Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Remember when: Indignation versus Incarceration, and the Jeb Bush family criminal records

Sunday, February 22, 2015, the song Glory from the movie Selma won an Oscar, and the co-winners made brief speeches which addressed incarceration in this country, including an allusion to the inequality of that incarceration. The United States, land of the 'Free', has more people behind bars than anywhere else in the world. That is fact. The United States really DOES have more black people behind bars than were enslaved in the mid-19th century. That is also a fact.

ONLY in the fact-averse, reality-challenged delusions of the right wing bubble is the double standard we have in this country in question. It is extremely well documented, but of course, the same people on the crazy right who reject factual history courses reject the objective reality of incarceration past and present.

Perusing this right wing bubble, I was challenged to prove that there exists a different standard of justice for the wealthy, the privileged, and the majority of white people in this country.

I chose the following example of presidential wannabee, Jeb Bush and his family. Before and during his tenure as governor of Florida, Jeb Bush was a huge proponent of both private prisons and mandatory sentencing. If you were arrested, you went off to fill the quota that made private prisons so very profitable --- and which put dollars in the pocket of Jeb Bush.

As noted by the Daily Dot earlier in February:
While Florida crime had just begun a 20-year decline that continues to this day, Bush spent much of the 1990s pushing to build more for-profit prisons in the Sunshine State and around the country, with the stated dual-goals of putting as many criminals in jail as possible and saving taxpayer money at the same time.

...The private-prison boom came quickly in the wake of president Richard Nixon’s war on drugs. Harsher sentencing laws led to an explosion in incarceration rates and rising costs almost immediately thereafter. The U.S. now has the highest prison population on earth.

Between 1990 and 2009, private prisons took on 1,600 percent growth in prisoners, according to the federal government, due in large part to the industry spending millions of dollars on lobbying and employing hundreds of lobbyists throughout the country—including dozens in Florida alone.

On top of building for-profit prisons, Bush championed legislation that made sure the institutions were filled to capacity.

Bush boasted about his “get tough on crime” attitude on the campaign trail. When he came to office, he championed numerous landmark mandatory sentencing laws that passed early on during his first term.

In this effort, Bush was closely aligned with the goals of the private-prison lobby during his time as governor.

...Bush pushed for and passed harsher laws, like three strikes legislation and “truth in sentencing,” that an ALEC Task Force Director bragged was “based on an ALEC model bill.”

All of these laws increase the number of prisoners, increase sentences, and increase the amount of money private prisons earn in the process.

Over the course of the last two decades, the private-prison industry has spent millions on contributions to Floridian politicians, including hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Republican party during Bush’s tenure.

While crime in Florida declined in the 1990s, Florida’s prison population doubled yet again, to nearly 80,000 prisoners as sentencing rules became harsher.

Bush’s second campaign for governor was successful and he served the office from 1999 to 2007. During that time, the same trend continued: Crime fell and Florida’s prison population rose to over 100,000 for the first time in history, half of whom were black. African Americans make up about 15 percent of the Florida population. Similar sized states like New York had reduced their prison sizes during the same period.

At the end of Bush’s tenure as governor, half of Florida’s prisoners were nonviolent drug and property offenders, according to the Sentencing Project.

...As for shrinking government and saving money, Bush repeatedly raised spending on Florida’s corrections budget during his two terms as governor. In 2007, when Bush left office, it cost Florida over $979 million to imprison the nonviolent drug and property criminals of the state.

Florida overpaid CCA and GEO by $13 million, a 2005 audit showed, including for jobs that were never filled and maintenance that was never performed.

Both companies were paid $90 million annually despite audits showing the prisons weren't being run as efficiently as state law required, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

Nationwide, the industry's profits have gone up close to 500 percent since Bush first wrote about "deinventing government."

...The profits of private prison companies, by their own admission, rely on high incarceration rates: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices,” according to a 2010 annual report by the largest private prison company in America, the CCA.
There is really no basis for any factual challenge that Jeb Bush and his party took money to lock up people, for the express purpose of generating profits. There is no basis for any challenge to the facts that this disproportionately affected black and brown people, as well as the poorest of white people, while largely NOT affecting middle class and wealthier people, especially white people. In other words, there is a clear, demonstrable double standard, of leniency for some people, and harshness towards others that is not fair and equal justice.

However the right wing nuts, the RWN, challenged me to show that this was not simply a case of black and brown people committing crimes more often than other people, another way of stating the right wing racist belief that 'those people' are more criminal than other people, people who are white and more affluent.

Never mind the hypocrisy and double standard that Jeb himself was a privileged pot smoker in his day, without any apparent legal consequences.

Let's look at what happened when all three of Jeb Bush's children got arrested, one for stalking and breaking and entering, one for a non-violent drug crime, and one for public intoxication and a quite violent resisting arrest charge. Then we'll move on to the criminal troubles of Mrs. Columba Bush.

Smoking Gun has the 3 page arrest report for eldest son George P. Bush, which describe his criminal conduct:
George P. Bush might be a hunkalicious young Republican, but he still seems a bit creepy. So TSG wasn't too surprised to learn that "P" was involved in a troubling 1994 incident described in this Metro-Dade Police Department report. On December 31, 1994, Bush showed up at 4 AM at the Miami home of a former girlfriend. He proceeded to break into the house via the woman's bedroom window, and then began arguing with his ex's father. Bush, then a Rice University student, soon fled the scene. But he returned 20 minutes later to drive his Ford Explorer across the home's front lawn, leaving wide swaths of burned grass in his wake. Young Bush avoided arrest when the victims declined to press charges.
And then we have middle child, daugher Noelle L. Bush, who got arrested for forging a prescription and illegal prescription drug possesion -- multiple occasions of illegal drug possession.

Here is the news story on that criminal conduct resulting in an initial arrest, from USA Today.
She was charged with prescription fraud, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Noelle Bush has no known criminal record and was released without having to post bond.

Jeb Bush had said previously that one of his three children used illegal drugs during his first failed campaign for Florida governor in 1994. That episode prompted Jeb and Columba Bush to get involved in several drug-prevention groups, and Jeb Bush appointed a state drug czar after he was elected governor in 1998.
Noelle tried to tell police this was a one-off, apparently, in the hopes of getting away with it. It was not.
"Xanax is legally prescribed for stress and anxiety. Noelle Bush reportedly told police that she was panicked about starting a new job on Tuesday.
...Illegal use of the sedative Xanax is popular among some young people, particularly in combination with the party drug Ecstasy. It can help prolong an Ecstasy high or soften the crash that often follows. The practice is known as "parachuting" among users, says Joe Kilmer, spokesman for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Miami.
UNLIKE all those black and brown and poor people Jeb was putting behind bars during this time in office in Florida, Noelle went into rehab, where she went AWOL, tried to get more illegal drugs, and got busted possessing other drugs multiple times.

From Salon's article from 2002, "For Noelle Bush, a different kind of justice":

Jeb Bush and niece of President George W. Bush was found with crack inside her shoe in the Center for Drug Free Living in Orlando, where she was sent in January after being arrested for trying to buy Xanax with a forged prescription. It was not the first time she’s been busted while in rehab — her three-day jail term in July came after she was caught with a bag of prescription pills that didn’t belong to her.

Drug-reform advocates certainly don’t claim that Noelle Bush has been treated too leniently — even three days in jail is too harsh, they argue. But, they say, the punishment is even more severe for people without her money or connections. “The question is whether she’s being treated in a unique way,” says Bruce Bullington, the editor of the Journal of Drug Issues and an associate professor of criminology at Florida State University in Tallahassee. “I think she is.”

Her fellow patients seem to agree. As the Orlando Sentinel reports, Noelle Bush was reported to the police by a woman who said she was a Center for Drug Free Living client incensed by what she felt was the preferential treatment given the governor’s daughter.

“One of the women here was caught buying crack cocaine tonight,” the caller said in her Sept. 9 conversation with a 911 dispatcher. “And a lot of the women are upset because she’s been caught about five times. And we want something done because our children are here, and they just keep letting it slip under the counter and carpet … They said, you know, because it’s basically Noelle Bush … She does this all the time and she gets out of it because she’s the governor’s daughter.”

...According to the New York Daily News, one Center for Drug Free Living staffer heeded a supervisor’s advice and tore up her written statement about finding the drugs rather than show it to the police. Without the statement, the police didn’t have probable cause to arrest Bush. Four employees have been subpoenaed after refusing to cooperate with police, citing the center’s privacy policies.

... “Anyone else who they found with a rock of cocaine, they would turn it over to the police … And the courts will say there’s no second chances, or one second chance.”
The first time Noelle went to jail for violating her parole and being caught with drugs, she did only 2 days behind bars, then back to rehab. The second time she was caught with drugs, and remember we're talking crack cocaine here, she did only ten days behind bars. Black and brown and poor white people do much longer and harder time. Unlike black, brown and poor white people, despite the many drug crimes of Noelle Bush, her charges were eventually dismissed.

As noted by 'rotten' and the HuffPo:
16 Sep 2002 "While Noelle has been given every break in the book -- and then some -- her father has made it harder for others in her position to get the help they need by cutting the budgets of drug treatment and drug court programs in his state. He has also actively opposed a proposed ballot initiative that would send an estimated 10,000 non-violent drug offenders into treatment instead of jail." Arianna Huffington.
I think we can fairly say that the Bush family received a very different Justice than did those Governor Daddy Bush was putting behind bars for profit, or that the daughters of big brother President Bush received for their respective arrests.

But let's move on to the youngest Jeb Bush son, John E. Bush and his criminal problems, from CBS News:
The youngest son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was arrested early Friday and charged with public intoxication and resisting arrest, law enforcement officials said.

John Ellis Bush, 21, was arrested by agents of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission at 2:30 a.m. on a corner of Austin's Sixth Street bar district, said commission spokesman Roger Wade.

The nephew of President Bush was released on $2,500 bond for the resisting arrest charge, and on a personal recognizance bond for the public intoxication charge, officials said.

Go ahead, guess how much time Jebbie Jr. did. NONE, in spite of violent conduct; anyone still want to argue that SOME people get special treatment in our Justice system?

Let's now move on to Columba Bush, first lady of Florida, and her run in with the feds, from the Sydney Morning Herald, yesterday:
Jeb Bush's wife, Columba, once detained for not fully declaring $24,000 in jewels bought in Paris

Washington: In 1999, Columba Bush, the famously private wife of then-Florida governor Jeb Bush, was detained and fined by US customs officials for misrepresenting the amount of clothing and jewellery she had bought while on a solo five-day shopping spree in Paris.

After Mrs Bush was forced to pay $US4100 in fines and duties for the purchases she had tried to slip past customs agents at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, the governor said her shopping habits were no one else's business.
Most other people, unless wealthy or well connected, would NOT have gotten away with a mere fine.

And that's just the 'nucular' Jeb Bush family; we could demonstrate that this is the pattern of the extended Bush family privilege, but I think it more than adequately makes the point that we have an incredibly hypocritical double Justice system in this country, EXACTLY the way it was described at the Oscars.

ANYONE with a sense of fairness has to recognize this is wrong, this is completely contrary to the intent of our founding fathers, and this is horrifically hypocritical on the part of the right, ALL the right, not just the Bush boys and their families.

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