The New Prison Industrial-Complex State Budgets and Technology in the Age of Declining State Revenue
by Paul C. Wright
hat tip: Global Research, May 5, 2010
There is a new technological trend in the United States that promises to use advances in Internet, GPS, and chemical detection technology to manage states’ surging prison and parolee populations. Several states, particularly those with massive budget deficits like California and Michigan, are unable to shoulder the burden of housing more inmates in their dangerously overcrowded prisons. They are therefore dramatically increasing the use of GPS technology to monitor the whereabouts and activities of parolees, as well as using the technology for home detention programs and even alcohol consumption monitoring. While it is true that GPS ankle bracelets have been in use for a few years now, new technology, laws, and applications are increasing the use of such devices in what is soon to be a booming industry – fully dependent upon the corrections system.
In Richmond, California, statistically identified as having America’s fourteenth highest crime rate  , the police recently fitted twenty parolees with GPS tracking devices on their ankles.  The devices include paging systems that require the parolee to call his or her parole agent each time they feel the device vibrate. Police officers say that they can use the devices to track parolees and place them at the scene of a crime committed while on parole. The tracking devices do, however, bring into question the status of a parolee’s civil liberties and may open the door to court challenges regarding invasion of privacy and other constitutionally guaranteed rights. The political will of several states are fully behind using the new technology and the courts thus far seem to like the flexibility they offer in sentencing and early release. The Richmond program is merely the tip of the iceberg.
by: Michael Boldin
hat tip: Tenth Amendment Center
March 25, 2010
Governor Gary Herbert has made Utah the third state to pass the “Health Care Freedom Act” into law. House Bill 67 (HB67) was introduced by Rep. Carl Wimmer and passed the House and Senate by votes of 53-20 and 22-7, respectively.
The bill “prohibits a state agency or department from implementing federal health care reform passed by the United States Congress after March 1, 2010, unless a state agency reports to the Legislature regarding costs and impact on state reform efforts.” It authorizes the state legislature to specifically approve or deny implementation of federal health care legislation.
In short, it requires the state “to opt out of federal reform when the state determines that opting out is in the best interest of the citizens of the state.”
Governor Otter of Idaho signed similar legislation last week, and issued the following statement:
“Congress and the White House are working out their scheme for pushing through a healthcare ‘reform’ bill that has more pages than the U.S. Constitution has words. I guarantee you that not a single member of the House or Senate has a complete understanding of that legislation any more than they understood all the implications of the USA PATRIOT Act back in 2001,” Governor Otter said. “What the Idaho Health Freedom Act says is that the citizens of our state won’t be subject to another federal mandate or turn over another part of their life to government control.”
Yesterday, Governor McDonnell signed the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, which passed the legislature there last month.
More than 2 dozen other states are considering similar legislation or state constitutional amendments to do the same. Many legislators and governors are calling for a federal lawsuit to affirm the principles of the state laws. But some constitutional scholars, including famed legal theorist Randy Barnett, have indicated that decades of precedent from the supreme court makes such legal challenges difficult, at best.
In the 20th century, Detroit, Michigan, symbolized American industrial might. Today it symbolizes the off-shored economy.
Detroit’s population has declined by half. A quarter of the city — 35 square miles — is desolate with only a few houses still standing on largely abandoned streets. If the local government can get the money from Washington, urban planners are going to shrink the city and establish rural areas or green zones where neighborhoods used to be.
President Obama and economists provide platitudes about recovery. But how does an economy recover when its economic leaders have spent more than a decade moving high productivity, high value-added middle class jobs offshore along with the Gross Domestic Product associated with them?
Some very discouraging reports have been issued this month from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There have been record declines in both jobs and hours worked. At the end of last year, the U.S. economy had fewer jobs than at the end of 1997, 12 years ago. Hours worked at the end of last year were less than at the end of 1995, 14 years ago.