Tag Archives: US justice

What does this remind you of?

Overcrowded US PrisonsThe US justiciary has, for twenty-plus years in the “war on drugs”, selectively locked up far more black people than white people or Hispanic, and the US prison system is huge: the US has 2% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prisoners. America’s police are becoming more and more like soldiers making war on a conquered-but-not-subdued population. (via)

Ian Welsh:

Police exist primarily to protect property arrangements. The war on drugs has paramilitarized police, with a heavy emphasis on overwhelming force. While police have always considered themselves above the common herd, and have always looked after themselves first and civilians second, it’s very clear that police today are much worse in this regard than they were 10 years ago, and 10 years before that, and 10 years before that. Police are well aware that they have near full immunity: they can beat people, kill people, plant evidence on people and they will, in most cases, get away with it. Even if caught on tape, the worst punishment is likely to be paid suspension.

Inmate Labour Prisons are expensive to run? Yes, but prisoners can work long hours for a few pence per hour:

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”
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Filed under American, Justice, Racism

Against the US National Defense Authorization Act

On 31st December 2011, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law. He claims to have done so because the Act was primarily setting a budget: the provisions added by Congress to the Act were verbally opposed by Obama before he signed the Act. But regardless of the signing President’s reservations, they now exist in US law.

This Act allows the US authorities to imprison civilians, without charge or trial, anywhere in the world:

The bill also contains provisions making it difficult to transfer suspects out of military detention, which prompted FBI Director Robert Mueller to testify that it could jeopardize criminal investigations. It also restricts the transfers of cleared detainees from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to foreign countries for resettlement or repatriation, making it more difficult to close Guantanamo, as President Obama pledged to do in one of his first acts in office. (ACLU)

Allowing people to be taken from the UK for indefinite detention without trial is probably already unlawful according to current UK extradition law. Regardless of how much the US promise they’ll treat their prisoners well.

The ACLU says:

The provisions – which were negotiated by a small group of members of Congress, in secret, and without proper congressional review – are inconsistent with fundamental American values embodied in the Constitution. Fundamental American values and fundamental freedoms are on the line.

Extradition is a matter for the Home Office. We cannot ask the UK government to make a legal ruling on another country’s law. We can ask, via epetition, for a clear statement by the House of Commons that there is no support in the British government for allowing the US to remove anyone from the UK under the provisions of this Act – British citizen, legal resident, not even a migrant labourer here illegally or an asylum-seeker whose legal status is undetermined. No one should be sent into indefinite detention without trial.

I suggest the wording of the epetition should be as follows:

Against Indefinite Imprisonment

Responsible Department: Home Office

Following the signing into US law of an Act giving US authorities legal power to imprison civilians indefinitely anywhere in the world, the Home Office should publish a clear statement that they will immediately require the transfer to British custody of any British citizen or legal resident of the UK who is imprisoned anywhere in the world under these powers of detention, and that no one within the UK will be transferred into US custody under the authorisation of this Act.

First draft. I’m very happy to take suggestions, comments, and revisions, but feel that it’s important for getting people to sign it that the epetition text remain as brief as possible. It’s impossible to add clarifying links.

The demand should be within what’s legally possible for a UK government department to do – it’s no use asking them to censure the US government for passing the law or to demand that they campaign against the passing the law.

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Filed under American, European politics, Justice