Skip to main content

Luis Felipe, King Blood, Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation
Luis Felipe, "King Blood"
Today is Dia de los Reyes Magos—Three Kings Day, marking the feast of the Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas, and a journey of three wise men, mages or astrologers to visit Bethlehem. Celebrated throughout Latin America, the Caribbean and even in our own New Orleans with a slice of King Cake, it is a time of joy.  

This is not the tale of those biblical three Kings—Melchior, Balthazar and Gaspar—nor the story of a baby in a manger who wound up a King on a cross with a crown of thorns who ascended into heaven. It is the tale of a King whose crown of gold named him King Blood. There is no joy in this narrative.

The thorns he wears are of barbed wire and he lives in hell.

His name is Luis Felipe.

He is not a household name for most of you. Yet, as King Blood, leader of a New York street gang known as the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation ((ALKQN or Latin Kings), he is reviled by "good people." Dubbed a sociopath by criminologists. Punished. Criminal. Murderous. One of those nightmares we see on prison porn shows.

According to the conventional wisdom he is an animal who deserves neither our compassion nor our understanding nor justice. For many his punishment is not enough and they cry for death.  

We save compassion for the innocent and the victims. We dole out our charity to those most deserving.

We, on the left, sign petitions and lobby for the rights of those we dub political prisoners. How dare they be tortured and kept in solitary? We demand justice for those we deem worthy of it.

It's so easy to defend those we have deemed "not guilty." If we dig a bit more into our charity we will perhaps question the course of justice in America and embrace worthy efforts like The Innocence Project for the wrongfully convicted. And once we have done those good works we can sleep at ease in our beds.

There is little interest shown in solving the economic disparities that create gangs and gang violence. The current solution is to pass harsher laws and build more prisons.

Gangs

According to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment released by the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), approximately 1.4 million gang members belonging to more than 33,000 gangs were criminally active in the U.S. as of April, 2011. The assessment was developed through analysis of available federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and corrections agency information; 2010 NDIC National Drug Threat Survey (NDTS) data; and verified open source information.

“Gangs continue to expand, evolve, and become more violent. The FBI, along with its federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, strives to disrupt and prevent their criminal activities and seek justice for innocent victims of their crimes,” said Assistant Director Kevin Perkins, FBI Criminal Investigative Division.

Last Sunday, writing about the fear of and fears of young black men, I was asked, "What do those young men aspire to?"  

For thousands, it is to find a family, a place in a society that has locked them out, and locked them up. Many find a place in a gang.

Luis Felipe is currently the recipient of the harshest prison sentence ever levied in the United States in recent history.  

Life imprisonment (plus 45 years) in solitary confinement. No visitors. No letters, no phone calls, except to his lawyer. He has no contact even with corrections officers in the Supermax facility.

Lawrence K. Freitell, Felipe’s lawyer, has argued that the conditions that Felipe has been subjected to have contributed to a deteriorating mental and physical condition. Felipe has experienced a loss of sleep and appetite so severe that has had to be medicated with antidepressants. He reportedly weeps constantly and uncontrollably. Most importantly, Freitell argues that existing in this state of forced isolation and surveillance has caused Felipe to literally lose his ability to communicate verbally with others. At his sentencing Felipe prophetically declared to Judge Martin “You accuse me of killing people, but you’ll be killing me every day”
The NY Times reported in Testing the Limits of Punishment; Unusually Severe Life Sentence vs. Society's Need for Safety:
Dr. Stuart Grassian, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School who studies the effects of solitary confinement, said the conditions went too far. ''I could imagine a sober society living with capital punishment,'' he said, ''but I can't imagine a civilized society living with the punishment of driving a prisoner insane.''
I disagree with Grassian about the sobriety of capital punishment.

From my perspective Felipe's treatment is cruel and unusual punishment.

Justice Brennan wrote, "There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is 'cruel and unusual'."

    The "essential predicate" is "that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity," especially torture.
    "A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion."
    "A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society."
    "A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary."

Luis Felipe, imho, is being tortured.

And the fact that the judge now will allow Felipe to take his one hour exercise a week and have monitored conversation with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber and Timothy McVeigh (executed in 2001), which Felipe rejected, does not mitigate the severity of his incarceration.

Those who have made him both a martyr and a hero to young people on the streets are doing a great job convincing young people of color that there is no justice in America for them. We violate our much touted Constitutional principles with impunity and only serve to underscore our deep hypocrisy.

The unconstitutional incarceration treatment of street brothers like King Blood does not serve as a deterrent to gang formation. It is a goad.  

The warehousing of more and more of our youth of color in jails and prisons across this nation serves as factories to produce yet more and more gang members on the streets.

The War on Drugs has been successful in undermining progressive change in Latin America, displacing populations, creating war zones in poor neighborhoods and filling prisons.

The irony in all this is that while we have a national passion and adulation for larger than life gangland crime figures on the silver screen, like Brando in The Godfather, or TV series like The Sopranos, we cower in fear of the tattooed gang bangers who serve as a warning to all nice middle class folks that you don't want these thugs in your neighborhood so lock em up and throw away the key. And if life in prison is hell, a common reaction is "tough shit—they deserve it."

(Continue reading below the fold.)

Just as the entire nation mourned and still mourns for those slain in Connecticut, yet has overlooked those who die daily in poor communities of color, we need to have a national conversation about guns and gun violence that does more than scratch the surface causes of those daily deaths. The solutions posited to solve the gun problem are not going to solve the gang problem.

We all see headlines daily about gang violence in someone's 'hood, and most people that don't have to live with it daily count themselves lucky, and if driving through—roll up their windows, lock their car doors, and flee to the safety of gang free zones in the suburbs.

Guns have become part of a way of life in some neighborhoods and though the nation's mayors may wring their hands and call for more police, and federal grants to stop gang violence, more and more of those young people who are fighting for daily survival affiliate.

This is a picture of a Latin King showing his Latin King tattoo--a lion with a crown--and signifying the five point star with his hands, which stands for the
On the streets of places like New York and Chicago they throw up a crown, or some other hand signal and shout "Amor de Rey." They don their colors, and defend a street corner, draped in portable wealth. They don't have 401Ks. They may have 24K gold rings chains and bracelets. They may have handguns, bought on the street or borrowed from friends. Frankly, few that do have a clue how to use them or maintain them.  

My own experience with street gangs has been multifaceted—as an individual, as a resident of neighborhoods where they are part of the daily landscape, as a political/community organizer and as an anthropologist/researcher.

As a young teenager in the 60s, we had gangs in my neighborhood in Queens, New York—branches of the Brooklyn Chaplins and Bishops. I remember one school assembly where the principal gathered us together for safety in the auditorium, to announce "the Fordham Baldies" were coming. This was an Italian-American gang from the Bronx, who would cut off our hair if they caught us (that was the rumor). They never showed.

I remember a guy I thought was cute giving me a zip gun to stash in my pocketbook.  They used to make them in shop class.

In my cousin's neighborhood in East Harlem, 106th street was the dividing line between the Dragons and the Viceroys.

This kind of gang stuff was romanticized and immortalized in West Side Story. When I got older, and moved to D.C., I had a few run-ins with what were called "block boys." I later moved back to New York City as a VISTA volunteer to work with former members of the Lower East Side gang "the Assassins" who got anti-poverty money and became "The Real Great Society." That organization led to my involvement with The Young Lords Party, a radical political organization (part of Fred Hampton's Rainbow Coalition) which had originally been a street gang in Chicago.

The coalition included members of various local ethnic gangs, among whom Hampton, Rising Up Angry, the Young Patriots, and the Young Lords had brokered treaties to end violence between them. The leaders worked to reduce conflict by the treaties, as they believed that poor youths' fighting each other in gang wars achieved little benefit for them. Hampton and his colleagues believed that the Daley Machine in Chicago and the American ruling class used gang wars to consolidate their own political positions by gaining funding for law enforcement and dramatizing crime rather than underlying social issues.
Black & Gold is a documentary that looks at the history of the Latin Kings organization, as well as their dramatic transformation, their current activities, and the political and philosophical motives behind their actions
Many of the members had been members of gangs. The early political ideology of many of the groups that spun off from the Black Panther Party was based on recruiting from the "lumpen-proletariat," contrary to the strictly working class ideology  of other leftist groups.  

There was also a clear cut decision to work against the influx of heroin in the community (see Capitalism plus dope equals genocide—Michael Cetewayo Tabor) and former drug users/street level dealers became members.

After the decline and fall of the Panthers, Young Lords and other coalition groups (effectuated primarily by COINTELPRO) individual former members continued to organize in the streets and barrios. The political climate had changed, and so had the drug scene, including the depredations of crack cocaine and harsher and unequal sentences for small scale sales and possession. The prison population tripled.

Former Young Lord Richie Pérez (1944-2004) was a key figure in continuing to work with groups like the ALKQN and the Ñetas. He is one of the people featured in the documentary Black and Gold, about the post-King Blood ALKQN attempts to shift to community political organizing.



complete film here:
Black And Gold

My own introduction to the ALKQN came later. I was already doing AIDS/Drugs ethnographic research with members of the Ñetas in New York and Puerto Rico, but my links to the ALKQN came through non-academic contact. A close friend had a daughter who was a Queen, and through the daughter I developed a mentoring relationship to other young women in the Nation.  

I also had an academic interest, since I was familiar with the research and community activism of Rev. Luis Barrios. Barrios and his co-authors had written two important books, The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation: Street Politics and the Transformation of a New York City Gang and Gangs and Society.

It was in Barrio's book on the ALKQN that I learned more about Luis Felipe's history.

The Early Years: Cuba, Miami, and the Road to Chicago
According to King Blood, his real name is Luis Felipe Fernández Mendez, born on May 11, 1961, in Havana, Cuba. Further details about Blood's early life are very few except that he had a mother, Esterina, who was a sex worker; a father, Gilbert, who he never knew; a brother; a son named Duane; and an ex-wife named María. Currently, according to King Blood, other than his son, who lives with his grandmother in Spain, and his ex-wife, who lives in New York City, he has no living relatives.

In a detailed interview, King Blood reveals other aspects of his early years, in particular his extraordinary journey to the United States:
One morning in 1979, he [King Blood] was making his way home when he
felt the cold barrel of a gun behind his ear. He escaped, ran behind a car,
pulled out a .38 revolver, and fired several shots. [I shot the guy in the arm,]
he says. [But before I had a chance to run away from la policia, they arrest-
ed me and charged me with attempted homicide. I got 10 years.]
By the next year, Cuba seemed overtaken with lawlessness and despera-
tion. That's when Castro opened his prison cells and freed the [undesirables.]
King Blood became one of the lucky ones, setting off across the Straits of
Florida in a rickety boat made of inner tubes and old furniture. More than
100 refugees traveled together in a ragtag flotilla, their fate in nature's indif-
ferent hands. He remembers seeing a fin cutting through the water just be-
fore the raft next to him was rammed, throwing an old man overboard. The
sharks ripped him apart, filling the water with magenta clouds. [I felt like a
prisoner of the sea,] says King Blood. Six years later, he wrote in the Latin
Kings' manifesto, [You don't even know if you will survive the present night].

But it wasn't until I had developed a close relationship to some of the Queens, who were engaged in community activities like supporting women's shelters, that Luis Felipe's situation was raised. In a political education meeting one of the young women brought up the fact that he was in 24 hour lockdown/solitary, allowed no visitors, no mail and at the time was being denied even visits from his attorney. She asked me, "How can this be legal? Don't inmates have rights?"

Having worked as a prison rights activist, and as a paralegal with progressive lawyers like William Kunstler (though I am not a lawyer), my immediate answer was, "That's impossible under the law."  

I found out I was wrong. The judge was making his own law. And because Luis Felipe was a denizen of the underclass, no one gave a damn, other than his followers.

The young women I got to know well, and a few of the Peewees (youth members) were going to school, had hopes and dreams, were attempting to raise their children to have pride in their ethnicity, to know their history and most importantly, to stay alive in the world of gang rivalry and turf wars. They were no different from many members of my family. They are indistinguishable from other young women of color in low income areas who have no gang affiliation. None of them are sociopaths. None were engaged in drug dealing. They did have a fierce loyalty to what they saw as key principles of their "nation." Yet, they live in fear of being swept up in the RICO dragnets which were increasing in scope.  

I could and probably should write an entire piece on the use of RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) against members of street gangs. Lawyers and criminologists have called its abuse into question.

Prosecutor Misuse of RICO Laws Should End.

People who are guilty of no more than knowing a gang member are being charged with racketeering - being part of a criminal organization - in order to get them to testify against friends or loved ones who might genuinely be guilty of criminal activities. These friends and family members face decades in prison if convicted under RICO laws. Rather than take their chances on justice, many come to plea agreements in which they take a few painful years in prison in exchange for their testimony.

In other cases, people who might be guilty of minor infractions or petty crimes are being charged with racketeering, again facing decades in prison if convicted. Additionally, many of the people being charged are not associated with any known gang members. Simply living in a neighborhood that contains gang activity should not implicate citizens in involvement with a gang or participation in gang crime.

Jordan Blair Woods has an interesting analysis in Systemic Racial Bias and RICO's Application to Criminal Street and Prison Gangs where he points out:
RICO’s legislative history suggests that Congress was specifically concerned about the ability of Mafia members to infiltrate legitimate business practices and obtain economic and political power. But the KKK had similar extraordinary influence within the economic and political spheres. Many politicians and business leaders, both national and local, were affiliated with the Klan. Like the Mafia, KKK members often
conducted clandestine operations and hid their affiliations with the organization
from the public. Despite these parallels between the KKK and the Mafia, Congress never felt compelled to pass federal legislation to address mob violence against African Americans. Organized violence against African Americans was not considered “organized crime” in the way that we think of the term today.
His abstract states:
Conflating racial minorities with criminal activity enables the government to rely upon denigrating racial stereotypes in order to engage in invidious practices of racial profiling and to conduct sweeping arrests of racial minorities under RICO. This conflation also shields groups of nonimmigrant White criminal offenders from being conceptualized as gangs and shields nonimmigrant White neighborhoods from the stigma of having gang problems. In practice, this may harm communities that have White gang problems by preventing the government from executing gang-specific interventions within those communities.

A simple google search of "RICO gangs" will document what many community people view as abuses. One notable case is taking place in North Carolina.

On December 6, 2011 a home commonly used by ALKQN members was attacked by over 30 law enforcement officers. This raid was part of a joint effort between the  FBI, ATF, The U.S. Marshalls, the Greensboro Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies. Officers entered the home with assault rifles arresting ALKQN members and terrorizing their families. A fifteen year old girl was forced to the ground and detained, while another woman was forced outside from the shower wearing only a towel.

Officers entered the home with a warrant looking to seize shotguns, revolvers, pistols, an AK-47, and three machetes. They could not find any weapons or drugs, so they confiscated a large amount of personal belongings including clothing, photos, a computer, a wallet and anything in the ALKQN’s black and gold colors.

13 members total are being held with racketeering charges. The indictment against the ALKQN is reminiscent of similar attempts against the Black Panther Party and the Chican@ movement in which a vital community organization was declared criminal and attacked.

On this Christian Holy day, I think of the oft-quoted biblical text in Matthew 25:31-46, which cites these words from the King of Kings:

[F]or I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.

As a nation, whether we are religious or secular, we can no longer afford to turn away from prisons and prisoners. We can no longer avoid the effects of economic inequality.

There will be no solution to guns on the streets unless we address the underlying causes of street gang formation, which include racism, ethnocentrism and classism.  

We reap what we have sown.  

I do not want to give the impression that there are no community and government efforts to intervene and reduce gangs. There are hundreds of them across the U.S.

The DOJ website has links to many of them. But based on the data they present, current programs have done little to reduce the problem.

Based on law enforcement responses to the NYGS, it is estimated that in 2010 there were 29,400 gangs and 756,000 gang members throughout 3,500 jurisdictions in the United States. The overwhelming majority of gang homicides are reported in very large cities (populations over 100,000) and suburban counties. Of the more than 700 total homicides in Chicago, Illinois, and Los Angeles, California, over half were reported to be gang-related in 2010. These findings underscore the highly concentrated nature of gang homicides in the United States.

In sum, gang activity and its associated violence remains an important and significant component of the U.S. crime problem. While it has been reasonably assumed that gang-related violence would follow the overall dramatic declines in violent crime across the U.S., new national data reveal overwhelming evidence to the contrary—that is, gang violence rates have continued at exceptional levels over the past decade despite the remarkable overall crime drop in the U.S.

President Obama announced the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention in 2010, which was expanded in 2012 .

I hate to sound pessimistic, but from my perspective, most of the programmatic efforts are like trying to apply band-aids to a gaping wound. Unless more people are engaged other than those who are immediately affected, not much will be accomplished.

I hope that in the years ahead, more Democrats, progressives, liberals (however you categorize yourselves) will pay closer attention to issues that may not be on your immediate political agenda. At the top of my list is a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system, which includes an end to the war on drugs and not simply overturning marijuana laws.  

I want to thank kestrel9000, for help with the poll below.  

Peace.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Black Kos community, Barriers and Bridges, LatinoKos, White Privilege Working Group, Street Prophets , and Bloggers Against Torture.

Poll

Street gangs and associations

1%64 votes
0%30 votes
0%19 votes
4%194 votes
11%454 votes
79%3295 votes
1%70 votes

| 4127 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tips and thoughts on torture in our prisons (163+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    One Pissed Off Liberal, DaNang65, navajo, shanikka, tommymet, historys mysteries, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, zenox, gecko, Remediator, rebereads, jguzman17, DWG, nomandates, vcmvo2, yuriwho, parryander, anodnhajo, raina, kestrel9000, xynz, DRo, MrJayTee, wasatch, indubitably, howabout, 4Freedom, melvynny, lotusmaglite, Rich N Mdriems, carolanne, royce, Avilyn, Naniboujou, stormicats, stevie avebury, third Party please, TarheelDem, ruleoflaw, tardis10, Hedwig, jck, leu2500, poco, winsock, SanFernandoValleyMom, JaxDem, mamamedusa, annieli, sb, Gardener in PA, ban nock, kaminpdx, gchaucer2, plf515, Moody Loner, BeninSC, macdust, cassandraX, NLinStPaul, no way lack of brain, a2nite, Batya the Toon, BeadLady, Jim R, TheDuckManCometh, msrevis, Chacounne, MKHector, Friendlystranger, 417els, Wynter, FrY10cK, TerryDarc, joedemocrat, dopper0189, tytalus, high uintas, myboo, jnhobbs, Johnny Nucleo, allie123, shaharazade, jo fish, GeorgeXVIII, ConfusedSkyes, wader, dobleremolque, 714day, swampyankee, El Bloguero, old wobbly, MBNYC, JoanMar, enhydra lutris, marleycat, Black Knight, mrkvica, mwk, Fabienne, SD Goat, Wildthumb, Lorikeet, Actbriniel, justiceputnam, jerrypw, Fe, jessical, donnamarie, rebel ga, Mary Mike, Oaktown Girl, i saw an old tree today, mapamp, NancyK, Free Jazz at High Noon, lucid, earicicle, NYWheeler, remembrance, oysterface, jhb90277, bleeding blue, VTelder, Monsieur Georges, 1BQ, belinda ridgewood, atana, WI Deadhead, eodell, MillieNeon, Andrew C White, ramara, regis, FindingMyVoice, missLotus, doroma, Turbonerd, Garrett, Joe Hill PDX, sviscusi, blueoregon, CA ridebalanced, wonmug, Caneel, sayitaintso, Liberal Granny, Merry Light, Quilldriver, Jennifer Clare, Onomastic, Jollie Ollie Orange, rubyr, Odysseus, starfu, thomask, scribe, Marjmar, Avila, Marko the Werelynx, mkfarkus, nswalls, themank
    Hidden by:
    Boodaddy

    and the violence on our streets.

    "Poverty is violence. Unequal rights is violence. Our criminal injustice system is violence"

    How can we make a difference?

    Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:08:56 AM PST

  •  what about the reality that (23+ / 0-)

    a person with so many connections can (often does) communicate with people on the outside and bring more violence to the lives of others? One doesn't become leader of the Latin Kings by being unable to exhort others to do things.

    Was there evidence at his trial that he'd maneuvered people into doing things - things which they're now trying to prevent by keeping him incommunicado?

    Solitary is very harsh, but what of the safety of the prison staff whose lives (family's lives) could be threatened? People like to hate on jailers, but many jailers have babies, wives, parents who can be harmed.

    I don't have a solution, but there's more to this than "Latin King in solitary" - there always is

  •  Torture is used as an example to others. (16+ / 0-)

    Just like Rome hung prisoners on crosses for all to see, the U.S. engages in torture to instill fear and loathing into perceived foes.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

    by FishOutofWater on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:13:40 AM PST

    •  but the example does not deter crime (26+ / 0-)

      and only increases anger against the system.

      sigh.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:16:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If he orders murders from prison, as he has in (9+ / 0-)

        the past, then it would stand to reason that solitary will prevent him from ordering more.

      •  The objective is to instill fear, not deter crime. (8+ / 0-)

        Fear in the masses. Christians vs. lions was entertainment for the masses.

        The objective is to maintain Roman order not to eliminate crime.

        In this case, this gang leader could have been continuing to act as a crime boss from prison, but this punishment goes beyond stopping those activities. This is like water torture that goes on for years.

        American order is achieved by drone strikes, CIA led coups and the largest prison system in the world.

        We're the modern day Rome.

        look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

        by FishOutofWater on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:48:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  RE: Christians vs Lions, one of our fave myths (4+ / 0-)

          Nero and Diocletian were the bloodiest against the nascent Christians, seeing them as advocating the downfall of the Empire but Gibbons estimated 4K died in those purges and the most any historian has posited is, I think, maybe 20K.  At least that many if not 2x or more died in the Coliseum sands after Constantine and in the 200 years or so the Christian emperors continued the Games.

          Just goes to show how much popular myth infiltrates our common discourse and affects it.  In the same manner, there are many myths surrounding the correlation between the severity of punishment and its efficacy  

          •  Except it wasn't just Christians (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Denise Oliver Velez

            The Romans also used convicted criminals and captured prisoners of war in their gruesome arena games. They didn't care who got torn to bits and eaten by wild beasts, as long as someone did (who wasn't "one of Us").

            There really was quite the dark underside to the Roman imperium, and we ignore that at our peril.

            If it's
            Not your body,
            Then it's
            Not your choice
            And it's
            None of your damn business!

            by TheOtherMaven on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:33:06 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  also a few Senators and other public officials (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Denise Oliver Velez

              but you did say criminals didn't you? (Snark)
                Commodus was the only emperor to fight in the arena (though Nero competed at the Olympics)  The interesting aspect of the history is that this continued after the Empire's conversion to Christianity and its suppression of other religions, which we never hear about

      •  Difficult questions (8+ / 0-)

        Boy, Deo, you have some difficult questions for us this morning.  I think this is one of your better diaries, but I am always impressed with your work.

        I don't think Fish meant to make a favorable comparison when he invoked the image of Rome, only to point out that both empires do it.  I could be wrong.

        There's a real difficulty that members of a criminal enterprise still pose a threat to the public, the guards and the other prisoners.  It seems here there's evidence of orders of murders from prison, which pretty much ends the case as to whether there can be any further contact.  I don't see any other way around it.  (I am also guessing that there was not evidence that John Gotti was similarly active.  I do note that Al Capone was in solitary confinement for something like 45 years. )  I'm not sure I see another solution to this problem.  The persistent danger to other prisoners from gangs inside prison may suggest more use of solitary rather than less.

        I do agree though, there's got to be a better way.

        On RICO, the statute needs to be revised, because its sweep is far too wide.  However, it seems that rather than not using against gangs, who disproportionately victimize minority areas, the better response would be to use it against the KKK and OPeration Rescue also.  However, the level of knowledge required to  be considered part of the organization is ridiculously low.  One doesn't need to have any knowledge of the organization or activities to be swept in I believe, so if you bring your housemate's bags in from the car, you cna be swept up.  I know of a case where the losing company in a large civil lawsuit is asserting that one witness presented false evidence, so they are using RICO's civil provisions to target ALL the lawyers and paralegals involved in the case on a fraud theory.  THat's just nuts.

        Finally, for me, the money quote was

        There will be no solution to guns on the streets unless we address the underlying causes of street gang formation, which include racism, ethnocentrism and classism.
        With that I'm off to write a brief in a lawsuit to get more and better directed education funding from the state, in part on an argument that better programs and interventions improve graduation rates and reduce suspensions, which in turn reduce crime rates.  If memory serves (it's still before the first coffee here in California), there's one study that reducing class sizes from 22 to 13 from K through 3rd grade can eliminate the performance gap between low and high income students at graduation nine years later.  Preschools can improve graduation rates massively.  And a 10% reduction in drop out rates can reduce homicides and assaults by 20% locally.  I'll keep this diary in mind while I'm writing to remember why I"m writing.

        Thanks

        Hay hombres que luchan un dia, y son buenos Hay otros que luchan un año, y son mejores Hay quienes luchan muchos años, y son muy buenos. Pero hay los que luchan toda la vida. Esos son los imprescendibles.

        by Mindful Nature on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:15:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Just how do we protect ourselves from this guy? (10+ / 0-)

    From Wiki- In 1995, he was convicted of ordering multiple murders from prison by writing to members of the Latin Kings on the outside.

    So yeah, if he continues to lead a criminal homicidal life while in the general prison population, then he loses that privilege.

  •  The Jose Padilla case more or less confirms (19+ / 0-)

    that both our military and civilian justice system is free to do as it pleases with few constraints.  Recidivism for young African American males is 60% within 3 years of release.

    I am reminded in the penitentiaries of the 1840's-1870's, inmates were forbidden to talk, instructed instead to ponder upon their crimes and if they violated the rule, they were punished with a variation of the medieval "Pear of Anguish" with at least one documented case of an inmate's tongue being ripped out by the roots.

    We have known for decades sensory deprivation leads to insanity; when we condemn a man to solitary for decades we are saying there is no rehabilitation and no hope and no treatment.  Meanwhile in Norway, one of the most heinous mass murderers in recent history could one day, with treatment and rehab possibly walk the streets again.    It gives one pause when the two systems and their results are compared

  •  holy shit (32+ / 0-)

    or unholy shit.

    no matter his cimes, if this (or the death penalty) is the only way we know to respond, how are we better? how are we not teaching that barbarity has its justifications and applications? and anyone want to talk class warfare, and who is really waging it?

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:17:08 AM PST

  •  Excellent (13+ / 0-)

    This is a must-read summary of the unraveling of our society and the role of the prison industrial complex and its judicial accomplices. Great work.

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:20:15 AM PST

  •  What would work? (6+ / 0-)

    If we accept your statement that such punishments are a 'goad' and not a 'deterrent', what punishment for killing people would have actually served as a deterrent to prevent Mr Felipe from killing people?

    And if the answer is 'none', and the solution lies in preventing people from becoming the sort of people who will kill, and will kill again in prison if given the chance, then what do we actually do with them until we achieve such a goal through actually addressing poverty and associated societal ills?  Short of isolation, if we're going to rule out the death sentence, how do we keep them from killing other inmates or guards if they get to that point?

  •  Solitary confinement should not be used (15+ / 0-)

    as a punishment or a safety measure beyond a limited time to get things under control. Beyond that, especially the indefinite or life time solitary confinement is indeed torture.

    We put criminals behind bars for inhuman acts, don't we? What happens when we too commit inhuman acts by torturing the inmates?

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:21:33 AM PST

  •  NO ONE should EVER be subjected to a sentence (20+ / 0-)

    of solitary forever. That is cruel and unusual punishment - something I thought we were against in this country.

    Our prisons are in drastic need of reform. Granted, there may be some individuals who can never be reached. But to take a human being who has gone the wrong way and not even attempt to change them, reform them?

    We are rapidly descending to for-profit prisons where inmates are used as slave labor, or turning bad actors into psychopaths or worse. What kid of reform is that?

    I'm sick of the subjects that no one, especially media and politicians, will talk about - prison reform, War on Drugs, and gun reform. Until we do something about them nothing will get better.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:22:43 AM PST

  •  I answered the poll as "other" (19+ / 0-)

    I defended some gang members in CT back when I was a public defender. At the time crack and drive by shootings were pretty normal occurences.

    But I don't think punishment had quite gotten up to the level of what you describe here. Clearly that is cruel and unusual punishment.

    Has no appeal been made to the Supreme Court not on incarceration but on the terms employed with King Blood?
    The Innocence Project does great things, I don't know where they are on after conviction punishment.

    I mean people freak out over Bradley Manning and to my mind this easily equals that.  i do know that prosecutors and police are obsessed with gangs. Even in a semi-rural area that I now live in where gangs just do not exist. The County Attorney receives money to monitor "gang activity."

    At least in Maryland we're going back again to try to make the death penalty unconstitutional. Gov O'Malley has tried once before to get rid of it, and almost succeeded so he's trying again and I'll be working on that as I did gay marriage.

    But I find what you detail above typical for criminal justice these days and I don't know how we as a society back away from that when "harsh on crime" seems to be a requirement to hold any kind of elective office.

    To those that have never been inside a jail, I think they should go. It scared the hell out of me even though I was going to represent a client. No one should be held in those conditions.

    Thanks Denise!

    In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God ~RFK

    by vcmvo2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:22:51 AM PST

  •  again, as always (14+ / 0-)

    excellent work. I have a lot to chew on now. I am also wondering how many others are held this way?

    thanks.

  •  Thank you, Ms Dee, (22+ / 0-)

    as you know during my time in prison I encountered too many like Luis. A long time Lifer I knew used to say there were two kinds of convicts, "state raised and square johns'" by which he meant the castaways of society seemingly from birth who'd spent their histories from childhood in "the system" and those who'd had a chance, like myself, and thrown it away somehow.

    Being a rural Indiana white guy from the '60s he didn't get it about a third category, "street raised," kids who never had a chance but might avoided the tender mercies of the law through street smarts. Of course Luis is who he is, he could hardly have been anyone else without the lucky intervention he never got.hat you

    I've known many "Luises" in my time and they are every bit the children of a loving God that you and I are.

    That we have no better alternative than to lock Luis in solitary confinement for the rest of his life, in conditions guaranteed to prolong his agony as he slowly drifts into insanity, calls to mind a song I heard at a concert just last night, "Who's the Criminal Here?"

    Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Monkeys kill people too, if they have guns.

    by DaNang65 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:23:53 AM PST

  •  To a great extent, I grew up in (13+ / 0-)

    white privilege.  My parents were upper middle class, and I was "safe" from the gangs.  
    But, I grew up in NYC, on the Upper West Side, in the 60s and early 70, when the nature of the neighborhood was just beginning to change.  I went to elementary school with many people who ended up in gangs.  They were fellow members of my Cub Scout troop.  And, sadly perhaps, when I was getting hassled in Intermediate School, so much that I was relying on my "connected" friends for protection, my parents pulled me out of the public schools and sent me to a local private school.
    I've often thought about just what effect this had on my future life.  I probably would have ended up in one of the NYC public schools system's "elite" schools (most of my white friends ended up at Bronx Science or Peter Stiuyvesant, except those who ended up as MAs or PAs), so I probably would not have been any less segregated.  And, in eighth grade at my private school, they experimented (in 1969!) by making our social studies class a year long study of African American history.  We read The Crisis and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and I learned more than most whites do about the black experience in America.  Not that I could ever truly appreciate it.  Just that I learned more about it.

    So, my life had had an association with gangs, although in a very tangential manner.

  •  Thought Provoking Diary (24+ / 0-)

    And needed.  You continue to excel at tying it all together, if folks can hear you.

    As far as the poll goes, lest your diary be another opportunity to judge the character of who is, or who is not, in a gang without knowing the humanity behind those who choose to join them, I'll now go on the record:

    I have never been in a gang.  But I had a lover, when I was young, who was.  I didn't join only because frankly we're broke up and by that time I was already mentally headed to California. Back in those days, refusing to join a gang wasn't a death sentence.  It just was.

    The gang in question?

    La Familia, a name that will be quite familiar to those who know about gangs, or who hail from  New York City's ghettos.  Sure, I'm not Puerto Rican--but back then it didn't matter either.  In Brooklyn, while Black folks and 'Ricans said all the usual insultingly ethnocentric stuff about each other, we also rolled together more often than not.  Thus, if you were "with" La Familia? You were La Familia.

    Today I am a lawyer, a community leader, a mother and a religious person.  Some have called me passionate, committed, hard working, insightful, genius, brilliant, over the years.  Yet the foundation for each and everything folks have called me could have also had real, meaningful expression within La Familia had I chosen to jump.  Just because I didn't doesn't mean I don't know exactly where they, and Crips and Bloods are coming from.  And why no matter what, I will continue to reach out to try and provide meaningful hope and alternatives to youngbloods to the gang life.  One young man at a time, right here in my own neighborhood.

    We see folks like Luis Felipe as a mystery that has only one solution:  to throw away the very life of those who end up like him.  We don't see their humanity anymore, and become in our criminal justice system (in which there is precious little justice, just vengeance as you have aptly outlined in tellin this story) as barbaric as those we claim we are putting away forever for "society's own good." ) Yet when folks think of someone like me, the last person they think of is someone like Luis Felipe.

    Yet, although I am female and that's a demarcator in The Life that has always been a Big Deal in terms of power, I am not that different, except for some lucky breaks when it came to having access to a whole lot of folks who personally saw the diamond under the rough and make it their personal business that I got a chance to walk a more socially-acceptable path in this life.

    So, when we on the Left turn our backs on what happens to folks like Luis Felipe, we are turning our backs on people like me.  And my (then) man, who also ultimately left when opportunity was provided to him as well.

    Even if we don't know it.

    I remind people of two things.  First, New Jack City may have been a movie, but the underlying message of it--that when those with talent legitimately perceive the limits of their birth circumstances and the lack of caring in the larger society and end up choosing the world of crime because that's the only meaningful vehicle of success they can count on (until they are dead, anyway) if they hustle and work hard, the problem is not with them; it is with us.  Second, we cannot claim to be a Christian nation if we do not behave collectively in the arena of "punishment" as Christ would have when it comes to what happens to those who end up in prison coming from the worst of circumstances to begin with in particular.  Solitary confinement with no meaningful human contact for the rest of one's life is nothing short of barbarism, and Christ would have condemned it unconditionally.  So why don't we?

    I'm rambling, so I will stop other than to say Thank You once again for making folks think.

  •  Many street gangs are unsanctioned, ... (7+ / 0-)

    ....."outlaw" micronations that exist within a host nation-state.  

    They have well defined territorial borders. They have a system of internal laws governing their "citizens" behavior: gang-state law breakers are sanctioned. When defending their borders and their "national interests", they will use deadly force. They often negotiate treaties with other gang-states.

    When compared to modern nation-states, most gang-states aren't particularly blood-thirsty or lawless. With respect to personal freedom and a sense of humanity, I'd rather be a citizen of one of the more civilized gang-states than be a citizen of an oppressive nation-state.

    In the Fox News Christian Nation, public schools won't teach sex education and evolution; instead they'll have an NRA sponsored Shots for Tots: Gunz in Schoolz program.

    by xynz on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:25:43 AM PST

  •  former teacher (19+ / 0-)

    I taught many gang members in Bed/Stuy and the Bronx.  They were just kids really, who substituted the street for the family--which was basically non existent or ineffective,  Their rationale for gang activity--and for drugs--was that they didn't expect to live past the age of 21--and were having a good time.  They saw failure all around--the only monied people (how Americans are taught to judge success) they saw were pimps, drug dealers, and landlords.  They hated all of them--although they often expected to be the first two.
    Until kids--but basically I'm talking about boys--see a decent future is possible, they will go for instant gratification--excitement and camaraderie.  Girls I knew wanted to play with live dolls and were happy to be pregnant at a very early age.  Sociological and educational success demand an attainable goal --  in the late 1960s that seemed to be possible--then MLK was killed--and the dream died.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:28:17 AM PST

  •  This sounds like gang apologism (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Old Guild Guy, hmi, JerseyKC

    I appreciate that the poor are subject to economic and political forces beyond their control. I also understand that we have a serious problem in this country with police and prosecutors abusing their authority. And likewise, I appreciate the fact that, other than gangs and the police, nobody cares much about young men in the inner city.

    Nevertheless, gangs are criminal enterprises who finance themselves through the sale and distribution of drugs, and their activities are hugely detrimental to America's cities -- especially the urban poor. I'm all for fighting The Man, but that doesn't make everyone whom The Man dislikes a good guy.

    It is standard practice when the leader of an organized criminal enterprise is in prison, to restrict his communications with the outside world, so he cannot simply go right on directing his organization from prison. You offer no evidence that RICO led to an improper conviction of Felipe, or that he is anything other than what the authorities say he is. Perhaps he is being treated rather harshly, but in a world with much injustice, I'm going to first worry about the people who aren't convicted gang bosses.

    Visit Lacking All Conviction, your patch of grey on those too-sunny days.

    by eataTREE on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:31:19 AM PST

  •  I answered #3 in the poll (11+ / 0-)

    although all that was a long, long time ago. And the ties were close.

    Sometimes I grouse over all the bad luck I've had....this diary makes me reflect on all the bad luck I haven't had.

    There is no part of this I do not understand.

    XIV

    "Everything I do is blown out of proportion. It really hurts my feelings." - Paris Hilton

    by kestrel9000 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:34:52 AM PST

  •  Denise (10+ / 0-)

    This is great. As usual, it was well-researched, well-argued, and with just enough spice to make a long read interesting.

    This goes well with my diary on the death penalty, which I hope you will read.

    Thanks as always for your work. As someone who is primarily concerned about the injustice system, I appreciate your effort and insights.

    "I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil." ~Bobby Kennedy

    by Grizzard on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:39:46 AM PST

  •  I Would Thank Some To Speak For Themselves (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    I do not revere mobsters, gangsters, self-styled "Kings" or terrorists of any kind or ethnicity. As far as I'm concerned, they are all trash and deserve to be treated as such because they are doing what they are doing as a choice. When they terrorize businesses and neighborhoods, they are making a choice to act in that way. No one is forcing their hand. When a baby in a crib is shot through the wall because some mutant thinks it's a good idea to just shoot a gun there's a problem with that person. When a bunch of people outside a house party are all shot because the person driving-by and shooting wanted to get one person then that's a problem with the shooter.

    I think the prison system in this country sucks. I think the death penalty should be abolished. I draw the line at feeling sorry for anyone who makes a conscious choice to be antisocial and to ruin the lives of other people whether that person is a gang member or a Wall St. sociopath.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:40:44 AM PST

    •  No one is suggesting (10+ / 0-)

      that gangsters should be revered.

      But undertaking an undertanding of the structure of street gangs, the subcommunities in which they form, and the peer pressures that create gang affiliation is necessary.

      Unless, of course, you just want to build more prisons.

      I think the prison system in this country sucks. I think the death penalty should be abolished.
      Agreed.

      "Everything I do is blown out of proportion. It really hurts my feelings." - Paris Hilton

      by kestrel9000 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:47:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How old is the guy? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        can we say he is a product of Reagan's Revolution, where some got farther ahead than they should have and others were left farther behind?

      •  That mixes up two issues. (0+ / 0-)

        The most compelling conservative critique of progressives is that they confuse sociological explanation and individual accountability, or more precisely that they believe the former makes the latter less relevant.  We're seeing that in this diary and in some of the comments.  

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:19:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Okay (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kestrel9000, Denise Oliver Velez

      I don't have much "sympathy" for the likes of Felipe, either.  But to me, that is beside the point.  The point is to what extent we're willing to sacrifice our humanity as a society in the name of justice.

      In a case such as Felipe's, the death penalty would be tantamount to a form of euthanasia.  I am against the death penalty, but it would be preferred to a life sentence of torture.

      Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

      by winsock on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:05:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  To me it says (5+ / 0-)

    more about a powerful nation like the USA with trillions extent yearly on security but says that one guy is so powerful, like a supervillain, that he can't even walk around in a patio of a max. security jail or talk to other inmates.

    Isolation is torture, period. It should be used only to guys that are actively a danger to other inmates or the security personal. Communications with the outside can be monitored and restricted but not taken away.

  •  I think many commenters are missing the point... (31+ / 0-)

    And this often happens in convos about criminal punishment, whether execution or harsh incarceration.

    It isn't really a question of whether Felipe "deserves" to die, or be locked up for a long time. Perhaps he does in some strange cosmic sense, although I certainly don't agree with the first of these and am not convinced about the second. The real question for progressives and a just society is this…

    Does the state deserve to kill, or, alternately, does the state deserve to torture and dehumanize? And by "the state" please know that I mean US…Do WE deserve the right to kill, and not just the right but that power? Do WE deserve the right to torture and dehumanize?

    And even if you conclude that the answer is yes, please know that there will be consequences for your assent. And among them is simply this: when you decide that human beings are disposable you ratify the very mindset that creates murder in the first place, and frankly, much gang violence. And I am not sure how you can ever manage to create a just society while ratifying the very mentality that every killer uses to justify to him or herself, their own crimes.

    Please, I feel certain Denise would want everyone to think about this (though I would never presume to speak for her), and I know I would want you to.

    Guilt is what you feel because of the kinds of things you've done. Responsibility is what you take because of the kind of person you are...

    by tim wise on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:42:09 AM PST

  •  To those who oppose the sentence (0+ / 0-)

    and also oppose the death penalty, what WOULD you do to protect society from this man?

  •  What's this "we" sh*t? (0+ / 0-)

    One of those nightmares “we” see on prison porn shows?

  •  I've worked with a very few former (15+ / 0-)

    Gang members, many more who've been affected by gangs and many, many more who are wannabes.

    Many of these kids have been Native. People don't think that's possible, thanks to all the various stereotypes and assumptions floating around out there, but yes, it is. You bet it is.

    I'm far from an expert on the subject, but I do know that, when society marginalizes people, jail time becomes a mark of pride. I work with kids who aren't the least afraid of acquiring criminal records of any sort.

    On the flip side, I also work with kids who are determined not to go that route, but we don't live in a country that makes that particularly easy for them.

    I just wish more could see firsthand that all this punishment isn't doing what they want it to do---not only is it inhumane, it just plain doesn't scare these kids.

  •  I've heard the opposite about using RICO on gangs. (0+ / 0-)

    In Illinois, at least, it was sold as a way to get the gang kingpins, who were keeping their hands clean while the members at the bottoms of the organizations were the ones going to prison.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:48:38 AM PST

  •  while i agree with much of what you've written, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gonnabechef

    you left out an important fact: why the judge imposed these conditions.

    Because Mr. Felipe, the founder of the New York chapter of the Almighty Latin Kings and Queens Nation, ordered murders from prison by writing to his minions on the outside, Judge John S. Martin Jr. sentenced him to life imprisonment plus 45 years. Then the judge added some extraordinary conditions.
    it seems mr. felipe (by your own admission) didn't let a little thing, like being in jail, stop his external activities, like ordering the murders of people he didn't like. he did this using his ability to communicate, by mail, phone, etc., with fellow gang members on the outside. this is a critical set of facts, that you failed to include, and does make a difference.

    i'm not saying i wholly agree with the conditions judge martin has imposed, but given the circumstances, i can see why he felt it necessary to do so: he saw it as the only way to keep mr. felipe from ordering more murders, even while incarcerated. solitary confinement is an extremely harsh punishment, which should only be imposed in the most extreme cases. apparently, judge martin felt that mr. felipe's case fell into the category of "extreme".

    a also agree that this doesn't address the issue of why so many people enter into criminal activity. however, that isn't judge martin's job, his job, once a guilty verdict is reached by a jury, is to impose a sentence that, at minimum, will keep society safe from this individual for a time. it was his opinion, based on mr. felipe's actions, that these conditions were necessary to achieve that minimum goal.

    again, i don't necessarily wholly agree with judge martin, and an appeals court might not either. however, given the facts & circumstances of the case, mr. felipe, and his attorneys, shouldn't have been at all surprised that harsher than ordinary conditions would be imposed in sentencing.

    your failure to include this basic set of facts of the case doesn't add to your credibility, in my opinion. as a para-legal, you should know better. i'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume it was unintentional, or you figured, by providing the link to the article, you completed your requirement of "full disclosure". perhaps, you figured (i'm speculating here), that as long as this diary was, copying/pasting an additional paragraph would have put too many people off from reading it, and you may well be correct (and i can certainly empathize). but, that doesn't relieve you of your "full disclosure" requirement.

    with all that said, how else do you propose that mr. felipe not be put, again, in a position to have more murders committed on his behalf, outside of the extremely harsh conditions imposed on him, by judge martin? solitary confinement, for excessive periods of time, has been scientifically shown to cause severe psychological stress, if not a complete mental breakdown, so i sympathize with mr. felipe's plight. on the other hand, his own actions led to this, because he's shown a willingness to use the system, even while already in jail, to continue his illegal (and murderous) activities. how do you stop him, short of execution, otherwise?

    •  No - I didn't leave it out (12+ / 0-)

      there are plenty links - and frankly Mafioso leaders in prison have always communicated with their members while incarcerated.  

      Those who actually did the murders got off.  I'm not excusing Felipe.  

      This is really not about Felipe at all - he is simply the most extreme example of what we are doing - and how it isn't going to work.

      We dehumanize "gangs".  We create the conditions in which they flourish.  

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:09:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, you left it out. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JerseyKC, gonnabechef, charliehall2

        I know you're venerated here and rightly so, but this diary is a grotesque moral failure in my opinion.

        I'm going to skip that usual moment when I pause and reflect whether I want to say something strong, because I'd be ashamed of myself if I didn't say it.  

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:04:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  This is the reverse of the usual (0+ / 0-)

        where the little guys who do the dirty work for the kingpins get long sentences and the big bad guys who really are responsible for the murder and mayhem get light sentences. We should be praising this, not condemning it! Felipe is a bad guy and he earned his punishment. The surprising thing is that the prosecution didn't ask for a death sentence; they probably would have gotten it -- even in death-penalty-averse New York.

    •  A facility can't monitor messages to the outside? (3+ / 0-)
      he did this using his ability to communicate, by mail, phone, etc.,
      Then they are incompetent.  Or corrupt.

      To posit that the only alternative is medieval treatment of a prisoner is repulsive.

      "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

      by 417els on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:53:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  They did monitor and they couldn't break his code! (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sure he has multiple codes that we haven't broken yet.

        •  Since he used a code, and MAY have more, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          that calls for barbaric treatment?  Drive a prisoner insane full well knowing insanity is the result of prolonged isolation and solitary confinement with sensory deprivation?

          There are ways that his codes could be diffused.

          Accepting/endorsing this kind of "punishment" reveals much more about the mental state of our society than it does about any given evildoer.

          "Evil is a lack of empathy, a total incapacity to feel with their fellow man." - Capt. Gilbert,Psychiatrist, at the end of Nuremberg trials.

          by 417els on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 01:01:31 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well (3+ / 0-)

    I wear a lot of black, grey, and white because one of my first jobs involved walking through an interesting area of Indio and I had to negotiate my colors with a few rival gangs. I want to say they were the Nortenos and Crips but it's been a long, long time and that's probably wrong.

    Anyway, I got into the habit then, found I rather liked the monochromatic style, and have tended to stick with it.

  •  No membership, family in gangs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, a2nite

    I cannot say they have affected my life in any measureable way. But OTOH it is not accurate to say I have had "no direct experience" with street gangs. There have been the occasional taggings in my area. I once chased off three guys who were about to tag my parked car. There have been burglaries in my neighborhood. Ganga? I dunno.

    anyway, none of the poll selections seemed to fit so I picked OTHER. If there was a selection "negligible interaction with street gangs" I'd have picked that. But I can't say it has been a complete lack of interaction.

  •  He was already in prison (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    when he chose to continue to conduct himself in the same criminal fashion from inside? If that is true, then sorry, the punishment seems proper to me. I never understood sentences like "life plus 45 years" though.

    I do believe that the disproportionally high rate of minority incarceration is a national disgrace. Also, our educational system which reaks of classism and ethnocentrism, as well as our selective law enforcement systems like "racial profiling" and "stop and frisk" need a complete overhaul.

    Mandatory minimum sentences are certainly not helping, and yes, the "war on drugs" has been a complete and utter failure. Oh, and how can we possibly think that this whole "prison for profit" racket will be beneficial to our minority population, or any of our population for that matter.

    Thoughtful diary, thanks.

  •  I don't know that I'd place too much credence (8+ / 0-)

    in FBI statistics about gangs.

    Even if they are not deliberately lying, their whole mindset predisposes them to view gangs as a continuing crisis.

    We all (yes, all .... left, right, center) tend to find evidence that supports our own views more convincing. The FBI is no exception to this.

    •  don't worry about gangs, worry about Luis Felipe (0+ / 0-)

      and the fact that he ordered murders from prison. You can't allow that to continue!

      There are only three possibilities:

      (1) Death penalty
      (2) No contact with outside world
      (3) Strip him of his citizenship and deport him to Cuba

      (3) is generally limited to ex-Nazis. Most of us here oppose (1). That leaves (2).

      I'm perfectly happy for someone to come up with a (4), but I frankly have no idea what it would be.

  •  I believe Tyler Bingham and Barry Mills live under (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sb, Denise Oliver Velez

    same conditions in a Colorado Supermax.  

    President Obama would have been a Republican in the 1980's.

    by Jacoby Jonze on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:08:46 AM PST

  •  the PIC needs this system to prop up (7+ / 0-)

    capitalism

    (Hegel on the master-slave dialectic) "On approaching the other it has lost its own self, since it finds itself as another being; secondly, it has thereby sublated that other, for this primitive consciousness does not regard the other as essentially real but sees its own self in the other."
    The police is best understood as a type of governmental reason (Governmentality), rather than a specific institution of the State....Foucault’s account of the police in terms of the neo-liberal economic theory described by Gary Becker breaks down when compared to the expansive privatization of security apparatuses
    I hope that in the years ahead, more Democrats, progressives, liberals (however you categorize yourselves) will pay closer attention to issues that may not be on your immediate political agenda. At the top of my list is a complete overhaul of the criminal justice system, which includes an end to the war on drugs and not simply overturning marijuana laws.

    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.” - Dalai Lama XIV (-9.50; -7.03)‽ Warning - some snark above‽

    by annieli on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:09:01 AM PST

  •  Extended solitary confinement is torture, I agree (6+ / 0-)

    I also think, though, that many prisoners pose a threat to society if they are allowed to communicate with people outside the walls.

    How do we reconcile these, in the short term (that is, now) while we attempt to work on the many needed long term solutions?

    I don't know. Surely some form of monitoring of conversations is possible, although it may not be completely effective.

    Another issue, of course, is that there should be far fewer people in prison at all.  One often overlooked benefit of that is that more attention could then be paid to the people who are there.

  •  I have two responses to your post (8+ / 0-)

    The first is a big thank you. Throughout all these discussions on gun violence I keep thinking of those who pay the highest price and why. Young guys of color. Society would rather not see them, they aren't as sympathetic as say school kids.

    When we decide those guys are worth it we'll have come a long way towards solving other ills in our country.

    What would a viable alternative be to gang life? Just about anything. Especially a job that pays good wages, enough to have a place of one's own and a family certainly.

    When I was a young guy I too had no prospects of a better future and took risks that could have seen me doing a life in jail. I really could have cared less about the risks. And I had many advantages. When I try to place myself in someone else's shoes I don't get a good feeling.

    Those young guys haven't been given a fair shake in this life, and I think they are due one. Second response below.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:13:06 AM PST

  •  Thought-provoking as always, Denise. (6+ / 0-)

    What is so frustrating is that Republicans are out with a shot-gun full of crazy ideas and plans and crisis.  It is there MO.  We are constantly trying to tamp down those ideas, but as soon as one crazy idea is put down  (do they ever even really go away?), they shoot out another dozen.

    So things like prison and prison-abuse reform that are currenlty not near the top of the list never make it to the top because there is always another crazy-crisis-of-the-month that shoots in ahead of them.

    I am in awe of the citizens who continue to work on the long game and don't get discouraged enough to just give up and quit.  They are true heroes.

    "Hate speech is a form of vandalism. It defaces the environment, and like a broken window, if left untended, signals to other hoodlums that the coast is clear to do more damage." -- Gregory Rodriguez

    by Naniboujou on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:13:26 AM PST

  •  Write it Sister!!!!! (14+ / 0-)

    It seems that some here are content to justify torture and death in these circumstances while they rail about it in others. Very interesting. So I applaud you for bringing this to light.

    The real irony to me is that - while the answers to these issues are complex - we actually DO know what works. In the end, it feels like it just comes down to whether or not we care enough try.

    Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by NLinStPaul on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:16:30 AM PST

  •  A Society w/o respect and humanity is no societynt (7+ / 0-)

    "I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately." -- George Carlin, Satirical Comic,(1937-2008)

    by Wynter on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:26:01 AM PST

  •  Epic diary, 2nd time in a month have to read 2x (12+ / 0-)

    before I can comment. Lots of thoughts racing through my head.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:26:07 AM PST

    •  The area of Jamaica my family is from is infested (8+ / 0-)

      with gangs that are more like militias because they are aligned with politicians. When I was younger a girl I dated had a brother who later got 9 years for cocaine dealing, he used to come to our family restaurant. I lived in a safe "white" area but gangs were never to far away.

      Its such tough issue because I saw two very beautiful girls get destroyed by drugs supplied by gangs, but I also know the brutal conditions (homelessness, hunger) that drive many people to gang life.

      As the movie Traffic once asked: "if your a teenager who goes to bed hungry every other night, homeless sleeping on friend's couches, and a bunch of rich white folks from the suburbs drive buy flashing 20's asking 'you can get them some weed?' how long would you resist the temptation?"

      There is a move to recognize drug use as a disease, but only on the user side. The suppliers are still viewed as demons. Yet I dare anyone who thinks that to visit a developing world slum for a week (no sewers, lack of food, zinc walls, no opportunity) and then tell me they wouldn't conciser growing something illegal. To a lesser extent the same conditions exist through out the whole supply chain.

      I really believe if the supply chain wasn't dominated by people of color, we would be having a different conversation about it.  

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

      by dopper0189 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:41:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  important point - the direct economics (9+ / 0-)

        of the "illegal" drug trade.  Which is small peanuts in comparison to corporate crime.

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:45:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  "how long would you resist the temptation?" (0+ / 0-)

        While I was in grad school I lived in a violent drug-infested neighborhood in Baltimore. We heard gunshots on a regular basis, and everything left outside unguarded would get stolen quickly. The police would not enter some of the housing projects without backup.

        Yet most people who lived in the neighborhood DID resist! Statistics clearly showed less drug abuse than in the suburbs, and the kids and teenagers I encountered (and I encountered a lot of them) were the nicest people around. They wanted to get rid of the drug dealers, too.

        I assure you that you will not find many in the poor minority neighborhoods the Latin Kings used to terrorize who are shedding any tears for the treatment of Luis Felipe. They are glad he isn't a threat any more.

  •  My respect for you grows with every diary (10+ / 0-)

    I'm one of the others, Dee.  I've never had experience with gangs as a citizen, but since I teach in Los Angeles, I have taught people who have been in gangs and left them.  Probably some gang members too, but they don't disclose as readily. One of these students is still in the process of fighting a third strike conviction. I hope he beats it.

    If there is anything that qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment, what they're doing to Luis Felipe is exactly that. I'm not even sure a massive education project IN LAW SCHOOLS would help, but we have to do something.

    -7.75, -8.10; Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:28:32 AM PST

  •  An alternative (3+ / 0-)

    I certainly agree that there is a huge amount of racism and classism in this country; I also certainly agree that there is huge income inequality. And all these things contribute to the creation of gangs.

    And yet....

    So many people from those same backgrounds, subject to that same classism and racism and poverty, do NOT become like the subject of this diary.

    We hear about them when they rise to great heights; we hear about the extraordinary ones.

    But we hear too little about the ordinary ones.

    The ones who hold down jobs (even if lousy ones); who go to school; who raise their families and live ordinary everyday lives.

    People like the subject of this diary are born into a sea of troubles; and we certainly need to deal with that sea.  But many float on that sea.

    By not paying attention to them, I think we raise the stigma of those neighborhoods and we also (through a sin of omission) raise the prestige of the gangs, and we also contribute to the racism we seek to prevent.

    •  looking back to the 50's, weed for example (5+ / 0-)

      was considered a ghetto problem; it was only when it hit the suburbs in the 60's that government noticed and cracked down.  Same for cocaine.

      Just saying that the majority ignores the minority until their activities adversely affect the majority.  Therefore the good guys in an ethnic neighborhood will live their lives under the radar  

    •  The subject of the diary was born in Cuba (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez

      under Castro's Communism. A totalitarian state where this kind of punishment is routine. (And that isn't counting the firing-squad executions Castro ordered.)

      Does anyone know how he got to the US, when, and why?

      •  It's in the diary (0+ / 0-)
        In a detailed interview, King Blood reveals other aspects of his early years, in particular his extraordinary journey to the United States:
        One morning in 1979, he [King Blood] was making his way home when he felt the cold barrel of a gun behind his ear. He escaped, ran behind a car, pulled out a .38 revolver, and fired several shots. [I shot the guy in the arm,]
        he says. [But before I had a chance to run away from la policia, they arrested me and charged me with attempted homicide. I got 10 years.]By the next year, Cuba seemed overtaken with lawlessness and desperation. That's when Castro opened his prison cells and freed the [undesirables.]
        King Blood became one of the lucky ones, setting off across the Straits of Florida in a rickety boat made of inner tubes and old furniture. More than 100 refugees traveled together in a ragtag flotilla, their fate in nature's indifferent hands. He remembers seeing a fin cutting through the water just be-
        fore the raft next to him was rammed, throwing an old man overboard. The sharks ripped him apart, filling the water with magenta clouds. [I felt like a prisoner of the sea,] says King Blood. Six years later, he wrote in the Latin
        Kings' manifesto, [You don't even know if you will survive the present night].

        Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

        by Denise Oliver Velez on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 03:24:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Over the holidays a human rights lawyer came to (17+ / 0-)

    stay with us. He was here to speak in front of the court in Denver about the shoe bomber he represents. He asked the judge to combine all the prisoners in the supermax in S Colorado into one case.

    Prior to having his say in front of the judge he was trying out his arguments on me. They seemed overly technical and a bit hard to follow. I argued that as an American Citizen I wanted some basic things regarding those prisoners, (uni bomber, White Supremacists, and other real cute folks)

    OK those are bad folks, they've been convicted of horrible crimes and might try to communicate to the outside world to commit further crimes. I get that. My problem is that those guys are being mistreated. Any normal human being can understand that. I don't want those guys mistreated in a prison in my country. It's a very simple message. It ended up being the foundation on which he based all of his technical arguments and it was the first statement made to the judge. Those prisoners are being mistreated.

    I'm not sure how the case will go, my friend seemed to think the judge was sympathetic. The judge asked the govt lawyer many pointed questions which the lawyer had problems answering.

    One guy is being held for the embassies in Africa. I think he had a lower echelon role. For ten years in his once a year meetings with the folks who review his conditions he has asked to be able to read the National Geo and communicate with his brother.

    There comes a time when we need to consider very basic human rights. How we treat prisoners is important not just for the prisoners but for us too.

    Paul teaching the finer points of Monopoly to my kids.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:34:14 AM PST

  •  This is one of the top ten best diaries I've read (9+ / 0-)

    here on dkos, and I've been here a long time. This gives lie to claims that dkos is no longer important.

    Mucho kudos Deo and everything good to you.

    I have had two family members involved with gangs in CA. My great niece was not a member but her brother was and both spent time in jail (for her) prison (for him). They have Hispanic surnames and that's all the identification I'll do.

    Thank gawd they are both out, clean, and here, away from the streets. Both are sweethearts and were babies when they committed their crimes.

    My gniece knew what she had done for her lover was wrong (check kiting) turned herself in and is still a felon. Her brother? Drugs.

    Thank you.

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:37:09 AM PST

  •  How many gang tattoos do San Antonio's Castro (0+ / 0-)

    brothers have?  It is possible for members of a minority to make better choices in their lives and become members of the society.  What is it about them that they were able to chose a better path in live?  Their parents, their schools, their politics?  If this Latin Kings guy is now paying for the choices that he made in this thug life, why the pity anymore than pity for the members of any other mob.  

    Young black men are killing themselves everyday in the streets of Trenton and North Philly.  What is it about them as opposed to the young black men who do not make those choices toward violence and become leaders in society?  There does seem to be some measure of free agency and choice involved in these outcomes.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:37:21 AM PST

  •  Well, we could just... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, JerseyKC

    ...let all those poor, suffering victims of our society out of jail.  That seems like the only, best solution to all this repression.

    And it would eliminate the difficulties and obstacles those continually persecuted community leaders, who only want to bring their community together, face every day.  Like the difficulties Luis Felipe faced trying to bring his people together while forming the Latin Kings.

    ------------

    http://prisonphonejustice.org/...

    Luis Felipe, AKA King Blood, is the founder and leader of the Latin Kings. Felipe was imprisoned in a New York state prison when he founded the group. Over the years the group grew and Felipe directed their activities from his jail cell. This included murder, robbery, drug trafficking and assorted acts of violence. Felipe was indicted and convicted on 18 counts of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering.

    ---------------

    It's just not right to deny Luis Felipe the opportunity and support he needs to help his people.  

    •  I presume this is snark (0+ / 0-)

      People with that kind of rap sheet haven't helped their people or anyone else.

      And this kind of diary is exactly the kind of thing that hurts progressive causes with swing voters. There are thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of people incarcerated in this country who do not need to be. How many are serving long sentences for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs? How many were found guilty by virtue of prosecutorial misconduct? And you make a diary in support of one of the most wretched excuses for a human being in America, someone who would certainly kill again if given the chance to contact his gang underlings?

      Sorry, but this is a fail. Diary about REAL injustice, please!

  •  When someone figures out a way to keep him (4+ / 0-)

    from controlling his criminal empire from behind bars, or from exacting revenge through intermediaries, then they can let him out.  

    I am pretty certain that you wouldn't have proposed allowing Osama Bin Laden the same freedom.  I wonder if he gets treated better or worse than the prisoners at Gitmo.

    They have SuperMax for a reason.  Guys like Luis Felipe.  I am sure that if this is not legal, he will prevail on appeal.  

    Intolerance betrays want of faith in one's cause. - Gandhi

    by SpamNunn on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:38:57 AM PST

  •  Maybe we should do like the CIA. (0+ / 0-)

    Torture those who could potentially be a threat, or to extract information about -terrorist- criminal activity?

  •  My mind's running in two tracks here... (6+ / 0-)

    On one hand, this man is exactly the type of person who should never see the light of day because he clearly cannot function in civil society:

    But in 1993 and 1994, disciplinary troubles erupted throughout the Latin Kings, with members vying for power, filching gang money, looking sideways at the wrong women. Infuriated, King Blood wrote to his street lieutenants: B.O.S. (beat on sight) and T.O.S. (terminate on sight).

    ''Even while he was in Attica in segregation, he was able to order the leader of the Latin Kings on Rikers Island to murder someone who ended up being badly slashed in the face,'' said Alexandra A. E. Shapiro, a Federal prosecutor.

    One victim was choked and beheaded. A second was killed accidentally during an attempt on another man. A third was gunned down. Federal authorities, who had been monitoring Mr. Felipe's mail, arrested 35 Latin Kings. Thirty-four pleaded guilty. Only Mr. Felipe insisted on a trial.

    The above is from:
    http://www.nytimes.com/...

    On the other, yes, as a society we need to address and confront the realities of those who feel disenfranchised and are without hope so that the next Luis Felipe has an opportunity to turn his life around and become a useful member of society.

    And if that's too Pollyanna-ish for anyone, what's the alternative? Continuing down this same ugly path? No, thanks.

    How about I believe in the unlucky ones?

    by BenderRodriguez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:42:07 AM PST

    •  This gets personal (0+ / 0-)

      My rabbi is a chaplain at Rikers Island prison. And he does not like prisons. They don't reform, they only punish. He tries to make it a bit more tolerable.

      But some people really can't be part of society. Luis Felipe is one of them. He could have ordered a hit on my rabbi!

  •  Thanks, Sis Denise. (9+ / 0-)

    The judge's very creative extraordinary conditions is torture.
    It is killing Mr. Felipe and by its severity degrading his human dignity every day.
    But that's okay for most as he's only a gang member.
    On the other hand, ordering hits from prison is a real problem and one that wasn't invented by Felipe. Members of the mafia have been known to have their own hi-tech offices in prison from which they continue to control their business out on the streets.
    It would be interesting to know how they are treated.
    The whole Latin King phenomenon, at least here in CT, has been blown up and romanticized by incompetent, lazy law enforcement officers who need a reason to explain why they have been such a failure in keeping the peace in certain areas.

    Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

    by JoanMar on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:46:00 AM PST

  •  What's In A Man? (0+ / 0-)

    On the subject of black crime in general and gangs in particular, I never read an article without one question dwelling in my brain.  And, unfortunately, the liberal community is unable or unwilling to answer that question.

    That question is this:  To what degree is that lifestyle or philosophy an inherent part of the individual gang member?  Do these people join gangs in order to "belong," as the liberals claim, or is this anti-social behavior simply in their genes?

    I truly wonder about this:  Say that a guy with gang connections has a job, and the "brothers" ask -- or order -- him to participate in an action or "rumble."  Will he show his loyalty to his boss or the "brothers?"  And if he chooses the "brothers," what reason does society have to make his life behind bars a Sunday walk in the park?

    One thing that happens way too often is the focus being on the perpetrator of the crime and not the victims.  Liberals are VERY quick to take up the cause of felons who they feel are being abused in prison.  But are these same liberals as equally concerned about the victims of the crime receiving justice?  If they are, then what are they doing about it?  If not, then why in heaven's name not?

    Conservatives have a saying:  "You do the crime, you do the time."  I'm sorry, but I believe that the Conservatives have this one right.

    •  When something bad happens no amount of (4+ / 0-)

      justice or punishment will make it right again. The best we can do is to try to make these things not happen in the future.

      I've known people who have done things as bad or worse than Newtown in war. At that time they are very bad people. Later they become older and become different people. Their past is still there, it still really happened, but there is nothing that can be done about what has already happened. We can only affect our present and our future.

      I'm not saying we have to forgive and open the jails, but we don't need to punish harshly for something that happened long ago.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:56:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  When it comes to petty crime (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, shanikka

      I tend to tell my kids (meaning all the young people I work with) You do the crime ...

      It doesn't work, but it is an easy way for me to begin drawing lines in the sand in terms of "acceptable" behavior. A cop out on my part, in other words, but when you're working with kids of which a large subset laugh at jail time and compare different facilities, sometimes, you grasp at any straw.

      In general, however, I've seen with my own eyes that the root causes of crime )any crime, but particularly major crime) are so profound and deeply embedded in the society that, for us to trivialize it with "you do the crime... " is for us to relinquish our responsibility. And we are responsible---all of us.

    •  Please point me to even one comment (6+ / 0-)

      anywhere in this diary that advocates the release of Luis Felipe.

      Also, by specifying "black crime" as what raises your question about whether this "anti-social behavior" is "simply in their genes" - you realize you're saying that you think there's a very real possibility that black people are genetically predisposed to committing crimes.  That's really HR-worthy, I think, but as far as I understand the rules of this site, since I am responding to you, I can't drop a donut.

      But, it's bullshit.  First of all, you missed one of the main points of the diary, which is that joining a gang is not anti-social - it's the exact opposite of anti-social.  The gang functions as a family.  It's the most stable family most of these members have got.  Yes, that's a tragic and sad commentary on their situations, but there you are.

      And that brings us to a human trait that is nearly universal:  People side with their families.  Nobody, criminal or non-criminal, sides with their boss over their family - to position this in terms of your boss or your family just frankly strikes me as bizarre.  A boss is never as important as family.  Period.  (The degree to which a boss might seemingly be more important than family actually ties to family at its root - the breadwinner who has children to support, for instance.)  Of course, my family (which includes my best friends, who are actually more family than some blood relatives) doesn't happen to be a gang - they're all law-abiding, stable folks.  Wonderful for me.  I was lucky in the circumstances of my birth and childhood, and I know it.

    •  Conservatives have this one right (9+ / 0-)

      maybe because they, like you just did, focus on "black crime in general and gangs in particular."

      this anti-social behavior simply in their genes
      Would you ask the same of those who plundered, raped and enslaved others in time past? Which would mean, wouldn't it, that it is also in the genes of the descendants of the original perpetrators. Or of those whose actions resulted in the genocide of the First People of the Americas.
      No, you are talking specifically of black crime of today. Is it in their genes?
      We know for sure that it is not in the genes of the white men who have murdered dozens of people at a time in our recent history. It is not in their genes to terrorize and kill because they are mentally ill.
      Is it in the genes of minority youths to join gangs and commit murder?
      Someone above my pay grade will have to answer that one.
      Seems you have already decided.

      Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

      by JoanMar on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:00:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Another wonderful diary. (5+ / 0-)

    Great work.

    I've defended gang members accused of crimes. Also member of the mob. The gang members uniformly were more feared, more harshly punished. The judges were more indignant about those who were members of gangs as opposed to the mob.

    Obviously, long term solitary confinement is torture. It makes people ill. It destroys them. The US Supreme Court, however, apparently doesn't agree. It's had a horrible record upholding special housing (the usual euphemism), declining to   understand the actual damage to those confined. So it's really important for the rest of us to understand what's at stake, so we can educate those who can actually do something about this.

  •  We've raised torture to a fine art (6+ / 0-)

    compared to which the olden days of brandings and whippings as punishment look like nothing.

    Those supermax isolation units are designed to drive men mad. Literally to destroy the psyche and sense of self from the inside.

    nothin' to see here folks, just a massive labor uprising.

    by WesEverest on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:55:29 AM PST

  •  He was convicted of ordering multiple murders (4+ / 0-)

    while in prison, by communicating these orders to members of his gang on the outside.  

    While solitary confinement might not be justified, he needs to remain in a situation where he can't communicate with fellow gang members and facilitate the killing of more people.  It just perpetuates the deadly cycle of gang violence.

    First degree murder is a really serious crime. It's the planned, deliberate taking of another human life. Regardless of the racial, ethnic or income background of the murderer, society deserves to be protected from them.

    It doesn't seem as though this man is a danger to anyone who visits with him in prison. The problem is in his use of visitors to send messages to others outside that result in the murder of innocent people.

    I'm not sure if Luis is a psychopath or a sociopath, but he likely possesses the personality traits that make him skilled at psychological manipulation of others, even those who are highly educated and in positions of authority.  As a former gang leader, its safe to assume he's adept at that kind of manipulation.  

    Any attempts to give him more freedom while incarcerated should be approached carefully to ensure he isn't able to exploit his contacts with others to order more deaths outside.

    Has he expressed any remorse for his actions or accepted that they were wrong?  Just curious.  

    As much as I support humane treatment of people in prison, I also accept that prisons hold people who are incredibly dangerous to the public and who have committed horrendous violent crimes.   We owe it to the public to be very careful in fully understanding the risks inherent in giving violent criminals more freedom.

    Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

    by Betty Pinson on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 09:59:58 AM PST

    •  He's also a very charismatic leader (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      charliehall2

      His influence on gangs outside of prisons has been very powerful.  He's regarded as almost a cult hero by criminals outside of  prison.

      He had the amazing ability to lead a gang and order murders while in prison.  He made his own choices.

      Link

      Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

      by Betty Pinson on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:21:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am 110% ok with the sentence and conditions. (3+ / 0-)

    I think it's depraved to speak of this bullshit king without reference to his crimes and the fact that he committed them from prison.  That's what he chose to do with standard-regime imprisonment, and that's why he has special-regime imprisonment.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:01:13 AM PST

  •  Fascinating point: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, mapamp, shanikka
    The unconstitutional incarceration treatment of street brothers like King Blood does not serve as a deterrent to gang formation. It is a goad.
    If punishment of brutal crimes doesn't work as a deterrent, what does it serve, besides the blood-lust of nice, middle-class people?

    Actually, tangentially related to this diary, is a movie I saw back in the 1990s, "Dead Man Walking," with Sean Penn playing a death-row inmate in Louisiana. Penn's character has been convicted of a brutal, casual rape-murder. A nun, played by Susan Sarandon, is his spiritual adviser while he awaits execution for his horrific crime. In one scene, the nun takes flak from the prison chaplain for spending so much time with Penn's character. This chaplain believes people who commit capital crimes are generally remorseless about them.  The nun uses the example of Jesus' compassion, arguing that her service to the inmate is justified on these grounds, whether he displays remorse, or not. The chaplain finds a New Testament verse that says unless somebody specifically repents of a sin, they can't be forgiven for it.

    Later in the movie, when Penn's character finally breaks down and tearfully admits his crime to the nun, she says, "You have your dignity back." (Of course, they both know he will still die for his crime.)

    That movie helped me a lot with notions of morality, culpability, and forgiveness. Isn't our approach to addressing crime, indeed, totally misguided? Shouldn't an early recourse in the official treatment of a convicted criminal be the attempt to foster the wrong-doer's empathy for the victim?

     

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:01:38 AM PST

  •  I hope we will stick with this horrible injustice. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    Our prison system needs to be reformed with the largest number of people in prison of any country in the world and many of these people young Black and Hispanic.  But others are subjected to this old nasty system.  Thanks for these posts they deserve our attention NOW.

  •  But he's not Bradley Manning, Denise. (8+ / 0-)

    Not a useful totem of the GWOT, just a Latino gang member of little consequence. And the larger narrative here, that our system of justice is neither a system nor just, is just too uncomfortable to consider. Not to mention that the subtleties here do not lend themselves to a tweet.

    Far better that we all sink ever deeper into comfortable, familiar cynicism than to give this young man much thought. What's the alternative, realizing that all of us are complicit in his fate by our indifference?

    [This message brought to you by Privilege TV, where the elite goes to play. All Rights Reserved.]

    They're not "assault weapons"; just call them "Freedom Sparklers".

    by MBNYC on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:03:27 AM PST

    •  exactly. (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mapamp, MBNYC, shanikka, a2nite, tytalus, msrevis

      wasn't very specific in the diary but you got the drift.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:46:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Are you suggesting Bradley Manning has passed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      charliehall2

      messages to the outside world to order murders?

      Had Bradley Manning done the same as this fellow, I would have no problem with Manning likewise being deprived of the ability to communicate with the outside world.

      •  No, Manning (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        is a traitor to his country, his flag, his oath, his fellow men and women in uniform and his country's allies. All this as a member of society's most privileged group, one might add.

        I don't like the death penalty, but he should hang in my book. He probably won't, because he's a cute, non-threatening white guy that'll break any jury's heart, but if there is justice, he will.

        That other kid? Does it make no difference whatsoever that he never had a chance here in the Land of the Free? Has he had other diaries here on Daily Kos devoted to him, let alone a constant drumbeat of these, and a devoted fan base that, one might hazard, at least in part finds treason attractive?

        Ponder the difference, if you will.

        They're not "assault weapons"; just call them "Freedom Sparklers".

        by MBNYC on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:24:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Gangs are an immensely complex problem, (3+ / 0-)

    and I've been aware of the growth of gangs and increasing
    gang violence in our cities since I was a kid in L.A. and heard of the "White Fence Gang." They've tried to deal with gangs far too much with strict law enforcement, when the most enormous elephant in the room is the ghettoizing of blacks, Latinos, and recent immigrants in our society. A more just and democratic society would cut across that "ghettoizing" in a radical manner. That kind of society, with no racism in it,
    is something I won't hold my breath for.

    Young men "wannabees" aren't born with a desire to join a gang, they are simply presented many times with no alternatives.

    "They come, they come To build a wall between us We know they won't win."--Crowded House, "Don't Dream It's Over."

    by Wildthumb on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:04:43 AM PST

  •  I am conflicted (2+ / 0-)

    after reading the piece and the ensuing discussion. Yes, the condition may amount to what some may see as cruel and unjust but as others have pointed out above, might by rightly justified if he indeed did send hit orders from prison.

    Quoting Brennan from above=""A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.""

    I am not sure if society as a whole is ready at this time to see this punishment as severe. Although not our policy preference as Progressives, we have to come to the understanding that America as a whole does not have a soft spot for criminals, alleged or otherwise. Double down on that for non "white collar" criminals. The only way to change society's perceptions is to argue our heart out for what we believe in and I applaud you for writing this piece Denise.

    "If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law."-Thoreau

    by mishal817 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:05:38 AM PST

  •  But did Luis Felipe order murders through his... (0+ / 0-)

    ..correspondence from prison?  If that's the basis for the judge ruling to put him in complete isolation, then I still think it's a cruel punishment, but it certainly complicates finding a solution.

  •  Oh Jesus! Bullshit! (4+ / 0-)

    No, he's not being treated harshly.

    I grew up in and around street gangs. I've seen a lot that most people here would cringe to. Liberals who write bullshit like this have no fucking idea they devastation, cruelty and fear street gangs dish out to innocent people everyday. This guy the diarist talking about is no innocent bystander. He willingly and viciously harmed and destroyed the lives of many people. He brought hatred and addiction to our neighborhoods. Denise can cry for him all she wants but he's getting what he deserved.

    He has no sympathy from me.

    This a completely bullshit weepy crying Liberal nonsense that deserves mockery and derision.

    •  how's that again? (0+ / 0-)

      human error never fails = : )

      by i saw an old tree today on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:14:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Just curious (4+ / 0-)

      how does any of that explanation speak to the inmate's treatment in prison in any way?

      I grew up in and around street gangs. I've seen a lot that most people here would cringe to. Liberals who write bullshit like this have no fucking idea they devastation, cruelty and fear street gangs dish out to innocent people everyday. This guy the diarist talking about is no innocent bystander. He willingly and viciously harmed and destroyed the lives of many people. He brought hatred and addiction to our neighborhoods. Denise can cry for him all she wants but he's getting what he deserved.
      No, don't bother. Your real argument is right here.
      he's getting what he deserved.
      Don't bother trying to disguise it with some protest that his treatment isn't harsh. It is demonstrably harsh and you seem to like it.

      You can take your weepy liberal nonsense complaint right back to whatever rock you crawled out from under. Your repeated use of liberal as an epithet clearly identifies your persuasion.

      There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

      by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:49:28 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'll be happy to retort (1+ / 2-)
        Recommended by:
        charliehall2
        Hidden by:
        Grizzard, Avila

        His treatment in prison is due to the crimes he's committed and how he has treated the criminal justice system. Yes Virginia, he's paying the price for what he has done.That's plain and simple.

        His treatment is not harsh and fits the crime.

        You don't know me, my experience or what I believe. So please take your amateur analysis to the people who mistakenly think you're smart.

        •  I don't have to know you, sir (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, Avila

          your statements are simple enough to evaluate. You can try to redefine 'revenge' as 'punishment.' But anyone with a dictionary can see that your argument advocates revenge as morally justified or deserved, and clearly you do think the inmate deserves what he's getting. That requires no special analysis.

          Anyway, nice try on the definitional dodge, but you'll have a harder time concealing his behavior as not suffering and torture. Then again, I suppose that may be part of the point of solitary confinement and prisons being out of sight, out of mind.

          There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

          by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:25:19 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Still wrong. I didn't dodge anything. (0+ / 0-)

            It's not torture. I don't equate punishment with revenge. You commit the ultimate lack of humanity and you go to jail in the proper proportion. From reading this case, he is receiving the kind of humanity he placed for himself. It what I believe from weighing this. It's not that easy for people like me who care to go a little deeper than simplistic slogans and name calling from the likes of you.

            That's your limited and naive black and white worldview. It may be to your warped sense of what is just for the criminal who inflicted inhumane acts on others. Maybe you love protesting for the criminal because it helps with your self righteousness on what a compassionate Liberal is supposed to be. But I don't know you from the few things you communicated to me here.

            For me to position you, I have to know you in your everyday. I don't play such mental gymnastics and silly games from limited words. I don't live in your one dimensional world of normative ideals. It's naive and lacks humanity. It's the easy way out to demean and dismiss instead of having to do actual work of having to learn and think. To simplify "morally justifies and deserved" like you exhibited is what a child does when first learning but not comprehending the concept. Rarely, any issue is that simple. The weight is so much heavier.

            Call me what you will from your shallow pool. I'm this and you're that.

            Whatever.

  •  Kind of an old story (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shanikka, Mariken, blueoregon

    From a 1999 NYT article

    When the nation's most infamous terrorists -- the Oklahoma City bomber, the Unabomer, and the World Trade Center bomber -- are allowed out of solitary confinement so that they can have one hour of exercise in the nation's most secure Federal prison, what do they do?

    Apparently, they just chat.

    Now, a fourth notorious prisoner, Luis Felipe, the convicted leader of the Latin Kings gang, may also join in on at least some of the conversations, a Federal judge ruled yesterday.

    ''This is the oddest kaffeeklatsch in the history of Western civilization,'' said Steven M. Cohen, a former prosecutor on the Latin Kings case who is now in private practice.

    The four inmates seem to share little in common ideologically. Timothy J. McVeigh is a right-wing extremist convicted of carrying out the Oklahoma City bombing, while Ramzi Ahmed Yousef is an Islamic militant who masterminded the World Trade Center attack. Theodore J. Kaczynski is a mathematics whiz and loner whose string of bombings ended with his arrest in the woods of Montana, while Mr. Felipe is a street tough known for his ruthless hold -- even from prison -- on a Hispanic gang in New York.

    I had no idea that such a situation existed - and has for over 12 years. Apparently they talk about movies, if you are to believe Yousef's lawyer.

    It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America. - Molly Ivins

    by se portland on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:23:13 AM PST

  •  The diary perpetuates (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JerseyKC, charliehall2

    the canonization and glorification of this murderer by calling him "King" and using a photo to promote his legend.

    Sounds to me like what is going on in Mexico where common criminals are glorified with songs that sing the praises of the gang-member, his machismo, his style, his good looks.

    Luis is a violent predator whose punishment to me fits the crime. Capital punishment, though I am against it, would be more appropriate and humane (and less costly) in this case.

    •  We have had a zillion diaries here (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tytalus, msrevis

      with the faces of Bush, Cheney, Romney, mass murder spouting bigots like Rushbo and company - and you worry about me showing Felipe's face?

      Give me a f'n break.  

      The tubes are full of pics of King Blood - just not the spaces you frequent - obviously.  

      Which is why we need to pay attention.

      No he's no hero.  But if we are honest about wanting to address why street gangs even exist in growing numbers we better damn well be able to face the fact that there are thousands of young King Bloods. More every day.

      Do you even have a clue?

      Go to you tube - search for "King Blood"

      Go online and read ALQKN websites and message boards

      And this is just one group. Not even the largest one.

      Want a sample?
      this includes spanish tv footage

      this "rap" talks about his unjust prison conditions

      do you - in your bubble think that these young people aren't on the internet, twitter, smart phones

      They just aren't here at Daily Kos - look at the poll results.

      Since I have young godkids and relatives who live in these neighborhoods...I at least know what they listen to and how many of them feel - and sure, most are not in gangs...but they sure as hell all know kids who are.

      wake up and smell the Bustelo.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:15:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But... (0+ / 0-)

    I allus wanted to be a member of a street gang but couldn't because I couldn't run fast enough.

  •  UH...did you forget the multiple murders? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bailey2001, JerseyKC

    In 1995, he was convicted of ordering multiple murders from prison by writing to members of the Latin Kings on the outside.  Before you make a hero out of this scumbag, can you remember he murdered or ordered the murders of multiple people?  I don't give a crap what happens to him in prison, and as far as I am concerned the death penalty is too good for him, having to live the rest of his days in this fashion is justice - ie he gets what he deserves.  

  •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
    On this Christian Holy day, I think of the oft-quoted biblical text in Matthew 25:31-46, which cites these words from the King of Kings:

    “[F]or I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’

    As a nation, whether we are religious or secular, we can no longer afford to turn away from prisons and prisoners. We can no longer avoid the effects of economic inequality.

    Peace, Hope, Faith, Love

    by mapamp on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:32:19 AM PST

  •  I can't read more comments (7+ / 0-)

    I just can't.  I end up absolutely cold against people who I otherwise see as community members or people I might want to have a conversation with.  Writing something like this is tough, and it is important, and thank you.  I hope some of the people whose first response was to urge this or that consideration of this being OK reconsider their words.  There is a lot of room between cutting off usable contact for a powerful criminal figure and solitary confinement.    Nothing makes this kind of sentence OK except a culture of vengeance.    But then, we live in one.

    It's interesting that infamy works the same as fame for getting attention, in a way.   If you have ever been on the butt end of institutional control of any kind, even for a little while, you know that the far end of the bell curve includes profound, evil shit that no one cares about or speaks about every day.  People with just enough "other" to be dismissed as criminal, or insane, or simply a bad fit, and no visibility at all.  I guess most people have enough taste of that to learn to blame the victim and get on with it, which is why all our examples must somehow be blameless and perfect.  And I would also guess we teach this young in America, that the morality of cruelty and abuse are proportional to what is deserved, no matter what.  From "the secret" to prisons to fake cancer cures based on happy thoughts to the homeless on the streets, the only way to make it bearable is to believe that all harm reflects on the moral nature of those who are suffering, and none on ourselves.  Maybe the exact counterexample is one way to hold up the mirror.  If there is any way to do that at all, once people have learned to think that way...

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:33:58 AM PST

    •  "Culture of Vengance" - Oh, please! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      i saw an old tree today

      He paying for the crimes he did and had others do. Period! In our society - if and when you get caught - have to pay for those crimes with your freedom.

      Unless you personally been involved with street gangs like I have, you have no idea of what you're talking about. He isn't just some guy who made it to the top by vote. You earn your way there with blood and devastation. This isn't a fucking movie or "prison porn". It's cruel real life that has affected millions of people.

      Look, cry for him if you must but don't call it names that it doesn't deserve.

      •  I don't care if he's Ted Bundy and Al Capone... (9+ / 0-)

        ...combined.  His treatment reflects on us.  Not him.  The fact you dismiss that as a nice, chuckly joke based on your experience in the big tough world is exactly what a such a culture looks like.  

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:47:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  who the hell are you arfff (0+ / 0-)

          Bundy, Capone, (Ridgeway), oops a raw nerve, Thank You

          human error never fails = : )

          by i saw an old tree today on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:52:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow (8+ / 0-)

            I have a lot of raw nerves around how our society treats those assumed to be beyond the pale -- sometimes making that determination for the best of reasons, sometimes for the worst.  I'm proud of keeping those nerves alive, both because they come from my own most closely held morality and because the world tells me that I should not, over and over.  From the shows on teevee to the people I speak with daily.  

            Why are you so pleased to take a trollish stance here?  What is your stake?  Why do you feel that the treatment of those who are fully within the power of society should be cheered like a football game?

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:01:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  More bullshit. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JerseyKC

          His situation doesn't reflect on us period. That nonsense coming from a place of a naive fantasy land. From a person who has no idea on how that world works or been involved in the life gang culture. My experience with this is no "joke". Seeing people die viciously isn't a giggle.

          If you want to play in your Liberal cartoon, please be my guess. If you want to play sociologist because it makes you feel superior, have fun in your false house. But save your judgement on my experience for yous progressive Barbie and Ken dolls your surround yourself with at your bistro dinner parties. Let your ignorance keep fueling theirs.

          •  OK, I'm done (8+ / 0-)

            And if you follow the pattern of most online bullies, you will make a final comment after this about what a fool I am.

            I understand expedience and cruelty better than you know.  I do indeed believe in monsters.  And the fastest way to become one is to be that damn sure of anything.  

            I'd say "may your certainty serve you well" but that would indeed be giving into the online sword-crossing impulse.  So...may you find some way to temper it.

            Good day.

            ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

            by jessical on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:07:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  You don't get to call the rules. (0+ / 0-)

              Another example of false sociology masks as indifference. You are just plain wrong about this issue. Learn the lesson and move forward.

              People who disagree with you are bullies? Wow, talk about psychological issues.

              But okay, you can call it what you want.

            •  'the pattern of most online bullies' (0+ / 0-)

              Nice ad hominem.

              You're not so much a fool as an ass.

              'And the fastest way to become one is to be that damn sure of anything.'

              Textbook hypocrisy + ridiculous hyperbole.

        •  'I don't care' (0+ / 0-)

          indeed, you're just moralizing from a position of privilege, detached from reality.

    •  He ordered people killed from prison (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      charliehall2

      He was sentenced as is he now because he used his "free access" from prison to order multiple people be killed.  You telling me if he ordered your mother killed from prison you would want him to continue to be able to communicate with the outside world?

    •  Fantastic insights. (5+ / 0-)

      I echo this, especially, because I live it:

      From "the secret" to prisons to fake cancer cures based on happy thoughts to the homeless on the streets, the only way to make it bearable is to believe that all harm reflects on the moral nature of those who are suffering, and none on ourselves.
      Thank you, jessical, for speaking the truth with such passion.

      Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

      by earicicle on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:36:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The punishment is the exact punishment I think (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bailey2001, charliehall2

    should be used instead of the death penalty.

    Yes, you are right black people get the worst.  That needs to be fought against with all our hearts and strength.

    There are people whose crimes against society are so bad they don't deserve society for the rest of their days.  Not the death penalty.  

    But not life either.

  •  I chose "other" because my daughter has had (4+ / 0-)

    contact with gang members in school. She was molested in the hallways but would not let me complain to the school officials because she feared retaliation. It was hard for me, but I had to give in to her. As a resident of LA for 30 years it is hard not to be aware of gangs. I have no answers. I applaud your diary(s).

     I have another daughter who will never vote to get rid of the death penalty. Her friend was murdered for his brother's drug debt. His story was made into a Hollywood movie. His murderers are all in prison now. She could not understand that as a mother, I cried for all of them. How many families and friends were torn apart by their acts. They were high school aged, and now are thrown away. I watched all of his friends spiral down for several years. Two more died of drug overdoses. The rest of the group seem to have weathered the bad times and pulled themselves back and are succeeding in their lives. This is not a gang story, just suburban white kids.

    I do believe the problem is us as much as them. I have always believed that the anti-poverty programs and education programs were the solution. I don't understand why we are moving away from these programs now. (Are we?)

    I do know that my daughter's boy friend was repeatedly stopped while walking into our neighborhood (walking while brown.) I do know that when picked up for traffic tickets and arrested he was moved around the LA jail system for several days and roughed up and hit with batons for no reason.

    I don't know what else to say right now. I don't see us moving towards rehabilitation in our prisons. I see the PIC taking over and growing. Innocent children are still dying in South LA. I have always believed the best I could do was speak out, on a one-to-one when I had the chance, and to my state and federal representatives with my voice and my vote.

    I thank you for your diary(s). They always make me examine myself and my life experiences.

    As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all.

    by SanFernandoValleyMom on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 10:55:04 AM PST

    •  Thank you for your detailed response (4+ / 0-)

      pointing out differing perspectives.  

      I can remember how angry I was after my cousin was shot in the head and killed after doing multiple tours in Nam.  Got home and was dead the next day.  I was much younger then and probably would have supported capital punishment - as revenge.  

      But I have learned that it isn't a solution to violence.  It only perpetuates it.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:00:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Convicted killer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Boodaddy, Rich in PA

    Sorry, no sympathy here.

    What is your point? Psychopaths need forgiveness? Conflating prejudice with skin color no matter the crime or behavior?

    Witness the evil inherent in the system...blah.

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:06:15 AM PST

    •  The point is, is it ok with you (8+ / 0-)

      that in your name another person is being tortured.
      We all agree that he should be punished (I thought that was why we have prisons) and that he should not be allowed to order hits from prison. Should be also be tortured?
      Or do you not agree that he is being tortured?
      Would your views be the same, do you think, if this person was a family member?

      Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

      by JoanMar on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:12:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Torture? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Boodaddy
        Life imprisonment (plus 45 years) in solitary confinement. No visitors. No letters, no phone calls, except to his lawyer. He has no contact even with corrections officers in the Supermax facility.
        The Dead. The Forgiveness. Not his fault, its society.  Incarcerated = torture?

        The Dead...those that have no voice...

        You or the Diarist, provide proof of torture.  

        "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

        by EdMass on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:33:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's hard on the poor baby, so it's torture. (0+ / 0-)

          One additional perversity of this advocacy is that death penalty opponents sometimes say we should support life imprisonment because death is too easy.  Now, it seems, life imprisonment is too hard unless the murderer can consort with other murderers.

          You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

          by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:16:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  He's not being tortured. (0+ / 0-)

        It's torture on him, but we don't define torture by looking at the impact it has on one individual.  I can certainly believe that it's unusually hard on him vs. how others might take it, because his whole life has been manipulating others.  Too bad for him.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:18:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  How do you define torture? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, Grizzard

          http://www.merriam-webster.com/...

          1
          a : anguish of body or mind : agony
          b : something that causes agony or pain
          2
          : the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
          3
          : distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining
          I think Denise made the case for definition 1a. I included the third, not because it applies to people, but because it reminds me of your argument  :)

          There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

          by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:05:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Personally, I don't ask for sympathy. (8+ / 0-)

      But I do ask for simple morality. There are many good reasons the Eighth Amendment is a critical part of our constitution. And that you, and America in general, are so willing to throw away it's principles and also ignore its presence as a part of the supreme law of the land is reprehensible.

      •  Will you extend this outrage (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Boodaddy

        to the victims and intended potential victims?

        If no one is responsible then what?

        Reprehensible indeed.

        "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

        by EdMass on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:41:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  since I have family members who (5+ / 0-)

          have been victims of homicide I'll answer that.  

          I don't believe in justice as revenge.

          I don't think that torture will bring back the dead.

          I don't believe that our prison system rehabilitates anyone

          I don't believe that building more prisons and locking up more people is going to solve why we have violent crime.

          I not only speak out for inmates - I have worked for years with "victims", especially women and children who are victims of rape and domestic/sexual abuse

          There are those who advocated that HIV positive people should all be incarcerated since they have the potential to infect others. I fought that and still do.

          There are countries who want gay people put to death.

          When we fail to apply human rights here in the US we have no standing as progressives to demand them elsewhere.

           

          Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

          by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:06:08 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You beg the question (0+ / 0-)

            What then is the "appropriate" punishment for this individual?

             Not a class, not a people, not the outrage of perceived prejudice.  For the "King".  What?

            "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

            by EdMass on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:37:22 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  He should stay in prison for life (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tytalus

              though I'm not fond of solitary - for a host of reasons - if he needs to be in protective custody - so be it.

              There are a slew of inmates with real body counts that are in population.

              He no longer "leads" anyone in the ALKQN so can't order anything.

              Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

              by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 02:13:45 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well then, that's what he's got... (0+ / 0-)

                so help me again, what is the point of this diary if a killer is incarcerated, you agree that he should be and when it comes down to it the solitary may be for his own protection?

                Sorry, I do appreciate your writing most times but in this case what a waste of pixels and bandwidth....

                "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

                by EdMass on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:59:29 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't think you understand (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  tytalus

                  the difference between life,  admin seg (which is a form of solitary) super max solitary and solitary with no human contact or mail or visitors or phone calls

                  Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

                  by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:05:15 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  It's actually easy, don't kill other people (0+ / 0-)

                    then there's no reason to complain about the treatment one gets when society and the judicial system lays down the law and the punishment that is deemed appropriate by those we charge with administering justice.  Oh, the poutrage!

                    Be well.  

                    Done.

                    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

                    by EdMass on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:13:15 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

              •  'with real body counts' (0+ / 0-)

                You are messed up. You rationalize a multiple murderer and thereby undermine your position and in fact the entire liberal enterprise.

        •  That's a ridiculous argument. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          Arguing against cruel and unusual punishment of criminals does not mean one argues against punishment of criminals. I rebuke you for suggesting I believe otherwise when you had zero reason to think so.

      •  The idea that we're throwing away the 8th... (0+ / 0-)

        ...Amendment because there's a clearly-articulated case for depriving a convicted murderer of the instruments of his crimes is ridiculous.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:15:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You asked for an explanation of "other" votes. (2+ / 0-)

    I have met and talked with two former street gang members (one a member of a San Francisco Chinese street gang, the other a member of a Sacramento Hmong street gang).

    But they were passing acquaintances, not family members or friends. And I'd hardly say meeting them directly affected my life. Hanging out with the guy from San Francisco the group I was with stood unimpressed when he claimed he lost part of two fingers as payment for leaving the gang early. The man from Sacramento was the brother of my friend's girlfriend.

    Perhaps I should have said I have no direct experience with street gangs. But that didn't seem quite right either. So I voted "other". Sorry if I'm too much of a stickler for precision!

  •  You think 'social conditions' spawned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA

    every psychopathic killer out there?

  •  This is 'Cruel and unusual punishment'... (6+ / 0-)

    Full stop. Period. End of discussion.

    To see 'progressives' justify & rationalize it as anything other than that is appalling. To see them advocate the state murdering the prisoner instead--'euthanizing' or 'putting him down like a mad dog'--leaves me speechless.

    Our justice system has gone mad. We should not allow ourselves to go mad along with it.

    Thanks for the diary, Sister Dee.

    Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

    by earicicle on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:30:51 AM PST

    •  When I first came to Daily Kos (6+ / 0-)

      I was pretty surprised to find diaries that dealt with the work Mumia is doing from prison HR'ed to oblivion.

      Obviously, Luis Felipe is no Mumia - but I am not shocked that some people here are unable to grasp that democracy and our principles have a price - even those who are guilty must have rights.

      As long as we ignore what we are creating in prisons (at our peril) we will have two nations under one flag.  One for the haves and one for the have nots.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 11:53:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's unusual because he committed an unusual... (0+ / 0-)

      ...crime, which was to order murders from a regular-regime prison.  The sentence specifically deprives him of the situations that permitted him to order those murders.  Cruelty doesn't come into play in that context.  In any event, cruel-and-unusual is a legal term of art rather than something colloquial and the bullshit king's defenders are welcome to fight for him in court.  Who knows, maybe if they this one for him win he'll spare them in an act of royal grace.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:13:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  'Cruel-and-unusual is a legal term of art...' (4+ / 0-)

        Yes: One of those legal terms of art enshrined in the Bill of Rights, by the Founders, alongside 'freedom of speech'. One of those little terms of art for which they fought an improbable revolution against a big empire.

        One of those.

        Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

        by earicicle on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:29:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Term-of-art, which means it's to be determined (0+ / 0-)

          ...by courts, to which this contemptible murderer has full access, rather than by a bunch of people on a website. But you knew that already.

          You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

          by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:23:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  So after our conversation the other day (5+ / 0-)

    I did a little reading on the gangs that were around when I was growing up and the relation to todays gangs.

    Unfortunately at the moment I am involved in a problem at work so I don't have a lot of time to write but I wanted to reiterate that the underlying problem is largely one of economic opportunity... or denial of economic opportunity and the resulting integration into the larger society.

    One of the comments I came across last night was from a teacher, Timuel Black, of one of the founders of the Blackstone Rangers (later the Black P. Stone Nation). He described the young man as a leader and that if he could have only kept him in school and engaged that leadership could have been better directed. I recall (did HBO do a special on Felipe?) hearing about Felipe before. At least I think it was him. What you hear commonly in these stories... the Panthers, the Vice Lords, the Blackstone Rangers and others... is that they attempt to make the transition from "gang" to social organization providing services to the community. In some cases they fail of their own accord and in others they are undermined or otherwise forced to fail by the larger society as a whole. That part I think is pure racism.

    But if you look at places where society fails to provide basic services and opportunity somebody will always fill that gap. Gangs do that in inner city neighborhoods where the city itself basically abandons the people there.
     

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:00:29 PM PST

  •  This one to DOV... (6+ / 0-)

    After a couple of really nasty and one nice exchange in the comments, and without reading too many more of them (because I gotta stay on the side of wanting to think the world is OK today, and its kinda iffy for reasons of my own), I wanted to let you know that this put me in mind of wondering how the hell you keep coalitions together, when part of the price of that coalition is the basic human rights of some set of people?  

    I mean, the people I just had really nasty nasty exchanges with probably both voted for Obama too.  Whether they consider this young man as deserving of fundamental human rights or not.  The whole more better democrats thing has always had this tension, between the idea of America being basically a good place that simply needs to inhabit its ideals, and the idea of America as just another great machine with some good points and a lot of money, set against the long struggle for human liberation.  Talk about the human rights of people who are deemed not human, and you will always find the burning line through those two groups, the coalition will split.  The aftermath does not endear us to each other much.

    What works?  I don't know.  Your approach here was conversational and professional and personally honest.  In your own voice but not especially polemic.  You are only asking that people exercise some reasonable respect for human rights.   But because this is a culture absolutely steeped in the idea that the rules put some people outside all consideration, you are actually having to argue for radical empathy, as Davis describes it.   And radical empathy requires us to shock and transform the soul, through art, through great oratory, humani nihil a me alienum puto.   And that's pretty hard to do in a diary about a simple, real thing, happening right now, which it seems might be remedied without the necessity of anything but a humane interpretation of existing law.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:14:46 PM PST

    •  coalition building is tough. (7+ / 0-)

      Specifically because you are attempting to bring together people who have disparate opinions on a wide range of issues, even when they have agreement on others.

      I remember when I had to go to police community review board meetings.  I was working with groups who were fighting police brutality (and hated cops), and also with a group of seniors who were demanding the police lock more people up.  And with another group who was trying to get crack addicts into treatment. And with a group of women who were in a local work release prison.  And with homeowners who wanted the prison out of their neighborhood. All of this was taking place in Harlem.

      The groups were all worried about crime and drugs and violence.  They all had different solutions, and different perspectives.

      Getting then to talk to each other - rather than just talk past each other was the first step.  

      It takes time and patience. And a willingness to not get immediate results.  And to accept that there would always be those who would never agree.  Which also meant me accepting that I couldn't just write them off (which I was inclined to do).  

      It's easy to find a small group of people who you are in tune with. Not so easy to work alongside of those with whom you have friction.

      Daily Kos is a good example of this. A majority of people here are "Democrats"  But what that means for each of them as individuals differs. So where some Democrats are ardently in opposition to the death penalty others are not.  

      Doesn't mean we can't work together on other pieces of the problem.

      Some of my dear friends here can't understand how I could possible own a gun.  That's okay - I still love them.  And they are still speaking to me even though they think I'm wrongheaded.

      I have friends on both sides of the I/P wars here.

      My only solution is to not get so riled up that I leave.  You can't work on building things if you have exited stage left.

      Join us on the Black Kos front porch to review news and views written from a black pov—everyone is welcome.

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:44:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  indeed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez, tytalus

        All great points, and some insight into your drive and effectiveness :)  And the implicit point is taken that the divide is not as simple as I made out.  I think you are both saner and more engaged than I am, and I am not well equipped to respond.

        I wonder what the young man you wrote about would say, right about now, if he had an iPad there in solitary and had a good writing voice.    I know that for me being someone who people don't think of as being human makes for some damn cold 'tudes about coalition partners who deny basic human rights for people who they can, without any real trouble, imagine before them.  Grim future disadvantages don't register in the same way, quite.   Everything you say is true, but there's this level where it isn't just "we've got some stuff to agree on" so much as "ok, anywhere else is better, lest I perish".  I guess that is the point where we hope that the coalition is broad enough that some allies remain behind.    

        Somebody bought me a membership, I'd feel way way too guilty to leave now :}  I keep learning stuff. And while I'm not as well grounded as yourself, I am grounded enough to know that I'm still at my keyboard and monitor, regardless.  

        ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

        by jessical on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:12:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't have any problem with the sentence (3+ / 0-)

    section prohibiting outside contact. That makes sense to me. I can't help but think that communication on the inside with others will just get out, as well which might result in more inside/outside violence.

    I do not like the solitary confinement. I just don't know how to arbitrate communication to stop violence. Yes, I do view it as torture. Potential killing of others (inside or outside) doesn't justify the lifting that part of the sentence.

    Geez. I don't know what can or should be done. I don't want to violate his rights (though he is a sickening and obviously ruthless killer), but I also feel that those at risk inside/outside should not be put at risk either. It's a terrible question.

    I would, however, agree we need to pay much more attention to at-risk youth. I have no idea what can or should be done on this level as I am not experienced in what works.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 12:35:31 PM PST

  •  violence in a society (5+ / 0-)

    doesn't just arise out of the blue. Our society from the top down is violent, cruel, brutal and homicidal and to top it off addicted to fear. We do reap what we sow.

    We reward, idolize members of our society who kill with a ivy league degree they are savvy businessmen or 'powerful interests' that create wealth. They are the responsible 'gang' members who keep us safe from the evil and dangerous world. We reward them with obscene wealth and power, and anyone who lives outside their 'law' is a criminal or an enemy of the state. The real criminals fan the fear of 'other' be they our countries gangs or war lords in Afghanistan or Somalia. They torture, kill and incarcerate those who    

    Who creates this world this screw or get screwed world where we kill via the state or our inhumane economic systems anyone who threatens the order that has become devoid of humanity? Human life is cheap in a world that institutionalizes, poverty, violence and death and calls it security, justice or law and order. Prisons are profitable, the GWOT is profitable, slave labor is profitable, resource wars are profitable. Killing is profitable by the spreed sheet, the 'law' or weapons but it's still barbaric and criminal. We call the victims of our 'drive by' bombings collateral damage and a necessary price for keeping us safe.  

    My mom lived in Greece on Paros in a small village for the last 16 years of her life. She used to say when she came back to the US 'this country has made being poor a crime'. It also has built a system that makes barbarism and injustice the law of the land. Strange that we talk about the protection from  violent mentally ill, the criminal gang bangers and yet refuse to make the connection that our society itself is truly sick and getting worse. We are a homicidal and cruel country/ society who thinks that torture and death protect us from what we  have decided is 'the world as we find it'. What a nightmare world, that according to our leaders is inevitable and 'the way forward.

    As for this gangsters killing people from inside prison with orders to others to do the killing meriting extreme solitary confinement that is laughable. If this were a just society or even a law abiding society then every war criminal in power would be locked up for life in a cell hand have no contact with any human, instead of renditioning, droning, killing. torturing and operating unchecked by any of the universal laws of humanity.

    Sorry to rant here but the hypocrisy of a nation and a society that has institutionalized racism, poverty, violence and inequity here and around the world and then says they deserve it because they are criminal or a danger to our
    way of life or may kill me or mine, and steal from me is pathetic. Human rights and human life are no longer on the table and we are reaping what we sow. No vindictive punishment, preemptive wars, torture or example can stop the systemic inhumanity we have all come to think of as 'keeping us safe'. Lesser evils do not justify what we do to each other.

       

    •  That was indeed a rant and not at all righteous. (0+ / 0-)

      It merely advocates for total impunity for everyone because some happen to enjoy it.

      You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

      by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:21:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's not how I read it. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez
      •  no it advocate's (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Annalize5, Denise Oliver Velez

        for a society that practices social justice and respect's the those pesky inalienable human and civil rights. A country that does not with impunity discard the value of human life and hard won rights in the name of security or run amok viscous capitalism. Some happen to enjoy it? you mean those who have enough wealth or power to be above the laws of humanity? How democratic and just is this? I never claimed it was righteous I will leave that kind of claim to those who claim righteousness on one hand and are the cause of human injustice, misery and death with the other.

           

        •  So we're all hostages to your vision of justice? (0+ / 0-)

          I think people have the right not to be killed or otherwise harmed even in unjust societies.

          You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

          by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 05:00:49 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  "The real criminals" -- You think Luis Philipe (0+ / 0-)

      isn't a real criminal?

      This kind of crap that defends and even lionizes psychopaths like Luis Philipe undermines the entire liberal enterprise.

  •  This whole diary forgets victims period. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, roycej, JerseyKC, 2lucky

    I love how all those people calling the imprisonment of this monster cruel seem to forget the victims. They seem to forget the people who are suffering and have suffered at the hands to this man and people like him. They call his treatment cruel but forget to address the cruelty they heaped on others. They choose to ignore the communities who have lost mothers, fathers and children to senseless violence. They feel sorry for the criminal but not one ounce of compassion for those that have suffered under the criminal. They conveniently leave out the facts that put the criminal where they are today.

    It diaries like these that deserves mockery from people who see this from the outside and think that Liberals live in Fantasyland.

    I grew up very close to this issue. I've seen people maimed and die at the hands of people like this because they answered a question the wrong way. I lost family because the people they trusted turned on them for a chance to move up the ranks. I've seen and experienced the cruelty and devastation that these monsters inflict on communities who fight neglect and prejudice. All this diary exposed was the fact that there are people who seem to think that the criminal that has robbed their communities of progress, freedom and safety deserve a better form of compassion than the people they harmed.

    The punishment that this man received wasn't unwarranted if you read his history. And I personally believe in the death penalty and this type of incarceration. Not because it's "revenge" or "trying to bring people back". I believe in this because - as a society - there needs to be punishments that fits the crimes. There has to be a form of punishment that not only relays to the rest of us what will happen when you choose to willingly to break others lives and freedom. But the individual needs to experience a punitive response for their callousness and lack of humanity. We punish those who exhibit the lack of humanity they inflict on others.

    If those of you who call the imprisonment of this monster a lack of human decency and feel for the cruelty that this man is suffering, then how about some small response for the people who suffered these cruel acts they crushed others with. So far, from the diarist and people who support her, I see deafening silence and self righteousness. I see naive dismissals of the people who were lost and maimed. I see blind allegiance to a warped since of what they consider just.

    •  That's not how I see it at all. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez

      Making this man or those like him insane doesn't bring his victims back, it doesn't ease the suffering of family members, it doesn't even do anything in terms of protection against future killings that any number of less draconian measures could do as well.  All it does is punish.

      And there's a point in punishment where, it seems to me, it's no longer worth doing -- a point where it hurts the rest of us by exposure to such a level of inhumanity.  I doubt that you or anyone here really disagrees on that.  Would you want to punish this man by having some state appointed functionary slowly rip out his toenails and fingernails?  Tear him apart on the rack?  Stick needles in his eyes and chop off his genitals?  A bit graphic no doubt, but I think you'll get my point.  There is a point where nearly everyone will say the cost of punishment is too high.  We just differ on what that point is.  Given everything I've learned about the horrors of extreme solitude and sensory deprivation on the human psyche, the sentence imposed on this person exceeds that point for me.  It doesn't for you.

      •  Nobody is making him insane (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rich in PA, JerseyKC

        Being in isolated confinement isn't the same as waterboarding or being beaten. Nobody is playing mental games with him. He's just in solitary confinement because of the actions he committed in another prison. He's where he is because of what he's done to other out and in jail.

        Punishment is the result of negative actions. In his case, it was murder of others. In my book, and many others, that's the ultimate form of inhumanity. The price he has to pay for those inhumane actions is his freedom. And when he was ordering the death of others from through communication from a jail cell, the price went steeper. He's where he is because of what he has done.

        On a bigger point, and this is my problem with the prisoner rights view on this, is that there are people who think that it's okay to keep normative ideas in an empirical world. Or it's okay to forget the ugly details in order to keep with a worldview that any cruelty is wrong. Even when the punishment doesn't even compare to the crime. That view puts criminals and victims on the same level. From advocating for prisoners to get accommodations similar to those out of jail to dismissing the suffering of victims from diaries like this, it seems that a lot of people for prisoners rights would rather die by their moral rule than bear the burden of balancing justice for society and the victims of these inhumane people.

        From the title to her comments, the victims are an afterthought to Denise's ideal of overall humanity. She has no problem embracing people who had no problem displaying and committing inhumane acts on others. The victims aren't here or too quiet so it's easier to ignore them. If she had to really balance that point, and answer the question of justice for the victims, what is truly fair on the true balance of the acts committed, she and others like her lose. They lose because they would have see the imbalance of their advocacy. You can't say these people deserve humanity when the people they hurt took away others. They are not equal at all.

        This is not revenge when I talk about the victims. I would say to you that the criminal, the truly guilty, usually get a better deal than the victims. I don't want to bring people back or an eye for an eye. I just want criminals to pay the price for their chosen actions. Society has this and it should be honored.

      •  Since there's no restorative justice for murder... (0+ / 0-)

        ...on what basis would we punish murderers at all, by your reckoning?  I think philosophical disquisitions like yours make for really bad public policy.

        You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

        by Rich in PA on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 04:59:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Nancy, that's stupid and dishonest. (0+ / 0-)

        He's in solitary confinement because he kills people by writing letters. Even if you think there are better ways to deal with him, that's the motivation, not torture. Your comments read like a parody of the sort of airy fairy shallow knee-jerk "bleeding heart" crap that right wingers accuse all liberals of indulging in. Get real.

        •  I am real (0+ / 0-)

          I can talk to the ivory tower, but I'm not part of it.  I've been the victim of the sort of violent crime that people like to pontificate the chopping of genitals, capital punishment, and "remedial rape" for.  I'm not blind to human evil and I'm not blissfully ignorant of nor callous about the effects of violent crime on its victims.

          I'm also not trying to guess at the motivations of the judge here and I don't think they really matter.  I believe that punishment of that sort is a form of human evil, whatever its motivations.  Things could have been done differently and should have been done differently.

          In other countries the worst evils are dealt with without doing things like this.  Why not here?

          Finally -- I lived through the 80s.  I have LONG SINCE lost my fear of being called a freaking "bleeding heart liberal".  That whole dog and pony show trotted out by the right as a way to portray liberals as weak and unrealistic and conservatives as the clear-headed adults who must make the regretful but hard decisions ... I spit on it.  My values are real and they are strong and they are practical.

  •  Cripes Denise (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    you may know I have written about less sympathetic death penalty cases myself, but in hindsight am I the luckier fellow to have been mostly ignored? You actually got an HR for this one.

    Tips and thoughts on torture in our prisons (143+ / 1-)

    Recommended by:
        One Pissed Off Liberal, DaNang65, navajo, shanikka, tommymet, historys mysteries, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, zenox, gecko, Remediator, rebereads, jguzman17, DWG, nomandates, vcmvo2, yuriwho, parryander, anodnhajo, raina, kestrel9000, xynz, DRo,

    ...[brevity is the soul of wit]...

    Garrett, Joe Hill PDX, sviscusi, blueoregon, CA ridebalanced
    Hidden by:
        Boodaddy

    There is nothing so ridiculous that some philosopher has not said it. -- Cicero

    by tytalus on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 01:42:36 PM PST

  •  It appalls me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, tytalus

    that anyone thinks it acceptable to treat another human being in such a fashion.  No matter what he's done.  The fact that so many here find it acceptable (or a good thing even) and want to chuck the likes of Dick Cheney in there for good measure ... there's so far to go.

    Re: the war on drugs -- more and more I'm right there you, Denise.  A cure worse than the disease if ever there was one.  Not that it even is a cure.  More like a fake patent medicine that's worse than the disease.

  •  Thanks for an excellent diary, Denise. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    I have had very little exposure to gang violence, a former brother-in-law was shot (he's okay) a former co-worker (who was not in a gang) was killed in a drive-by shooting in E Oakland. However, i do know solitary confinement is soul killing, and not just for the "criminal" You have to look at what kind of people can work in solitary confinement and wonder how they (or if) they hang on to their humanity and how it affects how they conduct themselves outside the confined environment (domestic violence among CO's)

    "Let us never forget that doing the impossible is the history of this nation....It's how we are as Americans...It's how this country was built"- Michelle Obama

    by blueoregon on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 03:11:27 PM PST

  •  I don't disagree that (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, charliehall2

    isolation of Luis Felipe is a form of torture.

    However, since he ordered people murdered while he was in prison, how are future murders to be avoided, unless his communication with the outside world, and other prisoners is cut completely off.

    He has brought his punishment on himself by abusing the few privileges that prisoners are allowed.

  •  The Kings is a Chicago Gang (0+ / 0-)

    As far as I know, there are no New York gangs with national reach.

    Anyway, I believe we should follow are own laws even when it comes to blood-thirsty creatures like Felipe.  However, he is a sociopath and probably doesn't crave interaction with others the way a person with a full set of emotions does.  I'm sure most of his dramatic acting is just him manipulating people.

  •  lol...where do 80% of you folks live?!? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez
    I have no direct experience with street gangs
    80%     2895 votes
    Wow.  Must be nice. ;)

    I tipped the diary, but I can't rec it.  Too much "boo hoo" for one seriously F'ed-up asshole, and not enough practical progressive approach to appropriate methods of meting out justice.

    I just can't muster the outrage...and THAT is exactly why there can't be any "boo hoo" in going about presenting why prison/State-sanctioned abuse (directly or indirectly) is a really really bad idea...and most sane folks are horrified by ALL the occurances in "A Clockwork Orange."

    "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

    by Marjmar on Sun Jan 06, 2013 at 08:53:54 PM PST

  •  NO EASY ANSWERS, BUT SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IS WRONG (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    Convicted on 18 counts of murder? That's almost as many as Adam Lanza, but I don't see anybody shedding any tears over him.

    Seriously.

    However, I do agree that solitary confinement is torture, and as such should be condemned by all enlightened people.

    As Americans, we need a better, more humane way to incarcerate the most dangerous offenders, one that will prevent them from harming others but one that will also maintain their connection with humanity, however tenuous it may be.

  •  I voted "Other" because (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    when you're of Italian ancestry and your grandfather is full-blooded Italian in a heavily Italian neighborhood, he might not be "connected" himself, but he surely knew the name of every don in town.

    I still wonder about my black-sheep Uncle Johnnie, and how much he knew about it all. More than I want to know, I'm pretty sure.

    If it's
    Not your body,
    Then it's
    Not your choice
    And it's
    None of your damn business!

    by TheOtherMaven on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 12:49:26 AM PST

  •  You've picked the wrong poster boy. (0+ / 0-)

    Defending Luis Felipe and rationalizing his crimes undermines the entire liberal enterprise.

  •  Robert Blecker at City Journal (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    has a prettified piece up, encouraging this sort of thing.

    -- http://www.city-journal.org/...

    Permanent Punitive Segregation

    What should life be like for the worst of the worst?

    In recent years, a number of states—New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, and, in 2012, Connecticut—abolished the death penalty, replacing it with life without parole (LWOP) and ending the legislative debate about appropriate punishment for the most grievous crimes. Yet the end of death as punishment in these states should begin a new debate about the punishment of life. What should it constitute, beyond the loss of liberty? What should the day-to-day experience be of the worst offenders?

    For 25 years, doing research, I’ve spent thousands of hours inside maximum-security prisons in seven states. What I’ve seen has appalled me. Convicted murderers play softball, volleyball, and Ping-Pong. Vicious men who raped and murdered children watch soap operas on color TVs. Serial killers who tortured their victims to death munch on snacks that they “shopped” for at prison commissaries. .....

    Blecker makes it sound as sweet as can be.

    An eye for an eye.

    Read the comments, too.

    You wonder that Jesus lived at all.

    "We have done nothing to be ashamed of. We have nothing to apologize for." NRA 12/14/2012

    by bontemps2012 on Mon Jan 07, 2013 at 11:13:38 AM PST

kos, mickey, jo fish, Trix, Odysseus, Avila, Fabienne, oysterface, TarheelDem, Caneel, scribe, entlord, missLotus, 714day, MillieNeon, themank, shanikka, mkfarkus, Fe, navajo, sviscusi, Steven Payne, eodell, Oaktown Girl, nswalls, ybruti, parryander, Marianne Benz, lyvwyr101, sb, vcmvo2, Laurence Lewis, NLinStPaul, noemie maxwell, FindingMyVoice, JanF, Jim R, third Party please, Jennifer Clare, tommymet, myboo, 417els, BeadLady, dopper0189, kestrel9000, ruleoflaw, AoT, fou, kck, jguzman17, twigg, 4Freedom, gpoutney, SadieSue, MBNYC, justiceputnam, blueoregon, SD Goat, shaharazade, Hedwig, Quicklund, sephius1, One Pissed Off Liberal, old wobbly, BeninSC, donnamarie, jessical, Mary Mike, DWG, joedemocrat, gchaucer2, seriously70, JaxDem, Chacounne, chakadog, royce, MrJayTee, Gemina13, Notreadytobenice, allie123, Quilldriver, jlms qkw, jarbyus, earicicle, Remediator, petral, UnaSpenser, winsock, jpmassar, rebel ga, Nannyberry, cassandraX, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, FogCityJohn, p gorden lippy, boriquasi, JoanMar, tellthestories, ramara, NYWheeler, Yasuragi, Patate, leu2500, Actbriniel, indubitably, no way lack of brain, Onomastic, annieli, mama jo, ban nock, firstalto, kirbybruno, FarWestGirl, marleycat, thomask, tardis10, enhydra lutris, stevie avebury, Friendlystranger, zenox, Monsieur Georges, Anti Em, i saw an old tree today, stormicats, Liberal Granny, anodnhajo, Aji, msrevis, a2nite, swampyankee, CA ridebalanced, mapamp, carolanne, belinda ridgewood, Free Jazz at High Noon, Nztorg, doroma, tytalus, FrY10cK, raina, wasatch, nomandates, remembrance, SanFernandoValleyMom, aresea, Urban Owl, Jollie Ollie Orange, howabout, Avilyn, starfu, ConfusedSkyes, Grizzard, TheDuckManCometh, Gardener in PA, aforsy, WithHoney, ialonelady, richardvjohnson, El Bloguero, OldSoldier99

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site