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U.S. Taxpayers Fund Heroin Vaccine, Despite U.S. Government Being The Biggest Heroin Dealer

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Many of us just pay our taxes on a yearly basis and have absolutely no idea where they’re going. Are they funding new medical research? War? The elite’s agenda? The reality is that your taxpayers’ dollars support all of these things and more, despite the fact that you may not knowingly support them yourself.

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A recent study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society titled “Development of a Clinically Viable Heroin Vaccine” has been making recent headlines, hinting at fewer heroin users in the United States. The irony here is that taxpayer dollars are being spent to develop a vaccine against drug users supporting the very drug trade the U.S. government and the medical industry have so heavily invested in maintaining.

The U.S. government’s role in the heroin (or opium) industry began during the Vietnam War and has continued ever since, moving from South East Asia to Afghanistan to the United States. The opium epidemic was fuelled by the government, and continues to worsen thanks to Big Pharma and the medical industry.

Even if this vaccine were successfully developed and distributed, would it really make a difference? Would it combat our addictive tendencies and would the U.S. government and Big Pharma then stop pushing drugs on us?

How Successful Is This Heroin Vaccine?

Researchers from the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) are saying that this vaccine could be used to successfully treat heroin addicts, as the vaccine apparently dulls the “high” felt from heroin. Findings thus far have proven to be effective for up to eight months after being injected.

Essentially, the vaccine tells the immune system to create antibodies against heroin and the psychoactive products within it that produce the user’s “high.” Like many other vaccines, the vaccine does so by exposing the immune system to part of the heroin molecule’s structure, and so when users try to get high again, the antibodies neutralize the heroin molecules before they can reach their state of “euphoria.”

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“This validates our previous rodent data and positions our vaccine in a favorable light for anticipated clinical evaluation,” study leader Kim Janda said in a statement. “We believe this vaccine candidate will prove safe for human trials.”

The researchers hope that by taking away the pleasurable aspect of the drug, users will no longer see a reason to keep taking it.

The researchers tested the vaccine on monkeys and found that it was successful in many cases, proving particularly  effective within the first month after administering it, although in some cases the vaccine’s effects lasted for up to eight months.

In addition, two of the monkeys tested in the study had been vaccinated in a prior study conducted seven months beforehand. These monkeys showed a higher response to the vaccine, which the researchers suggested could mean that long-term immunity to heroin could be achievable in the future (source).

Concerns Regarding Vaccines

Many vaccines contain harmful chemicals, including mercury and aluminum. This begs the question: Is it really worth it to inject heroin addicts with these chemicals if it could potentially harm their bodies? I personally believe that we should be spending this money on more natural therapies that deal with the root cause of the issue: our addictive tendencies.

It’s also important to note that mercury can be passed down generation after generation, so this isn’t just affecting you, it’s also going to affect your current or potential future children and grandchildren.

Perhaps the most controversial element of vaccines is the link that some of them have to autism. The vaccine-autism link gained a lot of traction after CDC scientist Dr. William Thompson publicly apologized for falsifying research, much of which was considered “pro-vaccine.”

The correlation between vaccines and autism is very real, and has been proven time and time again in relation to many vaccines, including the MMR vaccine. A study published by Dr. Brian Hooker, PhD and previous CDC scientist, in the peer-reviewed journal Translational Neurodegeneration, found up to a 340% increased risk of autism in African American boys receiving the Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. You can read more about this specific study in our CE article here.

The vaccine-autism link has even held up in courts, giving parents peace of mind and punishing Big Pharma companies. In one case, the Italian Health Ministry admitted that the MMR vaccine specifically caused autism in a 9-year-old boy. You can read more about that case in our CE article here.

paper published in 2012 by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, argues that severe adverse reactions to the chemicals (like aluminum) within vaccines are linked to life-threatening conditions associated with the heart and brain. The paper goes on to argue that there is a relationship between autism and acute adverse reactions to vaccinations.

As Dr. Seneff explains:

Mentions of autism in VAERS increased steadily at the end of the last century, during a period when mercury was being phased out, while aluminum adjuvant burden was being increased. Using standard log-likelihood ratio techniques, we identify several signs and symptoms that are significantly more prevalent in vaccine reports after 2000, including cellulitis, seizure, depression, fatigue, pain and death, which are also significantly associated with aluminum-containing vaccines. We propose that children with the autism diagnosis are especially vulnerable to toxic metals such as aluminum and mercury due to insufficient serum sulfate and glutathione. A strong correlation between autism and the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine is also observed, which may be partially explained via an increased sensitivity to acetaminophen administered to control fever.

Another paper published by Professor Christopher Shaw and Dr. Lucija Tomljenovic of the University of British Columbia showed that vaccines with aluminum adjuvants increase the risk of developing autism, autoimmune diseases, and neurological problems later in life. A demonstrated neurotoxin, aluminum is the only approved adjuvant in the U.S. Its use presents the risk of brain inflammation, autoimmunity, and other adverse health consequences. (source)

If the heroin vaccine contains any of these chemicals, or any other potentially harmful chemicals, do we really think that we should be injecting it into heroin users? Drug users often put their bodies under added stress to begin with, meaning their bodies are likely very unhealthy already. If your body is already under stress, do you really want to add more stress and toxicity to it?

The U.S. Government and Big Pharma’s Involvement in Heroin/Opium

To clarify, heroin is made from opium. Opium is removed from the poppy plant, which is then refined into morphine, and can then be refined into heroin. So, if you’re an opium supplier, you could also be considered a heroin supplier. Now, how does all of this relate to the U.S. government and Big Pharma?

In Southeast Asia (SEA) during the Vietnam War, the CIA worked alongside Laotian general Vang Pao in an effort to help make Laos the world’s largest exporter of heroin. The CIA actually owned and operated a covert drug smuggling airline, referred to as Air Americawhich was used to transport numerous goods, including heroin. The CIA then flew drugs all over SEA, allowing the Golden Triangle (parts of Burma, Thailand, and Laos) to become the world hub for heroin. You can read more about Air America in our CE article here.

Mainstream media has even addressed this issue, as the History Channel just came out with a new series titled America’s War on Drugs which discusses the CIA’s role in the heroin drug trade, as well as many other drugs, which you can read more about in our CE article here.

According to a New York Times article written in 1993, the CIA’s involvement with the heroin industry actually began slightly before the Vietnam War. During the Korean War, in 1950, the CIA allegedly traded weapons and heroin in exchange for intelligence.

Well, it seems the CIA’s “heroin problem” didn’t start nor end in SEA.

Afghanistan is another country with a complicated history of involvement in the opium and heroin industries, much of which implicates the CIA. In the 1980s, CIA-supported Moujahedeen rebels were heavily involved in drug trafficking heroin. The CIA supplied trucks and mules, which were used to transport opium.

Despite the fact that Afghanistan supplied approximately 50% of the heroin used by Americans, the U.S. failed to intervene or investigate the Afghan drug industry for years. Instead, many of the individuals trafficking the drugs in Afghanistan were actually trained, armed, and funded by the CIA at the time.

Opium production came to a gradual halt thanks to Taliban rule. By 2000, the Taliban had completely banned opium production, practically eradicating 90% of the world’s heroin. The following UN diagram outlines the history of opium production in Afghanistan:

As you can see, after 9/11 occurred and the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, opium production suddenly skyrocketed. There have been tons of photos of U.S. soldiers guarding the opium fields, yet today, more than a decade later, they still have not destroyed them and the business is booming (view some of the photos here).

It’s no secret that 9/11 was an inside job, otherwise referred to as a false-flag terrorist attack. If you didn’t know that, please read this CE article. Many have speculated that one of the main reasons the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attack is so that they could gain full control over the opium trade in Afghanistan. You can read more about that in our CE article here.

There’s no question that the U.S. government is knee deep in the opium/heroin drug trade. So, how does Big Pharma relate to all of this?

Big Pharma is largely responsible for the opioid epidemic in North America. We see more and more overdoses and addictions related to these drugs, each year and it all stems from Big Pharma and doctors overprescribing medication and understating the side effects and addictive tendencies. This issue isn’t new, however; it actually started decades ago.

“[The marketing effort for opioid sales] was a promotional campaign unlike we have ever really seen,” explains Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the Chief Medical Officer for the Phoenix House treatment centers and co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. “Drug reps were going to family care doctors, and insisting that OxyContin had no real risks—only benefits. What they were selling was the idea that pain was a disease, and not a symptom.”

This problem can be seen all over North America. In the U.S. and Canada, pharmaceutical giant Purdue has made over $30 billion USD from OxyContin alone since the mid-1990s. Purdue was actually largely responsible for the marketing campaign in support of these drugs, and in 2001, spent $4.6 million on OxyContin advertisements in medical journals.

It’s clear that the U.S. government and Big Pharma are heavily responsible for creating the opium/heroin epidemic in North America. So, instead of producing a vaccine that aims to help heroin addicts, why not just stop fuelling the problem in the first place?

Final Thoughts

To me, this is another example of how Big Pharma and the U.S. government often choose to ignore the root cause of a problem and instead administer a “bandaid” to it. Rather than actually stepping away from producing and spreading these drugs, or investing in mental health and drug addiction care, they instead are simply developing a product that will mask the problem. This is further proof that these organizations are more concerned with profit over anything else, including people.

If they were intent on actually helping people, then they wouldn’t be ignoring the root cause of the issue here and they’d take responsibility for their actions. Instead, they’re creating a vaccine that will only increase their profits and further poison the North American population, representing a greater market for them to treat in the future.

 

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This is Not A Movie, It’s October 1st, 2019 In Hong Kong

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Protests in Hong Kong rose to many tense moments over the past few months. This video footage shows clashes between riot police and protesters on Kowloon’s Nathan Road.

  • Reflect On:

    Have people reached a breaking point when it comes to how often they are not heard by governments?

In the video below, what looks like a Hollywood movie is the reality just a couple of weeks ago in Hong Kong. Riot police and protesters have been clashing for months as the streets become filled with hundreds of tear gas canisters and Molotov cocktails. Having covered the G20 summit in Toronto, these scenes appear much more tense than what I saw during those protests, and even those were filled with vandalism, pepper spray, burning cars and rubber bullets.

We’ve covered the Hong Kong protests a couple of times here on CE, including a full segment on CETV here.

There are obviously two perspectives as to what is going on, the Mainland China perspective and that of the Hong Kong protesters who feel Mainland China is acting wrongly. From the perspective of Mainland China, the protests in Hong Kong are fundamentally the result of Western interference and attempts at a ‘soft recolonization’ of Hong Kong. Their arguments have some merit.

From the Hongkongers perspective,  tensions rose after the introduction of an extradition bill that threatened residents’ freedoms. Protesters are demanding Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam resigns. They are also calling for:

  • The complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill
  • The government to withdraw the use of the word “riot” in relation to protests
  • The unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped
  • An independent inquiry into police behaviour
  • Implementation of genuine universal suffrage

As with many things people are feeling at the moment, big government has been overreaching for quite some time, and freedoms continue to be cut while quality of life in our fast-paced modern society diminishes. What we must remember when viewing these issues is we can’t singularly look at each one and determine whether it’s right or wrong so easily. People are exposed to ‘hits’ from every direction to their wallets, freedom, health, lifestyle and psyche and our world is reflecting the feeling that ‘enough is enough.’

Since much of the time we aren’t sure what else to do, people fight back, they do what they think will lead them to being heard and having a solution brought forth. is this the best way forward? Perhaps not, but when it becomes clear to people that their governments and the voting process do not work in their benefit nor favor, this is sometimes what they revert to.

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Video credit: Tom Grundy/HKFP

More at http://www.hongkongfp.com – Hong Kong’s only not-for-profit, independent English-language news source.

H/T: Twisted Sifter

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CNN’s Political Bias Exposed By Whistleblower’s Hidden Camera Footage

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    CNN Technician Cary Poarch went around CNN with a hidden video camera for months in order to provide the public with evidence that CNN is not at all practicing objective journalism.

  • Reflect On:

    What kind of media do you support? Do we get the truth when we have politically motivated media? Is it time for an evolution in media?

At CE we have long talked about political bias in mainstream media, and it has become even more prevalent since an already polarizing figure named Donald Trump took office. This isn’t about whether you support Trump or not, it’s about seeing the patterns at play. But to date, CNN and other mainstream networks have still tried to maintain the veneer of objectivity and independence in their journalism. New information coming out from Project Veritas is set to remove the last vestiges of this fantasy.

Based on footage from a hidden camera used over the course of months by a CNN technician, it was revealed that the pro-Liberal, anti-Trump bias that proliferated in the network seemed ‘unbecoming of a news organization’ to many people who worked there. But it took one brave man, Cary Poarch, to be willing to risk his career to expose it with hard evidence.

In our latest episode of The Collective Evolution Show on CETV, Joe Martino and I discuss the implications of Poarch’s revealing footage that will help paint a picture of an organization that is as partisan as it could get from the top down, where President Jeff Zucker clearly promotes a biased political agenda and expects the employees under him and the content they produce to fall in lock-step with that agenda. Of course, it’s not just CNN that operates this way, this can be seen across all mainstream left and right media.

Where is the Objectivity?

This is what mainstream media has become, a tool of political partisanship, not only in what they broadcast to the public but even within the organization. At CNN Poarch has observed a ‘groupthink’ Anti-Trump mentality, and this type of bias ultimately leads to mainstream outlets devolving into echo chambers because, as Poarch puts it, there is no tolerance for dissenting or even neutral views:

“It’s an Unwritten Rule That if You Are Center, Center Right, or Heaven Forbid, Full Right Republican Trump Supporter, Then You Are Not Welcome at CNN.”

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Ultimately, since this echo chamber known as the Cable News Network remains one of the prominent proliferators of information in our society, we can see how they have contributed to the large schisms of left/right polarity within our society, in which people with opposing views will only know one side of the story, since it would be impossible for them to endure the extreme bias of whichever network offered views that were opposed to theirs.

And this is by design—to limit the critical thinking process and hide the injustice that is inherent in our system of governance, by having people continue to endlessly fight only between the left and right extremities. The fabric of the country is getting ripped apart when people are goaded into hating the other side simply because the media told them to hate. How are people supposed have productive and civil discussions, and ultimately make educated, informed decisions? Isn’t that what the media is supposed to assist us with?

Is it for Ratings?

There has long been an argument that media puts out stories based on the ratings war, or as in the old days based on how many newspapers they will sell. But it seems we’ve gone beyond that point in terms of bias. It seems as though ‘ratings’ is an argument that top executives make to actually try to hide their bias.

Networks now simply concentrate on retaining viewers with a political bias, and don’t even try to reel back in a growing number of people who are seeing through the ruse and are looking for objectivity in media broadcasts. After all, mainstream media is owned by large conglomerates who use the media not so much to make advertising dollars, but much more lucratively to try to shape public opinion and public perception to serve their ultimate agendas.

In the case of CNN, much of it is coming from the man at the top of the pyramid: president Jeff Zucker. In the video, CNN Media Coordinator Nick Neville lays out Zucker’s undue influence in no uncertain terms:

Like, there are a lot of people who are out here trying to play like, just do what they think is the best journalistic integrity. Then you get on the 9am call and the big boss, Jeff Zucker, f**king tells what to do.”

And it’s like, you have to, like…to a certain extent, you have to follow his verdict.”

The Takeaway

We are in a time when the need for objective journalism is more critical than ever. This testimony from whistleblower Cary Poarch is all the more reason for us to stop looking at mainstream media for the facts and a neutral perspective. You can support CE’s efforts to bring that neutral perspective in our journalism and broadcasts by becoming a member of our censorship-free video platform, CETV.

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Why We Need To Take A Look At The Way We Treat Prisoners And Do It Differently

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    The USA locks up more people per capita than any other nation in the world. The rate is 668 per 100,000 people which equals over 2.3 million. There has been an increase of 500% over the last 40 years. Changes in sentencing law and policy - not change

  • Reflect On:

    What really goes on in many prisons? Why does this breed more violence, adds to social disharmony and increases mental illness issues? We also highlight prisons that are a shining example of what can be done to truly rehabilitate people.

“Violent offenders, more often than not, are victims long before they commit their first crime: A former inmate who spent two years in a Boston prison for robbery was given away by his mother, a heroin addict, by the time he was 5 — the same year her boyfriends began beating him up; when he was 8, he watched another kid get shot in the head in his housing project.

Another man, in and out of prison from age 18 to 33 for assaults and drug crimes, grew up getting routinely beaten by his mother and frequently saw neighbors get stabbed and shot in the New York community of his childhood.” (source)

If you had been around violence, crime and poverty all your life, and this was all you had known, would it be any surprise that you too, may also end up committing crimes? Would you think it might be difficult to grow up as a ‘good person’ if all you had seen was the opposite of love?  Would you think that being forced into another repressive life, which was even worse than what you had experienced previously, would be good for you and would somehow turn you into a better person by the time your sentence ended?

No – of course, it wouldn’t.

This is the reality of many prisoners face, that their time spent locked away for their crimes, actually makes them worse.  What does this do to society as a whole?  Do we ever really think about how this impacts all of us?

With the numbers of those incarcerated, increasing all the time, it is not hard to fathom the implications this has on all of us for the future.

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‘Corrections’ Is A Term That Is Not The Reality

Whilst many prisons are called ‘correctional centers’ shouldn’t they be a place of rehabilitation so that the prisoners become better people? So that they don’t commit these crimes again, and instead start to contribute positively to society? The reality of what goes on inside prisons is often the exact opposite.  For those that have spent time in jail, there is a strong chance they will end up re-offending.  Texas for example, incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world, and suffers from a staggering 60% recidivism (re-offending) rate.

Shouldn’t we take look at why this is so, and try and stop it from happening?

Hurt People, Hurt People

I know, you may be thinking that if a person has committed serious offenses, they deserve to be locked away, to do ‘time’ to pay for their sins? Yes – that is true.  However, what we don’t often realize is that the way prisoners are treated in the majority of prisons often makes them worse, and they become even more broken, as prison life encourages more violence and increases mental instability.

If someone is never shown any kindness and compassion, will they ever become an example of this themselves?

The causes of crime are complex. Poverty, parental neglect, low self-esteem, alcohol and drug abuse can be connected to why people break the law. Some are at greater risk of becoming offenders because of the circumstances into which they are born. (source)

For the innocent victims of a false sentence – which you will always find in any jail –  can you imagine what these harsh and cruel environments would do to their own spirit?

With over 2 million people incarcerated just in the USA alone, there are over 11 million prisoners worldwide (source).  These are astronomical numbers and it is clear that there is indeed, a very big – and growing – problem, particularly in America.

This subject has so many layers that it is impossible to give them all the focus they need, and I do understand the reaction many people have to this subject; those that do the crime should pay the time. However, as a concerned citizen who believes that we are all actually spiritually connected to each other, I think it’s important to highlight these issues.

The number of women in prison has been increasing at twice the rate of growth for men since 1980. Women in prison often have significant histories of physical and sexual abuse, high rates of HIV, and substance abuse problems. Women’s imprisonment in femaleled households leads to children who suffer from their mother’s absence and breaks in family ties. (source)

To become more aware of this problem, Netflix and Youtube have many eye-opening documentaries that highlight issues that I want to bring attention to, which are all mentioned below.

Another huge layer to all of this is, how many innocent people are actually in jails? Is the system breaking good, innocent people that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time and are in fact, terribly unfortunate victims of a failing ‘justice’ system?

Prisons Should Not Be ‘For Profit’

USA prisons (and others around the world) are often run ‘for profit’, so the increasing numbers and overcrowded jails, may in fact, actually be all by design to line the pockets of powerful people and companies.

Because of this reach, the market for privatized services dwarfs that of privatized facilities. The private-prison industry’s annual revenues total $4 billion. By comparison, the correctional food-service industry alone provides the equivalent of $4 billion worth of food each year, according to Technomic, a food industry research and consulting firm. Corrections departments spend at least $12.3 billion on health care, about half of which is provided by private companies. Telephone companies, which can charge up to $25 for a 15-minute call, rake in $1.3 billion annually. The range of for-profit services is extensive, from transport vans to halfway houses, from video visitations to e-mail, from ankle monitors to care packages. To many companies, the roughly $80 billion that the United States spends on corrections each year is not a national embarrassment but a gold mine.

Today, a handful of privately held companies dominate the correctional-services market, many with troubling records of price gouging some of the poorest families and violating the human rights of prisoners. But the problem doesn’t end there. These companies are often controlled by private-equity firms, which through financial alchemy transform the prison-industrial complex into lavish returns for pensions, endowments, and charitable foundations. And, as successive administrations have ramped up immigration enforcement, they’ve also squeezed money out of immigrant detention. (source)

It begs the question, Is the prison system actually a legal human trafficking industry? Is it in their interests to keep them at overcapacity?

Coloured People Incarcerated In Higher Numbers

There is also a very high disproportionate amount of people of color compared to white in USA jails, which is of huge concern by itself.

The reality of what is going on inside the prison system makes for indeed, truly brutal viewing, but it is very important for us all, to beware of the reality. It is another part of our society that desperately requires great change because it does truly impact us all.

The USA, and other countries lock up many people for what are seemingly minor crimes. Some, as you will learn below, are almost unbelievable.

What impact does this have on the families who are left behind: a young child’s father or mother taken away, leaving them for years, without that important role model in their lives.  What psychological damage does this do to them, what impact does this have on society,  and how will it impact their own futures?  Will they too, resort to crime, or drugs and alcohol one day?

On a positive note, I also show you what good is being done in some prisons around the world that are actually able to rehabilitate people in a way that is truly transformative. This is what we need to do for broken and hurt people, we need to help give them a purpose for taking control of their lives and making amends of the mistakes they once made.  Only then, will this help society.

13th

This documentary, available on Netflix is the best place to start if you are interested in looking at how the justice system became such a mess, you will see why it became an industry for profit, and why there are far more colored people incarcerated.

You will discover the very shocking untold history lesson about slavery and how it never really left the USA, coloured people were instead moved into the prison system for very petty crimes at an ever-increasing rate.

13th, a film by American Ava DuVernay, explores the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States. It was named 13th after the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted in 1865, which abolished slavery throughout the United States except as a punishment for conviction of a crime. 

Prisons that are run for-profit, mean that some people may go to jail for a long time, despite their offense being quite minor.  This also means that there are now many young people in adult jails.

In the USA it seems that it’s very easy to be put in detention centers for seemingly minor crimes.  This robbing of their childhoods can ruin their entire lives which we will cover below when we discuss the documentary Kids For Cash.

DuVernay shows that slavery has been increasingly perpetuated since the end of the American Civil War through criminalizing behavior and enabling police to arrest poor men and force them to work for the state under what is known as ‘convict leasing’  This factual documentary shows eye-opening statistics about the huge increase in prison numbers that are of colored people.

Ava examines the prison-industrial complex and the emerging detention-industrial complex, discussing how much money is actually being made by corporations from such incarcerations.

Kids For Cash

This is a great one to watch after viewing 13th, because it then brings attention to the concern regarding young children being put in detention centers, also for very petty crimes. These centers, are again, mostly run for profit.

The kids for cash scandal centered on two judges at the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. In 2008, two judges, Michael Conahan and Mark Ciavarella were accused of accepting money in return for imposing harsh sentences on juveniles simply to increase occupancy at for-profit detention centers.

This documentary shows the damage this can do to the individual, quite often exposing a typical ‘naughty’ pre-teen to horrific and frightening treatment which goes on in ‘kid’ jails, that they really aren’t mentally able to cope with.

This, of course, can impact them for life, because of the trauma (imagine being 12 and not able to see your parents for months at a time, whilst being involved in, or witness to many extremely violent acts) they may themselves end up turning to violence in there just to survive, which then means they likely will end up staying imprisoned much longer.

Judge Mark Ciavarella was found to have forced thousands of children to have ‘extended stays’ in youth centers for offenses as trivial as mocking a school staff member on Myspace or trespassing in a vacant building.  How utterly ridiculous, and a crime in itself, that so many kids have been put away for these kinds of silly things.

This incarceration of minor offenses has led to permanent emotional trauma, and some victims have ended up committing suicide or becoming drug and alcohol addicts. This is what psychological trauma does.  A life, and families ruined because of money-hungry people in positions of power.

Thankfully, Judge Ciavarella was convicted on 12 of 39 counts and sentenced to 28 years in federal prison.

Whilst it is great that he has been locked away himself, it does not mean that the youth prison system is now a good one, they are still being run for profit.

Time: The Kalief Browder Story

This documentary series found on Netflix is an absolutely harrowing and gut-wrenching story of what goes on in many prisons around the world.  It is hard not to feel your own heart break after witnessing this horrific account of what maximum security prisons did to an innocent, young and good man who had a promising future ahead of him.

In 2010, 16-year-old Kalief Browder, from The Bronx NYC, whilst walking home from a party, was accused of stealing a backpack by police, and not only was he thrown in jail without a trial, but he was sent to one of the toughest adult prisons in NYC, Rikers Island.  If convicted, Kaleif faced up to 15 years in prison – for stealing a backpack no less.

This lengthy sentence seems unbelievable, yet this is how punishment is dealt out in the USA.  They are incredibly tough on minor crimes. It seems like any of us could be easily accused of something, thrown in jail, and unless we had money to pay for bail, we also may have to wait a very long time to have our case heard.  This is very wrong, and once again, the vulnerable, and impoverished people have to pay a price whilst those with money will have a much easier time dealing with the justice system.  When we look into the ‘for profit’ prison industry, could this be why they are so tough on crimes, and quick to send people to prison?

Sadly, Kalief’s family were not able to afford his $3000 bail, so Kalief went straight to Rikers Island, a jail notorious for it’s violent criminals and for being very poorly managed.  It is widely known as ‘hell on earth’ and somewhere no teenager should be found in.

Whilst waiting to have his hearing on the alleged crime, Kalief ended up spending an astronomical 3 years in jail experiencing what can only be described as completely disturbing and ongoing violent, physical and mental abuse.

Kalief, slight in stature and still a teenager, was regularly attacked by dangerous and much older gang members, and was thrown in solitary confinement for months at a time.  He often had food withheld from him, and never had any access to mental health programs.  Kalief was also often violently attacked by cruel prison guards.

Due to this ongoing inhumane treatment, and, not surprisingly, feeling so hopeless, Kalief tried to commit suicide under the watch of prison guards – who were later found to have cruelly taunted Kalief whilst he was doing this –  they took him down from the noose just as he was about to pass out, then they proceeded to violently beat him. This was not the last time he tried to take his own life in jail, yet nobody of authority helped him with his mental health issues.

This gruesome footage of what happened to Kalief was released to the public and is also shown in the documentary, and it indeed displayed this sickening and cruel treatment by the hands of the prison guards. This is the reality of many prisons, where the guards commit despicable crimes themselves.

Those guards, to this day, have never been held accountable for their own disgusting behavior against this innocent, young man.

Kalief never had his case go to trial, the ‘witness’ disappeared to Mexico, and after an unfathomable 30 separate visits to court to see if his case would, at last, be heard by the court, Kalief eventually was released.

Whilst Kalief was now a free man after 3 years of mental and physical torture, his mind was anything but, and his story does not have a happy eneding. After his release, and when the trial against the city began to try and receive compensation for his time in jail, Kalief wrote this:

“People tell me because I have this case against the city I’m all right. But I’m not all right. I’m messed up. I know that I might see some money from this case, but that’s not going to help me mentally. I’m mentally scarred right now. That’s how I feel. Because there are certain things that changed about me and they might not go back.” He also said, “Before I went to jail, I didn’t know about a lot of stuff, and, now that I’m aware, I’m paranoid. I feel like I was robbed of my happiness.”

Kalief’s unforgettable and deeply traumatic experiences caused such everlasting damage to his health and well-being. His time in jail crushed his spirit and most tragically, he wasn’t able to cope with his haunting memories and how his mind had now become.

Akeem Browder, a prison reform campaigner, is the truly inspiring, fiercely intelligent, brave, older brother of Kalief, and has since started the Kalief Browder Foundation in honor of his brother’s life:

The KBF strategies support youth and young adults, typically in middle/ high school and college, who were negatively impacted by the incarceration system and the school to prison pipeline particularly and labeled “At Risk Youth”. We aim to enhance their social emotional learning skills through critical thinking exercises, relationship building lessons, mentoring through narrative change and skill building. The KBF has engaged the youth impacted by the incarceration system to shift into the role of leaders for systems change through its work in New York within it’s legislative body. Listening to the community and its needs allowed us to develop a curriculum that speaks directly to the necessities that our youth and young adults face day to day. The criminalization of poverty, race and trauma has held our poor communities in its grips far too long for us to not find a way out.

Akeem has since been campaigning to get Rikers Island shut down. The documentary received much press and celebrity attention after it’s release, but sadly whilst there has been a lot of ‘talk’ about Kalief’s story, to date, no one has helped much financially to get the foundation seriously off the ground.  To make real changes, to hire staff and to run a foundation properly, funds are needed.

You can help keep Kalief’s memory alive, and to support the foundation which strives to bring about much-needed change to the justice system.

PLEASE Donate here

Kalief’s story deserves to be heard, in the hope that something good can one day come out of it.

When They See Us

When They See Us is a 2019 American miniseries which was created, co-written, and directed also by 13th director Ava DuVernay for Netflix. It premiered on May 31, 2019 and is a four-part series. It is based on the highly publicized 1989 Central Park jogger case and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were prosecuted on charges related to the brutal rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City.

The series explores the shocking way that 5 innocent young males who were targeted for committing this crime against a young white woman in Central Park, just because they were black, and were in the park that night.  The film shows they were coerced into a false confession and there was actually never any solid evidence that they did it, yet the prosecution was still able to pin the crimes on all 5 boys.

After spending years in jail, they later ended up being exonerated, what they all experienced whilst in prison was truly horrific, especially Korey Wise, who having been beaten many times in jail – sometimes almost to his death – was often placed in solitary confinement for long periods at a time.

A truly harrowing scene in the film is of Korey (played by the brilliant Emmy Award-winning actor Jharrel Jerome) shouting ‘Why doesn’t anyone care about me?’.

This, I think sums up the prison system and how many inmates feel, innocent or not.

Whilst DNA evidence ended up clearing their names (how this came to be, is an extraordinary story in itself) and they are all now out of jail, their lives of course, have been forever turned upside down.  How can you get back that time, or how can you ever erase all of those horrific experiences? How can your brain ever really recover from that?

Whilst the exonerated 5 have been able to seek financial compensation, it took a whopping 11 years of fighting in court to be eventually given to them, and the money of course, does not make up for the time and the destruction of their health and mental well-being that they lost in prison due to a justice system that can often be anything but.

Many victims of false incarceration do not ever win any financial justice for their time spent in prison.

Those who targeted these boys, have not been punished for their own despicable behavior, which is another example of how the system gets away with their own criminal activity.

Happy Jail

I am now able to share with you now some more positive stories about what can be done in jails.

Happy Jail is a documentary that is currently streaming on Netflix. The story revolves around Marco O Toral, who became the manager of the Philippine jail known as CPDRC in Cebu province, known for a Michael Jackson dance video that went viral in 2007.  What is immediately fascinating is that Marco was a previous inmate of this exact jail for seven years.

I highly recommend watching this 5 part series as it is very heartwarming and inspiring in that you see for your own eyes, what compassion, kindness, fun, and joy can do for people who have ended up in jail due to the crimes they commit.  Marco Toral, is I think, an extraordinary human being, who was able to keep violence and drug use at a minimum, due to the way he treated the inmates.

Marco would meet every new inmate and treat them with kindness, often giving them money to use at the jail shop.  He would, of course, lay down the rules, and the punishment for breaking them was a painful paddle on the bottom, as a last resort.

Whilst watching Happy Jail, I was struck by how the prisoners were constantly smiling, seemingly enjoying their time, and this is because Marco allowed them to dance, play music, play games, and have their family members not only visit them each week but that it would be in close contact where they would come inside the prison.

I personally feel that perhaps it is enough punishment simply being locked away in the same building for years at a time, never being allowed out until their time is served.  Surely, during this time we can then work on encouraging people to learn from their own mistakes from a spiritual level? 

Marco received harsh criticism by the media and some government members as he was seen as being ‘not tough enough’ on the prisoners, but you perhaps you will see for yourself if you think this was the case.

Bastoy – Norway

Bastoy, which sits on an island in Norway, is quite an incredible place that is doing a remarkable job to rehabilitate prisoners. Inmates, who live in small houses, not cells, are required to look after the island, (which also has its own small shop) have work duties and responsibilities that require them to get close to nature and to work with others.   They learn to also look after themselves and learn to interact well with other people.   There are animals to look after and they can play music, learn cooking and study.

A Governor was interviewed for this short documentary (below) and I think what he said should be how all Governors look at their own prisons.

‘I think my job as a Governer at Bastoy Prison is if I can put a person back into society who has actually been trained to be a good member of society’

Another guard said this:

“We punish them them by taking away their freedom, but we don’t take away their life”

Halden Prison – Norway

Also in Norway, Halden Prison is known as the worlds most ‘humane’ prison.  It is designed with an architecture that takes into account it’s surrounding nature, where prisoners have access to beautiful views of the land, because connecting with nature is good for the human spirit.  The warden’s of Halden state that ‘being imprisoned’ is enough punishment.

Punta de Rieles – Urugay

Located in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, Punta de Rieles is known as “the prison from which nobody wants to escape”.  It is set on a 100-acre property which has lots of outdoor space where inmates can live, work, do yoga, have pets, and play music. At Punta de Rieles, the focus is on helping prisoners prepare to go back into society after they leave.

The prison’s director shared that their focus is to help the inmates be ‘better’ people than when they first arrived. Using ‘repression’ won’t rehabilitate people. They allow their inmates to study and also teach them how to start up a business. The funds earned enable the inmates to purchase things from the prison shop, or they can save up for when they leave.  Punta De Rieles has a bakery, restaurant, brick factory, barbers, carpentry, and grocery stores.

Rehabilitation IS Possible

It seems very clear that the common way people are incarcerated today is simply not helping them become better people.

However, rehabilitation IS possible, and the way we can actually do this is seen in the last few documentaries above.

They all have a common theme, allow the inmates to have access to nature, to not be ‘locked up’ in ugly and depressing surroundings, give them responsibilities, encourage them to learn skills, have a purpose and above all, to be treated with compassion.

Whilst it must be said, that rehabilitating serial killers and very violent gang members might not be an easy task, it is something that must be attempted. Violence breeds violence so if we want to put an end to it, we have to see all people as human beings that may have had a very damaging upbringing which has affected their behavior.

Read More:

Research Shows That Time In Prison Does Not Successfully “Rehabilitate” Most Inmates

How Shelter Cats Are Changing Prisoners Lives In Indiana

Why Brazil Gives Ayahuasca To Prison Inmates On Their Path To Redemption

The Top 10 Most Startling Facts About People of Color and Criminal Justice in the United States

Jennifer Gonnermans Interviews With Kalief Browder

The Business Model Of Private Prisons

Global Prison Population Soars

kaliefbrowderfoundation.com

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