• Only For The Little People.

    One thing that pisses people off to no end about our judicial system is the lopsided and disproportionate punishments that happen for a variety of reasons. For those on the lower end of the economic totem pole, judicial punishments are a lot harsher than for those who are well-heeled and well-connected. Those disparities only grow larger with each passing day.

    On one side of the coin, there's Anita McLemore, mother of two teens who wanted to keep them from going hungry. With prior state drug convictions, the possibility of being eligible for food stamps was slim to none, so she did what most mortgage lending companies did to keep the big bucks rolling in: lie, and hope no one paid attention to that lie.

    Of course, it didn't work. And despite paying back all of the $4000+ in food stamp benefits, a federal judge decided to send a message and deliver a harsh three-year sentence. If having several drug priors didn't trim down her opportunities for financial advancement, then this federal conviction all but slammed the door on them. And of course, one would have to wonder if this woman had been a white mother of two young kids, would she have been free to go after paying only restitution, if she even had to do that.

    On the other side of the coin, you have former Citigroup CFO Gary Crittenden and investor relations head Arthur Tildesley, Jr. essentially fined $100,000 and $80,000 respectively for lying about information contained in shareholder disclosures by the SEC. And then there's Campus Crest CEO Ted Rollins, who repeatedly violated court orders pertaining to his divorce from his then-wife, Sherry Carroll Rollins, and successfully manipulated child support and alimony judgments that were so paltry, his ex-wife and daughters are now on food stamps. Good thing she doesn't have drug convictions on her record.

    The point is, these people are well-connected and well-funded that most, if not all crimes that don't involve pissing off someone who ranks higher on the totem pole can be made to "go away" with the right amount of legal pressure, media manipulation and favors called in. Meanwhile, those with little to no means are slammed and slammed hard by a legal system that is all too willing to keep poors locked into poverty and even exploit them during their entrapment in the legal system, shortly before curb-stomping them out of existence.

    Last year the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, received $74 million of taxpayers’ money to run immigration detention centers. Their largest facility in Lumpkin, Georgia, receives $200 a night for each of the 2,000 detainees it holds, and rakes in yearly profits between $35 million and $50 million.

    Prisoners held in this remote facility depend on the prison’s phones to communicate with their lawyers and loved ones. Exploiting inmates’ need, CCA charges detainees here $5 per minute to make phone calls. Yet the prison only pays inmates who work at the facility $1 a day. At that rate, it would take five days to pay for just one minute.
    I'd have to wonder if you're in debt to these people when your sentence is up, do you still remain incarcerated until you've paid off that debt? If I didn't know any better, I'd say what we have here is a new form of debt peonage that's far more insidious than any credit card or title loan trap. It's no wonder some judges are eager to enact harsher sentences for lesser crimes -- it makes them look like they're tough on crime while receiving kickbacks from the private prisons.

    Conservative Law-and-Order Troll: Or maybe they're just doing their jobs.

    The job of the judiciary is to interpret the laws of the land, not to act as a pipeline that leads directly into privatized prisons and debt peonage.