In 1989, Canadian activist, engineer and thinker Ursula Franklin gave a series of extraordinary lectures on the politics of technology design and deployment called "The Real World of Technology." Read the rest
On Wednesday, former Reuters.com social media editor Matthew Keys received a two year prison sentence for computer hacking. That's a sentence of 24 months, for a website defacement that lasted only 40 minutes, which Keys himself didn't even execute.
Earlier today in an unrelated high-profile case, the "affluenza teen" who actually murdered people also got two years in jail.
Today, President Obama met with Americans who have received commutations on prison sentences during his presidency, and under previous administrations. Today, Obama commuted the sentences of 61 more people who were convicted of federal drug and firearm crimes. More than than a third of them were serving life in prison.
New York City's Robin Hood Labs at Blue Ridge Laboratories have opening for paid fellowships to develop apps and technologies to give low-income people legal assistance in civil proceedings, like evictions, debt collection, and immigration procedures. Read the rest
Apple said no to the government, and the government is pissed.
Last year, Pittsburgh Police officer Sgt. Stephen Matakovich was captured on camera beating up a 19-year-old outside Heinz Field. After lying about the circumstances, he was charged with assault—only to find the charges dismissed last week by a judge.
When video of the attack found its way to the media, however, the story changed: police chief Cameron McLay has now suspended Matakovich and says he will fire him, while prosecutors are planning to refile charges against the officer.
WPXI 11 reports that it'll be hard to make it stick: Matakovich can appeal the decision to city executives who can overrule McLay, then take it to an arbitration panel, where he can select one of the three people tasked with the final decision.
Deja vu: in 2003, Matakovich was recorded threatening to assault a superior officer, but was let off the hook over his own supervisor's objections. Read the rest
Freedom of the Press Foundation has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department for all correspondence the agency has had with Congress over proposed FOIA reform bills that died last year in Congress, despite having unanimous support of all its members.
A New York man who spent a month in jail after Pennsylvania state police mistook homemade soap he was traveling with for cocaine has filed a lawsuit.
Arizona tried to illegally import a lethal injection drug that is banned in the U.S., but the state never got the drug after federal agents halted the shipment at Phoenix airport. The Associated Press has the documents, and the resulting scoop.
Arizona paid nearly $27,000 for sodium thiopental, an anesthetic that has been used to carry out executions but is no longer manufactured by FDA-approved companies, the documents said. When the drugs arrived via British Airways at the Phoenix International Airport in July, they were seized by federal officials and have not been released, according to the documents.
"The department is contesting FDA's legal authority to continue to withhold the state's execution chemicals," state Department of Corrections spokesman Andrew Wilder said Thursday.
Arizona and other death penalty states have been struggling to obtain legal execution drugs for several years after European companies refused to sell the drugs, including sodium thiopental, that have been used to carry out executions. States have had to change drug combinations or, in some cases, put executions on hold temporarily as they look for other options.
The Arizona documents obtained by the AP were released as part of a lawsuit against the corrections department over transparency in executions. The AP is a party in the lawsuit.
What's worse than courts demanding that poor people pay extortionate fines to the state for minor offense? Asking them to literally pay with their own blood.
Ruined and strangely beautiful, the island prison of Coiba was once a truly ugly place. This concrete extrusion from the Central American jungle is now a silent guardian of Panama's dark secrets.
The prison was established in 1919, a safe distance from the mainland, and virtually inescapable for inmates. During the back-to-back military regimes of Omar Torrijos and Manuel Noriega (1969 to 1990), the site transformed into a penal colony for political subversives. Here, prisoners—known as Los Desaparacidos, or “the Disappeared”—were held in secret, never to return. Reports of abuse, torture, and politically motivated murder soon surfaced from this time in the island’s history.
Even this, however, seems to pale before the horror of Devil's Island in French Guiyana, closed in 1953.
Devil's Island and associated prisons eventually became one of the most infamous prison systems in history. While the prison system was in use (1852–1953), inmates included political prisoners (such as 239 republicans who opposed Napoleon III's coup d'état in 1851) and the most hardened of thieves and murderers. The vast majority of the more than 80,000 prisoners sent to the Devil's Island prison system never made it back to France. Many died due to disease and harsh conditions. Sanitary systems were limited, and the region was mosquito-infested, with endemic tropical diseases. The only exit from the island prisons was by water, and few convicts escaped.
Not all prison islands were nightmares—the British kept Napoleon in relative comfort, though somewhat less so after his first escape—but history favors them as a safe place to store the most dangerous among us. Read the rest
Ohio authorities are investigating how a prisoner obtained a list of the usernames and passwords for prison administrators.