 2008 when they supported him by 2 to 1 margin, a closer look reveals that his 2012 victory was even more dependent on the Millennial vote. The reason? In 2012, Obama narrowly lost voters 30 and older (a group he won in 2008) to Romney, 48-50. With that shift, he needed a boost from young voters much more than he did in 2008, and they came through for him, especially in the critical swing states where the race was closest: Ohio, Virginia, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

In each of those four states Obama lost among voters over 30 but won 60 percent or greater support from young voters.

Additionally, the overall, youth share of the electorate was up from 18 percent in 2008 to 19 percent in 2012. The increase is noteworthy not only because all signs leading up to the election pointed to a smaller showing from young voters than in 2008, but also because the total number of young people eligible to vote is up substantially. About 16 million young people turned 18 in the last four years, and as Millennials continue to come of age, their political power will only increase.

A big shift happened in the final weeks before the election (just as in 2008), when interest surged among young voters, who once more came out in force to support Obama.

However, the president’s support among young voters was not absolute. Indeed, the unprecedented level of diversity among Millennials was a key factor in his carrying the demographic overall. Obama’s support was highest among African-American and Latino voters generally and so the fact that so many young voters are among these groups was critical to the president’s success with Millennials.

The key issues that Pew identifies as having strong support from young people include:

  • 59 percent believe the government should do more.
  • 53 percent support expanding or maintaining Obamacare.
  • 68 percent believe undocumented immigrants should be given a chance to achieve legal status.
  • 64 percent believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
  • 66 percent believe their state should legalize marriage equality.
  • 61 percent believe the U.S. economic system favors the wealthy.

The Changing Face of Southern Voters

December 04, 2012 By: seeta Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Intersectionality, Poverty

From Southern Studies:

Focusing on the big three Southern battlegrounds — Florida, North Carolina and Virginia — we have two sources for looking at the electoral clout of the emerging Southern majority. One is the exit polls collected by Edison Research for national media outlets; the other is state voter registration statistics.*

Neither is perfect. The exit polls, which in 2012 included random surveys of voters at the polls as well as phone surveys to account for early voters, are only a rough snapshot of the electorate. The further you drill into the data, the smaller the sample size and the greater the margin of error (already 4 percent for the national figures). Voter registration statistics only tell you who is on the voter rolls, but not if and how they voted.

But together, they offer a glimpse at how demographic changes — which are happening more quickly in many Southern states than in the rest of the country — are affecting the Southern political landscape.

The following chart shows how the electorate is changing in the three states:

Obama On Fiscal Cliff: ‘Make Your Voices Heard’ #My2K

December 03, 2012 By: seeta Category: Civil Rights, Consumer Rights, Economic Terrorism, Science/Technology

From CampusProgress:

At a press conference Wednesday, President Obama announced the creation of a new social media campaign to raise awareness about the upcoming fiscal cliff.

The fiscal cliff—or fiscal showdown, as we’re calling it—is a bundle of expiring tax cuts and cuts to program spending that threaten America’s middle class with an average tax increase of $2,200 if Congress cannot reach an agreement by the end of the year. Twitter users can now tweet using the hashtag #My2K to express concerns about how the potential tax hike would impact their daily life.

During the press conference, Obama pressed that an agreement by Congress on how to handle the “fiscal cliff” is critical and must be reached before January.

“This debate is not just about numbers,” he said. “It’s a set of major decisions that are going to affect millions of families.”

There is consensus among lawmakers and economists that increasing taxes on the middle class would be detrimental to our economy, particularly for small businesses. President Obama agreed, calling on Congress to “pass a law that would prevent a tax hike on the first $250,000 of everybody’s income.”

A bill, which the president said he is willing to sign quickly, would protect 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses from the tax increase. The wealthiest Americans, who have balked at the idea of higher taxes, would also get a tax-break on their first $250,000 worth of income.