Our Boys In Blue

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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:09 pm

One more Economist article for tonight:

On the explosion in privatized probation.

Holy fuck is this ever some reprehensible war-on-the-poorest shit.
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McDohl
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby McDohl » Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:09 am

Article is behind a pay wall.

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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:47 am

You must have read too many Economist articles this month. They have a limit.

Here's the text:

WHAT happens when you get a traffic ticket? Probably much gnashing of teeth, perhaps a tongue-lashing from the spouse and a groaning eye-roll as you get your checkbook and slip a hundred of your hard-earned dollars into that orange envelope of shame. But what if you can't pay that ticket? Well, in some states, including Georgia, you get passed over to one of dozens of private-probation companies. Since 2001 private companies have overseen misdemeanant probation, which includes not just minor crimes such as shoplifting, petty theft and public drunkenness, but also speeding tickets and other traffic violations.

Penalties for such crimes rarely exceed a few hundred dollars, but of course not everyone has a few hundred dollars. That's where private-probation companies come in. I've written about these fees before, but here's a quick refresher: if you get hit with a $200 ticket you can't pay, then a private-probation company will let you pay it off in instalments, for a monthly fee. Then there may be additional fees for electronic monitoring, drug testing and classes—many of which are assigned not by a judge, but by the private company itself. When probationers cannot pay, courts issue warrants for their arrest and their probation terms are extended—a reprehensible practice known as "tolling", which a judge declared illegal last year. These are folks who had trouble paying the initial fine; you have to imagine they'll have trouble paying additional fines. It's plausible to posit that these firms' business models are based on assigning unpayable fees to people who lack the sophistication, time, will or whatever to contest them. One might even say these predatory firms treat the long arm of the law as sort of lever on a juicer into which poor people are fed and squeezed to produce an endless stream of fees.


How much do these companies make? How well do they supervise their charges? Do they in fact deliver on their promises of efficiency? Who knows! They may do the state's business, but they are private companies, and hence not subject to sunshine or open-records laws. Human Rights Watch estimates that in Georgia alone private-probation companies rake in around $40m in fees each year (and remember, these are fees paid by people who could not pay a simple misdemeanor fine in the first place), but the fact is nobody really knows.

And if Georgia's legislature has its way, nobody ever will. House Bill 837 passed both chambers of the legislature and needs only the signature of Nathan Deal, Georgia's governor, to become law. The bill reads as though it were dictated by the private-probation industry—and indeed, in a deposition last year an executive from one of the state's biggest private-probation firms said his company spent around $500,000 on lobbyists in Georgia. HB837 reverses last year's judicial order banning tolling: not only does it allow the practice, but it places no limits on duration, meaning that a single traffic ticket could in effect turn into lifetime probation. It allows judges to request quarterly reports from a judicial circuit's private-probation companies detailing the number of offenders supervised, the amount and source of fees collected, the number of offenders who have successfully completed probation and the number of warrants sworn out each quarter, but it then shields this information from disclosure laws.

The initial draft of the bill reportedly contained planks limiting the monthly fees private-probation companies can charge (state entities charge $23 a month for felony supervision; private firms charge between $39 and $44 for misdemeanants), but a Senate committee took that plank out. By a strange coincidence, less than a week earlier that committee's chair, Jesse Stone, who is running to be Burke County State Judge, received a glowing letter of recommendation from the head of the very private-probation firm used by Burke County to supervise misdemeanor probation (Mr Stone insists the recommendation letter had nothing do to with what happened to the bill in the committee that he heads).

The one saving grace in this mess is that Mr Deal says he may veto the bill over concerns about transparency. He has one week from today to do so, or it becomes law without his signature.


There are links in the article to sources. If you really want to see those, I'm sure there are simple things you can do to view a news website whose "X free articles per month" cap you've breached. >___>
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TedBelmont
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby TedBelmont » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:45 pm

Also, yesterday the NYPD asked people on twitter to post photos of themselves with police officers, and tag them with #MyNYPD. Predictably, it backfired completely.

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Smiler
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Smiler » Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:33 pm

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Cait
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Cait » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:46 am

That's from some ARG a couple of years back, not a real thing.

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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Smiler » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:49 am

That's a shame.

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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:29 am

To me, the funniest thing about that shot is that TD is a Canadian bank. "Toronto - Dominion (of Canada)".

They're also very good to customers! I have my bank account with them. I don't know how they are in the States though; maybe they're scummier there to conform to US industry standard?
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Büge
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Büge » Wed May 07, 2014 12:56 pm

Cecily McMillan, an OWS protester who was brutalized by a police officer, was found guilty of assault because she elbowed him in the face.
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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Thu May 15, 2014 2:49 pm

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Rico
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Rico » Thu May 15, 2014 3:42 pm

Jesus Christ, 377 rounds into one car? I mean, I don't even... what the holy fuck?

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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Thu May 15, 2014 4:10 pm

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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:07 pm

The parlous state of American forensic crime labs

I think we may have discussed some of these one-off cases individually, but this is a comprehensive look at the overall state of forensic science in the US. It ain't good.
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TA
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby TA » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:24 pm

Basically, if it's not nuclear DNA testing, it's not science at all. It's guessing.
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Classic
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Classic » Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:44 pm

Did you read the same article I read?
The one that tries to point out not only do people believe forensic science to be magical divination, but that there have been a few high profile cases of (at best) negligence in testing that have nullified convictions?
And points out that we don't know how wide-spread this problem is because there's almost no oversight?
And that we have funding systems that pay "on conviction" only, incentivizing testimony that bolsters the state case?

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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Sat Jun 14, 2014 5:09 pm

The line between police and NSA blurs

The US government doesn't want you to know how the cops are tracking you

Thought the NSA was bad? Local police and the Obama administration are hoovering cellphone location data from inside your house, and a crackdown could lead to surveillance reform
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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:38 pm

Update on cops wearing cameras

THE Rialto study began in February 2012 and will run until this July. The results from the first 12 months are striking. Even with only half of the 54 uniformed patrol officers wearing cameras at any given time, the department over all had an 88 percent decline in the number of complaints filed against officers, compared with the 12 months before the study, to 3 from 24.

Rialto’s police officers also used force nearly 60 percent less often — in 25 instances, compared with 61. When force was used, it was twice as likely to have been applied by the officers who weren’t wearing cameras during that shift, the study found. And, lest skeptics think that the officers with cameras are selective about which encounters they record, Mr. Farrar noted that those officers who apply force while wearing a camera have always captured the incident on video.


Good news, potentially. We'll see who picks this up.
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Mongrel
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Mongrel » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:44 am

Seattle officer investigated for busting too many pot smokers

It's not as funny as it might be - of course homeless and blacks were disproportionately targeted - but I like the chief releasing this as a between-the-lines "STOP THAT!" to any officers who might get similar ideas.
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Rico
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Rico » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:22 pm

It's a weird situation. Before pot was legalized in the state, there was basically a "don't even bother at all" policy for the SPD, but the legalization brought with it a $27 fine for smoking in public which theoretically meant police should kind of care about it again. In this particular instance, I'm inclined to think that the racial/homeless part is merely a function of where he was assigned to patrol. If he were assigned to the U district, for instance, I'd expect the same amount of tickets with a significantly different demographic.

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Thad
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Re: Our Boys In Blue

Postby Thad » Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:45 am

Well, I mean, if you're suggesting that this one guy would still be responsible for 80% of the tickets for public pot smoking in the city of Seattle no matter what part of the city he was in, I think the best defense you can offer is "He's not racist, he's just got a totally disproportionate mad-on for pot smokers."

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