Solitary

Wow. Even George Will thinks it’s unhumane:

America, with 5 percent of the world’s population, has 25 percent of its prisoners. Mass incarceration, which means a perpetual crisis of prisoners re-entering society, has generated understanding of solitary confinement’s consequences when used as a long-term condition for an estimated 25,000 inmates in federal and state “supermax” prisons — and perhaps 80,000 others in isolation sections within regular prisons. Clearly, solitary confinement involves much more than the isolation of incorrigibly violent individuals for the protection of other inmates or prison personnel.


Federal law on torture prohibits conduct “specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” And “severe” physical pain is not limited to “excruciating or agonizing” pain, or pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily functions, or even death.” The severe mental suffering from prolonged solitary confinement puts the confined at risk of brain impairment.


Supermax prisons isolate inmates from social contact. Often prisoners are in their cells, sometimes smaller than 8 by 12 feet, 23 hours a day, released only for a shower or exercise in a small fenced-in outdoor space. Isolation changes the way the brain works, often making individuals more impulsive, less able to control themselves. The mental pain of solitary confinement is crippling: Brain studies reveal durable impairments and abnormalities in individuals denied social interaction. Plainly put, prisoners often lose their minds.

Gun insurance legislation in six states

When I first suggested this a couple of years ago, a lot of people thought I was cuckoo. But it seems like gun liability insurance is an idea whose time has finally come. And what’s not to like for politicians? After all, free market! Insurance donors! One of the points raised in this article is that insurance would not cover willful acts, but that’s not true in the case of a minor child. Lots of ways for the underwriters to fine tune it, too. (For instance, a willful act by a family member with known mental illness.) I hope this becomes reality, because so far, gun owners have rarely suffered any financial consequences for their carelessness or negligence:

Both sides in a nation sharply divided over guns seem to agree on at least one thing: a bigger role for the insurance industry in a heavily armed society. But just what that role should be, and whether insurers will choose to accept it, are much in dispute.

Lawmakers in at least half a dozen states, including California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania, have proposed legislation this year that would require gun owners to buy liability insurance — much as car owners are required to buy auto insurance. Doing so would give a financial incentive for safe behavior, they hope, as people with less dangerous weapons or safety locks could qualify for lower rates.

“I believe that if we get the private sector and insurance companies involved in gun safety, we can help prevent a number of gun tragedies every year,” said David P. Linsky, a Democratic state representative in Massachusetts who wants to require gun owners to buy insurance. He believes it will encourage more responsible behavior and therefore reduce accidental shootings. “Insurance companies are very good at evaluating risk factors and setting their premiums appropriately,” he added.

Groups representing gun owners oppose efforts to make insurance mandatory, arguing that law-abiding people should not be forced to buy insurance to exercise their constitutional right to bear arms. But some groups, including the National Rifle Association, endorse voluntary liability policies for their members. And as several states pass laws making it easier for people to carry concealed weapons and use them for self-defense, some gun groups are now selling policies to cover some of the legal costs stemming from self-defense shootings.
Continue Reading →

Nothing bad will ever happen to these people

corzine

We’re the designated human sacrifices, not them:

NEW YORK — A private market regulator refused to ban former MF Global chief Jon Corzine from trading with other people’s money Thursday, rejecting a motion brought before that body’s board of directors to do so.


The National Futures Association’s decision is a blow to a vocal group within the commodities trading world who — noting that Corzine has not been held accountable by the government for alleged crimes — wanted to see him publicly upbraided by his peers in the market.


Corzine was CEO of commodities broker MF Global in October 2011, when the firm collapsed, causing about $1 billion in losses to consumers whose money should have been safely guarded in separate accounts. In spite of congressional testimony accusing Corzine of breaking the law in the firm’s final weeks, he has not been charged with any crime and is rumored to be raising cash to start a commodities-focused hedge fund.

The plan

It was always the plan to pretend we were going to help people with their mortgages without actually helping them. Progress!

A year after five of the nation’s biggest banks reached a pact with state and federal officials over claims of vast foreclosure abuses, the banks are taking credit for giving more than half a million struggling homeowners roughly $45.8 billion in relief.


But despite the banner numbers released on Thursday in a report by Joseph A. Smith, the independent overseer of the settlement, thousands of homeowners are still not getting the help they need to save their homes from foreclosure, according to interviews with housing advocates and homeowners facing foreclosure.


Just under 71,000 borrowers, or 13 percent of the total borrowers helped so far, received assistance on their primary mortgage, which has been the main source of defaults and foreclosures through the housing crisis. But more than 170,000 homeowners received assistance on their second mortgage, which typically is a home equity line of credit that borrowers can tap for cash.


Even though addressing second mortgages does offer some relief to homeowners, in a troubling number of instances the banks are not providing any help with the first mortgage, the housing advocates said. That leaves the homeowners still in jeopardy of losing their homes, while giving banks credit for restructuring loans or wiping out debt under the settlement.


“The second mortgage forgiveness is basically a loophole, which allows the banks to continue foreclosures unabated,” said Elizabeth M. Lynch, a lawyer at MFY Legal Services in New York.


Based on the monitor’s report, it is impossible to tell how many homeowners who received help on their second mortgage are still facing foreclosure on their first mortgage. Ms. Lynch and other advocates estimate that thousands of homeowners across the country are in that predicament.

Site Meter