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Incarceration in the United States is the main form of punishment for the commission of a crime. The United States has the largest prison population in the world, and the second-highest per-capita incarceration rate, behind Seychelles (a tiny island country off the coast of East Africa, which in 2014 had a total prison population of 735 out of a population of around 92,000). 

In 2013 in the US, there were 698 adults incarcerated per 100,000 population, with (According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics ) 2,220,300 adults incarcerated in US federal and state prisons, and county jails.  That’s one out of every 110 citizens of the United States, or  about 0.91% of our adult population.  That’s not counting the 4,751,400 adults in 2013 (1 in 51) on probation or on parole!  In total, 6,899,000 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2013 – about 2.8% of the adults (1 in 35) in the U.S. 

Oh, almost forgot: there were also 54,148 juveniles in jail (“juvenile detention”) in 2013.

According to a 2014 Human Rights Watch report, “tough-on-crime” laws adopted since the 1980s, most especially Bill Clinton’s Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (the largest crime bill in the history of the United States and consisted of 356 pages that provided for 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in funding for prisons and $6.1 billion in funding for prevention programs, which were designed with significant input from experienced police officers) have filled U.S. prisons with mostly nonviolent offenders. This insane policy has completely failed to rehabilitate prisoners and many are worse on release than before incarceration.

Rehabilitation programs for offenders can be more cost effective than prison.  According to a 2016 analysis of federal data by the U.S. Education Department, state and local spending on incarceration has grown three times as much as spending on public education since 1980.

Why? Watch the Netflix documentary “13.”

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Body camera video produced Wednesday appears to show a Baltimore police officer plant drugs in late January, an act that later resulted in a criminal arrest.

The 90-second Baltimore police body camera video, which was made public by the Maryland Office of the Public Defender, belongs to Officer Richard Pinheiro, who appears to hide and later “find” drugs among trash strewn on a plot next to a Baltimore residence. Two other officers appear to be with the Pinheiro as he hides the drugs.

Play

 Body Camera Shows Baltimore Police Officer Allegedly Planting Evidence 1:53

“I’m gonna go check here,” Pinheiro announces in the video from a morning in late January. He then picks up a can in which he placed a plastic bag of pills earlier in the video and retrieves them.

“This is a serious allegation of police misconduct,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. “There is nothing that deteriorates the trust of any community more than thinking for one second that police officers … would plant evidence of crimes on citizens.”

One of the officers has been suspended, and two others have been placed on “nonpublic contact” administrative duty, Davis told reporters.

Police said the Office of Professional Responsibility Ethics Section was investigating.

Pinheiro is a witness in about 53 active cases, and he was even called to testify in a case earlier this week, the Public Defender’s Office said.

The new video has led to that case’s dismissal after an assistant public defender forwarded it to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, according to the Public Defender’s Office.

Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, said the prosecutor took “immediate and appropriate actions” and dropped the case against the man who was charged.

“Currently, this case is under investigation and has been referred to internal affairs of the Baltimore Police Department,” she added.

Debbie Katz Levi, head of the Baltimore Public Defender’s Special Litigation Section, said that Baltimore police have long had a problem with officer misconduct but that the city does not hold individuals accountable.

Play

 Public Defender Says Bodycam Shows Baltimore Cop Planting Drugs 2:31

“We have long supported the use of police body cameras to help identify police misconduct, but such footage is meaningless if prosecutors continue to rely on these officers, especially if they do so without disclosing their bad acts,” Levi said.

Police played four other videos for the media on Wednesday afternoon to provide additional context.

In the first two videos, officers procure two gel capsules of heroin. The third video has officers approaching the alleged seller of the heroin and shows them arresting the man on whom they found marijuana and a gel capsule of heroin, police said.

In the fourth video, officers undertake an extensive search of a yard identified by the dealer for more drugs. Police said they recovered a plastic bag with 25 gel capsules of heroin.

Davis and Deputy Police Commissioner Jason Johnson suggested that it implied that they were re-enacting the recovery of drugs for the body camera — which is also inappropriate, Davis said.

“The release of [this body camera video] tells me and hopefully [the public] that there was a little more to this,” Davis told reporters.

Johnson and Davis told reporters that there was a four- to five-minute gap in the video.

According to police policy, officers are required to record all activities that are “investigative or enforcement in nature.”

The Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, a component of the U.S. Justice Department, concluded in a 296-page report that there is not enough research to understand the impact of body cameras but that “the ultimate purpose of these cameras should be to help officers protect and serve the people in their communities.”

Davis said the department would get to the bottom of the matter because he fears the effect it would have on the community.

“Perception is reality,” Davis said. “If our community thinks that there are officers planting evidence in the course of their duty, that is something that will keep me up at night.”

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We have all of our friends suffering in corrections to trace their hands for us, the symbol of the Project.  If this is you, let us know!  Be well!

Hey, Circle!

It’s good to hear from you guys.  Hope that all is well.  I’m doing alright, living the dream, you know?  Waiting on Pre-Trial to get me outta here.  It’s such a slow process, because I was using and I don’t have an address currently.  They’re putting me in a twenty-eight day rehab program on the border of Canada.

I’m having a status conference soon, and if I’m able to get out of here without Pre-trial, I’ll be back at the Preb; Pretrial won’t release me straight to there… but, yeah, I’ll be going to a sober house called “the Farm”  in LImestone, Maine.  Temporarily.  But my dad’s helping me out with an apartment and a car as soon as my court stuff is resolved, hopefully after the 28 day rehab.  I’m hoping that I can plead out at my status conference and get time served, and if not then with probation,  I doubt that, because it’s a class B felony but the jail is at max capacity.  I haven’t been indicted that I know of; my case is all hear-say.  No hard evidence.  They searched my place and didn’t find anything.

Say a prayer: I’ve been here 86 days so far.  Hope to see everyone on the outs; hope to get a place in Portland.

Hope to hear back from you guys soon,

Tom

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Political Prisoners

Welcome to the blog from inmates of Maine's jails and prisons.

In collaboration with the Holistic Recovery Project, the Political Prisoners Blog provides a prisoner's view into what's happening at Maine's correctional facilities.

Only your vigilance on the outside can guarrentee that justice goes on on the inside.

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