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Louisiana man gets life in prison for selling $20 worth of pot

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The Daily Beast’s Abby Haglage has the story of a homeless man in Louisiana whose case demonstrates some of the worst extremes of the drug war.

Fate Vincent Winslow, a 41-year-old homeless black man, was hungry on September 5th, 2008. Along with a man he called “Perdue,” he was the target of a sting by an undercover cop pretending to look for marijuana and a prostitute. Although Perdue was never arrested, Winslow was.

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Citing his previous non-violent felonies – a burglaries at age 17 and 26, and cocaine possession in 2004 – a judge sentenced him to life imprisonment with hard labor. This was a result of mandatory minimum sentencing laws which allowed the prosecution to seek such an extreme sentence.

Haglage quotes from Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow to explain the utter unfairness of these laws:

People choose to commit crimes, and that’s why they are locked up or locked out, we are told—  but herein lies the trap. All people make mistakes. All of us are sinners. All of us are criminals. All of us violate the law at some point in our lives,” she writes. “In fact, if the worst thing you  have ever done is speed ten miles over the speed limit on the freeway, you have put yourself and others at more risk of harm than someone smoking marijuana in the privacy of his or her living  room. Yet there are people in the United States serving life sentences for first-time drug offenses, something virtually unheard of anywhere else in the world.

Last week, The New York Times published an article looking at a new coalition of groups, including the American Civil Libeties Union and right-wing FreedomWorks, that is coming together to reform the criminal justice system; it’s expected that mandatory minimums will be one of the laws they’ll take aim at.

 


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Trump likes overnight tweet praising R&B singer’s ‘stripper’ vibe

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President Donald Trump likes only one tweet, and that's one celebrating R&B singer Summer Walker for bringing back a "stripper" vibe.

The president's Twitter account "liked" a tweet posted just after midnight by the account @astriiluca, which reacted to a GIF of the singer: “Summer Walker getting us in our feelings in Let it go, just to bring the stripper back in SWV instantly.”

Summer Walker getting us in our feelings in Let it go, just to bring the stripper back in SWV instantly pic.twitter.com/zaYog6peUt

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Thieves and scoundrels spotted among COVID-19 bail out recipients

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The Trump Administration’s reluctant disclosure of the names of more than 600,000 recipients of Paycheck Protection Program aid has shown that many of the loans went to firms that are well-connected and that otherwise don’t fit the image of mom-and-pop businesses we were led to believe would be the main beneficiaries.

There is another problem: many of the recipients previously engaged in behavior that amounts to paycheck endangerment. They failed to comply with minimum wage and/or overtime requirements and thus paid their workers less than what they were owed. In other words, they engaged in wage theft.

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2020 Election

‘Mad King Trump’ is ignoring the COVID-19 crisis and ‘a lot more Americans are going to die’: Paul Krugman

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In an uncharacteristically blunt column for the New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman declared President Trump "Mad King Donald" and said his refusal to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously will only lead to more needless deaths for at least the next six months.

Admitting that he feels like Americans, including himself, are trapped on the Titanic he described the president as "a madman who insists on steering straight for the iceberg" and those around him as being too fearful to take the wheel and avert disaster.

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