After less than an hour of deliberation, a jury Wednesday found John Henry Spooner, 76, guilty of first-degree intentional homicide for fatally shooting Darius Simmons, his 13-year-old neighbor.
photo via chardline.tumblr.com
Dear The Rest of the World,
UPDATE: AMERICA IS STILL A FUCKING RACIST PLACE TO LIVE! If someone tells you America is a post-racial paradise, THEY ARE LYING TO YOUR FACE.
I feel shitty even writing this, because I’m one of the East Coast, Ivy League, privileged white girls who is full of shock and rage and righteous indignation at this verdict. Most black folks I know/have seen on twitter are just home drinking and being sad, but they aren’t surprised at all. Not even a little. And THAT, my friends, is an even bigger take-away for me than the bullshit verdict in this case. That is the thing I’m going to remember. That this case isn’t one in a million - it’s one OF a million cases where it turns out that, according to the LAWS OF THIS LAND, it’s illegal to be young and male and black and taking a walk in this country.
That’s a lesson that I hope stays with me a long time. And I hope I keep the anger and the indignation too, because GOD DAMN, this is fucked up.
Anyway, go see Pacific Rim. It’s a movie about monsters and robots and Idris Elba is excellent in it and America isn’t even IN this movie, and it will take your mind off the fact that a young man was just found guilty of his own vicious murder.
"Timely Justice," my ass:
For a state with 24 death row exonerations under its belt (the highest in the country), you would think Florida might want to slow down its execution process to avoid putting innocent people to death. But Florida lawmakers are doing just the opposite
The Miami Herald calls the bill “unacceptable”:
As Mark Elliott, director of Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, points out, “That’s one exoneration for every three executions.”
That should give every Floridian pause.
Frank Lee Smith died of cancer on Death Row after 14 years in prison. Sadly, after his death, DNA testing proved he was innocent and also identified the real killer. What kind of justice did Mr. Smith get?
Natasha Lennard, writing for Salon, calls it “ill-named”:
In a most perverse admission, flagged by Khalek, Republican Senator Rob Bradley said “this is not about guilt or innocence, it’s about timely justice.” So long as proceedings through the Kangaroo court are swift, Bradley seems to admit, the lives of inmates are expendable.
Chris Hedges calls it “cynically named”:
William Van Poyck … is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. June 12 at Florida State Prison. He is a writer who has spent years exposing the cruelty of our system of mass incarceration. On June 12, if Gov. Rick Scott has his way, Van Poyck will write no more. And that is exactly how our political class of murderers wants it.
The New York Times calls it “grotesquely named”:
As the American Bar Association explained in a scathing 2006 report on the state’s death penalty system, Florida is one of the few states that allows a jury to recommend a sentence of death based on a majority vote rather than a unanimous one. Defendants charged with capital crimes often have woefully unqualified counsel, and are much more likely to be convicted and sentenced to death if the victim is white — a sign of racial disparity that is clearly unconstitutional. The flaws in Florida’s system, which soaks up huge amounts of resources, cannot be fixed. It is long past time to abolish capital punishment.
An MSN headline appropriately summarizes, “Florida’s death row Timely Justice Act is cool, unless you’re innocent"—which Juan Melendez can understand since he spent 18 years on death row before being exonerated in 2002:
The “Timely Justice Act” would speed up a system we know has already sent innocent men, like myself, to death row. Some of these prisoners may be men like me, who have exhausted their legal appeals, yet keep trying to find a way to prove their innocence.
In multiple cases of current death row prisoners, we don’t know exactly what the legal claims are. Some of the men on Florida’s death row ran out of legal options simply because their attorneys missed filing deadlines.
In those instances, no court had the opportunity to evaluate the claims and determine whether they have merit. How can we possibly justify speeding up the execution of prisoners in those cases?
According to logic of the “Timely Justice Act,” any prisoner who has exhausted his appeals and been through a clemency process has had every opportunity and is ready for an execution date, regardless of the specific questions and issues that surround his case.
I am living proof that each case is unique and that the system must allow ample time for the truth to emerge.
Given Florida’s troubling track record on wrongful convictions, this legislation ensures the unthinkable — the execution of an innocent person.
There needs to be more outrage about this.
Even if you are not against the death penalty (I am not, in theory), you have to admit that this country is REALLY FUCKING BAD at identifying the guilty parties sometimes. Like, EXTRA FUCKING BAD AT IT. Let’s slow this train down, Florida, until we’re 100% sure that we’re not, you know. Murdering innocent people.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — With changes to its unemployment law taking effect this weekend, North Carolina not only is cutting benefits for those who file new claims, it will become the first state disqualified from a federal compensation program for the long-term jobless.
State officials adopted the package of benefit cuts and increased taxes for businesses in February, a plan designed to accelerate repayment of a $2.5 billion federal debt. Like many states, North Carolina had racked up the debt by borrowing from Washington after its unemployment fund was drained by jobless benefits during the Great Recession.
The changes go into effect Sunday for North Carolina, which has the country’s fifth-worst jobless rate. The cuts on those who make unemployment claims on or after that day will disqualify the state from receiving federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation. That money kicks in after the state’s period of unemployment compensation — now shortened from up to six months to no more than five — runs out. The EUC program is available to long-term jobless in all states. But keeping the money flowing includes a requirement that states can’t cut average weekly benefits.
Because North Carolina leaders cut average weekly benefits for new claims, about 170,000 workers whose state benefits expire this year will lose more than $700 million in EUC payments, the U.S. Labor Department said.
Lee Creighton, 45, of Cary, said he’s been unemployed since October, and this is the last week for which he’ll get nearly $500 in unemployment aid. He said he was laid off from a position managing statisticians and writers amid the recession’s worst days in 2009 and has landed and lost a series of government and teaching jobs since then — work that paid less half as much. His parents help him buy groceries to get by.
“I’m just not sure what I’m going to do,” said Creighton, who has a doctorate. “What are we to do? Is the state prepared to have this many people with no source of income?”
With the changes to North Carolina law, state benefits will last three to five months — at the longer end when unemployment rates are higher. Qualifying for benefits becomes more difficult. Weekly payments for those collecting the current maximum benefit of $535 drop to $350, falling from the highest in the Southeast to comparable with neighboring states.
Other states this year cut unemployment benefits and restricted eligibility, but none included drops in weekly benefits, said George Wentworth of the National Employment Law Project, a worker-advocacy group.
Welcome to the United States of America, where we are on a war against poor people.