Tag Archive: prison society

Your Home Is Your Prison

homeprisonFrom Truth Out/By Maya Schenwar

On January 27th, domestic violence survivor Marissa Alexander will walk out of Florida’s Duval County jail — but she won’t be free.

Alexander, whose case has gained some notoriety, endured three years of jail time and a year of house arrest while fighting off a prison sentence that would have seen her incarcerated for the rest of her life — all for firing a warning shot that injured no one to fend off her abusive husband. Like many black women before her, Alexander was framed as a perpetrator in a clear case of self-defense. In November, as her trial date drew close, Alexander accepted a plea deal that will likely give her credit for time served, requiring her to spend “just” 65 more days in jail. Media coverage of the development suggested that Alexander would soon have her “freedom,” that she would be “coming home.”

Many accounts of the plea deal, however, missed what Alexander will be coming home to: she’ll return to “home detention” — house arrest — for two years.

In other words, an electronic monitor, secured around her ankle at all times, will track her every movement. Alexander will also be paying $105 per week to the state in monitoring fees, as is the custom in Florida and more than a dozen other states.

Such a situation is certainly preferable to being caged in a prison cell. However, does Alexander’s release — and that of others in her shoes — mean freedom? In reality, an ever-growing number of cages are proliferating around us, even if they assume forms that look nothing like our standard idea of a cage.

As mass incarceration is falling out of fashion — it’s been denounced by figures across the political spectrum from Eric Holder to Newt Gingrich — a whole slate of “alternatives to incarceration” has arisen. From electronic monitoring and debilitating forms of probation to mandatory drug testing and the sort of “predictive policing” that turns communities of color into open-air prisons, these alternatives are regularly presented as necessary “reforms” for a broken system.

It’s worth remembering, however, that when the modern prison emerged in the late eighteenth century, it, too, was promoted as a “reform,” a positive replacement for corporal or capital punishment. Early prison reformers — many of them Quakers bent on repentance and redemption — suggested that cutting people off from the rest of the world would bring them closer to God. (The word “penitentiary” comes, of course, from “penitence.”)


What a “Mike Brown Law” Means for Ambarella and Digital Ally


Click on image for full sized poster

From Investor Place

AMBA and DGLY are set to soar if police body cameras go mainstream

It might seem difficult to connect Ambarella Inc (AMBA) and Digital Ally, Inc (DGLY) to the social conflicts of America. But these two stocks are actually poised to soar now more than ever as the tragic events of Ferguson, Missouri reach a new phase: healing.

For months there has been unrest in the 21,000-person town of Ferguson stemming from the August death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed black man who was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.

Last night, a grand jury found that there was no probable cause to indict Wilson, effectively closing the criminal case. But what does this unfortunate series of events have to do with the stock market?


Quite a lot, actually. (more…)

Do We Really Want Cops With Body Cameras Filming Everything They See?

policecameraFrom Mother Board

Police departments across America are eagerly fitting their officers with surveillance cameras that record the public from a cop’s point of view. The technology was trotted out as a way to keep police accountable—to cut back on brutality, acquit wrongfully accused officers, and bust the ones that abuse their power.

Framed with that noble intention, there’s plenty to commend about law enforcement’s latest toy. But folks are singing the praises so loudly it’s drowning out a host of crucial privacy questions that need to be asked as we creep toward nationwide police surveillance.

And creeping we are: A growing number of police departments are adopting the cameras, which are worn attached to glasses or a uniform. The New Orleans police jumped on the bandwagon yesterday, joining the likes of Oakland, Las Vegas, Seattle, and others that already use the cameras. Los Angeles is in the middle of a Hollywood fundraising campaign to purchase 500 body-worn cameras for the LAPD. In New York City, a federal court suggested the NYPD try out a pilot program to cut back on unconstitutional stop-and-frisks.

Lord knows the police need policing, and there’s logic in assuming that if your actions are watched and recorded all the time you’re more likely to behave responsibly—be you civilian or cop. But seen another way, camera-fitted policeman smacks of a surveillance-happy government that’s gone a bridge too far. Even if it’s possible to privacy-invade someone into good behavior, that doesn’t mean it’s not an unsettling can of worms to open. (more…)

FBI Building Database Containing Face-scans of Millions


Biometric facial recognitionThere are millions of entries for non-criminal reasons as well as many from unexplained sources.

Biometric facial recognition. There are millions of entries for non-criminal reasons as well as many from unexplained sources.

From Warrior Publications

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been developing a gigantic database containing biometric information on a significant portion of the United States.  The human identifiers contained in this database — photos, fingerprints, facial signatures, iris scans, palm prints, birthmarks, voice recognition, DNA — are not only taken from people who have been arrested, they are also being collected from millions of Americans who have not been charged with any crime. The database is called “Next Generation Identification” (NGI) is being built upon the FBI’s legacy database of 100 million fingerprints collected over the past several decades, called the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).  Now, the FBI’s Biometric Center of Excellence has taken that database and expanded it to include all sorts of other personal identifiers.  It is estimated that one-third of the population of the USA has personal bodily identifiers stored in the FBI’s database.

In 2012, the bureau spent $1,000,000,000taxpayer dollars in an effort to add millions of face-scans to the database. With its current capabilities, a facial image can be matched to a stored profile amongst millions of entries in under 2 seconds.  The feds have passports, driver’s licenses, mugshots, surveillance cameras, and social media at their disposal to create their massive database.  Dozens of states have already integrated facial recognition into their driver’s licenses, and some are sharing that information with the FBI. (more…)