Q&A with Jan Kok, candidate for the 1st Congressional District – Englewood Herald

Party: Approval Voting Party

Residence: Fort Collins

Website: approvalvotingparty.com

What makes you the best choice for this office?

I'm the only candidate whose No. 1 issue is election reform. Government has an enormous influence on our lives. It controls our health care options, it decides who we go to war with, it takes a large fraction of our income from us in direct and indirect taxes. Thus, the type of leaders we elect also greatly affects our lives. Our vote-for-one voting method is defective. In elections with more than two candidates running, it can fail to elect the most-preferred candidate. My mission is to promote better voting methods that can make better choices of winners.

If you're elected, which one single issue will be at the top of your agenda?

Election reform. In Florida 2000, more voters preferred Gore over Bush (if you include the Nader voters who preferred Gore), yet Bush won. And it can just as easily go the other way. In 1992, more voters preferred Bush over Clinton, yet Clinton won. I will promote Approval Voting which allows voters to vote for as many candidates as they like, and whoever gets the most votes wins. Approval Voting can reduce or eliminate the wrong winner phenomenon, the spoiler and vote splitting effects, and other problems with our vote-for-one voting method.

If you're elected, what must you accomplish in order for you to consider your term a success?

Introduce a bill with the support of at least 20 co-sponsors that enables states to use Approval Voting in federal-level elections, and removes barriers to the use of proportional representation voting methods in elections for state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives.

What measure or measures will you push for in the new year to make strides toward economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Getting the pandemic itself under control is still high priority. Let the CDC continue its job of providing science-based information on how to prevent the spread of diseases. Businesses are doing a good job of adapting to the pandemic. Many people are now working from home. Grocery stores and restaurants are taking orders online and providing curbside and home delivery service. Doctors are seeing patients through online video calls. Students are attending classes online. I don't think the federal government can do anything to help the economy more than state governments, businesses and individuals are already doing.

What is one thing Congress can do to achieve social justice?

Repeal laws against victimless crimes. The U.S. (the land of the free) has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. That's absurd and outrageous and expensive in human and monetary costs. About half of those incarcerated are there for nonviolent drug crimes. Drug addiction should be addressed by schools, doctors and psychological counselors, not by heavy-handed government.

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Q&A with Jan Kok, candidate for the 1st Congressional District - Englewood Herald

From the Editor: Changing the status quo on crime reporting, introducing Right to Be Forgotten – Craig Daily Press

Years ago, when print media was just that print news rarely lived on past a day or two.

In todays age, thats simply not the case. The Internet never forgets. That maxim is too often reinforced in our newsroom each time someone emails or calls with an appeal to have a name removed or a mug shot pulled from an old story that continues to follow them around as they try to move on with their lives.

For the past couple of months, a group of editors within Swift Communications have been having high-level discussions about The Right to be Forgotten a movement that started in Europe and has begun to gain traction in newsrooms across the United States.

The focus of our discussions has centered on this question: How long should you be penalized for minor crimes you committed years ago?

Basically, should you have the right to be forgotten by Google when those old stories are blocking you from landing jobs? How long should you have to pay for an old mistake?

For some, those who commit crimes should be punished forever, but thats on a broad spectrum. Were not talking murderers, rapists, major drug dealers or sex offenders having their names removed.

As an editor, I dont take it lightly that were potentially altering or rewriting a record. In journalism, were in the business of being fair, balanced and accurate and standing by the reporting we do. Reporting on crime, especially violent crimes and sexual assaults and rapes, is also an unfortunate daily reporting reality in most media markets.

With all that said, along with our duty to report the news to our readers, we cant ignore this truth: While we live in the day-to-day world of reporting on our communities, one story deemed worthy for that days paper lives on in perpetuity for the charged and/or convicted long after that person has paid their debt to society.

So, its time to launch a new process across every newsroom in our company by which people can request to have their names removed from old stories. To do that, were leaning on a model that has been established at other news organizations for making those decisions.

That process starts with the recognition that, as journalists, were not in the position to judge who gets clemency and who doesnt. We will rely on the courts and the legal process used to expunge or clear records.

People who have committed non-violent crimes and successfully petition the courts to permanently delete records of their criminal cases can submit a request for the removal of their name or photo from a specific story. By completing the form and providing proof of expungement, we will consider removal of a name and/or photo(s) from stories that appear on our websites.

Who doesnt get clemency? Elected officials and other notable community leaders or public figures. They are held to a higher standard and should remain accountable for their actions.

The emphasis with this policy is on victimless crimes. We wont be removing names from stories about violent crimes or sex crimes or major felony cases that drew community interest. Like most policies, this one is not absolute. As editor, I may decide to preserve a story, despite an appeal from someone whos had their record expunged. We at the Craig Press still reserve the right to publish or not publish.

As the Craig Press launches this initiative locally, Im certain that questions will arise that I simply wont have answers to right away. There will be cases that will certainly test the spirit of this new policy and will spark heated conversations.

The Craig Press is committed to changing the status quo and taking a more humane, logical approach to how we cover crime and how we assess requests to rewrite the record.

To submit a request to have your name and/or photo removed from a story, please go to https://www.craigdailypress.com/news/crime-courts/


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From the Editor: Changing the status quo on crime reporting, introducing Right to Be Forgotten - Craig Daily Press

Opinion | St. Catharines needs to stop trying to stop graffiti – Niagarathisweek.com

Graffiti is art. The sooner we all get on the same page about that simple fact, the better.

Im sure the lawyers wont let me get any further into this column without first acknowledging that graffiti, as an act of vandalism, is a crime. Dont do crimes. All right, moving on.

For reasons that elude my understanding, St. Catharines has its granny-panties all in a bunch over some graffiti thats been popping up around the city lately. City hall got all grumpy about the graffiti, which sent the local police on an ill-advised witch hunt for the artists behind the graffiti.

In April, police arrested and charged three dudes with a litany of charges related to graffiti. Seems heavy handed to me, but I get it; some people dont have the same kind of refined artistic palate that I do, and thus, they are unable to appreciate graffiti for what it is.

If I were sitting down to make a list of things I wanted the police to focus on, top of the list would be to stop shooting unarmed Black men. Number two would probably be something about not wasting so much money on tanks and tear gas and assault rifles. As for arresting graffiti artists, that likely wouldnt crack the top 100 on my police priority list.

Not only does arresting graffiti artists feel like a waste of time and resources, its also targeting a victimless crime (like stealing music from the internet) and saddling poor kids with criminal records they dont need or deserve.

To my carefully trained artistic eye, graffiti is a form of artwork that highlights a citys true colours and adds character and style to otherwise dreary spaces. The underside of a train bridge could either be a drab, gray, forgettable concrete wasteland, or a place bursting with vibrant, colourful graffiti created by local artists. Given those two options, Ill take the latter.

Viewing graffiti as some kinda scourge to be wiped away is an outdated way of thinking. It also presupposes that the people who live in graffiti-filled neighbourhoods dont like the way it looks, which I think is probably inaccurate.

More often than not, the people complaining about graffiti are the rich old white folks who live in squeaky clean suburbia and only happened to see a graffiti tag when they were driving downtown to go to the bank or something. Why do we even care what those people think? Its not their neighbourhood.

We dont come to their affluent rich guy neighborhoods and complain about the ugly marble fountains they put in the middle of their driveway roundabouts that are basically shrines to income inequality. We dont come through their upscale gated communities and whine about the gaudy post-modern, sharp-angled glass architecture that makes all their houses look like ugly knockoff Apple retail stores.

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Opinion | St. Catharines needs to stop trying to stop graffiti - Niagarathisweek.com

MPD shuts down illegal gaming operation in Madison, makes arrest – The Madison Record – themadisonrecord.com

MADISON The Madison Police Department shut down an alleged illegal gaming operation in Madison on Friday morning. MPD Police Chief Dave Jernigan said police officers, along with members of the Strategic Counterdrug Task Force (STAC), executed a search warrant at 9076 Madison Boulevard, Suite J & K, known as Wild Bills Entertainment and Arcade.

Probable cause for the search warrant was obtained from several complaints of an illegal gaming operation originally reported to the Madison County Sheriffs Office and forwarded to the Madison Police Department approximately one month ago, Chief Jernigan said. Madison Police have been involved in building a case culminating in a raid and seizure of electronic gaming machines, cash and gambling records.

Police arrested William Hines, age 52 of Madison, for promotion of gambling. He was released on a secure bond after his arrest.

Chief Jernigan said approximately 128 machines, money, receipts and records were seized pursuant to the search warrant. Several workers present during the execution of the warrant were temporarily detained, identified and released.

The gambling operation was well organized with electronic machines resembling a casino, Chief Jernigan explained. Patrons would exchange money for a gaming card which would allow them internet time credits to use the machines and later to cash-out as a winner at a payout window.

Promotion of gambling is unlawful in Alabama and is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $6,000 fine.

This type of illegal criminal enterprise will not be tolerated in Madison, added Chief Jernigan. Illegal gambling is not a victimless crime. This type of illegal enterprise promotes tax evasion, human trafficking, money laundering, falsification of records, fraud, theft and drug crimes. The investigation is continuing and more arrests are anticipated at a later date.

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MPD shuts down illegal gaming operation in Madison, makes arrest - The Madison Record - themadisonrecord.com

Guest Commentary: Enlarging the Discussion on ‘Defunding’ – The Peoples Vanguard of Davis

By Robb Davis

Observing the early evolution of discussions around defunding the policeand after having readThe End of Policingby Alex Vitaleit is clear that the real debate is around reprioritizing community health and safety, rather than simply abolishing the police.

I understand that some people are calling for abolition, but I do not sense that this is what most people mean when they speak about ending policing or defunding the police.

Since the start of this national debate, I have felt that a broader conversation about defunding the current criminal justice system is in order. The police are merely the first stepthe gateway if you willin a highly developed punitive system that does not lead to justice in any meaningful sense.

Defunding the police, that is, stepping back and revisioning public health and safety is a useful exercise. Still, without taking on the entire logic of the penal system, this reprioritizing will be self-limiting.

Our Penal System

Our current system defines crime as an act committed against a disembodied state that requires those convicted to pay. That payment is only rarely rendered to the direct victims of crime, and the system contains many crimes that do not directly affect any identifiable victims at all.

Instead, especially in most incarceration cases, the payment is made to society in an abstract way. We still use concepts like paying a debt to society as the reason for incarceration. However, we have come to prefer the idea that imprisonment is really about removing dangerous people from society. This framing allows us to feel comfortable with the over-incarceration of people that has come to characterize our nation.

District attorneys and judges, along with a supporting role from the police, represent the state and provide the ritualistic practices that remove the dangerous ones from our midst.

In this system, victims, if they exist, are wholly owned by the prosecution and regularly used as proof that punishment is needed to expiate the sins committed against these poor people.

This entire system is so deeply embedded within our culture and our cultural understanding about what to do about wrongdoing, that we cannot imagine any reasonable alternative.

Restorative Justice within the Punitive System

Somewhat recently, restorative justice has evolved within the punitive system as an alternative in some instances or particular demographics. It is generally used as a diversion program when the penal systems worst effects have failed in undeniable ways.

So, we offer restorative justice to low-level youth crimes when it becomes clear that the incarceration of young people leads to increased criminality and violence rather than reducing it. Or, we offer some form of restorative-like diversion programs for people with severe mental illnesses when we realize that frequent arrests, fines, or incarceration change nothing and make no difference in the lives of individuals involved.

More recently, some prosecutors are experimenting with expansions of restorative practice due to an overburdened legal system, choosing to shunt low-level victimless crimes into alternative approaches that provide options to perpetrators that keep their records clean.

Restorative Justice as an Alternative System

While many people have welcomed these incursions of restorative justice into the penal system, the truth is they do not fit. They do not because restorative justice is not merely an option within the penal system but a completely different theory of what crime and justice are.

Restorative justice defines crime as an act that causes harm to people and communities. It understands harms as damaging to human relationships and well-being. It seeks processes that lead those responsible for these harms to know what they are, face those they have harmed, and work out what actions are necessary to make the harms as right as possible.

Note that the depersonalized state is not at the table as an aggrieved actor seeking recompense. The states presence in a restorative system is to provide the support necessary to move towards naming harms and making them right.

Victims are involved directly or via proxies depending on their needs for safety. Because the focus is on harms, victims speak about those harms and define what making them right might entail.

Those causing the harms listen, understand the impact of their actions, and take responsibility for making the wrongs right. There is space within restorative justice for the needs of those causing the harms to enter the discussions as well.

An important, often unstated, part of restorative justice is the question of victimless crimes. Restorative justice asks whether a crime is genuinely a crime if there are no identifiable harms. This becomes a critical question in a society that criminalizes possession of small amounts of drugs (as just one example). Theremaybe harms involved in possession, and it may be essential to ask whether the person charged with possession has substance use problems for which they need help. The point is, restorative justice demands a look at what we name as a crime.

A New System: Questions for Reflection

If we were to dispense with our punitive system and replace it with a restorative system, what would it mean for judges, for district attorneys, for defenders, and for the police?

What if we started our discussion of policing by looking at the system for which they are the entry point? What if crimes like simple possession were treated differently than they are now? Given the large proportion of arrests for such crimes, how would changing the approach immediately change the role of the police.

What would happen to district attorneys if rather than representing the abstract state, they served the needs of real victims, not to advocate for punishment, but to seek answers to what victims need?

What if public and other defenders were given resources to assess the needs of the offender, prepare them to accept responsibility for their acts, and help prepare them, as necessary for engagement with a victim?

What would happen if we examined laws through the lens of the harms they address (or whether they address any harms at all)?

What role might judges play in this system, and how might this affect how we choose them? Would they become mediators or impartial arbiters when things get stuck? Would they play a role in discerning the needs of those who cause harms? Would they meet with victims to assure they are being treated with respect?

What would success look like in this system? How does that compare to our current system, which arguably has no metric of success?

Beyond Naivete

Are there dangerous people in the world who need to be removed from contact with others? I believe there are. But a restorative system is not afraid to ask why they exist, where they come from, and whether or not they are beyond redemption.

Because it seeks to restore victims AND offenders to the community and create healing, restorative justice permits us to explore the underlying causes of violenceincluding the role of trauma.

In this sense, restorative justice is a genuinely public health approach to criminalityseeking the underlying causes of actions that cause harm. And just as public health practice does not exonerate individuals of personal responsibility, restorative justice does not say that individuals bear no responsibility but it is also willing to investigate the social and economic determinants of harmful behavior.

A final word about victims: criticisms of restorative justice invariably return to victims of violence and the seeming willingness to require their participation in a restorative process or their continued exposure to those who caused them harm. There is nothing inherent within restorative justice that requires these. There are often good reasons to provide physical protection to victims by constraining the movement of those who have harmed them. There is also nothing inherent in restorative justice that requires victims to confront their offenders.

What restorative justicedoesoffer to victims is an opportunity to describe their needs. Evidence shows that victims often have fundamental questions that revolve first around needing to regain a sense of personal safety. Often they want to know why. Only secondarily are they concerned with restitution.

It is beyond time to defund our punitive legal system by moving purposefully towards a different understanding of the meaning of crime, against whom it is committed, and what is needed to achieve outcomes that will build community.

To sign up for our new newsletter Everyday Injustice https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9

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Guest Commentary: Enlarging the Discussion on 'Defunding' - The Peoples Vanguard of Davis

Two Arrested in Connection with Organized Retail Crime – The Daily Ridge

On July 24, 2020, the PCSO Organized Retail Crime Unit arrested two suspects who stole merchandise from a Home Depot and a Lowes located in Lakeland. The investigation began when loss prevention personnel from the stores contacted detectives about a series of organized retail thefts that occurred on three different occasions.

On April 22, 2020, security video footage from Lowes in Lakeland shows 44 year-old Shenicka Whittington leaving the store with Yeti brand coolers and laundry detergent totaling $552.89. Whittington did not pay for the merchandise.

On May 21, 2020, Whittington was seen removing several Yeti brand items from the same Lowes store without paying for the merchandise. The stolen merchandise totaled $209.97.

On July 24, 2020, detectives responded to Home Depot where they observed Whittington exit the store with a shopping cart full of merchandise. Her boyfriend, 55 year-old Joseph Lamar was standing next to a vehicle waiting for Whittington.Through witness statements and video surveillance, detectives learned Whittington and Lamar had entered the Home Depot store a total of three times on this day. They removed fuel boxes, a gas pressure washer, chainsaws, a reciprocating saw, Bluetooth headphones, and other items totaling $3,028.83. These items were found in Whittingtons shopping cart and the couples vehicle.

Retail theft is not a victimless crime. It hurts businesses and consumers in the wallet. We are holding these thieves accountable they are both career criminals. Just one look at the long list of charges, and the fact that Whittington is already on probation for the same thing, and you know they have no respect for the judicial system. These are serious crimes and there will be serious consequences.Grady Judd, Sheriff

Lamar was charged with Coordinated Retail Theft (F-3). Lamars criminal history includes 17 felonies and 18 misdemeanors, which includes 4 prior theft convictions.

Whittington was charged with Coordinated Retail Theft (F-3), False Name to Law Enforcement (M-1), and Violation of Probation Felony Petit Theft/3rdConviction (M-2). Whittingtons criminal history includes 41 felonies and 34 misdemeanors, which includes 23 prior theft convictions. Whittington is also being detained on warrants for theft out of Orange and Hillsborough Counties.

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Two Arrested in Connection with Organized Retail Crime - The Daily Ridge

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Third option for president, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen. – Holmes County Times Advertiser


Dear Editor,

The 2020 presidential election is both an important one, and (already) a discouraging one in terms of its outlook. Neither major party seems to be in touch with the interests of ordinary Americans. However, there is a third option, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen.

Dr. Jorgensen is the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and she will be on the ballot in Florida. Her platform is essentially about maximizing freedom and bringing government back to within its Constitutional limits. Among her positions are: abolishing the federal DOE, DHS, and ATF (to name just a few agencies); eliminating penalties for victimless crimes such as drug possession; bringing the troops home from overseas and ending U.S. involvement in foreign wars; eliminating the federal deficit; and abolishing the federal income tax so that Americans can keep more of their hard-earned money.

Dr. Jorgensen is formerly a lecturer and professor of psychology at Clemson University, and has also been a homemaker as well as a founding CEO of a technological software corporation. Her achievements speak for themselves. Most importantly, however, she would provide a fresh voice to a broken system of government that has done little to better the lives of its citizens. And for that reason, I would urge those reading to consider her as you think of who to cast your vote for in November. Her website can be viewed at http://www.jo20.com. Thank you.

John Gibson, Vernon

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Third option for president, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen. - Holmes County Times Advertiser

Pima County Candidates Battle Over Whether the Prosecutor’s Office Needs an Outsider to Achieve Reform – The Appeal

Political Report

In this Arizona county with over one million residents, two career prosecutors are facing off against a former public defender in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary, which will decide the election.

Update (Aug. 4): Laura Conover prevailed in this primary election.

The prosecutors office in Pima County, home to Tucson and over one million residents, is sure to change hands this year. Whether that coincides with policies more amenable to criminal justice reform remains to be seen.

Barbara LaWall, who has run the powerful county attorneys office and its $40 million budget for nearly 25 years, is stepping down. Three Democrats, and no other candidates, are running to replace her, so the Aug. 4 Democratic primary will decide her successor.

During her 24 years in office, LaWall helped fill state prisons with punitive practices toward substance use and sentencing; she also fought legislative efforts to reduce the states harsh sentencing statutes. Last summer, for instance, she joined the Republican county attorney in Maricopa County (Phoenix) to successfully urge the states GOP governor to veto a bipartisan reform that would have prevented prosecutors from alleging Hannah priorsa practice unique to the state in which prosecutors are allowed to charge people as repeat offenders if their indictment includes multiple charges, even if they have never been convicted of anything in the past.

Some meaningful policy differences have emerged among the three candidates who are attempting to replace LaWall, and at least two are voicing support for upending some of her approach. Still, none of them are making the sort of bold commitments to shrink the scope of criminal justice seen in other prosecutor elections, including in neighboring Maricopa County.

Instead, the most significant contrast between them may be their professional backgrounds, and how their past activities shape their credibility to change Pima Countys culture.

Two of the candidates, Mark Diebolt and Jonathan Mosher, are longtime deputy prosecutors in Pima County. Diebolt has been a deputy county attorney for 23 years. Mosher is currently the chief criminal deputy in LaWalls office.

Laura Conover, the third candidate, is a criminal defense attorney and former public defender. She told The Appeal: Political Report that the fact that she has not prosecuted a case in LaWalls office is my strength, not my weakness, since they need a person from outside to shift that culture. Some progressives around the country are making a similar case that achieving criminal justice reform requires electing people without a prosecutors background.

Indeed, aspects of Diebolt and Moshers records in the county attorneys office have drawn rebuke, or sparked worries among some local proponents of reform.

Diebolt has received multiple reprimands while at the county attorneys office, including for not disclosing exculpatory evidence and for failing to respond to motions by defense counsel. He did not answer repeated requests for comment from the Political Report. His website mixes some support for diversion programs with conventional tough-on-crime rhetoric promising to go after the worst of the worst.

Mosher, meanwhile, is making some commitments that conflict with past decisions he has made, and with the policies of LaWall, who has endorsed him.

He has pledged not to seek the death penalty if elected, but he signed a death notice in a case as recently as February 2019. He says that he supports assigning special prosecutors to investigate police use-of-force cases, but he was the chief criminal deputy when a Pima County sheriffs deputy was not criminally charged for body slamming a teenager with no arms or legs at a group home in November. A spokesperson for Mosher told the Political Report that Mosher had taken a leave of absence to run for office by the time the decision not to file charges was made, though he was still at work during the first few months of the investigation. Mosher says he would greatly expand deflection and diversion programs for drug possession cases, and points out that he used to struggle with addiction himself, but for years he has held a leadership role in an office that filed a thousands of felony cases last year for drug offenses (nearly three-fourths of those involved less than two grams).

Mosher told the Political Report that he would lobby for criminal justice reforms if elected, as did Conover.

An analysis of the candidates policy positions, and phone interviews with Conover and Mosher, also unearthed contrasts in their stated goals. (Diebolt did not reply to requests to elaborate on his views.)

The Pima County Attorneys Office has a history of being especially punitive when it comes to drug-related crimes. Drug cases have been the most common type of felony charge in the county for 14 out of the last 17 years, according to the public defenders office.

All three candidates have said they would not prosecute people for personal possession of marijuana, and all three talk of expanding diversion and deflection programs as a way to keep people struggling with substance use out of prison. However, none of the candidates indicated another type of drug charge they would decline to prosecute.

Conover talks less about reducing the prison population or about reducing the scope of things that are criminalized than about shifting the priorities of the office.

We will be reframing that $40 million budget so we are going after those who are harming our community, which is going to move us away from all this low-level, victimless stuff, she told the Political Report. She mentioned drug paraphernalia as an example of a charge her office wont be prioritizing. When asked what she meant, Conover explained that her office would still be bringing charges for such offenses, but would steer defendants toward social services and out of the criminal justice system.

Conover uses similar language when asked about decriminalizing behaviors besides substance use. For example, she said that prosecuting sex work would not be a high priority for her office. Consensual adults, we are not spending resources on that under my watch, she said.

Some other candidates who have run for prosecutor on a progressive platform have taken more clear-cut commitments to not prosecute sex work, or drug possession up to a certain quantity. Our courts are the least healthy way to treat people struggling with addiction, a medical issue, Will Knight, who is running in Maricopa County, told the Political Report three weeks ago.

Mosher also did not say he would decline to prosecute any charges other than marijuana possession, and he has raised concerns about the safety implications of going further in decriminalization, stating for instance that that the county still must protect our children from drug sales and drug use, and we must protect our roadways from impaired drivers. He has said that he wants to expand diversion and treatment opportunities for people arrested for drug possession, and also for other offenses that stem from poverty such as loitering, to avoid incarceration.

I have already begun working to develop a new pre-indictment drug diversion program for those arrested on felony drug possession charges, Mosher said in an ACLU questionnaire. This would allow arrestees to avoid ever being indicted and charged with a felony crime, creating an earlier exit from the criminal justice system than is available under the current Felony Drug Diversion Program. Mosher told Political Report that there would be no fee to participate in the pre-charge diversion program for people arrested on felony drug possession charges, and that he expected at least 1,600 and perhaps as many as 2,000 participants per year, depending upon the numbers of arrests for drug possession made by law enforcement officers.

Neither Conover nor Mosher ruled out prosecuting overdose deaths as homicides, a punitive reaction to the overdose crisis that public health advocates decry but LaWall has used.

As county attorney, LaWall lobbied against efforts to curb mandatory minimum sentences and to limit other practices that lead to especially harsh sentences.

Earlier this year, she filed a lawsuit challenging a ballot initiative that would give judges greater discretion in sentencing, expand opportunities for early release to some prisoners, and end the use of Hannah priors, which allow prosecutors to charge people who have never been convicted of a felony as repeat offenders.

Mosher has distanced himself from LaWall on expanding early release. He supports the Second Chance Initiative, and says he even circulated petitions to help get it on the ballot. (Conover supports it as well.)

More broadly, Mosher and Conover both told the Political Report they would use their position to lobby for such criminal justice reform measures at the legislature, flipping LaWalls history of using the office to push against them.

When asked what steps they would take as prosecutors to reduce very long sentences, Conover and Mosher have said they would move away from certain practices, like stacking charges, which means bringing as many charges as possible against a person or alleging every historical prior felony conviction in an effort to increase the sentence.

But neither committed to instructing their office to never seek such charges, again stopping short of commitments taken by some Democrats in neighboring Maricopa County. (Diebolt did not respond and has not elaborated upon his stances on this issue elsewhere.)

We can create policies that require our prosecutors to seek justice and not vengeance, Conover told the Political Report. Stacking charges, seeking consecutive sentences, and historical priors have all been used questionably. Id like to put an end to all of those practices. She later clarified that she would allow highly trained and mentored prosecutors to retain discretion to use such practices.

Mosher similarly said he opposes alleging historical priors or stacking charges, and he too qualified his response, allowing that he may use those practices if pursuing that approach is both legally correct and necessary to protect community safety while increasing the opportunity for rehabilitation. Similarly, he said he would prefer judges to have discretion to deviate from mandatory minimums when those minimums are clearly inappropriate, but also seemed wary of allowing judges to have such discretion, noting that it is what let Stanford swimmer Brock Turner off the hook with a lenient punishment for sexual assault.

Conover has earned the endorsement of Mass Liberation, a group that seeks to end mass incarceration in a state that has one of the highest incarceration rates in the country. (Mass Liberation has advocated for extensive sentencing reforms in the legislature in recent years.)

All three candidates have publicly stated that they would not seek the death penalty if elected. Arizona is one of 28 states that still allows the sentence. Since 1992, the state has executed 37 people; 13 of those people have come from Pima Countymore than any other county in Arizona.

This is another issue where the candidates track records differ greatly. In the 1990s, Conover was the education chairperson of the Coalition of Arizonans to Abolish the Death Penalty, and she says this was her entry point into activism.

Mosher calls the death penalty a waste of taxpayer money. On Feb. 8, 2019, though, he signed a notice stating the county attorneys office will seek the death penalty against Christopher Matthew Clements, who is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, and sexual exploitation of a minor in relation to the deaths of two young girls.

Asked how that action squares with Moshers stated opposition to the death penalty now, his spokesperson told the Political Report, Those actions dont show that he would seek it at all. They show that he is a person who has a boss [LaWall]. That was her decision. Mosher added that he argued against the death penalty in this case in internal deliberations.

LaWall has historically opposed criminal justice reform, said Joel Feinman, who serves as the chief public defender in Pima County. (Feinman emphasized that he was speaking in his personal capacity as a criminal defense attorney and not on behalf of the public defenders office.) Their policy clearly is they put the highest priority on prosecuting low-level drug offenses. Thats a horrible policy. Thats exactly the opposite of what we should be doing. That just shows you are not a good steward of public budgets, and you do not understand substance abuse.

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Pima County Candidates Battle Over Whether the Prosecutor's Office Needs an Outsider to Achieve Reform - The Appeal

Letter To The Editor: A Third Option – Island Eye News

The 2020 presidential election is both an important one and a discouraging one in terms of its outlook. Neither major party seems to be in touch with the interests of ordinary Americans.

However, there is a third option, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen.

Dr. Jorgensen is the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and she will be on the ballot in South Carolina. Her platform is essentially about maximizing freedom and bringing government back to within its constitutional limits. Among her positions are: abolishing the federal DOE, DHS and ATF to name just a few agencies; eliminating penalties for victimless crimes such as drug possession; bringing the troops home from overseas and ending U.S. involvement in foreign wars; eliminating the federal deficit; and abolishing the federal income tax so that Americans can keep more of their hard-earned money.

Dr. Jorgensen is formerly a lecturer and professor of psychology at South Carolinas own Clemson University and has also been a homemaker as well as a founding CEO of a software corporation. Her achievements speak for themselves. Most importantly, however, she would provide a fresh voice to a broken system of government that has done little to better the lives of its citizens. And for that reason, I would urge those reading to consider her as you think of who to cast your vote for in November.

John Gibson, Summerville

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Letter To The Editor: A Third Option - Island Eye News

Victimless or Consensual Crime – Criminal Classification

Victimless crime, also called consensual crime, refers to crime that doesn't directly harm the person or property of another.2 min read

Victimless Crime

Victimless crime, also called consensual crime, refers to crime that doesn't directly harm the person or property of another. Victimless crimes are typically not included in the common law, and are considered crimes mala prohibita. Some activities that are considered victimless crimes in a majority of jurisdictions are:

A lively debate continues as to whether victimless crimes really are "victimless," and some crimes legally regarded as victimless, such as prostitution, stand in the forefront of debate over whether anyone is harmed or not, physically, morally, or otherwise.

Arguments Against Prosecution of Victimless Crime

A common argument for ending prosecution of consensual crimes is that prosecuting these activities causes more harm to society that simply decriminalizing them. A few popular examples cited for this argument are the War on Drugs and its ramifications, overcrowded jails and prisons, and the high cost of prosecuting and punishing people for crimes, which it is argued, cause less damage to society than the "solution." In the United States, estimates tower at $40 billion per year just for prosecuting consensual crimes. This cost is in addition to the costs of incarcerating people who, it is argued, don't belong behind bars to begin with.

Arguments For Prosecution of Victimless Crime

There are several arguments for maintaining the prosecution of victimless crime. There are arguments regarding costs, but the main thrust of maintaining prosecution tends to be rooted in arguing that society as a whole is enhanced by locking up victimless criminal offenders.

One argument runs that, while the cost of additional law enforcement and the prosecution of consensual crime is high, the financial costs that would result from decriminalizing activities such as drug use, unbuckled seat-belts, drunk driving, and possession of some kinds of firearms would be unacceptably high.

Second, it is argued that the cost to the core values of society would be very grave for decriminalizing activities such as prostitution, bigamy and some forms of gambling. It is argued that decriminalization would drastically diminish overall quality of life, inflicting real harm on the fabric of society.

See also:

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Victimless or Consensual Crime - Criminal Classification

The Definition, Types, and Examples of Victimless Crimes …

What we have here is some information on victimless crimes, wherein we put forth the definition of this concept and also discuss its types with some examples, so as to make it easier for you to understand the same.

When Russia legalized homosexuality for a brief period following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, it was based on the idea that if there was no victim, there was no crime.

That the United States has the highest prison population rate in the world for more than a decade now, is a well-known fact. What most people dont know, is that over 80 percent of these inmates are incarcerated for victimless crimes, i.e., crimes that defy societys prohibition of certain activities. So is there actually something called victimless crime or crime where there is no victim? While the term may not boast of popular usage, the statistical data, which states that over 80 percent of people in the prison are convicted for such crimes, does speak volumes in itself.

As the name suggests, victimless crimes are those crimes wherein there is no apparent victim, as such a person or property is not harmed physically. An apt definition will be illegal behavior which does not violate or threaten anyones rights. The person may either act alone (e.g. drug abuse or gambling), or two or more people can be involved in a consensual act (e.g. prostitution).

Example: Lets take the example of prostitution for instance. In the United States, offering sexual favors in lieu of money is considered a criminal act, wherein both parties can be arrested for violating public decency laws. If, however, both of them have given their consent to the act, then neither of them can be considered a victim.

It is worth noting that such crimes usually happen in confined spaces, and therefore, other people are unlikely to take of note of them. As nobody is watching and nobody is victimizedthose involved do not consider themselves victimsthere is no complainant in such cases. Instead, the police have to take action on their own. As a result of this, it is a lot more difficult to detect and prosecute victimless crimes compared to crimes wherein there are victims.

As these crimes have the consent of those people involved, they are sometimes known as consensual crimes. In a true sense though, consensual crimes are crimes involving more than one participant, all of whom give their consent.

Depending on the area of jurisdiction, the lengthy list of victimless crimes includes drug abuse, prostitution, gambling, public drunkenness, homosexuality, vagrancy, obscenity, riding a bike without a helmet, or driving a motor vehicle without a seat belt, as well as more serious crimes like abortion and suicide. In the United States, for instance, illicit drug abuse, prostitution, and gambling are considered victimless crimes.

In a broad sense, these crimes can be grouped into different types. For example, there are moral crimes, wherein the particular illegal act has something to do with the morality or norms set by the society. Homosexuality between consenting adults, for instance, is considered a victimless crime on the grounds that it violates common decency laws. Other examples of such crimes include sodomy, public drunkenness, and even vagrancy. Then there are crimes against the state, such as tax frauds, not carrying an ID, carrying a gun without license, etc., which also fall in this category.

Adultery was considered a victimless crime at one point of time, but has since been removed from the list.

Many people call for outlawing laws which prohibit victimless acts. They argue that it hampers the individuals freedom, as he is at the receiving end despite his consent. Additionally, some people are of the opinion that incarceration of people convicted for such crimes puts immense pressure on the already crowded prison system. As opposed to this, those in favor of victimless crimes being punished argue that the representatives of the majority have the right to prohibit and punish anyone who indulges in any act that offends the majority of the population, even if there is no direct victim.

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The Definition, Types, and Examples of Victimless Crimes ...

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Third option for president, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen. – Gadsden Times


Dear Editor,

The 2020 presidential election is both an important one, and (already) a discouraging one in terms of its outlook. Neither major party seems to be in touch with the interests of ordinary Americans. However, there is a third option, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen.

Dr. Jorgensen is the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and she will be on the ballot in Florida. Her platform is essentially about maximizing freedom and bringing government back to within its Constitutional limits. Among her positions are: abolishing the federal DOE, DHS, and ATF (to name just a few agencies); eliminating penalties for victimless crimes such as drug possession; bringing the troops home from overseas and ending U.S. involvement in foreign wars; eliminating the federal deficit; and abolishing the federal income tax so that Americans can keep more of their hard-earned money.

Dr. Jorgensen is formerly a lecturer and professor of psychology at Clemson University, and has also been a homemaker as well as a founding CEO of a technological software corporation. Her achievements speak for themselves. Most importantly, however, she would provide a fresh voice to a broken system of government that has done little to better the lives of its citizens. And for that reason, I would urge those reading to consider her as you think of who to cast your vote for in November. Her website can be viewed at http://www.jo20.com. Thank you.

John Gibson, Vernon

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Third option for president, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen. - Gadsden Times

Third option in the fall – Opinion – The News Herald


The 2020 presidential election is both an important one, and (already) a discouraging one in terms of its outlook. Neither major party seems to be in touch with the interests of ordinary Americans. However, there is a third option, and her name is Dr. Jo Jorgensen.

Dr. Jorgensen is the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and she will be on the ballot in Florida. Her platform is essentially about maximizing freedom and bringing government back to within its Constitutional limits. Among her positions are: abolishing the federal DOE, DHS, and ATF (to name just a few agencies); eliminating penalties for victimless crimes such as drug possession; bringing the troops home from overseas and ending U.S. involvement in foreign wars; eliminating the federal deficit; and abolishing the federal income tax so that Americans can keep more of their hard-earned money.

Dr. Jorgensen is formerly a lecturer and professor of psychology at Clemson University, and has also been a homemaker as well as a founding CEO of a technological software corporation. Her achievements speak for themselves. Most importantly, however, she would provide a fresh voice to a broken system of government that has done little to better the lives of its citizens. And for that reason, I would urge those reading to consider her as you think of who to cast your vote for in November. Her website can be viewed at http://www.jo20.com. Thank you.


John Gibson

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Third option in the fall - Opinion - The News Herald

Reduce spending on police by limiting what they must enforce – Seymour Tribune

(This article appeared in Orange County Register on July 18)

Across the country, demonstrators have marched against police violence and misconduct and public support for the Black Lives Matter movement is at an alltime high. Politicians, corporations and sports teams are calling for reform, and police departments nationwide are facing unprecedented scrutiny.

A prominent reform proposal is reduced funding for police. We agree that such expenditures, and criminal justice spending more broadly, should be much smaller than currently. But calls for reduced funding, by themselves, are potentially unconvincing because they do not specify what police expenditure or activity should be cut.

The ideal approach is to first eliminate laws that never made sense in the first place: those that limit freedom rather than protecting it.

Repealing freedomlimiting laws, and their associated enforcement practices, will dramatically reduce encounters and tension between the police and the public, thus diminishing the possibility of violence or other harassment.

Such laws roughly, those against victimless crimes include drug prohibition, laws against prostitution, criminal charges for nuisance crimes like loitering or vagrancy and pretextual traffic stops, amongst others. Such laws also generate policies that infringe civil liberties and exacerbate racial tension by giving police an excuse to engage in overly aggressive tactics (noknock warrants) or target minorities (stopandfrisk).

In contrast, laws against murder, rape, assault, and theft aim to protect lives and property of genuine victims. And while enforcement of these laws also is open to abuse, the scope for misconduct is far smaller. Police officers trying to solve a murder must have at least some evidence that a crime has occurred and that an alleged perpetrator might have been involved. Police officers who want to harass Black teenagers can simply assert that a particular individual looked suspicious or acted like a drug dealer.

Laws that limit freedom thus create an artificial need for police and generate wasteful expenditure. More importantly, they promote conflict between police and the citizenry, especially minorities, because police have so much discretion in enforcement.

Repealing freedomlimiting laws, and their associated enforcement practices, will dramatically reduce encounters and tension between the police and the public, thus diminishing the possibility of violence or other harassment. And these laws were unwarranted limitations on individual liberty in the first place.

Without these laws, moreover, police could focus on preventing or solving serious crimes, not arresting people for selling loose cigarettes (as in the case of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by police), conducting invasive searches justified by the odor of marijuana (long permitted, albeit challenged in many states, including New York), treating Black gun owners as threats for legally carrying weapons (or killing them, in the case of Philando Castile), harassing people experiencing homelessness or executing illegal no knock warrants like the one that led to the shooting of Breonna Taylor. Improving the low closure rates for violent crimes will do far more to improve public safety than arresting people for victimless crimes.

And so long as infringing basic liberties is a key part of policing, that occupation will attract the wrong type of person for the job. Under the status quo, warrior cop mentality, officers who are aggressive, reactive, and violent will thrive. Reorienting law enforcement towards stopping real crime, and helping people, will attract officers who care more about public safety than the adrenaline rush of breaking down doors.

And without these illadvised laws, reduced police expenditures makes perfect sense. More than 20% of arrests in the United States in 2018 were for drugs, alcohol, prostitution or vagrancy offenses. Eliminating these arrests will also reduce the burden on courts and prisons. Ending the prosecution of drugrelated offenses alone would reduce state and federal expenditures by $47 billion.

Misguided laws are not, to be sure, the only cause of police misconduct. Other factors include limited accountability due to union rules and qualified immunity, which shield officers form the consequences of misconduct. The militarization of state and local police via federal grants for surplus military equipment also creates the wrong atmosphere, giving suburban police departments weapons and vehicles designed for war zones.

But aligning societys laws with appropriate objectives is a crucial condition for other reforms to have a major impact. Why? Because a system that is fundamentally misfocused in trying to limit freedom, rather than protect it will have a hard time keeping police accountable. So the starting point for reform must be eliminating those laws that create the wrong framework for the police, accompanied by the implied reductions in funding.

Jeffrey Miron is the director of economic studies at the Cato Institute and the director of undergraduate studies in the economics department at Harvard University. Erin Partin is a research assistant at the Cato Institute.

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Reduce spending on police by limiting what they must enforce - Seymour Tribune

Letter: US should learn from Prohibition | Opinions and Editorials – Aiken Standard

In the middle of Anthony DiStefanos column The real issues of the 2020 election he asked one good question. As usual, most of his column advocated more collectivism (moving towards socialized medicine, expanding governments role in education, taking more from those who have to reduce economic inequality, spending our taxes to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs, curbing free speech nd buying into the falsehood of catastrophic, man-made climate change).

His good question was, How many of these [2.3 million] people are in jail for victimless crimes? Unfortunately, his implicit answer to that question is: Capitalism is to blame because many prisons are private and more prisoners means more money for those companies. I agree that prisons should be government-run but that is not the reason there are so many in prison.

I wish he had applied some thought to his question and known two important facts: 1) that the purpose of government is to protect individual rights and 2) that the only way to violate an individuals rights is to use force to cause him to act against his choice. Then he could have raised the deeper question of Why do we have laws that imprison people who have violated no ones rights?

The answer to this question is that collectivists of every stripe have used politics to enforce their morality. The left is the prime mover behind the nanny state restrictions of freedom and the religious have been behind moral restrictions such as on sexual practices and abortion (mostly in the past).

Both have favored the laws responsible for more than half of todays prisoners the drug laws. Its too bad that Americans did not learn from that terrible experiment called prohibition. Possibly the most effective legal reform would be to legalize drugs. The "War on Drugs" is responsible for gangs, organized crime, filling jails with people who have violated no one's rights, paying for 10,000 DEA agents, militarizing the police, corrupting many police officers, leading to unnecessary confrontations between motorists and cops, driving up the cost of policing, and other bad effects on U.S. citizens.

If Mr. DiStefano wants to reduce the number of people in jail for victimless crimes, he should argue for legalizing drugs.

Robert Stubblefield


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Letter: US should learn from Prohibition | Opinions and Editorials - Aiken Standard

Here’s why we can abolish most of the criminal justice system now without endangering public safety – rabble.ca

Properly assessing calls to defund the police and other carceral institutions means a proper reckoning with what these systems are actually doing -- not what we imagine them to be doing.

If more people were aware of these realities, they would realize we can start abolishing most of it right now with little threat to "public safety,"and with community resources for care and support instead to improve social well-being.

Police and penal preservationists (police, politicians andsome criminologists) insist that these systems are all about keeping us safe. And they especially wield fears of personal threats of physical violence and responses to physical violence of various sorts.

In fact, however, most crimes in Canada do not involve physical violence or harm.

We can look at crime records over several years (while recognizing that many criminologists have come to conclude that "crime"is not an especially useful way of talking about social harms).

Crimes against property: 88,664 chargesor 22.87 per centin 2013; 85,301 charges or22.50 per centin 2014; and 76,356 charges or23.28 per cent in2015.

Most of the activities processed through criminal justice systems in Canada do not fit the image of fear and personal threat that preservationists portray. Most crime involves property offenses (typically low level or low cost), victimless crimes, consumption offensesand administrative offenses. These might involve no physical harm, and may, in fact, have no victims at all.

In 2018, non-violent crime accounted for 79 per centof police-reported Criminal Code incidents (excluding traffic).

While obviously these will involve activities that are of concern to people, they do not involve personal physical injury. There are other ways to deal with property crimes than policing and incarceration. We can also think about ways to address what are often issues of class, poverty, or economic need in relation to property crimes.

Another 13 per centof criminalized activity in Canada is made up of drug offenses, and a further 13 per centinvolves traffic offenses.

Crimes against the person: 91,033 charges or23.49 per centin 2013; 87,887 charges or23.19 per centin 2014; and 76,888 charges or 23.44 per cent in2015.

These are overall numbers, but 14 per centof this is common assault and uttering threats. These may not involve any physical harm to the person at all.

Only 0.7 per centconsists of "homicide and related."And as we know, many of these aresingular events that will not be repeated by the person responsiblein the absence of police. Locking them up is not about keeping us safe (which is not to say no harm occurred, only that the carceral systems cannot necessarily claim to have stopped additional such harms).

Among these cases are also instances of women who are incarcerated for defending themselves against a violent partner.

Addressing sexual assault is often put forward by preservationists. A study of criminal justice outcomes over a six year period (2009-2014) found that around onein 10 (12 per cent) of police-reported sexual assaults led to a criminal conviction, while sevenper centresulted in a custody sentence. Only 21 per centtotal went to court. It is well known that many victims do not report at all due to mistrust of the system.

Administration of justice offenses: 85,554 charges or 22.07 per cent in2013; 84,213 charges or22.22 per centin 2014; and 74,811 charges or22.81 per cent in 2015.

Many criminalized activities involve administration of justice offenses. These are matters of systems maintenance, not harm to individuals or society.

Administration of justice cases involve matters related to case proceedings (such as failure to appear in court, failure to comply with a court order, breach of probationand unlawfully at large). They account for more than one-fifth of cases completed in adult criminal courts.

In addition to administration of justice cases, theft and impaired driving are the most frequent cases in adult courts in Canada.

This is the basis on which the Canadian state has built a vast infrastructure of containment and control -- to punish people for acts that involve no physical harm to persons, have no victims, involve personal consumption choices, or restrain people who have not been convicted of anything. These are hardly the structures of public safety or security that preservationists make them out to be.

At the same time, containing and controlling people on this basisrequires that incredible social wealth, labourand services be diverted from community resources and infrastructures.

In 2014-2015, expenditures on federal corrections in Canada totaled approximately $2.63 billion. Since 2005-2006, expenditures on federal corrections have increased 55per cent, from $1.63 billion to $2.63 billion. This represents an increase of 51.5 per centin constant dollars.

Provincial and territorial expenditures totalled an additional cost of about $2.21 billion in 2014-15. This represents an increase of 52.7 per centsince 2005-2006. In constant dollars, this is an increase of 49.3 per cent.

Abolitionists have long pointed out that social resources would be better used supporting community care, harm reduction, health care, housing andcommunity centres.

Social resources used to punish people in the way the Canadian state does represent a social transfer away from necessary social services that canmake society and our communities healthier, safer,and more secure, towards institutions and practices that reproduce social inequality, and often reflect lobbying priorities of boards of trade and business improvement associations locally -- atransfer away from resources that might be most useful forpoor and racialized people and communities.

Carceral systems in settler colonial states like Canada are not institutions of justice as preservationists claim. In reality, they are institutions of domination and control which operate on a basis of racialization and social stratification within a context of social class inequality. As only one example, the prisoner population in Canada had increased by 7.1 per centover the five-year period up to 2013, with much of this increase coming from oppressed groups, such as Indigenous andBlack people.

We can see this too if we look at incarceration rates for women, which increased by 60 per centbetween 2003 and 2013, with marginalized Indigenous and Black women again being disproportionately represented in the Canadian prison population.

The majority of Black women are incarcerated for drug offenses, including so-called drug-trafficking, which many of them pursued, according to interviews withprisoners, in an effort to rise above poverty.

Indigenous women are Canada's fastest growing imprisoned population, with the rate risingby over 100 per centbetween 2001 and 2016.

Abolitionists emphasize that penal systems (police through prisons) do not do what they claim they do. They are not institutions of public safety, they do not protect us. Realizing that a very small proportion of criminal justice activity actually deals with stopping or even responding to violence should help us better contextualize calls for defunding.

Decriminalizing drug use, survival strategies, sex work and otheractivities authorities view as nuisanceswould allow for defunding and dismantling large parts of carceral systems right now.

Knowing that the carceral system serves functions other than those preservationists claim for it should be at the forefront when we think about defunding those systems, including police. And, it shouldcause us to ask what exactly we are funding in the first place.

Eva Ureta is a founding member of Anti-Police Power Surrey who lives and works in Surrey, helping educate abolition politics through various actions/demos demanding the dismantling of policing in Surrey. With an education in criminology from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Eva continually focuses on racial injustices across cultures manifested in the lives of women in the Downtown Eastside.

Jeff Shantz is a longtime union member, currently with Local 5 of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE, B.C. Federation of Labour). He is a founding organizer with Anti-Police Power Surrey ([emailprotected]), a grassroots community group in Surrey (Unceded Coast Salish territories). He teaches on corporate crime and community advocacy at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. His publications includeManufacturing Phobias: The Political Production of Fear in Theory and Practice(University of Toronto Press), and theCrisis and Resistance trilogy(Punctum Books).

Image:Larry Farr/Unsplash

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Here's why we can abolish most of the criminal justice system now without endangering public safety - rabble.ca

Letters to the Editor, July 23 – Montclair Local

Montclair Locals Letters To The Editor section is an open forum for readers to discuss town matters, articles published in Montclair Local, or other letters to the editor. Views expressed and published in this section are solely those of the writers, and do not represent those of Montclair Local.

Letters on any subject can be e-mailed to letters@montclairlocal.news, or mailed and addressed to Letters To The Editor, 309 Orange Road, Montclair NJ, 07042. All submissions must include name, address, and phone number for verification. Letters must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be published in Thursdays paper. Only the letter-writers name and town of residence will be published.

Letters may be edited by Montclair Local for style and length. While our goal is to publish all letters we receive, Montclair Local reserves the right to not publish letters for any reason.

Im inspired to write in after reading the bold and brave truths spoken in the July 16 entry by Amiri Bradley entitled Do Not Be Surprised by Racism in Montclair. Something I believe many people know intimately, but many more need to be told explicitly.

Since moving here from The Bronx six years ago, I was enchanted by the familiar and widely told stories of N.J. locals about Montclair being a shining beacon of progressivism and inclusion a place where the ideals of the nouveau-hippies of the 90s with their bicycle lanes and farmers markets and independent bookstores and food co-ops existed peacefully and enthusiastically just west of the Hudson. A place that conservative politicians and op-ed writers derided puckishly as The Peoples Republic of Montclair.

While much of this is true, and it brings me great joy to brag to people that Montclair is a place where you can get Ethiopian food, see an independent film and demonstrate for nuclear disarmament all on the same block and on the same day, by only gesturing towards these obvious positives we are falling into the same social pitfalls which any liberal coastal city in America finds itself today.

Portland, Oregon, is openly mocked for its social justice advocacy, but is currently having protesters kidnapped by federal agents without warrants. San Francisco and Los Angeles are struggling with huge spikes in homelessness while granting tax abatements for private developers to build unaffordable housing. Miami is sinking and will soon displace its vibrant Caribbean communities once insurers no longer grant policies to multimillion-dollar waterfront condos.

My former home of New York City is rapidly losing any reputation it may have had as a welcoming and progressive place under the current mayor, who refuses to redistribute any of the NYPDs $6B per year budget while they gleefully sell off the city and its skyline block by block to Realtors as the citys poor (myself included) keep getting pushed out.

Once you know it as closely as I do you can very clearly see Montclair as a smaller-scale replica of these places, with many of their same problems. I have seen my white neighbors call the police on black men on my block for reasons as mundane as needing a car moved, and I have seen those same police stake out low-income housing as though it were a Taliban stronghold.

I have seen the glaring brawn of the MPD descend onto my block for victimless crimes of poverty and I have seen those same people and their families affected by that poverty strewn to parts unknown as their landlords attempt to turn a profit by shoddily renovating former voucher-applicable housing to rent it out for twice as much to only slightly more well off people.

I have seen these very same landlords kick and scream and threaten to sue the town over a temporary ordinance telling them they cannot raise rents during the middle of a pandemic that has left millions without income.

I have seen wealthier Upper Montclarions who never set foot in the Fourth Ward use their political power to disingenuously stop a supermarket and more housing being built where it is the most sorely needed in the name of historic preservation and parking.

When abandoned train sheds and a place to put your Tesla mean more to the wealthy residents of Montclair than the food and housing needs of their predominantly Black and brown neighbors in the Fourth Ward the idea of Montclair being a progressive safe haven is sickening.

Towns like Montclair exist all over America, but we currently find ourselves at a crucial junction as to whether we want to live up to our reputation or to simply become another deranged caricature of neoliberal aesthetics, waving a Pride flag in June only to vote No on rent control in November.

Do we continue to submit to the misplaced fears of those with money in the good zip code while committing acts of racialized state violence and contributing to the continuing food desertization on those in the bad?

We in Montclair cannot hold our heads high and proud and proclaim that Black Lives Matter or Hate Has No Home Here unless we make an absolution of very real issues via actual policy measures that disproportionately affect people of color and contribute to racialized discrimination.

We need rent control. We need a supermarket and affordable housing for the Fourth Ward. We need a reduction of the police budget. We need official township recognition of a tenants union. We need transportation solutions for all modes and abilities of movement over simply more parking.

We can and must make the correct economic and moral judgments here, lest we dismiss entirely the purpose and momentum of the second civil rights movement happening right in front of our eyes. The time is nigh to put our money where our mouth is more than it will be for a great long while, if ever again. It is time to legitimize the pride of being able to call Montclair home.

Zachary MillerMontclair

As the Montclair school district considers options for reopening, Id like to offer a few suggestions.

If we are able to reopen at all, it will be under a hybrid model. Social distancing within the classroom and keeping students in batches so that they dont interact with too many of their peers during school will limit the number of students who can be in our buildings on a given day. Given this, students will likely only be allowed to attend school two or three days per week, with remote learning on the other days.

For many of our districts families, this will create an impossible situation, in which many working parents, particularly those of limited financial means, will face job loss if they need to stay home with their children on remote-learning days.

The district and township should do everything in their power to address this by quickly developing partnerships to create safe, adequately staffed centers for school-age child care on remote-learning days. Each center would maintain significant social distancing, mask-wearing and other best practices to mitigate health risks. Depending on available government funding, parents might have to pay on a sliding scale (based on income) to support their childs participation in a school-age child-care program.

Centers could include large school spaces that might be unused by schools, such as gyms and cafeterias (CDC guidelines suggest that different groups of students should not congregate or cycle through these spaces, so they might be usable for child care for a small number of students each).

We could also mobilize houses of worship, the Ys, Van Vleck House, the art museum and the library, among other spaces. Staffing would be similar to that in an after-school program enough trained staff to ensure children are safe, engaged in remote learning (Wi-Fi will be needed at each site), and receive outdoor time as much as possible.

In addition, the district should strongly consider having high school be fully remote for the start of the school year. High school students are mostly old and mature enough to be home alone (so their parents can go to work). High school student courses also mean that there is no way to batch students into groups of 15 or fewer for an entire day; as students move from course to course they will be encountering dozens of their peers in different classes.

Fully remote high school is hardly ideal, but nothing about this pandemic is. The space freed up at the high school could also be used to support school-age child care. And if the district budget permitted additional staffing, the extra space could be used to put additional teachers in place so that our youngest students perhaps grades K through 2 could go to school every day, as might those with the highest needs, including some students with special needs, second-language learners, and students with housing instability.

Jon RosenbergMontclair

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed major flaws in education affordability that must be addressed as universities nationwide transition to online learning. Throughout the last two months, Montclair State University has begun releasing its plans to resume instruction this upcoming fall. These plans center around a variety of instructional modalities, the most prominent of which is online learning.

According to the College Board, the average student spends well over a thousand dollars each year for books. Before the pandemic, it was difficult for students to afford such a hefty price, and in the midst of a recession, while transitioning to online learning, it will be harder than ever for students to have access to the resources they need to succeed.

Student PIRGs, a network of student-run and funded organizations, have brought this issue to the forefront in our Make Textbooks Affordable campaign. This campaign works to educate our campus communities on the impacts of expensive textbooks, encourage faculty to transition to open textbooks, and establish permanent funding and campus policies that promote open textbooks.

Colleges and universities are meant to be spaces for students to learn and grow; however, the ongoing constraints associated with expensive educational resources continue to hinder higher learning institutions ability to create this type of space. It is more important than ever for universities like Montclair State to invest in student resources, and textbook affordability must be at the top of the list.

J.C. DeMariaMonmouth JunctionThe writer is a student at Montclair State University.

Congratulations to Montclair Local for bringing a breath of fresh air to our area. The letter of former Chief Tom Russo in the July 9 issue is an example for all fair-minded citizens to follow.

Chief Russo, whom I have known since the turbulent 1960s, addresses legitimate concerns with real practical, hard-earned expertise, and at the same time warns against the perils of tolerating rioting, looting, destruction, burning and death.

Our great nation was founded only 244 years ago, a baby in the history of the civilized world, and is still growing very nicely, with a lot to learn. But a heck of a lot fairer and better than all nations that came before. Lets not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Daniel L. MartinGlen Ridge

I have a child at Montclair High School. I would be very grateful if the district could offer an option this fall that would allow students to take most of their instruction remotely, only coming to the building for activities that require specialized equipment or the environment of being physically present together, and only for activities that are very difficult to replicate online.

Specifically, I would like my child to go to the high school to do the labs for his lab science classes. For band, if they can meet outdoors and stay widely spaced while playing together, that would also be a reason to come to the building.

For all other instruction, including the non-lab portions of his science classes, I would prefer for my child to work remotely from home.

By offering an option that limits the in-person interactions to a very small number of activities, and mostly keeps my child at home, I believe he will be able to have a good educational experience while also doing his part to minimize community spread of the virus.

I recognize that it will be complicated to find solutions that work for all families and teachers and for the complex set of needs for the many students in our district. I hope that the district will be able to offer a few different options to our families, and that this will be one of the options.

Dr. Amy Rabb-LiuMontclair

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Letters to the Editor, July 23 - Montclair Local

Twitter Answers Whats Trashy When Youre Poor, but Classy When Youre Rich? – The Mary Sue

When New Zealand columnist Ana Samways asked her followers what sort of behaviors, objects, and actions are considered classy for the rich but trashy for poor people, the answers were illuminating. Though Samways tweet is years-old, it was recently revived and given new life, which makes sense in our current bleak environment.

With so many in dire economic straits, discussions around money have become more prevalent on social media, and this question is perennial. Not only do we have a world hugely divided by massive wealth gaps and income inequality, but the way people are perceived for the same things turns on a dime based on the class they occupy. Lets see how Twitter users weighed in.

Here are some of the replies that had us nodding along and then shaking our heads at humanity.

The great majority of these tweets concern image (the clothes we wear, accessories, hair color, tattoos), food, consumption of substances like drugs and alcohol, financial help from the government or institutions, and personal actions like multiple marriages, having many children, and tax evasion. That so many of us immediately can name a whole host of behaviors perceived in opposition based on income level shows that we are taught this almost universally, with our media and politicians shoring it up.

There are so many excellent tweets on this topic its impossible to narrow them down. One particularly interesting point is how many behaviors considered eco-conscious and environmentalist when theyre adopted by middle and upper-class people are framed as trashy when theyre a necessity for the poor. Theres nothing wrong with people wanting to be environmentally-minded, of course, but we should take a good hard look at who is getting applauded and who is getting side-eyed.

The reality is that its difficult to find any behavior that isnt lauded or at least excused, if youre privilegedwhile those enjoying less privilege can suffer from being in the same position.

I initially thought the following was about Trump but it turns out maybe we have similar standards for shady politicians worldwide.

This is, perhaps, the number one thing:

But the likely answer to Samways initial question is absolutely everything.

For many of these behaviors, the rich-are-always-right, poor-are-in-poor-taste divide has been there for, well, centuries. Maybe since the dawn of resource disparity. These social judgments arent new; whats new are the call-outs on social media and getting to see hypocrisy laid bare in thousands of Twitter likes and replies.

The next time you hear someone commenting on a trashy behavior, spin that around and ask them how theyd feel if a rich person were doing the same thing. And when it comes to doing crimes, its the wealthy who are getting away with criminality on a large, damaging scale, while were made to worry that victimless crimes committed by people with a lower income are hurting society. And thats the biggest swindle of all.

You can check out the entirety of Samways thread for more infuriating answers, if youre not quite mad as hell enough yet.

(via Twitter, image: Pexels)

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Twitter Answers Whats Trashy When Youre Poor, but Classy When Youre Rich? - The Mary Sue

PSNI warned not to over-step powers on domestic abuse after force indicates giving someone the silent treatment is a criminal offence – Belfast…

A barrister recently warned that the bill, as written, risks criminalising a wide array of family disagreements (see link below)

It comes after the force failed to provide any evidence that certain domestic abuse behaviours, which it heavily implies are criminal, are actually against the law.

These include giving someone the silent treatment or emotionally injuring them with words.

Barrister-turned-politician Jim Allister said police seem to be behaving in a preposterous fashion over the issue.

Fellow barrister and MP Gavin Robinson said that, on principle, he would object to any scenario where the police try to prosecute someone where theres no basis in law for doing so.

It comes a couple of months after the PSNI was heavily criticised for exceeding their legal powers during the Covid lockdown (by stopping motorists from travelling to beauty spots, for example).


At the root of the whole issue is how domestic abuse is defined.

In recent years, following lobbying from feminist groups, the phrase domestic violence has rapidly been replaced by the phrase domestic abuse.

A number of agencies now use the term, which covers activities that stop short of being physical or explicitly threatening, such as controlling behaviour or emotional abuse.

A bill which will create a new domestic abuse offence was introduced to the Assembly in spring by justice minister Naomi Long.

It would criminalise psychological and emotionally harmful behaviour.

The bill is still being debated, and it is possible that it may never become law.

But despite this, the PSNI already describes domestic abuse as being a crime and says that its officers are committed to bringing offenders to justice.

However, many of the things it describes as domestic abuse do not actually appear to be illegal at all at least not unless the bill becomes law.

As it stands right now, the PSNI indicates that criminal domestic abuse includes: Restricting your partners movements, withholding finances, and emotionally injuring them with your behaviour or words [News Letters emphasis].

And on a different part of the domestic abuse section of its website aimed specifically at gay people the PSNI asks people to file police reports for the following reasons:

~ If someone starts questioning where you go, or [putting] you down for going out on the Scene;

~ If someone gets jealous, possessive or angry about your friends or family;

~ If you worry about upsetting your partner or being the cause of an argument;

~ If you sometimes get the silent treatment and feel on edge.


Taking just two possible examples, the News Letter asked the PSNI under what law it is currently illegal to give someone the silent treatment, or to emotionally injure someone with your behaviour or words.

The force provided no evidence that any of these things are illegal.

Instead it issued a statement in the name of Detective Chief Superintendent Anthony McNally: It is vital that victims of domestic abuse know that help and support is available.

I want to take this opportunity to encourage all victims regardless of age, race, gender or sexual orientation to come forward and report what is happening to them.

If you are a victim, you do not have to suffer in silence. Speak out to stop it and we will help you.

As the PSNI, it is our job to keep people safe.

Our role is about prevention, protection and prosecution to prevent further violence [sic], to protect the victim, children and other vulnerable people and to facilitate the prosecution of offenders.

Anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse can contact police on the non-emergency 101 number or 999 in an emergency.

A 24-hour Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline is also available to anyone who has concerns about domestic or sexual abuse, now or in the past, by calling 0808 802 1414.


The News Letter has looked at the domestic abuse bill a number of times since it was first mooted in January.

It is the only media outlet which has looked in serious detail at what the bill actually contains.

Basically, it will outlaw certain non-violent behaviour within romantic or family relationships.

Crucially, harm does not need to be caused for an offence to have been committed rather, it will be enough that an outside person looking at the words or behaviour would consider them likely to cause harm.

It will be an offence to engage in such behaviour twice or more.

If a child hears or sees the abuse, judges will consider this an aggravating factor.

The maximum sentence is 14 years in jail.

Naomi Long says this will close a gap in the law.

In April, she told MLAs: For example, a perpetrator humming a particular tune might seem trivial or even go unnoticed by other family members, friends or frontline services and the police.

But it could have a specific meaning for the victim that causes them fear when considered alongside a series of other ongoing and persistent behaviours ...

The offence created by this bill is purposely broad to capture those types of nuanced behaviours.

She said, for example, that the person hearing the tune may take it as a signal that they will get a beating at home (although, obviously, beating someone up or threatening to do so is already illegal).

A number of lawyers have already voiced concerns about the broad nature of the way the bill has been written (see links below).


TUV leader Jim Allister said it would be absurd to say that giving someone the silent treatment is a crime, having failed to cite any legal basis to back that up.

It would be unconstitutional and unlawful for them to implement a law before it is the law, he said.

They cant enforce it before it happens. It does seem a bit preposterous.

The police can only pursue matters as offences when they are offences.

When it comes to the change in the law which Naomi Longs bill seeks to achieve, he said: I think the key here in all of this is it is very dangerous territory to create offences which are victimless.

You can be guilty of something even though there is no injury to anyone.

That seems to me to be way beyond the pale of what the criminal law should be doing.

He said it would be just patent nonsense to turn blanking someone into a crime, saying: What is the offence?

That you, on the first day of July 2020, did give Adam Kula the silent treatment?

It seems to me to be stretching the ambit of what the criminal law is supposed to be about.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson said: Id wish to explore it further with the police.

But if it is an invitation for people to engage and allow the police to explore their domestic circumstances to establish if crimes are being committed, given the nature of under-reporting [of domestic offences], Id be comfortable with that.

But clearly Id have a problem if they were seeking to prosecute where theres no basis in law for doing so.

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PSNI warned not to over-step powers on domestic abuse after force indicates giving someone the silent treatment is a criminal offence - Belfast...

Shop thief jailed after series of offences in Worksop – Worksop Guardian

Richard Frost, of no fixed address, had previously pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence of 20 weeks suspended for 12 months for a number of earlier shop thefts in Worksop but will now spend over a year in prison after pleading guilty to further offences committed during that period.

The 45-year-old attended Mansfield Magistrates Court on Saturday, 11 July 2020, after being arrested by the Worksop Neighbourhood Policing Team the previous day on suspicion of the latest thefts. Frost was also ordered to pay 454.50 in compensation.

Inspector Neil Bellamy, the Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Bassetlaw, said: This is testament to the hard work of the neighbourhood policing teams and their dedication to tackling issues such as shop theft.

The action taken was swift and ultimately led to Frost returning to the courts and being brought to justice, which we hope will reassure local residents, business owners and managers that reports of shop thefts will be investigated and taken seriously.

Shop thefts are absolutely not victimless crimes and we will not tolerate such behaviour in our area.

Arresting officer PC Lee Ryan, who works within Inspector Bellamys Worksop Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: Richard Frost is a prolific thief who was only recently given a suspended sentence for earlier offences by the courts.

After his last court appearance, he continued to target shops in the local area, taking a number of items such premium brand coffee and washing machine products, which we were made aware of and soon after were able to take action. It is good to see the courts support those efforts by imposing this kind of sentence.

Frost will now spend more than a year in prison and we hope that this offers reassurance to the local community that we are there for them and we are dedicated to tackling criminals in order protect what matters most to them."

Editor's message: Thank you for reading this story. The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on our advertisers and thus our revenues. The Star is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. You can subscribe here http://www.thestar.co.uk/subscriptions for unlimited access to Sheffield news and information online. Every subscription helps us continue providing trusted, local journalism and campaign on your behalf for our city.

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Shop thief jailed after series of offences in Worksop - Worksop Guardian