lamaralexander   13

The Expanding World of Poverty Capitalism - NYTimes.com
"In Orange County, Calif., the probation department’s “supervised electronic confinement program,” which monitors the movements of low-risk offenders, has been outsourced to a private company, Sentinel Offender Services. The company, by its own account, oversees case management, including breath alcohol and drug-testing services, “all at no cost to county taxpayers.”

Sentinel makes its money by getting the offenders on probation to pay for the company’s services. Charges can range from $35 to $100 a month.

The company boasts of having contracts with more than 200 government agencies, and it takes pride in the “development of offender funded programs where any of our services can be provided at no cost to the agency.”

Sentinel is a part of the expanding universe of poverty capitalism. In this unique sector of the economy, costs of essential government services are shifted to the poor.

In terms of food, housing and other essentials, the cost of being poor has always been exorbitant. Landlords, grocery stores and other commercial enterprises have all found ways to profit from those at the bottom of the ladder.

The recent drive toward privatization of government functions has turned traditional public services into profit-making enterprises as well.

In addition to probation, municipal court systems are also turning collections over to a national network of companies like Sentinel that profit from service charges imposed on the men and women who are under court order to pay fees and fines, including traffic tickets (with the fees being sums tacked on by the court to fund administrative services).

When they cannot pay these assessed fees and fines – plus collection charges imposed by the private companies — offenders can be sent to jail. There are many documented cases in which courts have imprisoned those who failed to keep up with their combined fines, fees and service charges.

“These companies are bill collectors, but they are given the authority to say to someone that if he doesn’t pay, he is going to jail,” John B. Long, a lawyer in Augusta, Ga. active in defending the poor, told Ethan Bronner of The Times.

A February 2014 report by Human Rights Watch on private offender services found that “more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.”

Human Rights Watch also found that in Georgia in 2012, in “a state of less than 10 million people, 648 courts assigned more than 250,000 cases to private probation companies.” The report notes that “there is virtually no transparency about the revenues of private probation companies” since “practically all of the industry’s firms are privately held and not subject to the disclosure requirements that bind publicly traded companies. No state requires probation companies to report their revenues, or by logical extension the amount of money they collect for themselves from probationers.”"



"Poverty capitalism and government policy are now working on their own and in tandem to shift costs to those least equipped to pay and in particular to the least politically influential segment of the poor: criminal defendants and those delinquent in paying fines.

Last year, Ferguson, Mo., the site of recent protests over the shooting of Michael Brown, used escalating municipal court fines to pay 20.2 percent of the city’s $12.75 million budget. Just two years earlier, municipal court fines had accounted for only 12.3 percent of the city’s revenues.

What should be done to interrupt the dangerous feedback loop between low-level crime and extortionate punishment? First, local governments should bring private sector collection charges, court-imposed administrative fees and the dollar amount of traffic fines (which often double and triple when they go unpaid) into line with the economic resources of poor offenders. But larger reforms are needed and those will not come about unless the poor begin to exercise their latent political power. In many ways, everything is working against them. But the public outpouring spurred by the shooting of Michael Brown provides an indication of a possible path to the future. It was, after all, just 50 years ago — not too distant in historical terms — that collective action and social solidarity produced tangible results."
poverty  capitalism  government  privatization  debtslavery  2014  thomasedsall  prisonindustrialcomplex  law  legal  policy  inequality  ferguson  tombeasley  lamaralexander  honeyalexander  incarceration  prisons  poverycapitalism 
august 2014 by robertogreco
BBC News - US Senator Lamar Alexander aide held on child porn charge
An aide to senior Republican Senator Lamar Alexander has been arrested on charges of child pornography, US authorities say.

Jesse Ryan Loskarn was taken into custody by US Postal Inspection Service officials in Washington DC for possession and distribution of the unspecified illicit material.

Mr Alexander's political chief of staff was then removed from his position.

Mr Loskarn is scheduled to appear in a federal court on Thursday.
legal  crime  politics  pornography  usa  LamarAlexander  republicans  senate  congress 
december 2013 by jtyost2
Lamar Alexander: Sebelius fundraising ‘arguably an even bigger issue’ than Iran-Contra
SK: When I talk to HHS about this issue, they essentially point the finger back at  Congress, saying they’re stuck in an impossible situation of having to implement a law without Congressional appropriations. That they’ve essentially been forced to turn to private fundraising because Congress has denied their requests.
LA: That sounds like a guilty plea. If that’s what they’re saying is that Congress has refused to appropriate the money, then you can’t do it [implement Obamacare]. That’s a curb on the executive.
Let me give you an example. President Bush and I had asked Congress to appropriate a half-billion dollars to school vouchers. We didn’t get it, and we were disappointed. But we did not go out and form a corporation to pay for it. That would have been a problem.
SK: That seems a bit different to me. Here they’re trying to carry out a law that Congress passed. What you’re talking about is creating a brand-new program.
LA: There is a law against what they’re doing and the GAO has also said an agency may not augment appropriations from outside sources. This isn’t a complicated thing. If the administration asks for $5 and Congress appropriates $4, that’s what they get. If the government creates a subterfuge by going outside the government, to raise money through a private entity, that’s a violation of the law.
AffordableCareAct  politics  LamarAlexander  senate  congress  KathleenSebelius 
may 2013 by jtyost2
Lamar Alexander to Resign Senate Leadership Post - NYTimes.com
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the Senate’s third-ranking Republican, announced on Tuesday that he will step down in January as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference and will not seek a leadership post in the next Congress.

Mr. Alexander, 71, a former governor, education secretary and two-time presidential candidate, has served as the conference chairman for nearly four years. He announced that he would resign on the Senate floor, after sending an e-mail to his Republican colleagues. His decision to step down was first reported by Politico.

Mr. Alexander said he still planned to run for a third term in 2014, and that stepping down from the leadership would “liberate” him to work behind the scenes shaping Republican policy.

“That means stopping runaway regulations and spending,” he said. “But it also means setting priorities,” adding that he blamed “runaway health care spending” for hampering the economic recovery. “I want to do more to make the Senate a more effective institution so that it can deal better with serious issues,” he said.

Mr. Alexander’s resignation is expected to clear the way for Senator John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, to become the party’s next whip, replacing Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, who will not seek a fourth term in 2012. Senator John Thune of South Dakota is expected to announce on Tuesday that he will seek to replace Mr. Alexander as chairman of the Republican conference, according to a source close to Mr. Thune.

The conference chairman manages the secret elections of floor leaders, distributes committee assignments and sets policy priorities.

Mr. Thune’s bid to lead the conference leaves open the top post on the Republican Policy Committee, a spot he currently holds. Senator John Barasso of Wyoming sought support from his colleagues on Tuesday to succeed Mr. Thune. In a statement, he promised “aggressive and conservative” leadership to focused on creating jobs and fighting Democrats over the new health care law.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, expressed relief that Mr. Alexander would seek a third term.

“We are confident that this is not a eulogy we’re engaging in,” he said.
LamarAlexander  tennessee  senate  congress  usa  politics 
september 2011 by jtyost2
No. 3 GOP senator backs START - Manu Raju - POLITICO.com
"I will vote to ratify the New START Treaty between the United States and Russia because it leaves our country with enough nuclear warheads to blow any attacker to Kingdom Come and because the president has committed to an $85-billion, 10-year plan to make sure that those weapons work," he said in a floor speech. "I will vote for the treaty because it allows for inspection of Russian warheads and because our military leaders say it does nothing to interfere with the development of a missile defense system. I will vote for the treaty because the last six Republican secretaries of state support its ratification."
lamaralexander  gop  start 
december 2010 by adamconner7

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