A data-driven look at the devastating efficacy of a far-right judge-education program

More than 40% of US federal judges have attended Manne seminars, a notionally "bipartisan" educational conference presented by a Florida "Law and Economics" institute whose invited ideological allies explained to judges why pollution is good for minorities (polluted neighborhoods are cheaper and therefore affordable by poor people), unions are bad, monopolies are economically efficient, discrimination in punishment is economically efficient, insider trading is economically efficient, and so on. Read the rest

Unpacking the US's "low unemployment": stagnant wages, bad jobs, high incarceration, discouraged workers back in school

The Trump administration is very proud of the US's historically low unemployment figures (lowest in 50 years), but statistics are deceiving, especially labor statistics. Read the rest

Canada Pension Plan is long on US private prisons and immigrant detention centers

Robbo sez, "As a Canadian in my later years I benefit from my monthly Canada Pension Plan payments. As a Canadian and a human being I am disgusted that CPP holds stock in Geo Group and CoreCivic, companies who operate for-profit prisons and immigrant detention centres. As MP Charlie Angus (NDP) sez: 'Quite frankly, if they’re going to be investing in private prisons, weapons manufacturers and tobacco companies, why aren’t they investing in narco gangs?' They better clean this shit up - and fast." Read the rest

Good news: California ends cash bail! Bad news: It's been replaced with a black-box algorithm.

Cash bail has turned American jails into debtors' prisons, where the wealthy can go about their business while awaiting trial, and the poor can languish for months or even years in jail because they can't make bail (in practice, they generally plead guilty, regardless of their innocence). Read the rest

Law and Order Republicans have suddenly discovered the undeniable injustice of "flipped" prosecution witnesses

Ken "Popehat" White, a former US Attorney turned criminal defense attorney, notes that the Republican outrage about "flipped" prosecution witnesses is awfully self-serving (given that Trump's bagman Michael Cohen and hushup capo David Pecker have both seemingly turned state's evidence), they have a point, as countless black and brown and poor defendants have discovered in their journey through the American justice system. Read the rest

Prisoners in 17 states are on strike, demanding an end to prison slavery and basic human justice

For the second time in two years, America's prisoners have staged a mass, coordinated strike, demanding an end to slave labor for incarcerated people, channels for redress of grievances, an end to racial discrimination in the American penal system, access to rehabilitation programs, the reinstatement of Pell grants, the right of ex-prisoners to vote, and the right of rehabilitated prisoners to be paroled. Read the rest

Florida's prisons change tech providers, wipe out $11.2m worth of music purchased by prisoners

For seven years, Florida state inmates could buy a $100 MP3 player from Access Corrections, the prisons' exclusive provider, and stock it with MP3s that cost $1.70 -- nearly double the going rate in the free world. Read the rest

New York City makes all prisoner calls free

The City of New York has declared that all calls from its city jails will henceforth be free; meaning the city will forego the $5,000,000 it took from prisoners and their families every year. Read the rest

On the cruelty of ankle-monitors

Ankle monitors are billed as a humane alternative to incarceration, allowing people who might otherwise be locked up to be reintegrated into the community. Read the rest

How Jpay gouges prisoners' families for "digital postage stamps"

If you're one of the millions of (disproportionately black and brown) people who have been put behind bars in America, there's a good chance you use Jpay (previously) to communicate with your family. Read the rest

Why would a company give free tablets to prisons for inmate use?

Spoiler alert: to steal from prisoners and their families. Read the rest

Court orders carriers to remotely brick phones that have been smuggled into prisons

Back in 2015, California enacted legislation requiring cellphone makers to equip their products with over-the-air kill-switches that could be used to brick stolen phones; the idea was to reduce the incentive to steal phones (a crime that often involved a surprising amount of violence) because as soon as the phone was stolen, it would stop working forever. Read the rest

A young caged teen in a Texas immigration camp is teaching other kids to change caged toddlers' diapers

At Ursula, an immigration facility in McAllen, TX, 500 children separated from their families are crammed 20 to a cage. It's home to kids of all ages, from toddlers to young teens (once a teen turns 18, they are magically converted into a criminal and moved to the adult facility). Read the rest

Laramie County, Wyoming Sheriffs' department blocks public records requests for their prison phone monopoly deal

Every crappy thing in the world is beta-tested on people who have little or no power, perfected, and brought to the rest of us -- CCTV starts with prisoners, moves to mental institutions, then to schools, then to blue-collar workplaces, then airports, then white-collar workplaces, then everywhere. Read the rest

Google announces ad-ban for sleazy bail-bonds companies

In 2016, Google banned ads for payday lenders; now it has followed up with a ban on another predatory industry: for-profit bail bondsmen, who rip off black people and poor people with deceptive financing terms that are designed to create a usurious cycle of permanent debt. (Image: Sarah Nichols/CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

Forced prison labor put downward pressure on wages at American companies, worsening inequality

In Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System, UCLA economist Michael Poyker uses data on prisons and their surrounding areas from 1850 to 1950 to examine the role that free/extremely low-waged forced convict labor had on wages. Read the rest

UK police train machine-learning model using Experian data that stereotypes people based on garden size, first names, and postal codes

The police in Durham, England bought a license to the "Mosiac" dataset from the credit bureau Experian, which includes data on 50,000,000 Britons, in order to train a machine learning system called HART ("Harm Assessment Risk Tool") that tries to predict whether someone will reoffend. Read the rest

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