Wednesday, August 31, 2016

From Herbert Hoover to Donald Trump


Which Republican candidate is right?

Herbert Hoover or Donald Trump?

Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

August 31, 2016


                In 1928, Republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover had made his national political reputation in the wake of World War I first as head of the American Friends (Quaker) Service Committee’s relief efforts first in Belgium, thence to the American Relief Administration for Europe generally, and ultimately Secretary of Commerce.  He was a believer in small government, of private economic growth, whose entry into government rested on his reputation as a not-for-profit charitable entrepreneur.  He had the misfortune to become president just months before the 1929 stock market crash, and sudden onset of the Great Depression, even as he tried to obtain government funds for the public projects that became his 1932 Democratic opponent FDR’s New Deal.  Today, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calls Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s relations with the internationally well-regarded charities funded and administered by the Clinton foundation founded by her ex-president husband.

                Every politician has a constituency, a calling to become informed directly, as Eleanor Roosevelt did for her husband.  The only corruption I look for in charities is the percentage of income they spend for administrative costs, and that of the Clinton Foundation is low.

                Excessive administrative and shareholder profit-taking aside, “corruption” to me connotes inside government tracks for contractors who promote shareholder profit at public expense, as for instance in military contracts and contracts for private for-profit incarceration administration and services.  To suggest that ties with internationally recognized charitable organizations in itself implies corruption rather than collaboration is remarkably, profoundly un-Republican, and virtually oxymoronic.  No wonder Republicans are divided.  Love and peace, hal


Friday, August 19, 2016

De-Privatization of U.S. Federal Prisons


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

August 19, 2016


                Yesterday, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates posted a public notice:


Today, I sent a memo to the Acting Director of the Bureau of Prisons directing that, as each private prison contract reaches the end of its term, the bureau should either decline to renew that contract or substantially reduce its scope in a manner consistent with law and the overall decline of the bureau’s inmate population.  This is the first step in the process of reducing—and ultimately ending—our use of privately operated prisons.  While an unexpected need may arise in the future, the goal of the Justice Department is to ensure consistency in safety, security and rehabilitation services by operating its own prison facilities.

Today’s memo reflects important steps that the bureau has already taken to reduce our reliance on private prisons, including  a decision three weeks ago to end a private prison contract for approximately 1,200 beds.  Taken together, these steps will reduce the private prison population by more than half from its peak in 2013 and puts the Department of Justice on a path to ensure that all federal inmates are ultimately housed at bureau facilities (with link to memo at


            Of course, most US prisoners are detained and US Customs and Border Protection has declared that it will continue to house immigrant detainees privately.  Deputy Attorney General Yates announced that the federal order, and the recent decarceration of federally convicted drug offenders, is intended to set an example for state and local prison and jail authorities (

            Yesterday, the stock price of Corrections Corporation of America fell by 35%, and of the Geo Group by 40%, a fear that other prison, jail, and detention authorities at federal, state and local levels will follow suit (

            I have recently argued, once again, against for-profit privatization of services of public care and custody generally, as now also in private trusteeship of foster care and child support payments (“The Problem of Privatization Again:  Foster Care and Child Support,”, July 31).  Ms. Yates affirms that prisons become safer, better, even more efficiently managed when they are owned and managed by publicly accountable public servants.  I cannot help but believe that the Justice Department’s initiative is supported if not led by President Obama as a departing legacy.  Here’s hoping that the Justice Department’s de-privatization initiative sets a national political trend toward decarceration and de-privatization at all levels.  Love and peace, hal

Thursday, August 4, 2016

racism within a major urban police department


Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at

August 4, 2016


                I commend host Ann Fisher and her staff and guests for WOSU’s “All Sides” opening hour today, “Allegations of Racial Discrimination by Columbus [Ohio] Police,” podcast at, to anyone teaching, and for that matter anyone seeking to understand or document the institutional problem of racism within US police departments.  John Jay professor Delores Jones-Brown puts the situation in Columbus in national context throughout the hour.  Without naming the other participants in the first half hour of the program, they also include a longtime local reporter, a current (now committed school resource officer) and former black officer suing to enforce the state civil rights commission recommendations for redress with their attorney (and their testimony is specific).  The primary interviewee in the second part is the government affairs director for the state Fraternal Order of Police, which nominally represents the rights of police at all ranks, in lieu of having recourse to independent human resources personnel.  It is too bad he didn’t hear the earlier segment, because he simply refused to believe host Ann Fisher’s allegations that a white sergeant could possibly threaten not to watch a black officer’s back in the narcotics division, because “all officers watch each other’s back,” adding that both complainants and respondents were “independently” represented by FOP reps (and goes silent when she presses him on how the earlier cases got buried.  For her part, Professor Jones-Brown affirms that this is a national problem for officers of color.

                Perhaps not coincidentally, the two urban police departments I have cited as models of replacing “broken-windows” with “community” policing, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Richmond, California, have hired black and openly gay chiefs respectively, and the proportion of officers of color in their forces, and the proportion of people of color in Columbus, far exceed that in Columbus.

                For all the talk about police violence against “civilians” of color they encounter, this is the first recognition of racism within police forces I have seen in a long time.  It is a reminder on one hand that racial representation matters especially at higher levels, and on the other hand that the racism implicit throughout US, which suggests that people of color are more criminal and less trustworthy than white folks, victimizes police too.  I’m thinking, too, that in police departments like those in Cincinnati and Richmond, letting go of demonstrating success in law enforcement and getting to know people of color they police in many respects carries over how police come to know and respect one another, so including white supervisors of officers of color.  Ann Fisher and your staff, thank you for a most revealing program.  Love and peace, hal