Joel Feinman’s Simple Solution to Ending Mass Incarceration


Lynching in America continued from the 1920s up to 1980, according to Pima County Public Defender Joel Fineman.

Arizona incarcerates a higher percentage of the population than South Africa did during apartheid. “We are not the land of free and home of brave as long as that statistic is true,” said Pima County Public Defender Joel Fineman.

He spoke recently at a program on mass incarceration sponsored by the Arizona Ground Game (TAGG), a grass-roots Progressive organization that encourages active citizenship through neighborhood building.

“Mass incarceration is a long and ugly story, a bloody and racist tour of where we’ve been,” he said. “The good news is that mass incarceration is actually one of easiest political problems to solve.”

Plea bargains

Part of the problem is the universal use of plea agreements to end criminal cases. In 2013, 97% of criminal cases in the federal system were resolved by plea bargains.

“The average sentence for federal narcotics defendants with a plea agreement is  5 years,” Fineman said. “For defendants who went to trial, the average sentence was 16 years — more than 3 times the years in prison because they chose to exercise their constitutional right under the 6th amendment to have a trial by jury.”

Plea bargains are an unfair contract, where the prosecutor (the Pima County Attorney) has all the bargaining power and the defendant has none. “The criminal justice system is more interested in moving cases along than dispensing justice,” he said. “As a result, you get the highest incarceration rate and the highest number of people in prison. The judge is not the most powerful person, not the jury, not our state representatives or congress people — it is your local prosecutor. They are by far the most powerful person in the criminal justice system.”

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GOP is a Cancerous Entity that is Reactionary, Undemocratic, and Xenophobic

It has come to this. Today’s America (and Arizona)  is the result of 40 years of conservative southern strategizing, negotiating Faustian bargains with segregationist Democrats and the evangelical community. It is the result of dog whistle ads like the “Willie Horton” ad in 1988, obstructing two Democratic administrations on issues like infrastructure, healthcare, raising wages, and immigration that the people wanted. It is the result of gerrymandering congressional districts that give them majorities when the Democrats win the national vote, and embracing underhanded tactics with domestic and (in the case of 2016) foreign sources that “stole” the election from the people’s choice for President.

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Arizona’s Voter Crisis

In 2014, the year in which our current statewide government officials were elected, voter turnout was 47.52%, the lowest voter turnout since 1942 (during World War II) with the exception of an aberrational year in 1998 (45.82%).

According to the Secretary of State, voter turnout improved to over 74% in the general election of 2016, but as I previously explained some time ago, this number does not tell the whole story in Arizona. Voter Participation in Arizona:

An accurate analysis of voter participation must begin with the Voting Age Population of the State, 4,710, 448 less the number of registered voters, 3,588,466.  There are an estimated 1,121,982 eligible voters who are not registered to vote in Arizona, and thus did not participate in the election.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s web site, this means there are more Arizona citizens not registered to vote than there are registered Democratic voters.

Take those 1,121,982 eligible voters who are not registered to vote and add them to the 926, 969 eligible voters who did not vote, and there are 2,o48,951 Arizona citizens who did not participate in this election.

This number is only slightly less than the total number of ballots cast in Arizona in 2016.

Arizona has always had a miserable VAP participation rate in elections.

In a little noticed report from the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission and ASU’s Morrison Institute released this past week, they report on the “voter crisis” in Arizona. Their press release is below the break with updated links to the report.

As I have often warned you, democracies die from indifference and neglect.

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Political Calendar: Week of July 22, 2018

The Political Calendar is posted on Sundays. Please send us notice of your political events prior to the Sunday before your event (7 days would be most helpful). See the calendar icon in the right-hand column of the blog page for easy access to the calendar.

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Political Calendar for the Week of July 22, 2018:

Yavapai County Democratic Party Annual Picnic

Sunday, July 22, 1:00 p.m.: Yavapai County Democratic Party Annual Picnic, at the Watson Lake Park Ramada, 3101 Watson Lake Road, Prescott. Featuring speeches from state and local candidates, buffet lunch, music, raffle, pie auction and lots of fun. Cost is $15 per person and $25 per family and includes parking. A separate tent overlooking the Granite Dells will be set for music and entertainment. For more information contact info@yavdem.org or (928) 541-0413.

Monday, July 23, Noon: Democrats of Greater Tucson luncheon, Dragon’s View Restaurant (400 N. Bonita, South of St. Mary’s Road between the Freeway and Grande Avenue, turn South at Furr’s Cafeteria). New price: buffet lunch is $10.00 cash, $12 credit; just a drink is $3.50. (New) Community Forum on Sexual Violence, Domestic Abuse, & Ending Rape Culture.  Next Week: State Senator Steve Farley, Candidate for Governor.

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Cartoon of The Week

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Kovacs Shines and Kirkpatrick Gets Booed at CD2 Congressional Candidates Forum

Candidates Billy Kovacs, Mary Matiella, Matt Heinz, Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler, and Ann Kirkpatrick.

Candidates Billy Kovacs, Mary Matiella, Matt Heinz, Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler, and Ann Kirkpatrick.

The CD2 Congressional candidate forum on July 19 was a classic Democratic assembly, with at least 450 attendees including hecklers, cheering and booing, and horrendous audio.

The PAC RepresentMeAZ organized the event at Tucson High School and gave out report cards about the candidates. The results will be posted soon on Facebook. At the last event, Bruce Wheeler was the crowd favorite, and I’m guessing this time it may be Billy Kovacs.

Kovacs, Maria Matiella, Bruce Wheeler, Barbara Sherry and Matt Heinz staked out ultra-progressive positions, leaving a beleaguered and defensive Ann Kirkpatrick as the odd person out.

Highlights:

  • All the candidates agreed to support the winner of the August 28 primary. Mail-in ballots will be sent to voters on August 1.
  • The audience groaned as Kirkpatrick and Heinz sniped at each other. See videos and attack ads in the comments section at https://goo.gl/6QtjfHI have no tolerance for candidates who go negative against fellow Democrats.
  • All the candidates supported federal legalization of marijuana except Kirkpatrick. Why, Ann, why must weed be outlawed as a Schedule 1 drug?
  • The candidates — except for Kirkpatrick — took the radical, left-wing position to abolish ICE, the internal immigration enforcement agency. Arizona Star columnist Tim Steller called this “a loser of a political position.”
  • All but Kirkpatrick supported Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, for calling the president’s remarks “cowardly and shameful” when he bowed to Putin.
  • Regarding impeaching the president, supporters were Kovacs, Matiella, Sherry, and Kirkpatrick — but not Heinz or Wheeler.
  • Most of the candidates wore teal ribbons for Sexual Assualt Awareness.

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