Rehabilitated to death

Gina Score is one teenage criminal who won’t ever break the law again. That’s because she’s dead, allegedly thanks to the harsh discipline she received at a South Dakota boot camp for troubled kids.

REUTERS reports that the FBI has launched a probe into Score’s death, the latest incident fuelling a national controversy over the growing use of military-style camps to rehabilitate wayward teens. Score, a a 14-year-old shoplifter, died of heatstroke during a forced long-distance run; the 226-pound girl lay in the sun for three hours without treatment because camp staffers thought she was faking a seizure. Since her death, state investigators and parents of other inmates have come forward with tales of other girls being shackled, handcuffed, and forced to run until their feet bled.…


Two million prisoners in 2000

Dec. 9

Incarceration afficionados, keep those party hats and champagne bottles handy after New Year’s Eve, because shortly thereafter, the US will mark another millennial milestone: By February, the number of Americans in prison will hit a record two million.

So predicts the JUSTICE POLICY INSTITUTE in a study released Wednesday. The study shows that America’s prison population has nearly doubled in this decade, growing at a rate 30 times faster than in any decade before the ’70s. Moreover, in 1995, spending on prison construction in many states outpaced spending on university construction for the first time, and two-thirds of prisoners nationally are locked up for non-violent offenses.

“Our incarceration binge is America’s real Y2K problem,” said JPI analyst Jason Ziedenberg. “As we approach two million prisoners in 2000, we have to find alternatives to incarceration to solve America’s pressing social problems.”


One percent responsible for her own murder

Dec. 8

A Nebraska district judge has ruled that Brandon Teena (born Teena Brandon), a 21-year-old woman who lived as a man, was “one percent” responsible for her own murder, according to the LINCOLN JOURNAL STAR. Brandon, whose story is the subject of the current film “Boys Don’t Cry,” was raped by two men after they discovered her true gender in 1993. The two men who stabbed and shot her to death a week later were the same ones she had told police had committed the rape.

The judge’s ruling was part of a decision awarding Brandon’s mother some $17,000 in her wrongful death suit against Richardson County, where the rape and murder occurred. The suit held that the county should have protected Brandon after she reported the rape. The judge lopped $65 dollars off the amount awarded for Brandon’s funeral expenses to reflect her “one percent responsibility” for her own death.

Mrs. Brandon’s lawyer has said he may appeal the ruling, calling the award amount “so insignificant that it tends to trivialize the whole matter.”


Terminal turtles?

Dec. 7

Given that turtles have existed for more than 200 million years, their relationship with humans has been relatively brief — but nonetheless devastating. According to GREENWIRE, more than half the world’s nearly 300 turtle species are facing possible extinction, thanks to us.

Millions of turtles wind up on dinner tables in Asia every year, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. An estimated 12 million turtles are sold each year in China alone, where they are considered delicacies. Mexicans and Madagascans also munch on the hapless animals.

In the United States, the threat is more direct: the boom in off-road vehicles has created an echo of squashed turtles.


David vs. Goliath in Brit news spat

Dec. 6

The British magazine LM (formerly LIVING MARXIST) is fighting for its life as a result, possibly, of being too good at its job as bullshit detector.

Back in 1992, a team of journalists from the UK’s heavyweight ITN WORLD NEWS shot a videotape that shocked the world, showing an emaciated Bosnian Muslim man apparently behind a barbed wire fence in a Bosnian Serb concentration camp. But in 1997, an LM correspondent reported that the tape may have been misleading. The “camp,” it seems, had no barbed wire on its perimeter; in fact, the barbed-wire was surrounding the camera team, and not the Bosnians they were filming. Nor were the Muslim man and those around him in a concentration camp or prison; the area was a refugee camp, which they were free to leave.

Now ITN is suing LM for libel, because LM allegedly implied that the camera team had intentionally misled the public. ITN further attempted to have all copies of the LM edition containing the questioning article pulped. The case goes to trial in February. But given how LM’s readership has declined in recent years, the legal fees alone may kill it.



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