Archive for October 21st, 2012

Missoula Lock Up

by lizard

Kathleen Jenks, Missoula’s head municipal court judge, needs to be commended. Because of her systematic dismantling of alternatives to jail, the bottleneck in the system has become the jail, and the jailers aren’t too happy about it.

Jenks should be commended because she is showing Missoula how problematic her unipolar, hammer/nail approach to judicial accountability is, in practice. After Jenks’ing treatment courts and effectively scorching the earth of that decision by firing Marie Anderson, it’s now the work program being subjected to intentional judicial atrophy:

In the past, just 5 percent of the people Judge Louden sentenced in Municipal Court did jail time, said Peggy Turner, an administrative assistant in the detention center. She said the bulk of them – 75 percent to 80 percent – served their sentences through the work program instead, but Judge Jenks isn’t using that program.

“She’s starting to throw everybody in jail instead of letting them do the work program,” said Turner, who schedules people in the program.

The program allows people to work off their sentences; one day of work equals two days in jail. People do maintenance at the facility, they work at the fairgrounds, and many request hours at the animal shelter.

“It gives them a chance to do something constructive rather than waste their time in jail,” Harris said.

It costs less, too, Turner said: The work program costs $35 a day, and jail costs $100 a day. She used to have six or eight people working every day, and the schedule would be full two and a half months in advance. Now, she said, she doesn’t have enough people to work, and she’s only scheduled a week or week and a half out.

The result? Keila Szpaller leads her Sunday piece with this:

For the first time since it opened, the Missoula County jail has been consistently full for months, and tensions inside are running high, according to detention center staff.

The jail on Mullan Road has been operating since 1999, and it accommodates roughly 224 adult inmates from the local courts. Detention manager Mark Harris said the facility is considered full when capacity hits 80 percent.

“The last 10 months, we’ve been at capacity every day,” Harris said. “Before that, we occasionally got there, but not for a long period at a time.”

In the past, most of the inmates had committed serious crimes, but the population makeup has changed, too, detention officials said. Now, the bulk of the cells are filled with people who have committed minor offenses.

There are aspects of this increased job security for jailers that I agree with, like DUI offenders getting prolonged opportunities for introspection.

But when it’s someone who is obviously mentally ill, a detention facility and its staff are not prepared to provide adequate care, as recent history and costly lawsuits have shown.

If cost is the main concern, then let’s start doing the math of cramming the jails and starving the work program. And if that math doesn’t work, then maybe it’s time for some voter math, like how many days until Jenks is up for reelection.

16 Days Left…

by lizard

At least we can laugh at it, right? Saturday Night Live only had to slightly deviate from the actual presidential debate performance to be funny. Libya? Mitt bombs, in like a totally metaphorical way, and Obama drops the mic (which is much better than dropping actual bombs on actual people).

Obama needs all the help he can get right now, with just 16 days left. Polls, the strange statistical creatures that they are, aren’t being nice to the Obama campaign, as reported by this Huffington Post article:

National polls released on Tuesday reinforced the conclusion that Republican nominee Mitt Romney has received a significant “bounce” since last week’s debate against President Barack Obama, erasing Obama’s lead and gaining a slight edge in some surveys.

So, as a pathetically small percentage of eligible voters get ready to vote (some on machines in swing states that simply can’t be somehow tied to Bain because that would be fucking ridiculous) is there anything that might hurt Mitt’s surge this late in the game?

Greg Palast has done a lot of work to arrive at the number 15.3 million dollars. That is how much money Mitt and Ann got as a result of the evil, socialist auto bailout.

While this number, properly deployed, could possibly benefit Obama, it’s also a number that might call into question who exactly this socialist wealth re-distributor actually distributes money to.

But don’t tell the nuts on the far right Obama is distributing their tax money to Mitt Romney, because they are very committed to a particular narrative, as exemplified by this comment from Dave’s prediction Mitt is gonna win:

Millions of people are of the same opinion as I am. This will NOT become a socialist nation. We will NOT have the “fruits” of our labors confiscated. We will NOT see governance by executive order continue. Make no mistake about it, Obama is a socialist. He has surrounded himself with people who are openly communist, scum of the earth. He wants to see the US weaken and lose stature in the world. The rise of Islam to rule the world is just fine with him. Wasn’t there a “world war” in the middle ages, the Crusades, fought to stop Muslims from ruling the world? What are the current events of today?

I don’t know if there is any data on how many people voting for Mitt are doing so to stop the Socialist/Communist takeover of America, but these accusations have been carefully nurtured and exploited by the GOP for pretty much the whole, long campaign. Why? Simple, because stoking delusional angst is an important part of their effort to turn out the base.

Speaking of bases, Obama still has a problem with his. Naysayers nipping at the heals of the president do have an accumulating drag on momentum. In that vein, Mike Whitney reports on the first sell out of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. For a president that wanted to suck up that OWS burst of energy, it seems the sucking just isn’t sustainable when what sucks is what actually happens—or doesn’t happens—with those arrogant criminals on wall street.

This from the Wall Street Journal:

“Federal regulators are considering giving mortgage lenders protection from certain lawsuits…

The potential move, which would be a partial victory for mortgage lenders, is part of a broader effort to write new rules for the U.S. housing market in the wake of the mortgage meltdown. The proposal for the first time would establish a basic national standard for loans, known as a ‘qualified mortgage.’ (“Home Loans May Get Shield”, Wall Street Journal)

And this is how Whitney ends his piece:

The banks don’t need full legal immunity. What they need is tough-minded regulators breathing down their necks 24-7, ready to slap them into leg irons and drag them off to the hoosegow for the slightest infraction. That’s what they really need.

But, then, you already knew that.

That’s called preaching to the choir, because it’s far from certain whether or not Americans actually understand the degree of criminal activity still being perpetrated against us by the 2BIG2FAIL money junkies.

Mitt clearing 15 million from a federal bailout he publicly opposed—that Obama gave him—is really quite amazing, when you think about it.

Of course, that’s the problem: both sides have good reason to avoid doing anything to make potential voters think about how bipartisan the corruption is.

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