News Roundup: GAO on SCOMM, the “Predatory State,” Goldman Sachs in Rikers

Top of the news this morning, Sikh Temple Shooting Suspect Identified as Wade Michael Page; Motivation Unclear to the mainstream press, despite Mr. Page’s white supremacist tattoos and years of playing guitar for white power bands like Definite Hate.

On top of the week’s tedious but required reading list is the Government Accountability Office’s Report on Secure Communities: Criminal Alien Removals Increased, but Technology Planning Improvements Needed.  Buried in the report is this interesting tidbit: to monitor for racial profiling, the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (CRCL) and ICE are “initiating a process to statistically monitor arrests under Secure Communities to identify and investigate potential patterns of civil rights abuses.” Details on p. 39-42. Is the methodology sound? Check it out.

As long as you’re reading GAO reports, here’s the GAO running down Methods for Estimating Incarceration and Community Corrections Costs and Results of the Elderly Offender Pilot and recommending that Federal Law Should Be Updated to Address Changing Technology Landscape.

A couple of pinhead economists from George Mason University have something to say about The Militarization of U.S. Domestic Policing, analyzing how the “protective state”  turns into the “predatory state.” Bottom line conclusion: militarization of policing will continue to accelerate until and unless there is “a recognition and appreciation of the realities of government power and a rejection of government as a solution to perceived crises.”

Big week for the undocumented and unafraid.  After being kicked out of Broward County Transition Center (a private prison run by GEO, subject of last Thursday’s Catfish post), Viridiana and others were re-arrested after remaining near the facility to support the 500+ detainees who went on hunger strike.  A few thousand miles away, the UnDocuBus rolled out of Phoenix, through Texas, and into Louisiana, taking a long meander through the south en route to the Democratic National Convention.  Undocumented NYTimes’ Room for Debate asks Is Getting on the ‘UndocuBus’ a Good Idea?.  Time Magazine made UndocuBus its word of the week.

The USCIS, meanwhile, squeezed out a bit more information about deferred action for DREAMers, while continuing to set August 15 as the date when more (presumably all) the information needed to start applying will become available. On an informational call August 3, the agency stressed that “all requestors must provide biometrics and undergo background checks.”  Not much new information on what does and does not constitute a “serious misdemeanor” other than confirming that driving without a license is not serous, while a DUI is.

At the Aspen Security Forum last week, the former director of National Intelligence said that Stopping the Lone Wolf Terrorist a Difficult Task, requiring a level of surveillance and information sharing that would exact a “high cost in civil liberties and privacy.”  How high a cost? New York City seems intent on finding out, with this announcement by Police Chief Raymond Kelly: NYPD to Launch “Domain Awareness” Computer System to Track Criminals, Terrorists.

In trying-something-new-about-prison news, the NYTimes reports that  Goldman to Invest in City Jail Program, Profiting if Recidivism Falls Sharply.  Goldman as in Goldman Sachs. Sharply as in >10%. In California, County Jails Face Bigger Load as the state, under federal court order to reduce its prison population, starts in for real on decarceration.   With each county getting a chunk of cash to handle people being released early out of the prison system, some places are opting for re-entry programs, while others are increasing jail beds.

Among the many things interesting about this article New Home for Juveniles Recruited to Drug Trade is the headline.  Are the NYTimes headline writers starting to recognize that young people who sell drugs do so out of economic necessity, and enter the business in much the same way sex workers are recruited?

The NYTimes complains that the Inquiry Into Security Leaks Is Casting Chill Over Coverage.  While that inquiry is being conducted primary by the Obama administration, Secrecy News exhorts us to take notice that Congress Resists Efforts to Reduce Secrecy, not just the executive branch.

The good (and persistent) people at the Papers, Please blog report that Police Pay $200K to Settle Lawsuit for Illegal Roadblock in the Tohono O’odham Reservation, in Pima County, Arizona.  The case took ten years.  To understand why there are so few legal challenges to unconstitutional roadblocks and checkpoints, take a look at this case’s document timeline.

And finally, no roundup is complete without a mention of drones. NPR did a great piece on drones, but its title Drones: From War Weapon To Homemade Toy skipped a vital step: From War Weapon to Police Surveillance may have been more accurate.

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