A civil rights group has sued the state of California over its practice of placing suspected gang leaders in severe isolation for years based on thin evidence of guilt. Almost 300 inmates have been held in solitary confinement for more than a decade. They are alone in windowless cells, allowed to exercise alone in a small concrete yard, and are only allowed one package a year and almost no phone calls. The state believes that these are sociopathic gang leaders who have made it their goal in life to wreak violent havoc inside and outside of the prisons. At a point, the state runs out of options to control these inmates and make the prisons safe. However, as the lawsuit points out, it might be nice if there were some actual judicial proceedings to confirm that these people are in fact guilty before subjecting them to such extreme punishment, and even the most violent offender still does not deserve to be tortured in unnecessary isolation. Of course, this would all be much simpler if we could learn to all just get along.
Hosni Mubarak has been sentenced to life in prison as an accomplice to murder for the killing of demonstrators during the protests last spring. The Egyptian people have been victorious over the totalitarian dictator who ruled their country for 30 years. They should be celebrating, right? Not according to the tens of thousands of protesters filling the streets of Cairo who believe that other top leaders got off too easy and Mubarak’s convictions may not stand on appeal. The three judge panel dismissed the corruption charges based on a statute of limitations, and it did not find Mubarak guilty of murder because it found that he did not directly order the killing of any protesters. Instead, the panel found Mubarak guilty as an accessory for failing to stop the killings, a line of logic that many fear will be overturned on appeal. Shockingly, a powerful political figure is expected to drag out the judicial process and evade justice based on technicalities. Welcome to a democratic legal system Egypt.
Connecticut has become the 17th state to legalize medical marijuana. Meanwhile, the race is on to see if California or Colorado will be the first to legalize marijuana for recreational use. However, marijuana is obviously still illegal under federal law. The Obama administration has not been shy about enforcing federal marijuana laws, even in states where the drug is supposed to be legal for medical purposes. Somehow, Romney seems unlikely to ease off on marijuana enforcement if he is elected in November. So the real on-going headline here is the crisis of federalism with the federal government clinging to prohibition and some of the states beginning to realize that that may not be the best way to treat marijuana. At some point someone is going to have to turn to the courts to resolve this matter, but for now the consequences of a loss seem to be too high for all sides of this debate.
George Zimmerman’s bond has been revoked. Zimmerman and his wife testified at a previous bond hearing that they had no money to pay a bond. It turns out that Zimmerman and his wife had several previous conversations on the phone discussing the almost $200,000 in his defense fund and how they might use that to pay a possible bond. Prosecutors presented these calls to the judge who was understandably miffed at being lied to. The moral of the story: if you’re on trial for murder it’s probably not the best idea to start what is going to be a very long process by openly and obviously lying to the judge. Or at least don’t lie in a way that is so easy to prove.