Aging and elderly non-violent offenders are just another easy revenue stream for private prisons and their corporate owners:
The population of aging and elderly prisoners in U.S. prisons exploded over the past three decades, with nearly 125,000 inmates aged 55 or older now behind bars, according to a report published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. This represents an increase of over 1,300 percent since the early 1980s.
More than $16 billion is spent annually by states and the federal government to incarcerate elderly prisoners, despite ample evidence that most prisoners over age 50 pose little or no threat to public safety, the report said. Due largely to higher health care costs, prisoners aged 50 and older cost around $68,000 a year to incarcerate, compared to $34,000 per year for the average prisoner.
[...] the report found that the graying of the nation’s prisons is largely the result of harsh sentencing laws enacted during the 1980s and 1990s, creating a vast pool of prisoners serving extraordinarily long sentences, often for non-violent crimes or drug offenses. Many states created statutes that triggered long sentences — including life in prison — for repeat offenders, even for those convicted of a series of relatively minor crimes.
The article ends by detailing a law passed in Louisiana that makes it easier for non-violent offenders over the age of 60 to obtain parole hearings, because prisons are beginning to resemble nursing homes. The Times-Picayune of New Orleans is publishing an eight-part series on Louisiana prisons and Charles Blow of the NY Times discusses some of the truly horrendous facts about incarceration in Louisiana from that series:
“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.”
[...] One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average.
Why’s Louisiana so bad? Blow explains,
In the early 1990s, the state was under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, but instead of releasing prisoners or loosening sentencing guidelines, the state incentivized the building of private prisons. But, in what the newspaper called “a uniquely Louisiana twist,” most of the prison entrepreneurs were actually rural sheriffs. They saw a way to make a profit and did.
It also was a chance to employ local people, especially failed farmers forced into bankruptcy court by a severe drop in the crop prices.
But in order for the local prisons to remain profitable, the beds, which one prison operator in the series distastefully refers to as “honey holes,” must remain full. That means that on almost a daily basis, local prison officials are on the phones bartering for prisoners with overcrowded jails in the big cities.
Of course Louisiana’s education system sucks, and that also means that there’s no training or rehabilitation for prisoners held in “honey holes,” because why would you cut off a future revenue stream like that? According to The Times-Picayune: “In five years, about half of the state’s ex-convicts end up behind bars again.” Charles Blow sums it up well:
Louisiana is the starkest, most glaring example of how our prison policies have failed. It showcases how private prisons do not serve the public interest and how the mass incarceration as a form of job creation is an abomination of justice and civility and creates a long-term crisis by trying to create a short-term solution.
Job creators! Privatizing prisons for profit is going to be America’s greatest abomination.
“That’s the way America works… The $2 billion J.P. Morgan lost someone else gained.” — Mitt Romney
The head of the largest bank in the US, JPMorgan, was called before the Senate Banking Committee yesterday to explain how between $3 – $8 billion was lost in a bad trade. The Huffington Post doesn’t report on how long Dimon’s day at the Senate-spa lasted:
In the end, Dimon revealed very little about the trade and not much more about his knowledge of it. He refused to discuss details of it, lest he reveal secrets to competitors — who already know all about the trade and have been hammering JPMorgan on it, adding to the bank’s losses. But the committee didn’t challenge him on that, even after he turned down an offer to close the hearing to the public.
And there were some aggressive initial questions that were not followed up by senators, who had just five minutes each to complete their questioning. Instead, much of the hearing was spent letting Dimon and some Republican senators rail against Congress’ efforts at regulatory reform after the financial crisis. Those reforms include the Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks with federally insured deposits from taking the sort of chances Dimon’s own bank took.
[...] And nobody asked Dimon whether he thought his seat on the board of the New York Federal Reserve, a key financial regulatory arm, is a conflict of interest.
David Weidner at MarketWatch wrote that Dimon couldn’t hide his disdain for the proceeding and described him as looking like a “know-it-all” and “cocky.” But isn’t that what we’ve come to expect of Wall Street and bankers in general? It’s as if they’re thinking, Ugh! Just give us all the money already and genuflect before you leave.
OpenSecrets reports that most of the members receive campaign money from JPMorgan (both parties), which would seem like a conflict of interest — but apparently it’s not. It would begin to explain why we’re in such a sorry state of affairs, however, and where we’re headed if the billionaires buy Romney the White House with their Citizens United sponsored SuperPACs this year.
JPMorgan Chase’s PACS — which are officially on behalf of the corporation — typically swing Republican. JP Morgan’s main PAC for candidate contributions has favored Republicans each year since 1996, with the exception of a near-tie in 2002. A second company PAC has focused on contributions to Republican-aligned PACs and party committees in 2010 and 2012. JPMorgan Chase has been relatively non-partisan in its giving to Banking Committee members, however. Its PAC money has found its way to all but six of the committee’s senators. While Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) are both retiring and have no need for campaign funds, Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Michael Johanns (R-NE) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) have all faced reelection from 2008-2012 and have had to do without support from JPMorgan Chase’s PACS.
Josh Marshall reported that Tea party standard bearer Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) wants Jamie Dimon and his peers, not Congress and regulators. to institute best practices for Wall Street. “We can hardly sit in judgment of your losing two billion,” he said. And Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) added, in hushed reverence, “You’re obviously renowned, rightfully so I think, as being one of the most, you know, one of the best CEOs in the country for financial institutions. You missed this, it’s a blip on the radar screen.”
So there you have it. You can watch part of Jamie Dimon’s gentle tongue bathing for yourself:
GOP Senators ask JP Morgan CEO what / how they should regulate:
WHAT ROMNEY / REPUBLICANS STAND FOR———————————————
“With how he treated me, is that how he’s going to treat others? You know, if he gets in office is he going to be that way to us little people?” – Dianne Bauer, owner of the Main Street Diner in Council Bluffs, Iowa, regarding Mitt Romney’s use of her diner for a campaign stop (The answer is YES, Dianne, of course that’s how he treats the little people who aren’t immediately being used as a photo-op. lol)
Mitt the Mormon — The uptick in anti-Mormon voter attitudes may come as a surprise to those who predicted Romney’s candidacy would have a mainstreaming effect on his faith. But as University of Sydney scholar David Smith, the paper’s author, writes, just as President Obama’s successful candidacy didn’t put an end to tense race relations in America, Romney’s political assent hasn’t cured the country of anti-Mormonism. In fact, as the data shows, Romney’s rise may have led to increased anxiety about his religion among his natural political opponents. […] Strikingly, the correlation between attitudes about Mormonism and support for Romney is even stronger than political ideology or party identification. Perhaps most potentially distressing to Romney’s campaign is the study’s finding that conservatives who said they were less likely to vote for a Mormon were much more likely to say they were undecided or would not vote at all in a contest between Obama and Romney. Pundits have been predicting for months that anti-Mormon Republicans would stay home in November; this study reaffirms that idea. – Buzzfeed
Romney tells CEOs they deserve more tax cuts, deregulation, and warm tongue baths from DC – Preaching to the converted on lower taxes and less regulation, Republican Mitt Romney courted more than 100 of America’s top chief executives Wednesday demanding government be an ally of enterprise, “not the enemy. Government has to be the partner, the friend, the ally, the supporter of enterprise — not the enemy,” Romney told a gathering of the Business Roundtable, a grouping of executives of leading US firms with some $6 trillion in annual revenue. “Too often, you find yourself facing a government that looks at you like you’re the bad guys,” he said in a 20-minute speech before going into a closed-door discussion with his audience. “I want to change the attitude (in Washington) and encourage the growth of enterprise in this country.” – Raw Story
Adelson give $10 million to Romney Super PAC – Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who helped keep Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential campaign alive during the GOP primaries, is giving $10 million to a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney, the Wall Street Journal reports. The $10 million donation to the super PAC Restore Our Future appears to be the largest single donation toward Romney’s efforts so far. – Political Wire
The rise of the megadonors (the end of democracy) –The Adelsons are hardly the only ones taking advantage of the post-Citizens-United free-for-all. But they are blowing all other donors away: Their spending exceeds that of the next six biggest donors. (So far, most major donors are also supporting conservative super-PACs, which are outspending their liberal counterparts by a factor of 7 to 1.) – Mother Jones
John McCain Haz a Sad – Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told The Hill that President Obama never made a sincere effort to reach out to him after the 2008 election. He wants us to know he’s not bitter, though – not even a little bit.
How they cheat to win in Michigan – Michigan Republicans passed three bills yesterday to make voting harder. In particular, the legislation makes it harder to run a voter-registration drive. As has been their custom this year, House Republicans passed the legislation under immediate effect over the objections of the minority Democrats. That means the legislation could become law this year instead of waiting until 2013. – Maddow Blog
WHAT THE PRESIDENT / DEMOCRATS STAND FOR ————————————
“I am telling you, I want you all to pay attention over the next five months and see if they’re offering a single thing that they did not try when they were in charge, because you won’t see it.” — President Obama
A lampoon of Mitt Romney, by Mitt Romney: “Out of touch” – the video features a highlight reel of the Republican’s gaffes, a collection of Romney’s missteps, including such comments as “corporations are people,” “I like being able to fire people,” and “I’m also unemployed.”
Sen. Sanders blasts conflicts of interest at the Federal Reserve – Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday explained the importance of ending conflicts of interest at the Federal Reserve, [such as with] Jamie Dimon, the CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase, serv[ing] on the New York Fed’s board of directors. “The idea that we don’t have a Fed which is sitting there with knowledgeable, intelligent people who are fighting for the middle class and working families and not just for the profits of the large financial institutions — I mean, to me, that’s just a very simple reform,” Sanders said on Current TV’s Viewpoint. “But at the end of the day, if we are serious about trying to rebuild the middle class of this country, rebuild our manufacturing sector, et cetera, no question we need real Wall Street reform. To get Wall Street reform, we need Fed reform. To get Fed reform, we’ve got to get the bankers off of the regional Feds.” Sanders has introduced the Federal Reserve Independence Act to prohibit banking industry executives from serving as Fed directors. – Raw Story
Millions of old people are benefitting from Obamacare but are voting for Romney anyway – A Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services study determined that senior citizens more than any other demographic group of Americans benefit from Obamacare. The law hasn’t even really kicked in fully and yet 14.3 million senior citizens have benefitted from the law’s preventative care provisions. In other words, millions of old people have received free preventative care via Medicare that they wouldn’t have received if Obamacare hadn’t been passed. And so they’re going to vote for the guy who wants to repeal the law. – Bob Cesca
Senate Republicans introduce bill to block Obama Admin’s rule allowing home health workers to earn minimum wage – The Obama administration last year introduced a rule that would extend minimum wage protections to home health workers who, up to that point, had received no guarantee of a livable wage or fair overtime pay. But Senate Republicans are attempting to block the rule from going into effect: A group of Republican senators on Thursday introduced legislation aimed at blocking the Obama administration’s controversial efforts to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to 2 million in-home care providers through Department of Labor regulations – Think Progress
Both President Obama and Mitt Romney will deliver economic speeches in Ohio today. – Associated Press
Very nearly as exciting as Friday.