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Inmates store millions in accounts with little oversight: Report | Coronavirus pandemic News

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The United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP) allows prisoners to hold large sums of money – in some cases up to $200,000 – in government-run accounts that face little scrutiny and are shielded from most court orders, according to a report by the Washington Post published Wednesday.

There “are more than 20 inmate accounts holding more than $100,000 each for a total exceeding” $3m, a person with knowledge of the accounts who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Post.

These accounts effectively allow inmates to skirt child support, alimony and other debts to which they are subjected.

“Inmates are using this banking system to shelter this money,” Jason Wojdylo, a recent retiree from the US Marshals Service, told the Post.

A condemned inmate is led out of his east block cell on death row at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, California, after local and federal prosecutors said 133 inmates on death row were named in fraudulent unemployment claims in 2016 [File: Eric Risberg/AP Photo]

He said the funds are not subject to US Treasury oversight and the BOP rarely enforces a law passed by Congress that requires criminals to pay their debts.

Wojdylo said he unsuccessfully spent years trying to convince BOP to change its stance before he retired.

Restitution

Many inmates from impoverished backgrounds and most inmates make little-to-no money inside of prisons. Work programmes inside prisons pay inmates as little as $.20 an hour for labour and top out at approximately $5.

Inmates can use the funds to buy goods from a prison’s commissary, or to make phone calls, the cost of which are capped at $0.21 a minute, and send emails, though the prison system has faced criticism for the cost of communication services.

Thus, most of the accounts have little money in them.

Still, inmates can be charged with making payments of restitution when they are convicted. These can range from sums of a few thousand to hundreds of thousands – and even millions – of dollars.

Give that reality, inmates are required to pay little, a minimum amount, towards restitution. The minimum is about $25 a month, Wojdylo said.

Those “with thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars on deposit in their trust account, yet they are contributing only the minimum amount of restitution and fines required”, he continued.

Inmates walk to the dining hall from their cell block at the Idaho State Correctional Institution outside Boise, Idaho, on June 15, 2010 [File: Charlie Litchfield/AP Photo]

BOP officials are often reluctant to encourage inmates to use their accounts to fully pay restitution, according to documents cited by the Post.

Jerry Anthony Bowman, a man from Tennessee convicted of bank robbery, said a BOP staffer encouraged him to pay only $100 a month while he was behind bars, the Post reported. By the time he left, he would have only paid half what was owed.

Bowman attempted to pay $16,000 he owed using the BOP account, but was forced to ask a judge to order the money be taken from his account.

The request was granted. However, there is no need to seek a judge’s order to have the money transferred from a prisoner’s account.

A 2008 decision from a federal appeals court said the BOP “does not need judicial permission to remit money from a prisoner’s account, with or without the prisoner’s assent.”

Corruption concerns

Federal prosecutors worry the money in these accounts could promote illegal activity both outside and inside prisons.

The coronavirus pandemic virtually stopped in-person visitation for prisoners and the outside world, which some believed would curtail the flow of drugs inside correctional institutions on the state level.

But drugs remained, according to numerous reports, in part thanks to corrupt prison guards who brought in drugs and other contraband.

They also worry about stimulus cheques delivered to prisoners, both inside BOP prisons and on the state and local levels.

The Post reported that 37,852 cheques exceeding $38m were delivered to federal inmates, though it remains unclear exactly how many made it to prisoners in BOP custody, which sits at about 129,000.

A BOP spokesperson told the Post that it “recognizes the importance of victim compensation and encourages all inmates to meet his or her financial obligations through participation in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program”.

However, it cannot compel inmates to pay alimony or child support ordered by state courts.

Wojdylo told the Post the BOP’s stance towards inmate accounts is “incredibly frustrating”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Bahrain says it invited Qatar twice for bilateral talks | GCC News

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Bahrain foreign ministry says invitations sent ‘in an attempt to move forward in strengthening the process of joint Gulf cooperation’.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry said it has sent two invitations to Qatar asking for its neighbouring Gulf state to send a delegation for bilateral talks in order to “settle outstanding issues”.

Quoting the Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, the foreign ministry on Tuesday “affirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain hopes that the State of Qatar will take into account in its foreign policy the unity of the Gulf”.

According to the press release, Bahrain sent the invitations “in an attempt to move forward in strengthening the process of joint Gulf cooperation”.

“The Minister further highlighted that unity among the member states of the GCC is a popular demand for all its people, which was stipulated in the Al-Ula summit statement.”

In February, Bahrain said it had sent an initial invitation to Qatar the previous month but there had been no response.

According to a report by Doha News, Qatar delayed its response because the invite was carried through a “media announcement”, GCC Secretary-General Nayef Falah Mubarak al-Hajraf had told Bahraini foreign minister al-Zayani.

 

Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, broke off diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June 2017 over claims it was too close to Iran and backed hardline groups, allegations Qatar has always firmly denied.

But earlier this year, the blockading countries agreed to restore ties in a summit hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the desert city of al-Ula, following a flurry of diplomatic activity by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

Qatar, which is hosting the football World Cup next year, emerged from the regional spat largely unscathed and resolute in the face of the assault.

It rejected the quartet’s demands, which included that it shut down the Al Jazeera Media Network and expel a small contingency of Turkish troops from its territory.

Since then, Riyadh and Cairo have acted to rebuild ties with Doha and all but Bahrain have restored trade and travel links with Doha.

A month prior to the signing of the al-Ula declaration, Qatar reported airspace violations by four Bahraini fighter jets to the United Nations Security Council and the secretary-general of the United Nations.

The letter expressed Qatar’s strong condemnation of actions which it perceived as a violation of its sovereignty and regional security, adding that these violations were blatantly inconsistent with Bahrain’s obligations under international law.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Climate colonialism and the EU’s Green Deal | Climate Change

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Since the beginning of the year, the Amazon Rainforest, our largest tropical forest full of ecosystems essential to global climate regulation networks, has had 430,000 acres (174,000 hectares) cleared and burned to supply the logging industry and clear land for livestock breeding. Between August 2019 and July 2020, another 2.7 million acres (1.1 million hectares) were destroyed. Much of the wood and meat produced in Brazil from this deforestation ends up in Global North markets.

In Southeast Asia, deforestation linked to the palm oil industry also continues. Between 2018 and 2020, almost 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of rainforest were cleared in just three countries: Indonesia, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, leading to Indigenous communities losing their land. The demand for palm oil from top food brands in the Global North remains high, despite their commitments to reduce use.

Meanwhile, the push for greener sources of energy, particularly in the Global North, is driving the demand for metals like nickel, cobalt and lithium. Labourers in mining communities working to extract these metals face dangerous and degrading working conditions.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the use of child labour in cobalt mines is widespread, putting the lives of children at risk, damaging their health and depriving them of education. In Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, lithium mining uses large quantities of water, accelerating desertification and polluting underground waters and rivers, putting the health of local communities at risk.

According to data gathered by London-based NGO Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, there have been 304 complaints of human rights violations by 115 companies mining these minerals.

Although the end of colonialism was declared decades ago, its last effects in the form of these extractive industries are clear. The system of Indigenous land takeovers, resource extraction, labour exploitation and wealth transfer set up by European colonialists continues to operate and dispossess people in the Global South.

It is against the backdrop of this neo-colonial reality that the European Union announced its Green Deal at the end of 2019.

Underpinned by an apolitical narrative that humans have already changed the Earth’s climate and degraded the majority of its ecosystems, so action needs to be taken, the Green Deal completely ignores the fact that the Global North was the main driver of climate change and environmental degradation across the world.

European governments and corporations not only damaged and destroyed the environment on the continent and exploited local marginalised communities, but have been engaged in the same exact behaviour and worse, on all other continents.

The natural world in Africa, Asia and Latin America has been destroyed through the capitalist economic systems deployed by the Global North which normalised, expanded and strengthened hyper-extraction through overproduction and over-consumption.

The European Green Deal does not outline how it will reconcile and repair the losses and damages EU countries have caused to ecosystems and communities outside of Europe. Nor does it acknowledge how these damages force people in the Global South to migrate to Europe’s shores, where they experience pushbacks, must less offer a solution.

The European Green Deal also ignores the environmental impact of Europe’s drive for renewable energy and electric mobility on other parts of the world, where resources for this economic shift will have to be extracted. It also does not pay attention to how climate change and environmental degradation have disproportionately affected its own marginalised communities and the poor and destitute in the Global South.

In other words, in the pursuit of making the EU the first climate-neutral region in the world by 2050, Brussels is falling back on its old ways and deploying what we call climate colonialism.

The EU’s apolitical narrative on climate change – ignoring the impact of colonialism and capitalism and heavily influenced by the very corporations who profit from them – could result in climate action that is not only non-impactful but, worse, could be unsustainable and damaging for marginalised communities on the continent as well as the Global South.

It relies on tech solutions and silver-bullet ideas, promising to lead a “green, sustainable” economy with electric vehicles, solar panels, wind turbines and other exciting renewable innovations.

But the question is, who will this be sustainable for?

In order not to fall into climate colonialism, the European Green Deal needs a clear plan to eradicate harmful extractive models, recognise its historical responsibility in the climate crisis, and provide accountability for the damage EU companies cause in the Global South.

Working within the same system that causes injustice will only reproduce injustice. We at Equinox have put forward a number of important recommendations that could help steer the Green Deal away from its capitalistic, colonial foundation and towards new holistic, intersectional approaches that put social and racial justice at its core.

Among these recommendations are a clear commitment to racial justice, integrated policies linking the EU’s Anti-Racist Action Plan to the Green Deal, institutional reform, and a new relationship with civil society.

Only by acknowledging that it is perpetuating colonial capitalism, and committing to ending this approach, can the EU’s Green Deal be truly effective in addressing climate change. For far too long, European governments and companies have wreaked havoc across the world. It is time for justice, accountability and a complete overhaul of economic systems. Our collective survival depends on it.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Cameroonian Namondo Replaces Rosa Malango As Un Resident Coordinator In Uganda

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The United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres has appointed Susan Ngongi Namondo of Cameroon as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda, with the host Government’s approval.
Ms Namondo is replacing Rosa Malango of Equatorial Guinea who first came to Uganda in 2016 as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representative and Coordinator, and was in 2019 appointed Resident Coordinator reporting to the President and Secretary General of the United Nations.
Malango was recently promoted by Guterres to serve as Director, Economic Affairs for Regional Economic Commission headquartered in Europe.
Mrs Malango first communicated publicly on June 10, 2021 at the commemorations of Heroes Day at Kololo Independence Grounds that the UN Secretary, General Antonio Guterres had promoted her to serve as Director, Economic Affairs for Regional Economic Commission headquartered in Europe.
“It has been an honour for me to serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Uganda during the past five years. The UN Secretary General has now promoted me to serve as Director Economic Affairs for the Regional Economic Commission under our headquarters in Europe. I will be coordinating the work of the economic Commission in Africa, Asia, the Americas as well as Europe,” she said.
“Today is my last Heroes Day in my current capacity. But I believe that Uganda has the potential to serve as a beacon of hope, peace and prosperity for the African continent and the world,” she added.
Ms. NGONGI NAMONDO PROFILE
Ms. Ngongi Namondo has over 25 years of experience in development work, including 19 years leading development professionals in the areas of policy formulation and programme planning across four different United Nations agencies at the national, regional and headquarters levels.
Within the Organization, she most recently served as the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Eritrea, after occupying other senior positions with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), including Representative to Ghana and Comoros, and Deputy Representative to Liberia. She also served the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Prior to joining the United Nations, Ms. Ngongi Namondo worked with the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), an international scientific organization, and global non-profits including Caritas Internationalis and Catholic Relief Services.
She holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and in animal science from the University of Maryland, USA as well as master’s degrees in public administration from Columbia University, USA and in animal health from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom.

The post Cameroonian Namondo Replaces Rosa Malango As Un Resident Coordinator In Uganda first appeared on ChimpReports.



Source – chimpreports.com

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