17 thoughts on “News/Politics 6-23-17

  1. I’m really glad to see that these troubling stats are finally being acknowledged by the faith community.

    WASHINGTON — Leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore, apologist Ravi Zacharias and nearly 100 other Christian leaders have signed onto a declaration that calls for restorative criminal justice reform in the United States and urges Christians to unite in opposition to the nation’s “misguided response to crime.”

    rganized by Prison Fellowship, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the National Association of Evangelicals, Christian leaders gathered at the National Press Club Tuesday to sign the “Justice Declaration.”

    “The United States locks up more people than any other nation. In fact, the United States represents a mere five percent of the world’s population but we house 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population,” Prison Fellowship CEO James Ackerman said during the press conference. “Today, there are nearly 2.2 million Americans behind bars. There are 2.7 million children with a parent in prison and there are 65 million stumbled by the consequences of a criminal conviction.”

    “Our country’s over reliance on incarceration fails to make us safer or restore people and communities who have been harmed,” Ackerman continued. “The Justice Declaration represents a framework grounded in biblical values to guide the church’s response to this crisis. It has already been signed by approximately 100 Christian leaders from across the country. … Today, we invite Christians of any denomination or background to add their names at JusticeDeclaration.org.”……

    Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/russell-moore-ravi-zacharias-100-christian-leaders-sign-criminal-justice-declaration-188747/#Id28iqQotT5qR1Fa.99

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  2. That would be helpful if that mess could be straightened out. But I also know several folk who can’t seem to stop the criminal activity so it is a tough job for the judges. And I am sure there are many who just did stupid and don’t need a prison sentence to correct it, or at least not a long one.

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  3. This is a unique perspective on the Castile shooting verdict. It’s unique because it probes underlying assumptions—not on race, but on the possible connection with the police militarization that has been occurring in the last few years.

    … The fact that even the two black jurors voted to acquit Ofc. Yanez makes me wonder if this verdict is not (or not simply) an expression of racial prejudice, but is rather a symptom of latent pro-authority prejudice when it comes to law enforcement. Hear me out on this, because my usual stance is to be supportive of the police unless given reason otherwise, and I still think that stance makes general sense. But it can become an excuse for wrongdoing and even criminal misconduct.

    What brings this to mind, believe it or not, is the fact that here we are 14 years after the start of the Iraq War, and the United States government is finding fresh ways to dig the country into war in the Middle East — this time, risking a proxy war with Russia over Syria. And there’s no protest anywhere! You’d think people would be tired of all this fighting, and be asking hard questions in public of why our government, no matter which party holds power, backs endless war. TAC’s Andrew Bacevich explored this depressing phenomenon earlier this year in this piece, with regard to Congress. More broadly, there is no anti-war movement. Americans seem resigned to letting this thing drag on. Bacevich here discusses the costs of war, and criticizes US leaders and the American people for avoiding facing realistically what it would take to win our current wars — if it can be done at all. And so on.

    The militarization of our police forces has long been discussed…..

    …. Is there a connection between America’s endless wars and the militarization of the police? More to the point, has all the “support the troops” rhetoric that we’ve gotten used to since the Iraq War started helped train Americans to accept behavior from police that they would not have before? Has “questioning the police” become as taboo in American popular culture as “questioning the troops”?

    I don’t know. I’m throwing it all out there for discussion. Again, I am usually pro-police, and maybe there were things about the Castile case that were clear to the jury, which heard the case, but not to me. Still, I can’t grasp why Castile’s killer got away scot-free, and why there hasn’t been much of an outcry. If a police officer can shoot to death a motorist who was obeying all his commands, and walk away a free man from that shooting, how safe are any of us? This is not the Alton Sterling case, nor is it the Michael Brown case. Not even close. I’m concerned that there’s a connection between our collective habit of deferring to the generals (or at least the idea that the military knows best) and a culture of policing that results in events like Castile’s killing, and the cop who did it getting away with it. Do we really believe as a people that those who bear arms in the service of the state have the right do fulfill their mission by any means necessary?….

    Read More at http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/philando-castile-aftermath/

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  4. Mumsee, it is a tough call for judges. I just wonder if alternatives to incarceration might be more productive. What we are doing is not working. It is a positive sign to me that strong Christians who are in a position to lead initiatives are acknowledging the problem as real. Just lock ’em up and throw away the key for 5-30 years is not a solution—all the more so when you consider the horror stories about the conditions and activities in some prisons.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sadly part of the problem has been privatization and allowing private prison companies to profit, and lobby for more of the same. It’s big money. Phone companies have been exploiting prisoners and their families as well, with outrageous costs. They lobby for more of the same too. Add in the public unions, court workers, guards, prosecutors, etc. and their interest in keeping with the status quo, and reform is a tough road to hoe. Some localities even use it as a money making venture.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/rural-small-town-jails-are-driving-america-s-high-incarceration-n771061

    “The nation’s smallest jails, often overlooked in discussions about America’s high incarceration rate, have been quietly driving a historic increase in the number of people behind bars, according to researchers.

    These local jails, mostly serving rural communities with low crime rates, hold a disproportionate number of people who are waiting for trial and who are being held by outside agencies, such as overburdened state prison systems and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a newly released report says.

    That’s because these communities generally lack the resources to steer low-level offenders away from pretrial detention, the researchers say. And many expand their jail capacities to win a bigger share of contracts from outside agencies.

    The researchers, from the Vera Institute of Justice and the Safety and Justice Challenge, which both advocate for jail reform, released a report Tuesday aimed at bringing more attention to what’s happening in the country’s most sparsely populated regions.

    “The growth in rural jail incarceration has really flown under the radar,” said Jacob Kang-Brown, one of the Vera researchers who helped write the report. “Many reforms to change mass incarceration are concentrated in urban areas. We tend to think that punishment and over-incarceration follows crime, and crime tends to be worse in urban areas. But rural areas have a worse jail incarceration problem.”

    This conclusion is based on data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, whose most detailed information about jail populations runs to 2013. The numbers show a dramatic increase over the last 25 years in the proportion of people being held in jail while awaiting for trial — those still presumed innocent but who cannot afford bail, or haven’t been assigned it. That increase, fueled by tough-on-crime polices that grew out of 1980s drug scares, is now driving efforts to reduce incarceration rates by turning away from the use of money bail and expanding alternatives to jail.”

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  6. Debra, my personal anecdotes include the dad and two older brothers of three of my children. Two claim to now be believers. They have been in and out of prison. They need to be able to go somewhere far away from their old network, but the parole system seems “easiest” to just go back to the old ways. The dad is now getting out and heading to his brother in a far part of the state he is in. His brother appears to be solid and won’t put up with much so we are optimistic. One of the brothers has another twenty years ahead, it appears. He can’t manage his anger and can’t stop stealing cars. Again, if we could convince pregnant women to abstain from drugs and alcohol for nine months, would that help? Again, if we could convince the men to love and protect their women so they don’t need to feel compelled to drink and drug, would that help? So much pain in the world. I do understand the need to protect society from the poor choices of the broken, and I do understand that Christ is the answer, but in a society that is shutting its ears to the call of God, how to help.

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  7. I am not sure why everyone is saying Castile was only following the directions of the police. The officer was screaming for him to stop reaching. Yes, he had asked for his ID earlier. Then, after hearing about the gun, he told Castile not to reach for it. He screamed it several times. Only the officer could see inside the car and, apparently, smell pot. He testified to his thought processes. There is no indication that the officer approached the car with any hostility. Of course, the policeman could be lying, but I don’t know there is a reason to assume so.

    We had a man shot by police down our road. You can bet there were a lot of questions. Anytime this happens there should be questions. I think the police are often put into a no win situation. If they shoot, they are too aggressive. If the person hurts others, because the police do not shoot, they are negligent. In many cases the police man ends up dead. I cannot imagine being in this position. When you have a few seconds to assess all that is going on around you and act, it is incredibly difficult.

    Policing is one of those jobs that power-hungry individuals can gravitate towards. There always has to be checks and balances. In this case the jury was privy to more than we saw. Perhaps they just judged it as they saw it. That is the simplest explanation to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There’s much debate in our state over a measure passed (and supported by many of us) in 2014 and how that has inadvertently added to the homelessness, especially in the many street encampments we now have all over LA, and rising crime overall in more recent years.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Proposition_47_(2014)

    If there’s no effective alternative, people who are released under such measures seemingly return to what they already know.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Since we’re sharing personal anecdotes, I’ll add mine.

    The system needs a complete and total makeover. Right now it is designed to hold convicts in the system, Commit a petty crime, say a $50 shop lifting charge. You get thousands in bail you can’t afford. So you sit in prison until trial. Then, you get sentenced and back you go to serve the remainder of your sentence. Even after they’ve served the maximum sentence and have been released they have their hooks in you. You think you’ve finished your punishment, served your time, and can move on. But you can’t.

    The fines, court costs, and costs many areas assign to the convict for the time he was incarcerated are then used as a weapon. You’ve already got a record, and finding a job is tougher, yet you’re expected to find a job and pay so much a month that you can’t even live with what’s left. So they bring you before a judge, he says you’re in contempt because you can’t pay the outrageous costs assigned for your petty crime. Back over the wall you go, if you had a job, you just lost it, and maybe in a month they’ll put you in work release so you can start over again, with of course, many thousands more in court costs, fines, and costs added to your tab. This continues in an endless loop. This is the reality many young men are stuck with. This needs to end. All for a $50 shoplifting charge? That’s not justice, and does nothing to restore an individual and prepare them to re-take a productive place in society. All of this is designed to power and fund the so-called justice system, nothing more. It’s a complete failure.

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  10. One of our pastors in Nashville was also a prison chaplain, so we had several ex-cons attending our church. Some attended for a few months, until their probation allowed them to move to a different county, and others attended for years. I remember one man who attended faithfully for years, and he had landed a decent job that he held for years–until the company changed its policy and could no longer employ anyone with a felony on his record. Someone said it was probably for insurance purposes, but what I don’t understand is why it affected someone who already worked for the company, faithfully, for years. But we greatly limit the ability of felons to have an honest job.

    Also, more than once we had a convict for whom we were praying because he (a couple of different men) was in the process of trying to get back the ability to drive. That meant buying a car and insuring it, just like anyone else but with fewer resources than most of us, but it also meant paying off thousands of dollars of fines. Now, I don’t know if those were fines from driving drunk or something of that sort, but there were indeed multiple obstacles in the path of any felon trying to get a fresh start. Continuing in a life of crime is easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Good question….

    Why Is The FBI Whitewashing The Steve Scalise Shooting Into “Workplace Violence”

    http://www.redstate.com/streiff/2017/06/23/fbi-whitewashing-steve-scalise-shooting/

    “In 2009, an Army psychiatrist, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, killed or wounded 46 persons at Fort Hood, Texas. Though Hasan’s motives were abundantly clear, the Obama administration was in a quandary. Admitting a large scale terror attack on a US military installation would work against the president’s personal agenda of kowtowing to Islamists and stamping out the plague of islamophobia. As a result, the shooting was classified as “workplace violence.” Doing so deprived the families of the victims of both recognition and federal compensation but it forwarded the agenda. It took five years and an act of Congress to rectify that atrocity.

    Another whitewash is underway.

    On Wednesday, the FBI released its final report on the shooting of House GOP Whip Steve Scalise and four other people by a stereotypical Bernie Sanders supporter named James Hodgkinson. To call it bizarre it to engage in understatement.

    Let’s start with the conclusion from the briefing:

    “At this time, the FBI has assessed the shooter James Hodgkinson acted alone. We also assess that there was no connection to terrorism,” Andrew Veil, assistant director in charge of the FBI field office, told reporters at a press conference in Washington Wednesday morning. “It was an assault on a member of Congress, assault on a federal officer.”
    The legal definition of “domestic terrorism” is:

    (5) the term “domestic terrorism” means activities that—

    (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

    (B) appear to be intended—

    (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

    (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

    (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

    (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.
    Every part of that definition applies to Hodgkinson’s attack. Assault of an member of Congress, etc., would be lesser included charges in the indictment but the top count would have to be terrorism. While the FBI’s Veil may very well be correct that Hodgkinson acted alone (you’ll see why we probably shouldn’t take that assertion at face value later in the story) his acting alone has no bearing on whether or not he committed an act of terrorism.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good.

    After all the mayor already admitted they abandoned the area so rioters could vent, and pulled police out.

    “…we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2017/06/22/baltimore-businesses-sue-city-damage-done-freddie-gray-riots/

    “You may be forgiven if you’d thought that the entire Freddie Gray saga was in our collective rear view mirror at this point. It’s been a couple of years now. Most of the damage from the riots has been cleaned up. The trials of the police officers involved (at least those that made it as far as trial before being abandoned) are long since over. So what’s left to debate?

    According to the owners of more than five dozen businesses which were damaged or totally destroyed in the riots, there’s plenty to talk about and they plan on doing so in a court of law. Over sixty businesses have banded together and filed suit against the city, the mayor (at the time), the Chief of Police and others, saying that they abjectly failed in their duty to prevent the destruction of property and injuries which resulted from riots which were not only predictable, but preventable if the municipal government had acted responsibly. (Baltimore Sun)

    Dozens of Baltimore business owners are suing city officials, including the police department and former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, saying they mishandled the city’s response to the rioting in 2015.

    In a nearly 700-page complaint filed in federal court this week, more than 60 plaintiffs say city officials failed to prevent the looting and rioting that erupted after the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, despite warnings the city would experience violence.

    More than 380 businesses, including many located south of North Avenue in West Baltimore, were damaged or destroyed. Property losses were estimated at nearly $13 million.”

    Liked by 3 people

  13. That article, and others like it, are pushing an agenda using hyperbole. They’re also ignoring the fact that it probably won’t pass judicial revue if it aims, or allows, what they’re claiming. Not to mention that landlords and employers don’t possess the power to verify anything you tell them either way. Much ado about nothing. Truth matters little to them, only the furthering of their agenda. A weak attempt really. But I’m sure leftist women, the desired audience, will lap it up and fill Facebook with rants, ‘cuz that’s what they do.

    Like

  14. Yup, that’s what they’re doing.

    Even if it doesn’t pass, or is overturned by a court, people are still going to say that the mere attempt shows how backward & anti-woman Republicans are.

    But does the bill even really say what they’re saying it says? I can’t imagine anyone in their right minds thinking such a thing is a good idea, let alone constitutional. So I’m wondering if it really says that, or if certain wording is being stretched to its limit to seem like it says that.

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  15. Now I see the problem. Basically they’re throwing a tizzy because it places further restrictions on abortion mills and voids a local ordinance giving extra rights to some was what caused all this in the first place. This bill was a reaction. And it still doesn’t do what they alleged it would. None of that seems to be in the final bill, the one that matters.

    http://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/local/missouri-senate-approves-watered-down-abortion-bill/article_b2341a04-51ed-11e7-bb81-d74abf6ad6bd.html

    “Senators approved an amended Senate Bill 5 on a 20-8 vote at 12:07 a.m. Thursday after spending the majority of the previous day behind closed doors negotiating its contents. The bill requires that abortion facilities submit additional documentation of removed fetal tissue; mandates annual, unannounced inspections of abortion facilities; grants the Attorney General’s Office authority to prosecute violations of abortion laws and pre-empts a St. Louis ordinance that bans housing or employment discrimination based on reproductive choices.

    Both Republicans and Democrats called the final bill a “watered-down” version of what Greitens asked for when he brought the General Assembly back for an emergency session at the Capitol this week. The governor outlined several reasons for calling the session last week, including a recent ruling by a federal judge that invalidated state laws requiring that clinics meet standards similar to hospitals and that doctors performing abortions have specific hospital admitting privileges.

    The Senate left out regulations the governor requested that would ban abortion facility staff members or emergency responders from asking that ambulances approach clinics discreetly and require that facilities deliver to the state their plans for dealing with any complications arising from abortions.

    “There are certainly some things in here that definitely got watered down … and we’re taking those concessions,” said Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, who brought the amended bill forward late Wednesday after a busy day at the Capitol of abortion-related rallies and hearings.

    Although many Democrats threatened to filibuster any abortion bill throughout the week, they allowed it to move to a vote with little floor debate. Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, ceded the floor to Koenig after reiterating concerns about the constitutionality of the special session and “the heavy hand of government” being overly burdensome on women.”
    ——————-

    See also….

    http://www.columbiamissourian.com/news/state_news/house-returns-amended-abortion-bill-to-the-senate/article_832cb77e-560d-11e7-9791-0f58cd1aa79a.html

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  16. Here’s another example where the hyperbole doesn’t meet reality.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/22/mississippis-controversial-religious-objection-bill-passed-igniting-protests-nationwide/420657001/

    “Mississippi’s controversial religious objection bill, which has drawn harsh criticism from the LGBT community and others, is now in effect, thanks to an appeals court.

    A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that that ministers, LGBT activists and others bringing the lawsuit lacked the standing to bring the litigation challenging House Bill 1523.

    In 2016, the Mississippi Legislature passed the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act,” better known as HB 1523, authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn. A reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide, the Mississippi bill seeks to protect by law the belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman and prevents government intervention when churches or businesses act “based upon or in a manner consistent with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.”

    The measure drew protests and rallies at the state Capitol and criticism nationwide as supporting discrimination against gay people and others in the name of religion.”
    —————————

    They seem to think their strongly held beliefs should trump the strongly held beliefs of others.

    Liked by 1 person

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