Archive for April, 2015


senseless destruction

chas schultz cartoon
Quoted from The Minneapolis Star-Tribune (April 22, 2015):
Three days after being crowned the largest tree of its kind in the state, possibly in the nation, a towering jack pine near Mountain Iron MN, was felled by a logger making room for a $40 million expansion of US Steel’s Minntac mine—an expansion already put on hold.
“It’s somewhat of a tragedy,” said Dale Irish, the longtime Mountain Iron resident who until recently owned the land where the champion tree stood. He said it would have been crowned national champ, too.

But just after a state Department of Natural Resources forester measured the tree, Irish closed on a deal to sell the land to US Steel. The loggers came the next day.


Groove of the Day

Listen to The Stooges performing “Search and Destroy”


Weather Report

69° and Clear


what do they expect?


This country is being mismanaged by the career politicians and authorities, yet they seem to be surprised when things begin to come apart at the seams.

According to last August’s CNN poll, an all-time high of 87% of Americans simply do not trust their own government nor regard the mainstream media as truthful or credible.

police vehicle on fireThe recent riots in Baltimore are just the most recent result of decades of abusive police tactics carried out against blacks and other disadvantaged populations. But they’re likely not to be the last, and disadvantaged people are only the beginning. Mass incarceration is such a generalized phenomenon in America, once the fissures begin to open, urban unrest is likely to happen anywhere in America. Eventually, the whole country could blow up like a super-volcano.

The government knows this and is taking steps to maintain repressive control.

From July 15 to September 15, a Special Operations exercise called “Jade Helm 15” is scheduled to be carried out by the US Army’s Special Operations Command in 10 states in the southwest, plus Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. The Army says the operation is designed to train 1,200 special forces personnel including the Green Berets, Air Force and Marine Special Ops Commands, Navy SEALS, Marine Expeditionary Units, and the 82nd Airborne Division in ‘Mastering the Human Domain’: the use of the military to engender trust in order to control “the totality of the physical, cultural, and social environments that influence human behavior.” In other words, Jade Helm is a dry run exercise at the roll-out of martial law and asymmetric warfare against Americans.

jade helm mapThe government knows that invading and conquering a country is a lot easier than maintaining order under its rule. Jade Helm appears to be a practiced study in the modern domination of culture. It is a dry run at using one’s soldiers as counselors and spies to keep the population of a territory subservient.

It appears that infiltration exercises will be incorporated in the operation. According to a Houston Chronicle report, soldiers will attempt to blend in with the local population in an effort to test the effectiveness of infiltration techniques.

Residents will be encouraged to report suspicious activity during the exercise. “They’re going to set up cells of people and test how well they’re able to move around without getting too noticed in the community,” says Roy Boyd, chief deputy with the Victoria County sheriff’s office. “They’re testing their abilities to basically blend in with the local environment and not stand out and blow their cover.”

Jade Helm is a massive rehearsal not only for the implementation of martial law over the general population, but for snatch-and-grab extractions of key resistance figures from the independent media as well as uncooperative political figures.

On Tuesday Governor Greg Abbott of Texas says he ordered the Texas National Guard to monitor Jade Helm 15 “to safeguard Texans’ constitutional rights, private property & civil liberties,” but this provides scant reassurance and is likely part of Abbott’s own cover story.

Twenty-three Marines are said to be deployed in the Big Bend area. Drones and stealth helicopters have already been observed here.

4-walmartIn Midland TX, the number one Walmart in America (based on per capita spending) has been suddenly closed without warning, its employees fired, and the store is now a hotbed of reconstruction and military activity, and the site is crawling with military and DHS personnel and vehicles. According to the official cover story, the store had to be closed because of “plumbing issues.” But since when does the military service Walmart’s plumbing?

jhtwm2The Midland location is one of five stores Walmart said it closed in California, Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida because of persistent “plumbing issues,” which could take as long as six months to fix. These are all states which have a role to play in the Jade Helm exercise, and the Walmarts are rumored to being prepared as command centers. There are also persistent rumors of Walmart installing facial recognition software in its operations because 85% of Americans are said to patronize the retailer over some period of time.

So what is going on? No one outside of government really knows, but conspiracy theories abound. The “exercise” cover story seems pretty thin, but the gullible American public has fallen for much less. I will remind you that Dick Cheney was in charge of a NORAD “military exercise” when 9-11 was permitted to happen. And most Americans have been content to swallow the government’s official line.

The chances are just as great that Jade Helm is itself a major move of oppression against Americans as they are that Jade Helm will ultimately prove to be just a means of conditioning the public to accept a repressive domestic military presence. This is the real tragedy of the United States national and state governments today. Their intentions are simply not trustworthy.

Police are seen as demonstrators gather near Camden Yards to protest against the death in police custody of Freddie Gray in Baltimore


Groove of the Day

Listen to Nickelback performing “Edge Of A Revolution”


Weather Report

64° and Clear





Many years ago in Minneapolis, I first started thinking about what goes into processed foods when a friend of mine told me that Cargill, the giant food company, adds sand to increase the weight of its grain because (1) sand is cheaper than grain and (2) federal regulators say that a certain amount of sand is acceptable in the grain. In other words, a food company is purposely adulterating its product because it is economically profitable and the government says it’s okay.

A couple days ago an email came across my desk that lists a few other disgusting ingredients that are a part of other companies’ processed foods:

Red Dye: Ground up Beetles

Between yogurt, maraschino cherries, jams, cakes, and tomato products, you’ve probably consumed at least one pound of red dye in your life. That means that you’ve also ingested at least 70,000 cochineal beetles, according to The bug is crushed up to make red dye.

Ice Cream: Beaver Anal Glands

Vanilla and raspberry flavors might be enhanced by “castoreum,” a mixture of the anal secretions and urine of beavers. It’s also found in perfume. The FDA-approved product is categorized under “natural flavoring,” so you won’t know if you’re eating it. After celebrity chef Jamie Oliver went on David Letterman’s show and mentioned castoreum’s presence in vanilla ice cream—”If you like that stuff, next time you put it in your mouth think of anal gland”—manufacturers adamantly denied the claims.

Beer: Fish Bladders

Isinglass, or dried fish bladder, gives beer its golden glow. The BBC did a whole segment on the substance, which is primarily used in British beers.

Wendy’s Chili: Sand

One key ingredient to Wendy’s chili is an anti-caking agent called silicon dioxide. Street name: sand or glass powder.

Jell-O: Animal Connective Tissue

Gelatin is made from collagen, which is boiled down animal connective tissue. Today, gelatin most likely is made from pigskin.

Gum: Sheep Secretions

Lanolin—a goopy, oily secretion found in sheep’s wool—is an FDA-approved additive used to soften chewing gum. It can also be found in cosmetics, sunscreen, and baby products.

Cheese: Sawdust

Cellulose, or virgin wood pulp that is more commonly identified as sawdust, is an ingredient found in shredded cheese. It keeps the shreds from clumping up. Cellulose also appears in Kraft Parmesan Cheese—but Kraft isn’t the only company to do so., a financial news and services website, found 15 other companies that use “wood” in their products. The USDA, which regulates meat, has decided that meat products that consist of more than 3.5 percent cellulose cannot be recognized as nutritionally sound

Bread: Duck Feathers and Human Hair

L-Cysteine is an amino acid often used in dough conditioners, which softens mass-produced breads. It is made from human hair or duck feathers. Although 80% of L-cysteine is made of human hair, McDonald’s uses the duck feather variety in its baked hot apple pies and warm cinnamon rolls.

Mushrooms: Maggots

The FDA says it’s legally OK to have up to 19 maggots and 74 mites in a 3.5-ounce can of mushrooms.

Potato Chips: Cleaning Agents

Sodium bisulfite is used in most toilet boil cleaning agents. It’s also used to extend the shelf-life and bleach out the discoloration of potato chips.

Chocolate: Rat Hairs

I’m not saying that rat hairs are the secret ingredient of your favorite chocolate bars… but they might make accidental guest appearances. The FDA allows one rat hair per 100 grams in six 100-gram subsamples of chocolate and 60 insect fragments per 100 grams in six 100-gram subsamples.


These weird ingredients and impurities aren’t enough to kill you, but they do remind us that we’re treading on thin ice any time we trust companies and people who are motivated by making money off of us. And it’s not just food.

In the last few months, TV doctor and Columbia University faculty member Mehmez Oz has come under heavy criticism for promoting junk science on his widely-watched television show. He’s been lambasted by experts, by fellow doctors, even by the federal government. Last week, 10 doctors sent an email to the university contending that Dr. Oz promoted “quack treatments and cures in the interest of personal financial gain” and should be removed as vice-chair of Columbia’s surgery department. (He lost me years ago when he predicted my early death in a promotional email-administered questionnaire. What does he know? He didn’t see me. His junk emails regularly clog my spam filter like plaque in the circulatory system, and I’m sick of it.)

There is a tendency for people to cry “victimization” when anyone uses us as raw material in some money-making scheme or scam. But I suggest to you that the relationship of grifter and mark is a dance in which both partners play a part. We owe it to ourselves to be discriminating in who we trust. It is a matter of not only avoiding being fooled, but maintaining our personal dignity and integrity.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Jamiroquai performing “Scam”


Weather Report

54° and Cloudy


most open secret


Why We Let Prison Rape Go On

by Chandra Bozelko, The New York Times

April 17, 2015

It’s been called “America’s most ‘open’ secret”: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 80,000 women and men a year are sexually abused in American correctional facilities. That number is almost certainly subject to underreporting, through shame or a victim’s fear of retaliation. Overall, only 35% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to the police in 2010, and the rate of reporting in prisons is undoubtedly lower still.

To tackle the problem, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. The way to eliminate sexual assault, lawmakers determined, was to make Department of Justice funding for correctional facilities conditional on states’ adoption of zero-tolerance policies toward sexual abuse of inmates.

Inmates would be screened to identify possible predators and victims. Prison procedures would ensure investigation of complaints by outside law enforcement. Correctional officers would be instructed about behavior that constitutes sexual abuse. And abusers, whether inmates or guards, would be punished effectively.

But only two states—New Hampshire and New Jersey—have fully complied with the act. Forty-seven states and territories have promised that they will do so. Using Justice Department data, the American Civil Liberties Union estimated that from 2003 to 2012, when the law’s standards were finalized, nearly two million inmates were sexually assaulted.

Six Republican governors have neglected or refused to comply, complaining of cost and other factors. Rick Perry, then the governor of Texas, wrote to the Justice Department last year stating that 40 percent of the correctional officers in male facilities in Texas were women, so that “cross-gender viewing” (like witnessing inmates in the shower, which contravenes the legal guidelines) could not be avoided. The mandated measures, he said, would levy “an unacceptable cost” on Texas, which has one of the highest rates of prison sexual assault.

For its noncompliance, Texas is likely to lose just 5% of federal funding for its state prisons, or about $800,000. It will still receive $15.2 million in federal grants even as inmates continue to be sexually assaulted. If Congress passes an amendment that Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, proposed last year, the financial penalty for noncompliance will be removed altogether.

Ultimately, prisons protect rape culture to protect themselves. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about half of prison sexual assault complaints in 2011 were filed against staff. (These reports weren’t all claims of forcible rape; it is considered statutory sexual assault for a guard to have sexual contact with an inmate.)

I was an inmate for six years in Connecticut after being convicted of identity fraud, among other charges. From what I saw, the same small group of guards preyed on inmates again and again, yet never faced discipline. They were protected by prison guard unions, one of the strongest forces in American labor.

Sexualized violence is often used as a tool to subdue inmates whom guards see as upstarts. In May 2008, while in a restricted housing unit, or “the SHU” as it is commonly known, I was sexually assaulted by a guard. The first person I reported the incident to, another guard, ignored it. I finally reached a nurse who reported it to a senior officer.

When the state police arrived, I decided not to talk to them because the harassment I’d received in the intervening hours made me fearful. For the same reason, I refused medical treatment when I was taken to a local emergency room.

I was also a witness in a case in which an inmate claimed to have been sexually assaulted by a guard and then told me she’d made it up. I reported her—and this time, I was perfectly credible to an investigator, who praised me for having a conscience and a clear head.

The Justice Department estimates that the total bill to society for prison rape and sexual abuse is as high as $51.9 billion per year, including the costs of victims’ compensation and increased recidivism. If states refuse to implement the law when the fiscal benefit is so obvious, something larger is at stake.

According to Allen Beck, senior statistical adviser at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “institutional culture and facility leadership may be key factors in determining the level of victimization.” Rape persists, in other words, because it’s the cultural wallpaper of American correctional facilities. We preserve the abuse because we’re down with perps getting punished in the worst ways.

Compliance does not even cost that much. The Justice Department estimates that full nationwide compliance would cost $468.5 million per year, through 2026. Even that much is less than 1% of states’ spending on corrections. Putting aside the cruelty and pain inflicted, prison rape costs far more than the implementation of the law designed to stop it.


dick cavett’s vietnam

It’s not much fun returning to Vietnam.

I don’t mean in person and, no, I did not fight in that sad war. It’s the war we don’t like to think about but can’t quite forget.

In going through, reviewing and cataloging past shows of mine from that awful time (in preparation for a PBS special, “Dick Cavett’s Vietnam,” airing Monday), two things stand out. I’m surprised at what a vast amount of Vietnam was either a planned or unplanned part of the shows of those years. And it’s fascinating how much we all may have repressed or, mercifully, just forgotten.

The memory is jogged in a hundred ways, viewing and hearing all this again. Even minor things come back to the mind’s ear, like John F. Kennedy, with his tin ear for other languages, saying “Lay-oss” for Laos.

ap_202_vietnam_real_war_kb_ss_131023_sshMore significantly, how many of us have forgotten those two haunting monosyllables, “My Lai,” and the round-the-world headlines: US SOLDIER: “I SHOT BABIES.” The infamous Lt. William Calley lives and breathes. He was convicted on 22 counts of murder, but was eventually pardoned by Richard Nixon.

In one of my old shows, the very personable Barry Goldwater is asked by me if he is pleased by the current heavy bombing raids.

“No, I’m not,” the affable gent replies. “They’re not bombing enough.”

One of the best comments on the war back then on my show came from Warren Beatty. The highly intelligent and well-informed actor warned that this country must get out of the habit of relying on “experts” on matters like the war. Experts like those depicted in David Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest.” Experts such as Robert McNamara, a businessman, and the clueless Gen. William Westmoreland.

Beatty, clearly with intellectual equipment of a higher order than most of our politicians, made you wonder if more actors should be in charge. (Wait…was there, once?)

Until re-seeing one of the old shows, I actually had forgotten having asked Henry Kissinger what he would say to a father who wondered, “What did we get out of this war that was worth the death of my son?”

Henry fuzzes the answer and seems more concerned about blaming other administrations—Kennedy’s in particular—than in answering directly. A sense of absent concern for the human cost is distressing in Kissinger. Why didn’t I just say that of course the boy didn’t die for nothing—he died for a hideous, world-shaking case of criminal political ineptitude and miscalculation by people, including you, sir, who should have known better?

Wounded American Soldier, Viet Nam 1965Unsettling isn’t a strong enough word for seeing, again, Kissinger’s boss, The Great Unindicted Co-conspirator himself, Richard Nixon, campaigning on an emphatic promise to end the war.

Elected, he widened it.

I’d even forgotten that, incredibly, Westmoreland pleaded for a whopping 50,000 more troops to be poured into the bloodshed. And more incredibly, he got them.

Protests exploded. Alas, the generous gift of soldiers was apparently not enough to prevent “Westy” from being immortalized as “The General Who Lost Vietnam.”

I remember hearing a disgusted World War II vet asking, “Who’s running this damn war, anyway? The Marx Brothers?”

As it happens, Groucho Marx, in a departure from hilarity, weighed in quite brilliantly against the war on one show. He said he no longer liked to watch the news: “They show you a battlefield and there are boys lying there dead and injured. I don’t want to see that when I go to bed at night. I have enough problems going to bed without that.”

Can we have forgotten what a bombshell the Pentagon papers were? Daniel Ellsberg was a particularly eloquent guest. The same Daniel Ellsberg whose psychiatrist’s notes Nixon’s team of Three Stooges burglars tried to purloin.

Ah, and here’s Jane Fonda, gorgeous and infuriating to hordes of her life-threateners, but, who, as it turned out, happened to be right about the war.

I’m a friend of Jane’s. She can never satisfy some of her durable bloodthirsty critics, of course, but she has impressively described and tearfully apologized for what she came to see as her own deep foolishness in certain appalling actions at the time. She has admitted she will never live down her shame at some of her—as they’re called in acting—“bad choices.”

It’s great to view again one particular tape. Nobody was more moving on the show than the great Senator Wayne Morse. His reasoned and passionate excoriations about the war and those who concocted it played to a hushed studio audience. He was riveting. I’ve never seen an audience so rapt. “We violated one section in Article F, another of the charter of the United Nations. We practically tore up the Geneva Accords,” he told me. “We have to face up to the fact that we cannot conduct a unilateral military course of action around the world without the world organizing against us. We’ve got to get out of Asia.”

viet51Sometimes a story of a single minor incident stays in the mind vividly. It’s the kind of story you’d prefer never to have heard. A party of US soldiers making their way along a road passed a small farmhouse. The curious family stood watching them pass.

One of the soldiers casually shot their cow.

This story makes me cry.

Their cow. She was not only vital to their lives, of course, but lived with them in a portion of the house.

A pet and beloved family member, shot by that brave warrior. I should like to meet the shooter.

Sadly, you can’t forget those two nauseating syllables, Kent State. A crime that stinks to high heaven. Of the four students shot dead by National Guardsmen, a couple were reportedly on their way to class, and not even part of the demonstration.

One of my favorite historic figures, Bob Hope, was another casualty of Vietnam. His heroic and dangerous flights all over the globe to entertain and thrill fun-starved soldiers with laughs and pretty movie stars have been deservedly lauded. (Those shows made top-rated and highly profitable TV specials.)

Poor Bob stayed on too long. I’ll never forget the night on the show that returned-veteran John Kerry shocked us all with the report that Bob Hope had been booed at Danang.

Richard Zoglin explains in his fine biography of Hope that Bob never “got” it. The troops who had loved him before were now sickened by the war and by his continued fervent support of it. He lost much of his public that way, too. He never got over it.

It’s stirring watching the impressive Gen. Wesley Clark saying, in a more recent interview, that he had supported the war, and then questioned it, finally wondering aloud, “How much did we learn? Not enough.” Then he mentions the words “Afghanistan” and “Iraq.”


At long, long last the war was ended.

Not by a president or a Congress or by the protesters. Someone said it was the only war in history ever ended by a journalist.

The-Vietnam-War-2“The Most Trusted Man in America,” Walter Cronkite, not always a critic of the war, went to see the damage of the Tet offensive, came back, and said on his news broadcast that we had to get out. The beleaguered Lyndon Johnson’s reported reaction: “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”

I sometimes wonder how many people have forgotten—or how many young people are astonished to learn—that we lost that war.

Sadly, in one of George W. Bush’s favored phrases, we cut and ran.

The great invincible American war machine went down to ignominious defeat. And just what did we achieve? We had been assured by powerful intellectuals that we “had to stop Communism somewhere.” So we made our dashing entrance into another country’s business, forgetting that the place already was half-Communist.

Now it all is.


Dick Cavett is the former television talk show host known for his conversational style and in-depth discussions. He appeared regularly in the US on nationally broadcast television from the 1960s through the 2000s. In recent years, he has written a column for the online New York Times, promoted DVDs of his former shows as well as a book of his Times columns, and hosted replays of his classic TV interviews.



Groove of the Day

Listen to Jimi Hendrix performing “Good Morning Vietnam”


Weather Report

80° Windy and Clear


a different pie


“The difference between white people and Indians is that Indian people know they are oppressed but don’t feel powerless. White people don’t feel oppressed, but feel powerless. Deconstruct that disempowerment. Part of the mythology that they’ve been teaching you is that you have no power.

“Power is not brute force and money; power is in your spirit. Power is in your soul. It is what your ancestors, your old people gave you. Power is in the earth; it is in your relationship to the earth.

“The question of socialism or communism or capitalism or between the left and right—I think the important question is between the industrial society and the earth-based society. And I say that because I believe that capitalism and communism are really much more about how the wealth is distributed, if it trickles down or is appropriated at the beginning to those who have worked for it.

“But, you know, someone has to question where the wealth came from. What right does society have to the wealth? What is the relationship between that society and the land from which it got its wealth? Those are the questions that should be asked.

“The essence of the problem is about consumption, recognizing that a society that consumes one-third of the world’s resources is unsustainable. This level of consumption requires constant intervention into other people’s lands. That’s what’s going on.

“We don’t want a bigger piece of the pie. We want a different pie.”


Winona LaDuke
—  Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke (born 1959) is an American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer, known for her work on tribal land claims and preservation, as well as sustainable development.

we’re #1

Cory Booker.

What’s better for America’s status?

Here’s a pop quiz: What’s better for America’s status in the world?

A) Being a global leader in innovation, job creation, education, social mobility, literacy and child health.

B) Being a global leader in imprisoning the highest number of human beings—its own citizens.

It’s an obvious answer. But the unfortunate reality is that the United States leads the world in incarceration, not education.

Our country has shown time and again a nearly unlimited capacity to reinvent itself and move closer to the ideals on which our society was founded.

Yet we have emerged as the global leader in a race that no nation would want to even be a contender in. While our country is home to only 5% of the world’s total population, we are home to 25% of the world’s prison population. And nearly three-fourths of this population is comprised of nonviolent offenders.

At the same time, we are losing the increasingly important race to educate our citizens.

Where the United States was once ranked first in high school graduation rates, we now rank 23rd in high school completion among 30 of the world’s most developed nations.

Where we were once the driving force of the global economy, we now rank fifth in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness index. Key metrics in this index include the quality of a nation’s primary, secondary and higher education systems.

Instead of empowering the next generation of American artists, scientists, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs, our country has chosen to devote a massive amount of resources, time and energy to locking people up. By imprisoning individuals, we also burden families, condemn generations to cycles of poverty and breed economic inequality.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Congress chose to adopt laws that drastically changed the way our country handled nonviolent drug crimes. Since then, the American prison population has increased by nearly 800% over the past 30 years. Over 2.7 million American children have a parent who is incarcerated, and 10 million American children at one time in their lives had a parent in prison.

Americans of color are disproportionately burdened by the failures of our justice system. There are more black men in prison or under state or federal supervision today than there were enslaved in 1850. And while African Americans make up only 13.6% of the total US population, they make up a whopping 40.2% of the US prison population.

The sad reality is that in today’s America, prisoners are never truly free from the burdens of our criminal justice system.

A report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research concluded that once released from prison, an ex-offender’s prospects for obtaining employment statistically decreased. The report estimated that, in 2008, ex-offender employment losses cost our economy the equivalent of 1.5 to 1.7 million workers, or $57 billion to $65 billion annually. It’s therefore no surprise that American prisons have become revolving doors, with two out of every three former offenders rearrested within three years of their release.

The millions of wives, sisters, husbands, daughters, sons, friends and the people they love who have been incarcerated are burdened disproportionately by an outdated, archaic and overly punitive system. These millions of Americans have the ability to advance our country, our economy and our global competitiveness. They just need to be given the opportunity.

American taxpayers aren’t free from the burdens of our criminal justice system either.

In addition to the billions lost in jobs and productivity, Americans spend over a quarter of a trillion dollars each year to keep millions of nonviolent, low-level offenders imprisoned. The price tag is truly staggering.

It costs on average $29,000 a year to house one inmate at the federal level. In contrast, our country spends a little over $11,000 dollars a year per elementary school student. Imagine the good we could do if we could re-appropriate those tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money and economic losses away from imprisonment and toward investment in our children’s future.

We must start to deconstruct the perverse order of our priorities and build a more just society by making needed changes at the federal level. We must examine the way our criminal justice system works—or rather, doesn’t—and take the necessary actions to change it.

Fortunately, there is already a road map for successfully addressing these problems. We know reforms will work because they already are in states across the country. In both blue states such as New Jersey and Connecticut and red states such as Texas and Georgia, state and local officials have developed and instituted sweeping reforms that have reduced their prison populations and crime rates.

They are succeeding by focusing their efforts on areas where the criminal justice system most needs reform. We should follow their example on the federal level.

First, we should pass legislation that promotes “front end” reform, such as ending mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug crimes.

Secondly, we should pass legislation that enacts “behind the wall” reforms, such as eradicating the cruel practice of juvenile solitary confinement.

And thirdly, we should enact “back end” reforms with legislation that assists in sealing criminal records and removing barriers to employment for nonviolent formerly incarcerated people.

As we reform our criminal justice system at the national level, we will alter the cycles of poverty and recidivism that plague too many American communities and start to develop virtuous cycles of excellence.

Instead of putting resources toward juvenile detention centers, we can put resources toward afterschool programs that have proved to help keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and in school.

Instead of losing valuable contributors to our economy because of their status as ex-offenders, we can develop apprenticeship and training programs that improve worker skills and jump start our economy.

Instead of asking American taxpayers to pay for warehousing people who commit nonviolent, low-level, crimes, we can make sure that students of all ages have access to math, science and technology schooling that will help them excel in the workforce and as productive members of society.

Let’s devote our resources to empowering our citizens, not imprisoning them.

Let’s choose to raise our expectations as a country, and let’s meet them.


Cory A. Booker is a Democratic senator from New Jersey. He was a keynote speaker for a New America conference April 23 and 24, and this is what he said.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Thin Lizzy performing “Jailbreak”


Weather Report

70° and Cloudy


the age of man

B30 Dinosaur.

Some of my favorite destinations on the Internet are those sites where non-traditional, non-mainstream, non-conformist historians and archeologists claim that human civilization is much older than traditional, mainstream, conformist experts say it is.

The conventional view is heavily influenced by the ideas of Charles Darwin—namely evolution—and a belief in the diffusion of civilizing ideas displacing more primitive lifestyles. The establishment says that civilization as we know it was impossible before 10,000 BC, which was the dawning of the Neolithic (or agriculture-based) age. Before that was the Paleolithic (or hunter-gatherer) age. After 10,000 BC, goes the traditional narrative, most of the world transitioned to the Neolithic stage of development at different rates by region. For instance, Neolithic life was achieved in Mesopotamia around 10,000 BC; in Greece, 7,000 BC; in India, 5,000 BC; in Britain, 3,000 BC.

The revisionists dispute this view. They claim that civilization on Earth is much older than this.

Some of the revisionists are inspired by Plato’s story of the civilization of Atlantis, which Plato (428?– 348? BC) claims he had heard indirectly from Athenian statesman and lawmaker Solon (638–558 BC) —who lived  three hundred years before Plato—through Egyptian priests who read about Atlantis in the ancient texts. The revisionists believe that the legend may have actually happened. The mainstreamers, on the other hand, believe that the story is an allegory invented by Plato to illustrate the hubris of nations. At the end of Plato’s account, as we all know, Atlantis eventually falls out of favor with the gods and famously submerges into the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the revisionists are inspired by stories in the Bible and many other religious texts which describe a worldwide flood, which they say are a remnant memory of a time when the sea level rose and flooded many sites of civilization all over the world. There is basis in fact for this belief. Between 17,000 and 7,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, the great ice caps over northern Europe and North America melted down.

aftericeage2 innundated Bronze AgeThe sea level rose by more than 328 feet (100 meters), and flooded about 15.5 million square miles (25 million square kilometers) of formerly habitable lands. Some of the flooded land is shown in red on this map. Fishermen of northwest India’s Gulf of Cambay and the Poompuhar Coast say their fishing nets snag on underwater structures there, approximately 120 feet (36.5 meters) beneath the surface.

There are ancient Tamil flood myths that speak of a great kingdom that once existed in this area called Kumari Kandam that was swallowed up by the sea. Amazingly the myths put a date of 11,600 years ago on these events—the same time frame given by Plato for the end of Atlantis, and the same time frame for the end of the last Ice Age. They have since discovered two ancient cities there the size of Manhattan.

Human artifacts dredged from the seabed have been dated at over 9,500 years old—and the structures could easily be more ancient still.

There are revisionists who suggest the possibility that the Great Sphinx and pyramids of Egypt are much older than the building date of 2,560 BC—4,500 years ago—ascribed to them by traditional archeologists. They point to at least three factors supporting their view. First, the pyramids’ method of construction still defies our comprehension or replication. Surely an unknown building technology—one explained by an advanced civilization—must have been employed.

sphinxlightsSecond, evidence of erosion on the Great Sphinx suggests to geologists that water erosion—not wind—is responsible for the Sphinx’s present condition. The Sphinx sits on the edge of the Sahara Desert and the region has been arid for the last 5,000 years. Various structures securely dated to the Old Kingdom show only erosion that was caused by wind and sand (very distinct from water erosion). The oldest portions of the Great Sphinx must therefore date back to an earlier period (at least 5,000 BC, and maybe as early as 7,000 or 9,000 BC), a time when the climate included more rain.

According to one of the revisionists, this is a conservative estimate that has been admitted by one of its main proponents as too conservative; he places the age of the Great Sphinx at 36,000 BC (until proved wrong).

Third, the pyramids have been postulated by astro-archeologists to represent the belt in the constellation of Orion, which is itself associated with Osiris, the ancient Egyptian god of rebirth and eternal life.

shaftstostars2cExamination of the mysterious “ventilation shafts” built into the Great Pyramid show that the shafts point to important stars that last aligned with the shafts on the Vernal Equinox in 10,500 BC (due to the precession of equinoxes, which is a slow, gravity-induced, and continuous change in the orientation of the Earth’s rotational axis that takes approximately 26,000 years to return to its original position).

The main (or most well-known) revisionist proponents of these views described so far are Graham Hancock, Robert Bauval, Robert Schock, and John Anthony West. Links to each of their websites are provided should you want to delve into what they each have to say about the age of human civilization.

Yet they seem downright timid in their views compared to Michael Cremo, who describes his writings as having been inspired by the literature of the ancient Vedic scriptures of India, and himself as a proponent of “Puranic Time.” He places human existence in the context of repeating time cycles called yugas and kalpas, lasting hundreds of millions of years. According to Puranic accounts as described by Cremo, we are now in the twenty-eighth yuga cycle of the seventh manvatara period of the present day of Brahma. This would give an Earth inhabited by humans an age of about 2 billion years.

Now I wouldn’t even bother to mention Cremo’s ideas were it not for the existence of some very anomalist evidence which is impossible to explain in the conventional context of human history. I will mention just five:

table mountain(1) During the Gold Rush, miners dug a tunnel into the side of Table Mountain in the Sierra Nevada Mountains near Senora CA to get at the gold. Deep inside the mountain in solid rock, the miners were finding human bones and human artifacts which included obsidian spear points, stone mortars and pestles, etc. The stone stratus that surrounded these finds was dated by modern geologists at 50 million years old. These were all collected by California State Geologist J.D. Whitney, who published a report about them at Harvard University in 1880. The artifacts are still stored by the University of California, but officials restrict access to them.

451118a-i1.0(2) In 1979, famous archeologist Mary Leakey discovered fossilized tracks of footprints through petrified ash (turned to mud in the rain) at Laetoli, in Tanzania, which are indistinguishable from those of modern humans. The footprints are about 3.6 million years old.

(3) An anatomically modern human skull was found by Professor Giuseppe Ragazzoni in 1880 at Castenedolo, Italy. The stratum from which it was taken is assigned to the Astian stage of the Pliocene. The rock above the excavation was found to be unbroken, eliminating the possibility that the artifact was placed there in modern times.  According to modern experts, the Astian belongs to the Middle Pliocene, which would give the skull an age of 3-4 million years.

(4) In 1862, a human skeleton was found 90 feet deep in coal in Macoupin County, IL. Immediately above the skeleton was 2 feet of unbroken slate rock. The coal in which the skeleton was found was from the Carboniferous period, making the fossil about 300 million years old. The report of this discovery was printed in the December 1862 edition of a scientific journal called The Geologist.

reck_skull(5) The first significant African discovery related to human origins occurred in 1913 when Professor Hans Reck, of Berlin University, found a human skeleton in the upper part of Bed II at Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania. Modern dating methods give a late Early Pleistocene date of around 1.15 million years for this site. Reck said, “The bed in which the human remains were found….showed no sign of disturbance.” The skeleton was distorted by compression from the weight of substantial accumulation of sediment in the overlying strata. W. O. Dietrich, writing in 1933, stated that this feature of the skeleton argued against its being a recent, shallow burial. George Grant MacCurdy, a leading anthropologist from Yale University, considered Reck’s discovery to be genuine.

These are only five of hundreds of accounts. In 1891 a housewife in Illinois discovered a gold chain about 10 inches long inside a solid lump of coal. The coal containing the chain was of the Carboniferous age, about 300 million years old. In 1912 a man in Oklahoma found an iron pot in a block of coal. The coal was traced to a mine where the coal was about 312 million years old. And on and on.

So why have such numerous discoveries been dismissed by the scientific and archeological establishment?

Remember the Harvard report by J.D. Whitney about the discoveries at Table Mountain? William H. Holmes, a very powerful anthropologist working contemporaneously at the Smithsonian Institution wrote: “Perhaps if Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of testimony with which he was confronted.” In other words, if the facts do not conform to the favored theory, then the facts (even a lot of them) must be set aside.

Cremo calls this process “information filtration.” Sounds very civil and polite, doesn’t it? Cremo claims he doesn’t really suspect the motives of his establishment critics. It is only human nature to disbelieve what you know can’t possibly be true.

I suspect, however, that this is a carefully-crafted position. Hell, Cremo believes that mankind has been present on the Earth almost as long as life itself. He believes that human beings  co-existed with the dinosaurs. He is accustomed to making “outrageous” claims of many millions of years, whereas revisionists such as Graham Hancock or Robert Bauval are scrapping for just tens of thousands of years. Cremo is probably used to being dismissed as a madman for his Vedic views, but Hancock or Bauval must think that their claims are far more reasonable and deserving of a respectful listen—even if the establishment-types do not. Hancock even suffered the indignity of having a TED talk he delivered removed from YouTube because its ideas ruffled too many feathers.

I don’t care what you think of me for entertaining alternative ideas about history. I have reached no cast-in-concrete conclusions, and I’m not teaching your kids in our monopoly school system. I have always been suspicious of the herd mentality. Discerning the truth of things is not a matter of voting. Yet it’s not as if I’m a creationist or Holocaust denier. This isn’t yet Europe or Canada where you can be found guilty and punished for thought crimes, or for even just asking the wrong questions or telling the truth (in some matters, the truth is legally no excuse).

Anyway, asking “What If” questions is damned entertaining when you only see other people once or twice a week. I keep to myself; so I’m harmless enough. Plus, I’ve got a daily blog to write.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Elton John performing “Madman Across the Water”


Weather Report

74° and Cloudy


status offenders

ap-juviniles-escorted-jail-jpg - Copy

New Report Finds Incarceration for ‘Status Offenses’ Still Widespread

by Gary Gately, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange

April 10, 2015

More than half of US states allow children to be detained for repeated nonviolent “status offenses” such as skipping school, running away from home or possession of alcohol, a new report says.

The revelation comes more than 40 years after the landmark Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) stipulated that in states receiving federal juvenile justice grants, no child should be locked up for such minor transgressions. They’re called status offenses because they are considered crimes owing only to a youth’s status as a juvenile.

The provision of the 1974 JJDPA calling for “deinstitutionalization” of status offenders had led to a marked decline in detention of these youths.

But the JJDPA, the main federal juvenile justice law, was amended in 1980 to include an exception allowing judges to confine a youth adjudicated guilty for a status offense if the child had violated a “valid court order” not to repeat the offense. The survey, by the Washington-based Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ), showed most of the cases of children being detained for status offenses occurred in just a handful of states. But judges can still detain repeat status offenders under the exception in 26 states and Washington DC.

CJJ’s 64-page report found the names used to describe status offenses and what constitutes a status offense varied widely among states.

In an email, Naomi Smoot, senior policy associate at the nonprofit CJJ, pointed out that some states include catch-all provisions that apply to behaviors that are illegal only for minors, while other states use status offense laws to deal with new and emerging issues uniquely applicable to children such as bullying and sexting.

The findings come amid growing opposition to incarcerating children for such offenses because doing so endangers them, can cause long-term trauma, often leads to further involvement with the justice system and tends to ignore the underlying reasons for the offenses.

“What we’ve seen in the research is that status offender youth who are put in detention run the risk of both physical and sexual assault at the hands of both guards and their fellow youths,” Smoot said in an interview.

“There’s a large number of youths who are put into detention for status offense behaviors in the same living units as children who have engaged in much more serious and much more dangerous behaviors.”

CJJ, along with a wide array of other advocates for juveniles and the Reno, Nev.-based National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), call for diverting status offenders from the juvenile justice system altogether.

Ironically, the NCJFCJ had lobbied for the 1980 valid court order exception, at a time of clamor for taking action to reduce status offenses, said Melissa Sickmund, director of the Pittsburgh-based National Center for Juvenile Justice (NCJJ), the research division of NCJFCJ.

“They said, ‘We have kids who have not followed rules we set for them. What else do you want us to do?’” Sickmund said. “And so the exception got put into place.”

Now the judges council supports elimination of the exception, she noted.

“If you’re detaining the kid—unless they are really a threat to the community—it may be causing more harm than good, it may be putting them in the presence of other bad actors who are worse than them and they just learn bad stuff,” Sickmund said. “We could be traumatizing them, and it doesn’t help and it’s expensive.”

To understand status offenders, CJJ said in a December report, it’s critical to understand youths’ brain development and adolescent behavior patterns.

Recent research has shown adolescents’ brains are not fully developed until their mid-20s and that youths are more susceptible than adults to peer pressure, more reckless and impulsive, more likely to take risks and less likely to consider long-term consequences. Notably, however, the research also shows juveniles are especially amenable to rehabilitation.

The NCJJ estimates that in 2011, juvenile courts handled 116,200 status offense cases, with 8,800 involving youths being detained at some point between referral to court and case disposition. Youth were adjudicated guilty in 66,400 of those petitioned cases, with 37,200 placed on probation as the most severe consequence.

Some of the youth who were held may not have been detained in violation of the JJDPA, though:

Under the act, status offenders may be held under one of several exceptions to the act’s requirements. Youths, for example, can end up being held briefly before initial court appearances. But advocates argue that even these short stays can traumatize youths and subject them to risk of abuse.

On a hopeful note, the new report pointed out that in the overwhelming majority of states, status offenders are rarely detained.

The federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that Washington state led the nation in use of the valid court order exceptions, with 2,705 cases; followed by Kentucky, 1,048; Arkansas, 747, and Colorado, 356. (Most of the data, for a one-year span, was from around 2010-2012.) At the other end of the spectrum, a dozen states that retain the valid court order exception used it less than 100 times in a one-year period.

Alessandra Meyer, senior program associate at the Center on Youth Justice at the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice in New York City, said in an email more and more states are looking to alternatives to detention of status offenders.

“Many states have changed their approach to youth who commit status offenses, embracing community and school-based responses that reduce reliance on the juvenile justice system,” Meyer said.

“As shown in CJJ’s survey, however, too many states still allow courts to use the valid court order (VCO) exception to lock up youth for non-delinquent behaviors such as running away from home and skipping school.”

Like others, Meyer pointed to a bipartisan measure introduced in December to reauthorize the JJDPA that would, among other things, phase out the valid court order exception over three years.

A new JJDPA reauthorization bill–expected to be introduced in this session of Congress by Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-IA, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI—also would likely phase out the exception.

“We would love to see the valid court order exception become a thing of the past,” CJJ’s Smoot said. “Our position is that children should never be incarcerated for status offense behaviors because these are behaviors that are a sign of a larger underlying behavior in the child’s life.

“Often, there’s something either going on at home or an undiagnosed disability, for example, that causes a child to fall behind in school. There are better community-based responses, and we say as an organization incarceration is never an appropriate response.”

Often, CJJ points out, LGBTQ youths run away from home because they don’t feel welcome there.

The organization also recommends law enforcement connect possible status offenders and their families to necessary services instead of charging or detaining the youths and says education systems should seek to address underlying causes of truancy and try to avoid court involvement or suspension from school.

And CJJ says children should not be allowed to waive counsel in status offense cases unless the waiver is on the record, the court has weighed the child’s understanding and capacity and the waiver occurs in the presence of and with consultation of an attorney.


Gary Gately is the Washington DC correspondent for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.


Groove of the Day

Listen to Phoenix performing “Too Young”


Weather Report

70° Foggy in the morning, then Cloudy


still waiting

Last week, a reader sent me a link to this article, published by the Indianapolis paper on Paul Henry’s 17th birthday. It is mainly a regurgitation of older news and articles, but it does allude to the chance of Paul being set free next year. Yet the fact remains, there is no new news about Paul Henry except that he is still at the Pendleton youth prison and continues to do well there and in school. His dad tells me he is regretful and embarrassed by the role he played in Philip Danner’s death, and avoids any attention in the media.

There is no way to predict with any certainty if he will, in fact, be released on his 18th birthday; this decision is entirely in the hands of a judge. To satisfy readers’ curiosity, all that can be said right now is that Paul Henry is successfully keeping up his end of what the court expects.


Paul Henry Gingerich: Another birthday for a boy in prison

by Robert King, The Indianapolis Star

February 17, 2015

Editor’s note: At age 12 Paul Gingerich became what many believed to be the youngest Hoosier ever sentenced to prison as an adult. Today, he turns 17. He’s been behind bars for nearly five years for his involvement in the shooting death of a friend’s stepfather. Because of a plea deal reached more than a year ago following appeals of his sentencing, there’s a chance Gingerich’s next birthday could be his last in prison. This story, which The Star published in 2012, took a look at Gingerich’s case around the time of his 14th birthday.

Paul Henry Gingerich awoke on the morning of his 14th birthday to the sound of a voice—his prison guard.

“Happy birthday,” she said.

It was 6 o’clock. Paul would just as soon have been given a few more minutes to sleep.

But in a place where he must ask permission to go to the bathroom, where he eats every meal under close surveillance and where birthdays aren’t much different from any other day, it was a nice gesture for one of the state’s most controversial inmates.

Paul Gingerich is thought to be the youngest person in Indiana sentenced to prison as an adult.

He was 12 years old when he arrived here at the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, the state’s maximum-security prison for children.

He had such a small frame and such a baby face that one of his new teachers—the prison has a school—asked: “What is a 7-year-old doing in our facility?”

Yet Paul was also a killer. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder after he and a friend fired four bullets into the friend’s stepfather.

Each boy received 25 years, with the possibility that, for good behavior, they could get out in about half that time. They would still be young men, but young men who had grown up in prison.

In Paul’s case, that means living in a cell with a steel door and bare block walls in a remote corner of Pendleton.

Home consists of a mattress on a concrete slab, a small desk and a chair, and a window spliced with thick bars. Paul’s view is of a small patch of grass, a tall fence and a rolling wave of razor-sharp concertina wire.

Here, in this place, Paul has grown nearly 3 inches to about 5-foot-8, sprouted peach fuzz, popped his first pimples, had his voice change and—now—marked two birthdays.

It is also a place that—should his lawyer pull off an epic reversal—Paul hopes to soon leave.

The trouble begins on a playground.

Three boys—one of them 15, the two others 12—meet in a park in the neighborhood where they live in Cromwell, a small town halfway between South Bend and Fort Wayne.

They play in the park for a while, then begin talking about a subject they’ve been discussing for a couple of weeks now: running away, out west to California. Or, no, maybe to Arizona.

The only problem, according to 15-year-old Colt Lundy, is that his stepfather will never allow it. He’ll stop them from going.

The answer to the problem, Colt says, is simple. They must kill Phil Danner.

Birthdays in prison are typically low-key affairs. There’s one party per month thrown for all the birthday boys, usually featuring cupcakes.

Presents—by regulation, books mailed from booksellers—show up on or around the day. In Paul’s case, his mom had ordered him an inspirational book. His prison mentor gave him a Bible with multiple versions of the Scriptures, even Greek.

Family visits are confined to normal Thursday and Sunday visiting hours. His whole family—mom, dad and two sisters—came and helped him spend $20 worth of quarters in the visiting room vending machines for a birthday party featuring personal pepperoni pizzas, egg and sausage hot pockets and popcorn.

Yet the best present of all came from the Indiana Court of Appeals.

On Feb. 17—Paul’s birthday—the court announced it will consider granting the boy what amounts to a legal do-over on the 2010 proceedings that led to his particular sentence.

The issue before the court isn’t one of guilt, but whether it was appropriate for Kosciusko Circuit Judge Rex Reed to move Paul into adult court at such a young age and to give him an adult’s sentence.

In Indiana, juveniles as young as 10 can be tried as adults. That’s younger than in many states, but some states have no age limit. Last year, Morgan County Prosecutor Steve Sonnega could have moved to adult court the case of an 11-year-old boy who killed his 6-year-old brother. But he decided against it.

Paul was 12 years and 2 months old at the time of the killing. He was a sixth-grader at Wawasee Middle School. He had no prior criminal record. A psychologist who evaluated Paul said the boy lacked a basic understanding of the court proceedings and wasn’t competent to stand trial as an adult.

“Phil Danner is dead,” the judge said at the time. “Phil Danner was, regardless of what we call this crime, murdered.”

The decision was remarkable in light of the fact that, from 2000 to 2010, only 13 children in Indiana were sentenced as adults for murder or attempted murder. None was younger than 14.

Reed didn’t return phone calls for this story. Voicemails left for the prosecutor also were not returned.

The sentence prompted Dan Dailey, a blogger from Texas who follows juvenile justice issues, to launch a website called “Free Paul Henry Gingerich” and to set up a trust fund for his defense. He also asked for help from Indianapolis attorney Monica Foster, who has defended some of the state’s most notorious killers. (See accompanying box.)

Foster agreed—even setting aside her typical fee of $350 an hour to take up Paul’s appeal.

“I would like to have him treated as the 12-year, 2-month-old person that he was, which is a kid,” she said. “I don’t think he was competent to stand trial. I don’t think he was competent to plead guilty.”

Specifically, she said, defense attorneys typically are allowed two to four months to build an argument for why their young client’s case should remain in the juvenile courts. Paul’s lawyers were given four days. Foster also said the psychologist’s report should have carried more weight.

National juvenile justice organizations—the Children’s Law Center, the National Juvenile Defender Center and the Campaign for Youth Justice—have filed briefs in support of her case.

At its core, though, Foster said 12 is too young to write off the life of a child who she said “doesn’t have a criminal orientation.”

“He’s the most innocent kid I’ve ever seen in my entire life,” she said. “He just really happened to be in a bad place at a bad time, and I really believe that’s all this case is about.”

After leaving the playground, the boys walk to Colt Lundy’s house. Colt goes in alone and finds his stepfather there already, in the family room. Colt goes into his bedroom and moves the blinds, signaling for the two 12-year-olds waiting across the street—Paul and Chase Williams—to come over.

The plan is for either Paul or Chase to join Colt inside and help him carry out the deed. Paul and Chase talk as they cross the street about who should go in. At first, Chase says he will, but thinks better of it. Paul will go.

He climbs in through Colt’s bedroom window. Inside, Colt is waiting with two guns: a .40-caliber Glock and a .38-caliber revolver.

The two boys move into the living room. They talk about whether they can go through with it. Paul, he would later say, thinks they won’t go through with it and tells Colt he’s not sure he can. Then Danner appears in the doorway. He sees Colt, sees the gun. Colt fires. Paul points his gun at the man. He shuts his eyes, he says later. He fires, too.

Danner is hit four times. He falls to the floor in the doorway—dead.

In handing down his sentence to Colt and Paul, Reed said he tried to account for the youth of the two accused boys: He could have given them 45 years.

Colt was assigned to the “youthful offender wing” at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle. It’s a prison that’s home to 2,000 male inmates, including some of the people Foster represents in her death penalty cases. His father declined to comment on his son’s case or grant The Indianapolis Star access to him in prison.

“He would essentially have to learn survival skills, what it takes to survive in an adult facility,” said Mike Dempsey, executive director of youth services with the Indiana Department of Correction.

“And he would clearly be victimized relatively quickly.”

So Gingerich was assigned to Pendleton Juvenile—a decision that Paul’s mom said “was just the happiest moment of my life.”

The difference in the two worlds is dramatic. And it’s another reason why Foster is pursing a new trial. Although Paul is at Pendleton now, he could be moved to Wabash anytime prison officials deem it necessary.

At Pendleton, there are juveniles who have committed serious crimes—murder and manslaughter, sex and drug offenses and property crimes. But at Wabash, the concentration of inmates leans more toward violent offenders.

At Pendleton, juveniles can earn a diploma or high school credits that, once they’re released, count at any high school in the state. At Wabash, juveniles can earn only a general educational development certificate.

At Pendleton, the population is 300 juveniles, with no one older than 21. At Wabash, there are about 50 juveniles in a population of 2,000 that includes middle-aged child molesters and people who committed multiple murders. The juveniles and adults are kept almost entirely apart.

Still, DOC’s Dempsey said a boy at Wabash can look out his window and see nearly 2,000 adult criminals walking around. “That’s stressful,” he said. “That’s traumatic.”

At Pendleton, Paul lives in his own room on a wing where new arrivals spend their first two weeks. He attends school five days a week. He spends time daily in a common area where he can watch television and play games. On his birthday, he and some other residents played spades and “Sorry!”

“I’m getting whupped,” he said to the 14-year-old who was beating him in the board game.

Another boy in the unit, who is 16, said he and Paul are the local spades champions.

But his success isn’t limited to playing cards. Paul is making straight A’s. He was recently promoted to ninth grade because eighth-grade classes weren’t challenging enough. He occupies a spot on the student council and uses his good-behavior credits not for video game time but for extra visits with his mother, who twice a week makes the four-hour round trip to see Paul.

“He is one of my best students,” health and physical education teacher Mark Hargett said. “He does what I ask. He is one of the first guys done, and he’s always willing to help. Basically, around here, he’s what I call a model student.”

Paul is applying for a prison job doing cleanup duties. He’s even looking at moving into one of the prison’s specialized programs in Scouting, future soldiering or faith-based instruction, which would make him less isolated.

Paul is doing so well, counselor Michelle Griffith said, that had he been given an open-ended juvenile sentence, as nearly all Pendleton Juvenile residents receive, the Department of Correction probably would decide soon that he’s ready to go home.

Instead, Paul faces an additional decade or more in prison.

Continued good behavior could slice his 25-year sentence in half. But without a successful appeal, the boy who entered prison at 12 would leave at 25, having spent half his life locked up.

Before that happens, Paul would have to move on to Wabash. Pendleton Juvenile doesn’t keep anyone older than 21. He would have to learn those new survival skills after all.

Joel Schumm, a law professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, sees it as throwing away a boy’s life.

“As opposed to putting him at home with family and people who are going to support him and give him a positive environment, you are going to put him in a pack of wolves in prison,” Schumm said. “And I think it is a terrible idea.”

With Danner dead on the floor, Colt opens the front door and invites Chase and another boy, who had shown up later, to come in and check out the body.

Then they make plans to run. Paul heads home, packs some things in a bag and returns to Colt’s house. But then his mom calls him. He has to come home. The other boys agree they’ll pick him up after his mother goes to bed.

Colt grabs his stepfather’s keys, his credit card and his GPS device. With Chase along, he drives his stepfather’s car to Paul’s house. Paul throws his shoes out the window and sneaks out. They set the GPS for “Arizona,” where they have some vague notion about selling T-shirts to drug dealers.

Along the way, they make a couple of stops for food and gas. About 200 miles in, they pull into a Walmart parking lot in Peru, Ill. It’s well after midnight.

A police officer finds it curious that three boys are out alone so late. He asks a few questions and doesn’t buy the answers. Soon, Chase speaks up. There’s a dead man back in Indiana.

The two Pauls—one a well-mannered boy who is a model student, the other a boy who fired two bullets into a man—are hard to reconcile.

Paul is a boy who might have fallen under the influence of an older boy but who now has matured beyond that.

But Paul is also a killer who wears on his wrist a plastic prison bracelet given upon his arrival at Pendleton. It bears the words: “Very High Risk.”

Standing in front of the judge, crying, Paul Henry Gingerich told the court simply: “I did wrong.”

His mother, Nicole, said she and her husband, Paul, were in divorce proceedings at the time of the shooting. But she said her son was no trouble at home, and his only problems at school were talking in class and missing an occasional assignment. She thinks Colt bullied her son into the crime.

“It was completely out of character for my son to be involved with something like this,” she said. “I never imagined that he could ever be involved with it. He’s always been a pretty good boy.”

Paul has said very little about the incident since, in large part because of his appeal. Foster has asked correction officials not to ask him about the specifics of what happened in Colt Lundy’s house on April 20, 2010. And the only condition she placed on The Star, in granting access to Paul in prison, was to not ask him about the shooting itself.

Watching Paul and his fellow inmates shooting hoops in the prison gym recently, Hargett, the P.E. teacher, said the incidents that put such boys in prison often are an anomaly in their young lives.

“One bad day,” Hargett calls it.

And he thinks Paul is past his.

When Paul arrived, prison officials could barely coax him to speak. He refused class assignments that required him to talk in front of his classmates, who usually number no more than 12 to 14.

Griffith, the counselor, said his introversion might have been part of problem before the crime.

In an interview with The Star in July, Paul spoke in short phrases, barely above a whisper.

How’s it going? “Um, I’m doing all right.”

Are you scared? “I was scared when I first got here, but then like a week passed and I started school, and it didn’t seem so bad.”

Have you thought about why you’re here? “No, I don’t like thinking about that.”

There are signs, though, that he does. One classroom assignment last summer asked the student inmates to write a letter of advice to their future children. Paul’s advice: “To choose friends carefully so they don’t fall into bad situations.”

When interviewed days before his birthday, Paul still seemed reticent to talk about himself, and his feelings, allowing only: “Usually, I’m in a fair mood. I don’t have any problems.”

But he seems to be finding his voice. In conversations, his voice is now audible more often than not. He has spoken in front of his class. He asks questions of Foster about his case and the appeal. And if you ask him about what he’s reading, be prepared for an oral book report.

He read the book “Endurance” and can describe in detail the plight of famed South Pole explorer Ernest Shackleton. He’s read the biblical Book of Acts and can discuss how Saul persecuted Christians until he was struck blind by God and found faith, then had to convince people he was a changed man.

Whether he identifies with Saul, he couldn’t say.

As for his future and whether he thinks about his chances of freedom, Paul pauses at length. He seems unable to find the words until he says: “Sometimes.”

As for what he might have done differently two years ago when an afternoon at the playground turned into conspiracy to commit murder, he pauses again. He struggles once more for words. Then speaks.

“Yeah, I think about it sometimes,” Paul said. “I think I should have gone home.”


Robert King has been a reporter with The Indianapolis Star since 2004, currently writing about about public safety and crime prevention. In 2013, the Society of Professional Journalists named him the Indiana Journalist of the Year. Star researcher Cathy Knapp contributed to this story.


Gingerich timeline


April 20: Paul Gingerich, then 12, and Colt Lundy, then 15, shoot two bullets each into Lundy’s stepfather, Phil Danner, killing the 49-year-old Cromwell man instantly.

April 22: Prosecutors in Kosciusko County ask, during a detention hearing, that Gingerich be tried as an adult in criminal court.

April 29: Kosciusko County Superior Court Judge Duane Huffer moves Gingerich’s case into (adult) criminal court. The next day Gingerich is charged with murder.

Nov. 3: Gingerich pleads guilty to a lesser charge, conspiracy to commit murder.


Jan. 4: Kosciusko County Circuit Judge Rex Reed sentences Gingerich to 30 years, with 5 of those years suspended to probation.

Jan. 18: Gingerich enters the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility after Department of Corrections after officials conclude he wouldn’t make it in an adult prison.

Jan. 26: Indianapolis attorney Monica Foster becomes Gingerich’s attorney and files a notice of appeal.

Feb. 17: Gingerich turns 13.


Feb. 17: The Indiana Court of Appeals agrees to hear Gingerich’s appeal. The news comes on his 14th birthday.

Oct. 30: The 3-judge Court of Appeals panel hears arguments in the case, and express skepticism of the swift move by the prosecutor and judge in Kosciusko to move Gingerich’s case to the adult criminal court.

Dec. 11: The Court of Appeals issues its decision, saying the court in Kosciusko erred by not giving Gingerich’s attorney enough time to make the case he should have been tried as a juvenile. They reversed the conviction and order the case back to Kosciusko for a do-over.


Jan. 10: Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announces he will appeal the Court of Appeals ruling.

Feb. 17: Gingerich turns 15.

March 7: The Indiana Supreme Court declines to hear Zoeller’s appeal, forcing the case to start over in Kosciusko.

July 1: A new law, passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, takes effect and offers courts greater flexibility in sentencing juvenile cases.

Dec. 2: Gingerich agrees to a plea deal that allows him to be sentenced under the new law and opens the door that, with good behavior, he could be set free when he turns 18.


PS: We have just been informed that Colt Lundy was transferred from the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility (level 3) to the adult facility at Pendleton IN on April 21, 2015. He is designated as “medium security,” which appears to be a relaxation of the conditions under which he is held.


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