mandatory minimum

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pages: 467 words: 116,902

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

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affirmative action, cognitive bias, Columbine, Corrections Corporation of America, deindustrialization, desegregation, ending welfare as we know it, friendly fire, Gunnar Myrdal, illegal immigration, land reform, large denomination, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, mass incarceration, means of production, new economy, New Urbanism, pink-collar, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

Thus it was that everyone in his San Francisco courtroom watched in stunned silence as Schwarzer, known for his stoic demeanor, choked with tears as he anguished over sentencing Richard Anderson, a first offender Oakland longshoreman, to ten years in prison without parole for what appeared to be a minor mistake in judgment in having given a ride to a drug dealer for a meeting with an undercover agent.84 Even Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has condemned the harsh mandatory minimum sentences imposed on drug offenders. He told attorneys gathered for the American Bar Association’s 2003 annual conference: “Our [prison] resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, our sentences too loaded.” He then added, “I can accept neither the necessity nor the wisdom of federal mandatory minimum sentences. In all too many cases, mandatory minimum sentences are unjust.”85 The Prison Label Most people imagine that the explosion in the U.S. prison population during the past twenty-five years reflects changes in crime rates. Few would guess that our prison population leapt from approximately 350,000 to 2.3 million in such a short period of time due to changes in laws and policies, not changes in crime rates.

The new Anti-Drug Abuse Act authorized public housing authorities to evict any tenant who allows any form of drug-related criminal activity to occur on or near public housing premises and eliminated many federal benefits, including student loans, for anyone convicted of a drug offense. The act also expanded use of the death penalty for serious drug-related offenses and imposed new mandatory minimums for drug offenses, including a five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of cocaine base—with no evidence of intent to sell. Remarkably, the penalty would apply to first-time offenders. The severity of this punishment was unprecedented in the federal system. Until 1988, one year of imprisonment had been the maximum for possession of any amount of any drug. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) were mixed in their assessment of the new legislation—some believing the harsh penalties were necessary, others convinced that the laws were biased and harmful to African Americans.

The pressure to plead guilty to crimes has increased exponentially since the advent of the War on Drugs. In 1986, Congress passed The Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which established extremely long mandatory minimum prison terms for low-level drug dealing and possession of crack cocaine. The typical mandatory sentence for a first-time drug offense in federal court is five or ten years. By contrast, in other developed countries around the world, a first-time drug offense would merit no more than six months in jail, if jail time is imposed at all.68 State legislatures were eager to jump on the “get tough” bandwagon, passing harsh drug laws, as well as “three strikes” laws mandating a life sentence for those convicted of any third offense. These mandatory minimum statutory schemes have transferred an enormous amount of power from judges to prosecutors. Now, simply by charging someone with an offense carrying a mandatory sentence of ten to fifteen years or life, prosecutors are able to force people to plead guilty rather than risk a decade or more in prison.


pages: 376 words: 121,254

Cocaine Nation: How the White Trade Took Over the World by Thomas Feiling

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anti-communist, barriers to entry, crack epidemic, deindustrialization, illegal immigration, informal economy, inventory management, land reform, Lao Tzu, mandatory minimum, moral panic, offshore financial centre, RAND corporation, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, trade route, upwardly mobile, yellow journalism

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act 1986 stipulated that defendants would no longer be eligible for bail or parole. Prosecutors would be able to appeal sentences, a right that had previously been reserved for the defence. Congress also made twenty-six crimes, all related to drug sales and distribution, punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence. This proved to be the single most dramatic change ushered in by the anti-drugs legislation of 1986, one that inadvertently sent a generation of black American men to prison. Mandatory minimum sentences had first been passed by Congress for the crime of piracy in 1790. The fifty-eight mandatory minimum sentencing laws passed between then and 1986 are an indicator of the crimes most feared and loathed in their day, from ‘the practise of pharmacy in China’ in 1915, to ‘treason and sedition’ in the McCarthy era, to ‘skyjacking’ in the 1970s.

Bill Clinton’s older brother Roger was sentenced to two years in prison in 1984 for selling cocaine. Had his case come to court after the mandatory minimums for crack- and cocaine-selling were made law, he would have received a ten-year term without parole. Had he sold the same quantity in crack form, he would have been looking at a life sentence. There had been a clear need to set a benchmark because until 1986 judges had handed down wildly varying sentences for drug offences, usually according to the judges’ political sympathies. But mandatory minimum sentences effectively took all power of discretion away from the judges. Mitigating factors such as a defendant’s role in the crime, and the likelihood of recidivism were deemed unimportant. All power now rested with the prosecutor, who decided which charge to bring to court. Mandatory minimums were further encouragement for law enforcement agencies’ targeting of the low-level foot soldiers of the cocaine economy instead of the major crime syndicates: less than 2 per cent of federal crack defendants were high-level suppliers of cocaine.39 Thanks to this discrepancy in sentencing, small-time crack dealers regularly go to prison for longer than wholesale suppliers of cocaine powder.

Bill Clinton, who was President at the time, has since admitted his regret at not having done more to end the disparity in sentencing of powder and crack cocaine offenders, and has even said that he would be prepared to spend a significant portion of his life trying to make amends.41 Not until 2007 did the Supreme Court rule that federal judges could impose shorter sentences for crack cocaine offences.42 In an appeal case that came to court that year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that a fifteen-year jail term given to Derrick Kimbrough, an African-American veteran of the first Gulf War, was acceptable, even though mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines called for Kimbrough to serve between nineteen and twenty-two years behind bars for his role in a crack-dealing operation. In the second case decided by the court, which did not involve cocaine, the justices upheld a sentence of probation for Brian Gall, who was white, for his role in a conspiracy to sell 10,000 ecstasy pills. There are no mandatory minimums for the possession or sale of ecstasy.43 Even without the system of mandatory minimum sentences, this inconsistency in the way the police and judges treat cocaine and crack cocaine dealers is apparent in the United Kingdom too. Julian de Vere Whiteway-Wilkinson was sent to prison for twelve years in 2004 for running a cocaine dealership from the old Truman’s brewery in east London with three of his friends.


pages: 283 words: 77,272

With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald

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Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Clive Stafford Smith, collateralized debt obligation, Corrections Corporation of America, crack epidemic, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, David Brooks, deskilling, financial deregulation, full employment, high net worth, income inequality, Julian Assange, mandatory minimum, nuremberg principles, Ponzi scheme, Project for a New American Century, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, too big to fail, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks

Notably, these more severe punishments produce little benefit for the United States. The rates of violent crime in all those countries are lower than America’s, and their rates of property crime are comparable. One of the most disturbing aspects of the American approach to crime is the embrace of mandatory minimum sentencing schemes, which eliminate mercy and flexibility by denying judges the ability to adjust sentences when circumstances merit. These laws force the courts to subject all convicted defendants to unyielding harshness, even when doing so produces gross injustice. The advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums has documented numerous travesties resulting from these mandatory sentencing rules, such as cases where young adults convicted of petty drug offenses were sentenced to decades in prison. Almost every new wave of law-and-order enthusiasm has exacerbated the problem.

Today, it is commonplace for politicians in both parties at the federal, state, and local levels to compete with one another over who can advocate the most draconian punishments for ordinary Americans. During the Democrats’ protracted 2008 primary fight, Hillary Clinton attacked Barack Obama by claiming that he was too liberal to win the election. Asked for specifics, her campaign pointed to a 2004 statement in which Obama had advocated the abolition of mandatory minimum sentences for federal crimes. As president, Obama himself has demonstrated a readiness to follow his predecessors and position himself as a law-and-order politician. In April 2010, he gave an interview about “judicial activism”—that is, courts acting beyond their authority—which echoed Nixonian complaints about the Warren Court. As the New York Times put it, “President Obama has spoken disparagingly about liberal victories” such as Miranda rights and the guarantee of legal representation for indigent defendants.

According to the Sentencing Project, the mandatory penalties for possession of crack cocaine were “the harshest ever adopted for low level drug offenses.” The trigger point for severe sentences for powder cocaine possession, by contrast, was a hundred times higher. Defendants convicted with just five grams of crack cocaine, the weight of less than two sugar packets and a quantity that yields about 10 to 50 doses, were subject to a five-year mandatory minimum sentence. The same five-year penalty was triggered for the sale of powder cocaine only when an offense involved 500 grams, 100 times the minimum quantity for crack, which yields between 2,500 and 5,000 doses. Predictably, the vastly harsher sentencing rules for crack resulted in vastly higher rates of incarceration for minority drug users and dealers than for their white counterparts.


pages: 273 words: 87,159

The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy by Peter Temin

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anti-communist, Bernie Sanders, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, clean water, corporate raider, Corrections Corporation of America, crack epidemic, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, full employment, income inequality, intangible asset, invisible hand, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mandatory minimum, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, mortgage debt, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nixon shock, obamacare, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, price stability, race to the bottom, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, the scientific method, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, white flight, working poor

They are the majority of inmates, and our judicial system keeps low-wage whites down as well as operating as a new form of Jim Crow.13 Three-quarters of today’s imprisoned drug offenders did not have any serious history of violence before their drug conviction. Half of them are in very low criminal history categories, but the average expected time served for drug offenses is close to ten years. Mandatory minimum jail stays markedly increase the length of sentences. And almost all drug offenders are held in state prisons, making it hard to reduce our bloated prison population by, say, cutting drug jail sentences in half. A bill to reduce mandatory minimum sentences with bipartisan backing failed in the Senate as 2016 election posturing got in the way.14 The United States now has far more of its population in jail than any other industrial country, and prisons cost a lot of money at a time when government resources are tight.

The shadowy trail of prisons for immigrants provides glimpses of what goes on in the varied jails and prisons around our country.21 The private prison firms communicate their interest in more prisoners to state legislators in various ways: by campaign contributions, personal relations, and lobbying. The Corrections Corporation of America has spent over $20 million on political campaigns and lobbying and is continuing these efforts today. They also lobby through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative, nonprofit organization founded and funded by the Koch brothers in 1973 and described in chapter 2. ALEC promoted model bills on mandatory minimum sentencing and three-strikes legislation that helped promote the growth of mass incarceration in the 1990s. The influence of the private prison firms and ALEC impedes efforts to reduce American incarceration. Lobbyists from the private prison industry actively campaigned for three-strikes laws.22 ALEC is one of the ways that the Koch brothers and their supporters affect political outcomes.


Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bro by LeBlanc, Adrian Nicole

Chuck Templeton: OpenTable, illegal immigration, mandatory minimum, white picket fence, working poor

Without saying good-bye to Jessica, he and Lizette left the sentencing. Cesar later admitted he could not bear to watch what was about to happen to his sister. Had Jessica gone to trial, she would have faced a twenty-year mandatory minimum term. Instead, she pled guilty to one count of participating in a narcotics conspiracy. The judge asked Jessica if she had anything she wanted to say before he imposed his sentence. Jessica stood. She spoke softly. “Yes, Your Honor. I would just like to say that I’m sorry for the crime that I’ve committed, and all I hope for is to return to my family and to my mother.” Despite appearances, Jessica’s sentence was not determined by the judge; federal mandatory minimums pretty much rendered judicial discretion moot. Drug quantity served as the main determinant of prison time. Freedom decreased by jumps of five, ten, and twenty years for each gram over a congressionally determined number.

The judge said, “I do not, as a general proposition, make the type of statement that I am going to make now, but . . . I feel that this case is a case that really does not call for the mandatory minimum that exists here. I think you have to be punished and you should be punished, but I think a ten-year sentence in this case is unusually harsh, and I do not like imposing it, but I have an oath of office that I have to follow.” The proof of Jessica’s actual involvement in the Obsession organization was limited: two entries in 10-4’s ledger from her few days of working at the mill, and the brief message she’d passed on to George’s supplier, recorded on the wiretap. However, to reduce the mandatory minimum term, Jessica would have had to cooperate, and she had refused. The only way to be granted immunity would be to confess every secret, but she was as loyal to George as Cesar had been to Rocco.


pages: 452 words: 110,488

The Cheating Culture: Why More Americans Are Doing Wrong to Get Ahead by David Callahan

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1960s counterculture, affirmative action, corporate governance, corporate raider, creative destruction, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, fixed income, forensic accounting, full employment, game design, greed is good, high batting average, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income inequality, job satisfaction, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, McMansion, microcredit, moral hazard, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, old-boy network, Plutocrats, plutocrats, postindustrial economy, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Oldenburg, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, Thorstein Veblen, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, World Values Survey, young professional, zero-sum game

Nor did the company bother sounding contrite about actions that defrauded taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars. "We disagree with the government on this, but to put it behind us, we are agreeing on a settlement today," said a company spokesperson.26 The rare white-collar criminals who actually did face a judge were invariably treated lightly. The zeal in the '80s and '90s to impose mandatory minimums and "three-strikes policies" never extended to white-collar crimes. For example, the executives at the agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland who orchestrated a global price-fixing conspiracy that cost consumers $500 million faced maximum prison terms of only three years when they were sentenced in 1999. Even then the judge went easy on them, praising them as family men and community leaders, and giving them only two years in prison.

Keating's time served was about the same as the sentence given out recently to a twenty-one-year-old Boston man who made off with $1,000 from a bank. Though he had specifically informed bank tellers that he was unarmed, Coleman Nee's crime earned him a fifty-seven-month sentence.27 White-collar criminals have also benefited from the wide disparities in sentencing across the nation—an advantage not granted to drug offenders facing uniform mandatory minimums. States such as Wisconsin, which are home to fewer firms offering financial services and other complex transactions vulnerable to fraud, tend to mandate jail time in as much as 85 percent of the cases. In New Jersey, where prosecutors must make deals in order to keep caseloads at manageable levels, white-collar criminals got prison time in only 26 percent of cases.28 The coddling of white-collar criminals extends into their prison terms.


pages: 542 words: 132,010

The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain by Daniel Gardner

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Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Black Swan, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Doomsday Clock, feminist movement, haute couture, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandatory minimum, medical residency, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, placebo effect, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Y2K, young professional

After the execution, Clinton observed that “I can be nicked on a lot but nobody can say I’m soft on crime.” He was right, and as president he stuck to a tough line, signing into law a long list of punitive bills and presiding over such spectacular growth in the prison population that the United States passed Russia as the nation with the world’s highest incarceration rate. He may have regretted it, though. Mandatory minimum sentences are “unconscionable” and “we really need an examination of our entire prison policy,” Clinton told a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine—two weeks before he left office. The basic technique of the politics of crime is little different than that used by security companies selling home alarms or pharmaceutical companies peddling cholesterol pills: Raise fear in the public, or amplify existing fears, then offer to protect the public against that which they fear.

The government went ahead anyway, and the minister in charge privately apologized to the civil servants handling the file. “It’s politics,” he told them. The politicization of crime, and the “get tough” spirit that goes along with it, is far more advanced in the United States than elsewhere, but as British sociologist David Garland and others have shown, it is showing up elsewhere in the Western world. Many of the new American crime policies— three-strikes laws, mandatory minimum sentences, supermax prisons, sex offender registries—have been introduced or discussed everywhere from Australia to the Netherlands. In the French presidential election of 2007, the Socialist candidate tried to diminish the appeal of Nicolas Sarkozy’s tough talk on law and order by promising to build boot camps for young punks. In Canada, American tough-on-crime policies and language—“zero tolerance,” “truth in sentencing,” “adult time for adult crime”—are popping up in the media and political platforms with increasing frequency, while the reform agenda of the current Conservative government reads like an American campaign brochure from the 1990s.


pages: 273 words: 83,186

The botany of desire: a plant's-eye view of the world by Michael Pollan

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back-to-the-land, clean water, David Attenborough, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Francisco Pizarro, invention of agriculture, Joseph Schumpeter, mandatory minimum, Maui Hawaii, means of production, paper trading, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Steven Pinker

In 1998 the federal government threatened to revoke the license of California doctors who exercised their First Amendment right to talk to patients about the medical benefits of marijuana. Also that year, Congress ordered the District of Columbia not to count the votes of its citizens in a referendum on medical marijuana. Arguably, the war against cannabis has also eroded the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial (since drastic mandatory minimum sentences force most marijuana defendants to accept plea bargains) as well as the presumption of innocence (since asset forfeiture allows the government to seize assets without proving guilt). *Remove the twenty million or so Americans who use marijuana, and we are left with a “drug abuse epidemic” involving roughly two million regular heroin and cocaine users—a public health problem, to be sure, but serious enough to justify spending $20 billion a year (or modifying the Bill of Rights)?


pages: 261 words: 103,244

Economists and the Powerful by Norbert Haring, Norbert H. Ring, Niall Douglas

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, central bank independence, collective bargaining, commodity trading advisor, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, diversified portfolio, financial deregulation, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, law of one price, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, new economy, obamacare, old-boy network, open economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, Renaissance Technologies, rolodex, Sergey Aleynikov, shareholder value, short selling, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, ultimatum game, union organizing, Vilfredo Pareto, working-age population, World Values Survey

Vacation time is mostly valued in itself, without too much regard for how much of it others have. Therefore there is an inefficient rat race under free contracting in which workers trade off more income for less vacation time in order to keep up with the Joneses. It works for the individual, but if all workers do it, everyone ends up with too little vacation time and no status gained in exchange. A mandatory minimum vacation ends this rat race and makes most workers better off (Layard 2006). Minimum facts about minimum wages In places and occupations where wages are low because low-grade workpeople are being “exploited” by employers, paid less than they are worth, there is no reason to expect that the forcing of the wage rate up to a fair level will cause a [loss of jobs] for it will not pay employers to dispense with their services.


pages: 279 words: 91,148

Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustler by Ethan Brown

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barriers to entry, crack epidemic, Donald Trump, forensic accounting, Live Aid, mandatory minimum

Cooperating with law enforcement in the prosecution of Pappy Mason was understandable, because the senseless murder of Edward Byrne would forever sully Fat Cat’s legacy, especially now that Arjune’s home had been turned into a memorial to the fallen cop. George Bush campaigned in the fall of 1988 with Byrne’s badge in his pocket as a symbol of his “get tough” approach to the war on drugs, and by the end of the year, Congress passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which stipulated a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for a first-time offender’s possession of more than five grams of crack cocaine and applied the death penalty provision to drug dealers. During the signing of the bill at the White House on November 18, President Reagan stood side-by-side with Byrne’s parents, and he hailed the fallen cop as a national hero. “With us today are Matthew and Ann Byrne, who join us as we give their son’s comrades the valuable tools they need to carry forth the fight for which young Eddie so valiantly gave his life,” Reagan proclaimed.


pages: 332 words: 89,668

Two Nations, Indivisible: A History of Inequality in America: A History of Inequality in America by Jamie Bronstein

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, big-box store, blue-collar work, Branko Milanovic, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate personhood, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, desegregation, Donald Trump, ending welfare as we know it, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, Gini coefficient, income inequality, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, labor-force participation, land reform, land tenure, low skilled workers, low-wage service sector, mandatory minimum, mass incarceration, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, moral panic, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, non-tariff barriers, obamacare, occupational segregation, Occupy movement, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price discrimination, race to the bottom, rent control, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, strikebreaker, too big to fail, trade route, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban renewal, wage slave, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration

As political scientist Larry Bartels explains, “tying the income subsidy to wages encourages work and sidesteps the association of traditional welfare programs with the ‘undeserving poor’ … this aspect of the program is reinforced by the designation of EITC as a ‘tax credit,’ despite the fact that most recipients have no income tax liability to offset.”88 Calling such transfers “earned income” credits makes them politically acceptable, in contrast to welfare. Addressing American inequality also means addressing inequities in the legal system. Doing away with mandatory minimum sentencing might start to address incarceration rates and the long-term inequality that they bring for young male members of minority groups. Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution also recommends a combination of programs to reduce teen birth rates, subsidize and facilitate marriage for poor minority couples, and help released prisoners find gainful employment.89 Communication Studies professor Martin Carcasson suggests that the model for future beneficial change lies on the micro scale.


pages: 349 words: 109,304

American Kingpin by Nick Bilton

bitcoin, blockchain, crack epidemic, Edward Snowden, mandatory minimum, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Rubik’s Cube, Satoshi Nakamoto, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the market place, trade route, white picket fence, WikiLeaks

When VJ believed that the mastermind behind the Silk Road was legitimately trying to end the war on drugs and wasn’t an undercover DEA agent trying to arrest poor unsuspecting citizens, Variety Jones wanted to help the cause (after all, if the site grew, VJ could make more money by selling more drugs). And here he was. Advice at the ready. But first VJ wanted to ensure that the creator of the site knew what was at stake here. “Not to be a downer or anything,” he wrote to Ross, but “understand that what we are doing falls under U.S. Drug Kingpin laws, which provides a maximum penalty of death upon conviction . . . the mandatory minimum is life.” Ross knew this better than anyone. But he felt like what he was doing was truly going to change the world and free people. Given that, life in prison, or taking his last breath in an electric chair, was not enough to deter him. “Balls to the wall and all in my friend,” Ross replied, vociferating how unafraid he was of those consequences. After this was clear, their collaboration moved to the next phase.


pages: 457 words: 126,996

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Story of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman

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1960s counterculture, 4chan, Amazon Web Services, Bay Area Rapid Transit, bitcoin, Chelsea Manning, citizen journalism, cloud computing, collective bargaining, corporate governance, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Debian, East Village, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, George Santayana, hive mind, impulse control, Jacob Appelbaum, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, mandatory minimum, Mohammed Bouazizi, Network effects, Occupy movement, pirate software, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steven Levy, WikiLeaks, zero day

On December 13, 2011, a few AntiSec members pulled the journalist Quinn Norton and me into a channel to ask a question: Antisec: will journos cover stuff that’s probably Antisec: deeply illegal Antisec: lol quinn: yes, but framing is important Antisec2: Not illegal like ddos or leaking some cops emails. ;) biella: deeply as opposed to surface illegal Anon: we have a table of illegal categories […] ***Anon checks the cheatsheet biella: Anon, do you?? biella: lolll ***Anon thinks ‘fuck we r screwed’ quinn: is this like a mandatory minimums kind of chart? quinn: heheh Anon: hahaa biella: OFF THE CHARTS illegal Soon after this chat, an AntiSec member casually informed me that they possessed credit card data they intended to use for charitable donations While he kept the source database a secret, this remained one of the few instances where sensitive information was sprung on me. I publicly maintained my caveat: I could not guarantee the confidentiality of any information given to me.


pages: 524 words: 143,993

The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned--And Have Still to Learn--From the Financial Crisis by Martin Wolf

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air freight, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, bonus culture, break the buck, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, debt deflation, deglobalization, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, light touch regulation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandatory minimum, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market fragmentation, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, new economy, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, pushing on a string, quantitative easing, Real Time Gross Settlement, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, short selling, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, very high income, winner-take-all economy, zero-sum game

It still relies on risk-weighting, for example, even though that approach failed in the run-up to the crisis, as noted in Chapter Four above. On capital requirements, regulators agreed to raise common equity, plus retained earnings, to 4.5 per cent (up from 2 per cent in Basel II) and ‘Tier 1’ capital (including preference shares and perpetual subordinated debt) to 6 per cent of ‘risk-weighted assets’. They agreed to add a further 2 per cent in ‘Tier 2’ capital (subordinated debt with a maturity of more than five years) and a mandatory minimum 2.5 per cent ‘capital conservation buffer’, to give room before a firm fell to the regulatory floor. They also decided to add up to a further 2.5 per cent of risk-weighted assets in a ‘countercyclical buffer’ and a further 1–2.5 per cent extension of this countercyclical buffer for global systemically important banks (G-SIBs). Together, this could bring capital, broadly defined, to 15.5 per cent of risk-weighted assets for the G-SIBs, in good times.


pages: 464 words: 121,983

Disaster Capitalism: Making a Killing Out of Catastrophe by Antony Loewenstein

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activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, British Empire, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Chelsea Manning, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate social responsibility, Corrections Corporation of America, Edward Snowden, facts on the ground, failed state, falling living standards, Ferguson, Missouri, financial independence, full employment, G4S, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, housing crisis, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, Julian Assange, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, open borders, private military company, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, Scramble for Africa, Slavoj Žižek, stem cell, the medium is the message, trade liberalization, WikiLeaks

Poor conditions at the facility, riots, unsanitary food, and lax security were all good reasons cited for closing the center down. The reasons for the US obsession with imprisonment are not very mysterious. Politicians have feared being seen as “soft on crime”—a fear driven by a tabloid press that celebrated harsh sentencing. Attacks on the poor and underprivileged neatly dovetailed with the popularity of lengthy mandatory minimum sentences and the “three-strike” laws that put people behind bars for life for stealing a chocolate bar. Enormous numbers of people were jailed without any chance of parole. The National Research Council released a 464-page report in 2014 detailing why these policies had been enacted: “Deeply held racial fears, anxieties and animosities likely explain the resonance of coded racial appeals concerning crime-related issues.”8 The possibility of serious sentencing reform has remained distant, because prison contractors lobby legislators for tougher judgments, improving their revenue.


pages: 410 words: 114,005

Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes--But Some Do by Matthew Syed

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Airbus A320, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, Atul Gawande, Black Swan, British Empire, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Checklist Manifesto, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, crew resource management, deliberate practice, double helix, epigenetics, fear of failure, fundamental attribution error, Henri Poincaré, hindsight bias, Isaac Newton, iterative process, James Dyson, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Joseph Schumpeter, Lean Startup, mandatory minimum, meta analysis, meta-analysis, minimum viable product, publication bias, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, Silicon Valley, six sigma, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, Yom Kippur War

A jumbo jet had come within touching distance of what would almost certainly have been the most devastating accident in British aviation history. Had the plane dropped another sixty inches it would have connected with the Penta Hotel, and almost certainly destroyed it. To many of the public Stewart’s culpability seemed obvious. Although he had ultimately averted a major disaster, he had disobeyed protocol. His hands had been on the controls when it flew under the mandatory minimum. With this in mind one can see why it would have been tempting to pin the incident on Stewart. The heat was on British Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority, the regulator. By pinning it on the pilot they may have hoped to escape censure for poor oversight and procedure. Eighteen months later, on May 8, 1991, Stewart was convicted at Isleworth Crown Court in southwest London. The jury decided that he had been guilty of breaking regulations and almost bringing destruction on southwest London.


pages: 486 words: 148,485

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz

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affirmative action, anti-communist, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, car-free, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, desegregation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, lake wobegon effect, mandatory minimum, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ronald Reagan, six sigma, stem cell, Steven Pinker, Tenerife airport disaster, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route

Or you could sport anti-Kerry campaign buttons featuring pictures of waffles or of Heinz ketchup bottles—the latter being an oblique reference to his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, and a direct reference to his supposed indecisiveness: “57 positions on every issue.” Some of the allegations of waffling leveled against Kerry were bogus—such as the suggestion that serving in Vietnam is incompatible with viewing it as a moral and political disaster. Others were legitimate—such as the claim that he changed his mind on mandatory minimum sentences not out of a principled reconsideration of the issues but because of standard “tough on crime” political pressure. But the validity (or lack thereof) of these charges isn’t the point. It never was. In our political culture, whether or not a leader has good reasons for changing his mind is generally less important than the fact that he changed it in the first place. Take John Kerry’s much-ridiculed assertion that he was for the Iraq War before he was against it.


pages: 502 words: 124,794

Nexus by Ramez Naam

artificial general intelligence, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, crowdsourcing, Golden Gate Park, hive mind, mandatory minimum, Menlo Park, pattern recognition, the scientific method, upwardly mobile

The DEA wants to press possession charges against everyone who was there last night, and distribution charges against everyone who helped throw the event. Our own prosecutor wants to level Chandler Act violations at you, Rangan Shankari, Watson Cole, and Ilyana Alexander." Becker paused and shook his head. "But if we have your full and complete cooperation, we can waive most of those charges." Kade winced. Nexus possession had mandatory minimums of two years, not to mention likely expulsion from any decent school and never getting a job in science or research in the future. Distribution had a minimum of seven years. Names and faces swam through his head. Antonio. Rita. Sven. All the people that had helped with the party, that had been responsible for giving out doses to other attendees. A lot of people could go to jail for a long time.


pages: 677 words: 195,722

Between Silk and Cyanide: A Codemaker's War, 1941-1945 by Leo Marks

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anti-communist, British Empire, full employment, mandatory minimum

I allowed Poulson to catch me watching him. He sighed as he resumed his labours, and the others sighed with him. I envied their togetherness almost as much as I marvelled at their shorthand. The fingers of feeling Be they gloved by the shy Or pointed bare and bold By the shyer still Seek to find By fumbling or by fate Another hand to clutch…[3] I left it at that, not only because it contained the mandatory minimum of twenty-six words but because it had left me. When I looked up they had finished. I collected their poems and messages and spread them in front of me for checking. I hoped there'd be no failures. If there were, I wouldn't tell Wilson. Their failure would be mine and there would be time to put it right. I made several errors myself in the next few minutes and wished they'd stop watching me.


pages: 558 words: 168,179

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, anti-communist, Bakken shale, bank run, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carried interest, centre right, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, corporate raider, crony capitalism, David Brooks, desegregation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, energy security, estate planning, Fall of the Berlin Wall, George Gilder, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, job automation, low skilled workers, mandatory minimum, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, Mont Pelerin Society, More Guns, Less Crime, Nate Silver, New Journalism, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Powell Memorandum, Ralph Nader, Renaissance Technologies, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, school choice, school vouchers, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Chicago School, the scientific method, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, War on Poverty, working poor

In 2013 alone, it produced some seventy bills aimed at impeding government support for alternative, renewable energy programs. Later the Kochs presented themselves as champions of criminal justice reform, but while they were active in ALEC, it was instrumental in pushing for the kinds of draconian prison sentences that helped spawn America’s mass incarceration crisis. For years among ALEC’s most active members was the for-profit prison industry. In 1995, for instance, ALEC began promoting mandatory-minimum sentences for drug offenses. Two years later, Charles Koch bailed ALEC out financially with a $430,000 loan. In 2009, the conservative movement in the states gained another dimension. The State Policy Network added its own “investigative news” service, partnering with a new organization called the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity and sprouting news bureaus in some forty states.