Archive for the ‘prison’ Tag

Sara Jane Olson: American Housewife, American Terrorist

Sara Jane Olson: American Housewife, American Terrorist

In one life, Sara Jane Olson was a doting, upper-class soccer mom who drove a Plymouth minivan and was a dynamite gourmet cook. In another, she was a terrorist—and a totem of the age of violent radicalism that erupted during the 1970s. Olson — nee Kathleen Ann Soliah, the infamous Symbionese Liberation Army fugitive — was released Tuesday from a California state prison, seven years after pleading guilty to participating in a deadly bank robbery and planting pipe bombs under police cars.

After a quarter-century on the lam, Olson’s imprisonment seemed to close a sordid chapter in the strange narrative of the SLA. But her early release from prison has resurrected a simmering debate: How should society treat a woman guilty of committing abhorrent crimes but who had seemingly transformed into a productive member of society?


U.S. judges admit to jailing children for money

U.S. judges admit to jailing children for money

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Two judges pleaded guilty on Thursday to accepting more than $2.6 million from a private youth detention centre in Pennsylvania in return for giving hundreds of youths and teenagers long sentences.

Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, entered plea agreements in federal court in Scranton admitting that they took payoffs from PA Childcare and a sister company, Western PA Childcare, between 2003 and 2006.

“Your statement that I have disgraced my judgeship is true,” Ciavarella wrote in a letter to the court. “My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame.”

Conahan, who along with Ciavarella faces up to seven years in prison, did not make any comment on the case.

When someone is sent to a detention centre, the company running the facility receives money from the county government to defray the cost of incarceration. So as more children were sentenced to the detention centre, PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare received more money from the government, prosecutors said.

Teenagers who came before Ciavarella in juvenile court often were sentenced to detention centres for minor offences that would typically have been classified as misdemeanours, according to the Juvenile Law Centre, a Philadelphia nonprofit group.

Paging Mr. Dickens…

50 Years For The UK SHAC 7

50 Years For The UK SHAC 7

On Wednesday 21st January, seven activists from the campaign Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) were sentenced to a total of fifty years in prison, after they were found guilty in December 2008 of ‘conspiracy to blackmail’ Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS). Heather Nicholson was jailed for 11 years, Gregg and Natasha Avery sentenced to nine years each, Gavin Medd-Hall an eight-year prison sentence, Daniel Wadham jailed for five years, Dan Amos and another were both sentenced to four years in prison.

“They conspired to do A B and C … with Persons or Persons Unknown.” – Who were persons unknown? It really didn’t matter, as the above conspiracy law linked the individuals even though they had never met them or talked to them. However, this was all ignored as the media falsely charged the activists with hypocrisy, extremism and terrorism, instead of acknowledging their own hypocritical standpoint, best portrayed by the Telegraph, with NETCU helping to further the hysteria following the activists guilty verdicts.

This secured no opportunity for discussing the reasons the activists faced jail in the first place, because they opposed the fradulant and abusive vivisection industry, instead promoting alternative, reliable research methods. So on the 19th, 20th and 21st, there were solidarity actions in Moscow, London, Luton, Birmingham, Southampton and at HLS sites, suppliers, Harlan and Sequani labs in the UK. The protests were in support of the UK SHAC 7, with Russian activists also acting in support of the SHAC 7 in the USA.

As His Inmates Grew Thinner, a Sheriff’s Wallet Grew Fatter

As His Inmates Grew Thinner, a Sheriff’s Wallet Grew Fatter

DECATUR, Ala. — The prisoners in the Morgan County jail here were always hungry. The sheriff, meanwhile, was getting a little richer. Alabama law allowed it: the chief lawman could go light on prisoners’ meals and pocket the leftover change.

And that is just what the sheriff, Greg Bartlett, did, to the tune of $212,000 over the last three years, despite a state food allowance of only $1.75 per prisoner per day.

In the view of a federal judge, who heard testimony from the hungry inmates, the sheriff was in “blatant” violation of past agreements that his prisoners be properly cared for.

“There was undisputed evidence that most of the inmates had lost significant weight,” the judge, U. W. Clemon of Federal District Court in Birmingham, said Thursday in an interview. “I could not ignore them.”

So this week, Judge Clemon ordered Sheriff Bartlett himself jailed until he came up with a plan to adequately feed prisoners more, anyway, than a few spoonfuls of grits, part of an egg and a piece of toast at breakfast, and bits of undercooked, bloody chicken at supper.

Patton Boggs Fights N.Y. Lawyer’s ‘Kafkaesque’ Detention in KGB Prison

Patton Boggs Fights N.Y. Lawyer’s ‘Kafkaesque’ Detention in KGB Prison

New York resident and lawyer Emanuel Zeltser woke up on a private plane headed for a KGB-monitored detention center in Belarus last March. His last memory before waking was drinking coffee at a London cafe. Since then, he’s been held at three separate prison facilities in the former Soviet Union country. Zeltser, 55, has been deprived of his diabetes, heart and arthritis medications, physically tortured and mentally abused. Today, he is languishing in a KGB penal colony outside of the eastern Belarusian city of Mogilev.

It sounds like a nightmare, but these are the details laid out in the complaint filed by two Washington, D.C., Patton Boggs lawyers late last month (pdf) with the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Patton Boggs was scheduled to file another complaint Thursday with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Last July, four months after his capture, Zeltser was formally convicted in Belarus in a closed-door trial on charges of economic espionage, using false official documents and possession of illegal drugs. He was sentenced to three years in prison. According to the complaint filed with the Human Rights Committee, the drug charge references Zeltser’s doctor-prescribed medications. The U.S. State Department and U.S. Embassy in Belarus were denied access to the trial, and Zeltser and his attorneys have been denied access to the formal criminal complaint and conviction against him.

“I wouldn’t have thought in the 21st century we’d be doing a James Bond movie like this,” says Patton Boggs partner Joseph Brand, who leads Zeltser’s representation to the United Nations and calls the case “Kafkaesque,” adding, “This is the Soviet Union at its worst.”

Jail for neo-Nazi terror offender

Jail for neo-Nazi terror offender

A neo-Nazi found with bomb-making materials at his flat and who harassed a mixed-race couple has been jailed for more than seven years.

Grimsby Crown Court heard Nathan Worrell, 35, had bomb ingredients and far-right propaganda at the property.

A jury found him guilty of possession of material for terrorist purposes and of racially aggravated harassment.

Terror police described Worrell, from Grimsby, as a “dangerous individual who harbours extreme anti-Semitic views”.

Police officer faces jail after crashing riot van

Police officer faces jail after crashing riot van

A FORMER police officer who crashed a riot van after taking it from a police station was told today he could go to prison.

Geoff Jackson, 29, crashed the vehicle into a central reservation after taking it from Paddington Green police station in London – said to be one of the most secure in Britain.

Jackson, of London Road, High Wycombe, then fell asleep in the back of the van. He had consumed “a considerable amount” of alcohol at a party the previous night.

He admitted taking a vehicle without consent, careless driving and driving without insurance when he appeared before City of Wesminister Magistrates Court today.

Liverpudlian Jackson resigned his position as a Metropolitan Police officer working with the Territorial Support Group at Paddington Green following the incident.

McKinnon gets date for final showdown

McKinnon gets date for final showdown

A judicial review of the Gary McKinnon extradition case is being scheduled for 20 January, the same day Barack Obama assumes the US presidency.

McKinnon’s hopes of avoiding extradition to the US on hacking charges rest on persuading a judge that the Home Secretary’s decision to disregard the former sysadmin’s recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome in going ahead with extradition proceedings was unfair. The failure of appeals to the House of Lords and and the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year mean that his legal options have shrunk down to an oral review in front of a judge.

The possibility of a written review was rejected last month, leaving his lawyers with a deadline of 5 December to apply for a hearing in a judge’s chambers.

The Free Gary support blog reports that treasury solicitors had sought an earlier hearing on the case, as soon as 2 December, after first strenuously arguing against against any sort of judicial review. It’s tempting to think that an early day motion in support of McKinnon swung the balance in favour of granting a judicial review. The motion – which attracted the support of 80 MPs – seeks assurances that McKinnon will be allowed to serve any sentence imposed by a US court in the UK.

Further info: FreeGary.

McKinnon faithful to stage further US embassy demo

McKinnon faithful to stage further US embassy demo

Supporters of Gary McKinnon are planning a further demo outside the US embassy next Friday as time runs out to prevent the hacker’s extradition to the US.

Protesters hope to present a letter for US president-elect Barack Obama to embassy officials during the demo, which kicks off at 5pm on 5 December. They also hope to present a letter to the office of former prime minister Tony Blair, whose London house is a short walk away from the US Embassy.

McKinnon’s supporters hope a change in US administration will bring a change of stance in the handling of the case.

Meanwhile the legal options are narrowing. Following knock-backs in the House of Lords and and the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year, McKinnon’s legal team are hoping to persuade a judge that the Home Secretary’s recent decision to disregard McKinnon’s recent diagnosis of Aspergers in assessing extradition proceedings was unfair. The case is due back in court on 5 December, the same day at the protests.

An early day motion in favour of McKinnon has attracted the support of 80 MPs, but requests for a debate on the issue have been turned down.

Next week’s demos mark the latest phase in McKinnon’s long-running fight against extradition, which began more than three years ago. The former sysadmin faces seven counts of hacking into 97 US government, NASA and military systems between 2001 and 2002. He admits the offence but wants to be tried in the UK rather than the US. Family and supporters of McKinnon fear he may face up to 60 years behind bars following a possible US trial, though papers submitted during his failed House of Lords appeal suggest that 8-10 years is probably a more realistic estimate.

More details on the upcoming protests can be found on the Free Gary support blog here. ®

Judge Orders Five Detainees Freed From Guantánamo

Judge Orders Five Detainees Freed From Guantánamo

In the first hearing on the government’s justification for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled Thursday that five Algerian men were held unlawfully for nearly seven years and ordered their release.

The judge, Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court in Washington, also ruled that a sixth Algerian man was being lawfully detained because he had provided support to the terrorist group Al Qaeda.

The case was an important test of the Bush administration’s detention policies, which critics have long argued swept up innocent men and low-level foot soldiers along with high-level and hardened terrorists.

The six men are among a group of Guantánamo inmates who won a Supreme Court ruling that the detainees have constitutional rights and can seek release in federal court. The 5-4 decision said a 2006 law unconstitutionally stripped the prisoners of their right to contest their imprisonment in habeas corpus lawsuits.