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YOUR DAILY WEEKLY READER: More prison scandals, less utility conservation, all the execution horror

July 25, 2014
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IMAGINE WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU’RE AN ACTUAL PRISONER TRYING TO MAKE A COMPLAINT. THIS IS DISGUSTING: “Make no mistake, I am no softie on crime nor do I believe criminals should be coddled or treated with kid gloves. Those who break our laws should be held accountable for their actions. Whether they are serving time for drug possession, drug trafficking, burglary, aggravated assault or murder, they are the wards of the Florida Department of Corrections. As such, the state is responsible for their basic human rights, including feeding them and providing their health care. Having served as chairman of the Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee for several years, I had the unpleasant task of visiting a dozen or so of our prisons. If anyone believes inmates enjoy a cozy life at a state prison, they are grossly mistaken. Most prisons are not air-conditioned and are old and in need of maintenance and major repairs. Inmates are expected to work on the prison grounds, have limited visitation and very few privileges. Some inmates are in cells but the vast majority of them are in dormitory settings with rows of beds close together. Inmates serving time for nonviolent offenses are mixed in with the general population. Add to this dangerous mix the increasing use of our prisons to house the mentally ill. Our corrections officers have a tough and dangerous job with some of the worst criminals and dangerous gang members. It’s neither easy nor glamorous, and the pay and benefits don’t compensate officers for the danger they put themselves in daily. Most of them and their supervisors are good, decent, hardworking people who deserve our respect and appreciation. As with any organization, there are always some bad apples. When they become emboldened in prisons, the consequences can be deadly. Strong leadership is needed at the top of the department and within each of our correctional facilities. Very few people, other than family and friends of those incarcerated, give much thought to the treatment of inmates and muster little sympathy for their circumstance. But at a minimum, we should agree that inmates have the basic human rights to not be beaten, sodomized, scalded or tortured. Even those of us who believe in harsh punishment should be incensed at what is happening in the Florida Department of Corrections, the inability of those within the system to stop it and the efforts by some in the system to cover it up. Four investigators within the Department of Corrections filed a federal whistle-blower complaint weeks ago depicting a corrupt system. They allege that state prisoners were beaten and tortured, guards smuggled in drugs in exchange for money and sex, and guards used gang members to control the prison population. Their efforts to expose the abuses were met with retaliation, including internal affairs complaints.” (via Florida Today)

 

 

THE LEGISLATURE DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH. ALSO, THE LEGISLATURE ONLY “ACTS PROMPTLY” WHEN IT DOESN’T WANT TO BE SEEN: “A coalition of voting-rights groups on Thursday urged a judge to redraw Florida’s congressional map and push back the August primary — or risk having the election be invalid. Leon County Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis said he was “extremely skeptical” he could do what was asked. “Logistically, it is going to be very difficult to get a map drawn within a reasonable amount of time,” Lewis said, adding that he wasn’t sure if he had the power to reconfigure the districts or delay federal elections. He said he would rule on the matter next week. Earlier this month, Lewis ruled that the current districts violate a provision in the state Constitution meant to prohibit partisan gerrymandering. Legislative leaders did not appeal the decision. But they said fixing the map immediately would disrupt the election cycle already in progress, and asked to hold off on any changes until 2016. The coalition — along with several left-leaning voters who also challenged the map — pressed the court to intervene. “The choice is, do we proceed with an unconstitutional election or do we go through the admittedly challenging process of getting a new map in place?” said John Devaney, an attorney representing the individual voters. “The preference here is obviously not to have another unconstitutional election.” On Thursday, the two sides tussled over who would fix the map. George Meros, an attorney for the Republican-led Florida House of Representatives, said the Legislature “fully intends” to draw new districts. The task would only take a few weeks, he added. “On a clean slate, the Legislature can act promptly,” Meros said. But David King, the lead attorney for the voting-rights groups, said “allowing the folks that made a mockery of the process to redraw the maps [would add] insult to injury.” (via Miami Herald)

 

YOU GUYS, THE POWER COMPANIES AREN’T MAKING ENOUGH OFF OF BILKING YOU FOR FAKE POWER PLANTS. THEY’RE GOING TO NEED TO END THOSE CONSERVATION INCENTIVES: “There’s a big debate this week in Tallahassee about whether the giant private utility companies will be allowed to cut back on their energy conservation programs. Today on Radioactivity, Rob Lorei speaks with Susan Glickman, the Florida Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund- a group that is fighting the giant electric companies. The Associated Press reported that Florida’s biggest electric providers are asking state regulators this week to let them scale back energy-efficiency programs such as rebates for installing solar panels and power-saving appliances that they say have become expensive and benefit few customers. But clean energy advocates say that dramatically reducing energy-efficiency programs will only result in higher monthly bills for customers as the utilities eventually will need to build more natural-gas and nuclear power plants. On Monday, Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric Co., Gulf Power Co. and JEA in Jacksonville began presenting testimony to the Florida Public Service Commission that they should be allowed to roll back energy-efficiency goals, as demand for the conservation programs has declined.” (via wmnf.org)

 

SORRY/NOT SORRY; EXECUTE/NOT EXECUTE. ARIZONA DOES IT’S VERSION OF THE CRUEL AND UNUSUAL PUNISHMENT WRITHE: “Arizona had never tried the two-drug cocktail of midazolam and hydromorphone before it injected an unknown dose into Joseph Wood’s veins Wednesday afternoon. Most executions by lethal injection take between 10 and 20 minutes once the drugs are injected, if performed properly. This experimental cocktail took almost two hours to end Wood’s life, so long that his lawyer had time to file an emergency stay of execution in federal court, claiming that Wood had been “coughing and snorting for over an hour” by then. “I counted about 660 times he gasped,” reported an Arizona Republic reporter who witnessed the execution. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said in a statement that Wood “died in a lawful manner and by eyewitness and medical accounts he did not suffer.” There has been a string of recent botched injections. On January 10, the state of Oklahoma executed Michael Lee Wilson using a cocktail of lethal-injection drugs including pentobarbital. The state had to purchase the drugs from a compounding pharmacy because U.S. pharmaceutical companies and the European Union refused to provide standard (and increasingly scarce) lethal-injection drugs on ethical grounds. Human-rights groups warned that drugs made by compounding pharmacies could contain impurities that would inflict pain on Wilson as he died. As the drugs coursed through his veins, Wilson’s last words were “I can feel my whole body burning.”” (via The Atlantic)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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