Marco Rubio’s immigration reform policy and generous prison friends

Immigration reform may yet be a millstone around presidential hopeful Marco Rubio’s neck, Politico speculated today. Rubio+book+vertical

But nothing Rubio has suggested would win him anything but bouquets from Florida-based GEO Group, the prison management  company. It has already showered him and his chief of staff’s former lobbying firm with cash.

GEO bristles at the suggestion that it lobbies for any law that would impact the number of prisoners jailed or immigrants who might be detained.

But it does give to lawmakers who do.

Rubio got $29,700 from GEO and its executives for his Senate run and another $5,000 for his PAC.

Protesters outside GEO’s annual meeting in Palm Beach.
Protesters outside GEO’s annual meeting in Palm Beach.

Then, once in Washington, Rubio named lobbyist Cesar Conda his chief of staff.

Conda continued to accept money from the lobbying firm he co-founded, part of a payout arrangement blessed by Senate ethics advisers.

And Conda’s former lobbying firm quickly started accepting money from GEO. Within months of Conda’s appointment, GEO hired the firm, paying it $100,000.

The next year, GEO boosted payments to $120,000, about the same time Rubio’s support of a border security bill that would almost certainly have grown the number of immigrants in detention.

Conda and Rubio’s office shrugged this all off back in 2013, when The Post was asking questions. It wasn’t important enough for them to answer.

It probably still isn’t, what with a presidential campaign heating up.

But it’s worth noting that Rubio’s major immigrant reform ideas, which for now seem to focus on such things as people who overstay visas and beefing up border security, also would lend themselves to increased detention.

Pro -immigration reform protesters a few blocks from Rubio's local office.
Pro -immigration reform protesters a few blocks from Rubio’s local office.

For a look at where GEO puts its dollars – more than five million of them – Follow The Money provides its analysis here.

Allegations of substandard inmate conditions at facilities run by GEO and its competitor CCA, including immigrant detention facilities, were detailed by The Post in 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caught on tape: police shootings through the years

The news yesterday that a South Carolina deputy will face murder charges for shooting and killing an unarmed, fleeing man made some people wonder: What if it hadn’t been caught on tape?

The vast majority of shootings aren’t recorded, obviously. But since 2006, multiple officers have faced charges after their shootings were recorded by witnesses or dashboard cameras. Some of those cases are below. Other shootings caught on tape illustrate how quickly a situation can go from mundane to deadly, even if the officer doesn’t intend to shoot.

WARNING: These videos are graphic.

Airman shot by California deputy (2006)

Elio Carrion was an Air Force airman home from Iraq and riding in the passenger’s seat of a friend’s car that led police on a high-speed chase in 2009. The driver was pulled over by San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy Ivory Webb, who had Carrion on the ground at gunpoint. The video showed Webb first telling Carrion to stay on the ground, then telling Carrion to get up. Carrion replied, “I’m going to get up,” but when he started to get up, Webb shot him three times.

Webb was charged with attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm, but a jury acquitted him. The county settled a lawsuit by Carrion for $1.5 million.

BART police shooting of Oscar Grant (2009)

Officers with the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit Police Department were dispatched to a call of a fight on one of the BART trains. While detaining and handcuffing Oscar Grant, officer Johannes Mehserle stood up, allegedly to shock him with a Taser. But he pulled out his handgun instead and fired once, killing Grant.

A jury found Mehserle guilty of involuntary manslaughter.

Ohio officer shoots unarmed motorcyclist (2009)

Michael McCloskey, Jr., was unarmed when Ottawa Hills, Ohio officer Thomas White pulled him over. While McCloskey was sitting calmly on his motorcycle (at the 3:30 mark in the video), White shot him in the back, leaving him paralyzed. White said he thought McCloskey was going for a gun.

The officer was convicted of felonious assault with a gun, but the conviction was overturned last year because of improper jury instructions.

South Carolina deputy shoots man reaching for his license (2014)

This was one of two high-profile shootings in South Carolina captured on video last year. Trooper Sean Groubert stopped Levar Jones in a gas station lot because the man wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Groubert asked Jones for his ID, and Jones patted himself and reached into his car to get it. But Groubert thought Jones was reaching for a gun and shot him.

Groubert was arrested and charged with assault and battery. He’s awaiting trial.

Officers shoot BB-gun wielding teen based on bad 911 call (2014)

John Crawford III, 22, was shopping at an Ohio Walmart and carrying a toy he’d taken off the store shelf: a BB gun that looked like a rifle. A shopper called 911 on him, saying Crawford was waving a gun around and pointing it at people. Store surveillance captured Crawford on the phone, BB gun at his side, when police arrived. Beavercreek police officers, based on the faulty information in the 911 call, shot him almost immediately.

The caller later backtracked from his statements to 911 dispatchers, saying Crawford wasn’t a threat.

Body camera captures Dallas police shooting mentally ill man wielding a screwdriver (2014)

Last year’s fatal shooting of a mentally ill man by a Dallas police officer was one of the first high-profile shootings to be captured on an officer’s body camera. Jason Harrison’s mom had called police for help hospitalizing her mentally ill son, Jason Harrison, 38. When two officers arrived, Harrison was holding a screwdriver and apparently lunged at the officers, prompting both officers to shoot and kill him.

Deputy sobs after shooting 70-year-old man (2014)

This shooting in York County, S.C., shows how officers can easily – and understandably –  perceive a harmless object to be a weapon, and how officers have trouble dealing with those decisions.

Deputy Terrance Knox pulled over 70-year-old Vietnam veteran Bobby Canipe for expired tags. Canipe, who apparently couldn’t hear the deputy yelling for his attention, reached into the truck and pulled out a long object, which Knox believed to be a rifle or shotgun. Knox yelled and fired multiple times, hitting Canipe in the hip. When he ran up to the wounded man, Knox realized the he had pulled out a cane, not a gun.

Later, at the 4:30 mark in the video, you can hear Knox sobbing and a fellow deputy consoling him.

 

Kids and crime: Will lawmakers put the brakes on charging kids as adults?

Kenneth Young, at 14 given four life sentences for a string of robberies orchestrated by his mother's drug dealer.
Kenneth Young, at 14 given four life sentences for a string of robberies orchestrated by his mother’s drug dealer. He’s now the subject of a documentary:15tolifethefilm.com

Rambling its way through the Legislature is a bill that could upend Florida’s penchant for trying teenagers as adults- including teenagers as young as 13.
Florida is a national leader in the numbers of minors charged as adults, and Palm Beach County has been among the most aggressive of Florida Counties.
In one case described by Palm Beach Post reporter Jane Musgrave, a 15-year-old set a soap dispenser on fire at Lake Worth High School. He stomped it out, but the $45 of damage prompted the state attorney’s office to charge him as an adult for first degree arson. A conviction would have sent him to prison for 30 years.
Of 135 juveniles charged as adults in Palm Beach County in 2012, Musgrave found, 80 had no prior record. Ten of those first-time offenders were charged as adults for selling $10 bags of pot to undercover agents.
Everyone from the conservative leaning James Madison Institute to the reliably liberal Human Rights Watch have weighed in on the side of changing how Florida sentences kids.
The proposed Florida bill would do just that: curb the ability of states’ attorneys to charge teenagers and give judges more flexibility in sentencing them.
Here’s the Human Rights Watch critique of Florida sentencing kids:http://www.hrw.org/node/124403
For the James Madison Institute’s white paper: http://www.jamesmadison.org/issues/issue-commentary-children-tried-as-adults-in-florida-a-common-sense-approach-to-ensure-fairness-and-accountability
And you can see a state analysis of the bill and judge for yourself here:

The fishing pole, the snitch, the fake murder & the KKK guards

Thomas Newcomb
Thomas Newcomb

Reputed Ku Klux Klan Grand Cyclops Charles Thomas Newcomb had two vials of insulin, eight rounds of 9MM ammo wiped clean of prints, a fishing pole and a plan.

Talks recorded by an FBI informant outline why Newcomb, an ex-Florida prison guard, was arrested Thursday and charged with conspiring to murder a former inmate.

Also arrested were two other Florida state prison guards identified as KKK members: David Elliot Moran and Thomas Jordan Driver.

It was Driver who fought with the inmate and who was bitten by him.
He had the grudge.

Thomas Driver
Thomas Driver

Arrest affidavits released late Thursday, though, indicate that it was Newcomb who had the plan.

In Palatka, where the ex-inmate lived, Newcomb didn’t rule out going in “with guns blazing,” according to the informant.

But he had a quieter option.

“I see that fishing pole like he’s been fishing, and give him a couple of (insulin) shots, and sit there and wait on him, then we can kind of lay him so he’s tippled over into the water. And he can breathe in just a little bit of that water,” Newcomb is quoted as saying in a transcribed recording.

“If we go down the road, and that son of a gun is walking by himself and there’s nobody else around, it ain’t going to take nothing for us to just stop the car and put him in this car and take him somewhere.”

David Moran
David Moran

It might have gone down just that way. But the informant got to the FBI, the FBI got to the targeted victim and together they staged a gory murder scene. The informant took cell phone pictures of the murder to Newcomb, Moran and Driver.

In transcripts of recordings with the men, the informant asks “Is this what ya’ll wanted?”

“Yeah!” responds one. “Hell yeah!”

The FBI arrested all three Thursday morning. They face 30 years in state prison.

Moran and Driver are being fired, said a Florida Department of Corrections spokesman.

To read the source affidavit used here: NEWCOMB – AFFIDAVIT AW_Redacted

Update: DOC chief fires two prison guards arrested for plotting to kill inmate

Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones

Updated at 2:08 p.m.
Florida Department of Corrections chief Julie Jones issued this statement following today’s arrest of two current prison guards and one former guard, all KKK members, with plotting to kill an African-American inmate:
“We are moving swiftly to terminate the employees arrested today and working closely with Office of the Attorney General to assist in their prosecution. Our Department has zero tolerance for racism or prejudice of any kind. The actions of these individuals are unacceptable and do not, in any way, represent the thousands of good, hardworking and honorable correctional officers employed at the Department of Corrections.”
The former officer charged in the plot, Charles Thomas Newcomb, was hired in 2012 but dismissed the following year “for failure to meet correctional officer’s minimum training requirements” according to a FDOC spokesman.

Original post: Three current and former Florida prison guards – all members of the Ku Klux Klan – were arrested today and charged with conspiring to kill an African American inmate when he is released from state prison.
Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42, is a former state prison guard; as of this morning, Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, and David Elliot Moran, 47, were still pulling paychecks from the Florida Department of Corrections.
All are members of the Traditional American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The name of the inmate has not been released. However, Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a prepared statement that the three men plotted the murder as retaliation for a fight between the prisoner and Driver.
The list of agencies involved is a long one: Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution and the Federal Bureau of Investigation made the arrest, but Homeland Security, the Florida Department of Corrections Office of Inspector General, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office assisted.
The mens’ trial will take place in Columbia County.