Florida legislators close to forbidding pregnant inmates from being handcuffed during birth

Fresh off their devastatingly progressive move to legalize rabbit-dyeing, the Florida House passed another landmark law for human rights by banning, at last, state prisons from handcuffing pregnant women during live birth. Next on the agenda: Outlawing forced marathons for disabled veterans in jail and prohibiting wardens from pouring salt directly into convicts’ open wounds.

This is Florida, though, so a legislator from Tampa did vote against the measure. And don’t worry: If the jailers decide the mother-to-be is a “security risk,” they could still handcuff her during the miracle of life.

Believe it or not, the Florida Legislature couldn’t agree to pass a similar measure last year. Presumably, babies were being born to shackled mothers from Krome Detention Facility to the Apalachee Correctional Facility.

Actually, if any pregnant women have ever actually been handcuffed while giving birth in Florida, there don’t seem to be any stories on the subject in Nexis or Google.

In fact, the Department of Corrections issued a statement last time this issue was debating claiming that they “do not shackle or otherwise restrain female inmates during any stage of labor” and that doing so “is not reasonable nor is it good security practice.”

Still, with the state rushing headlong to privatize prisons and with the fourth largest population of female prisoners in the country, it’s probably a good idea to have an anti-handcuffing during pregnancy law on the books just for good measure.

The Senate is expected to pass the House version of the bill, which will head to Rick Scott.

Oh, and the legislator who opposed the bill? Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg.

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The Secret Service’s Long History Of Racism (white terror domination) And Sexism

After the prostitution scandal, many wondered if the agency suffered from deep-seated cultural problems. Which is exactly what a group of black agents — including Paula Reid, the woman who blew the whistle on the scandal — have been alleging for over a decade.

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Agents accompany President Obama in Florida.

In 2000, a group of black Secret Service agents filed a class action lawsuit alleging that they were systematically passed over for promotions because of institutionalized racism within the agency. Their suit, Moore vs. Chertoff, paints a picture of exactly the kind of “macho culture” some have worried exists within the Secret Service.

One of the suit’s original plaintiffs was Paula Reid, the Secret Service’s newly-promoted head of South American operations, and the one who blew the whistle on agents’ contact with prostitutes in Colombia. Reid, who is black, gave a statement alleging that black agents were given lesser assignments than their white coworkers. She also told USA Today in 1997 that her supervisors often overlooked her in favor of male agents.

Last week, CNN asked “whether a strong macho element in the culture of the U.S. Secret Service could pose a threat to security.” But it looks like Reid already knew the answer to that question — she just wasn’t in a position to help fix it until she entered her new role.

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The Hotel Caribe, where agents allegedly brought prostitutes.

An updated version of the 1997 suit, filed with the US District Court of DC in 2006, alleges that promotions at the agency were decided by a “good old boys network” that kept black agents out of top jobs. And “good old boys” isn’t a metaphor — in the Eighties and Nineties, white agents actually joined other government employees an annual event called the “Good Ol’ Boys Roundup,” where they participated in activities like “the posting of racist signs like ‘Nigger check point,’ a simulated lynching of a black man from a tree, and a host of racist skits and songs.” The Roundup also elected a “Redneck of the Year,” a dubious title held by at least one Secret Service agent. And it was apparently a networking and professional development opportunity — many Roundup attendees were later promoted to senior positions with the agency.

The lawsuit has been working its way through the courts for twelve years now, leaving a variety of unsavory details in its wake. A series of emails between senior Secret Service agents became public in 2008 — they included sexual jokes about black and American Indian people; a message titled “Harlem Spelling Bee” that listed supposed “black” definitions of words; and a video clip of an interracial couple being surrounded by Ku Klux Klan members. Desmond Hogan, a lawyer for the suit’s plaintiffs, said the emails confirmed that “there is a culture of racism at the Secret Service.”

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The Pley Club, where the agents and prostitutes may have met.

There may have been a culture of sexism as well. Agent Camilla Simms told Newsweek in 2008 that the Service had distributed calendars featuring two agents, a white man and a black woman. But in her office, several of the white agents covered up the black woman’s face with paper. She said, “I was the only black female agent there at the time. As a police detective, I was given the opportunity to shine. Then I came to the Secret Service and I felt like I had the plague.”

Reid has since left the suit, along with several other original plaintiffs. But through her role in the Colombia scandal, she may be changing Secret Service culture from the inside. According to the Washington Post, she was the one who rounded up the 11 implicated agents and sent them home, as well as notifying higher-ups of their alleged misconduct. Such decisive action is apparently typical of her approach. A former colleague told the Post, “If every boss was Paula Reid, the Secret Service would never have a problem. It would be a lot more boring, but never a problem.” And another agent said her reaction to the agents’ behavior was no surprise: “You did it in her house, so you better know she’s going to come down hard.”

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Agents with President Obama

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white couple kept 40-lb., 12-year-old boy locked in closet or bathroom for weeks at a time

In this booking mug made available by the Titusville Police Department,  shows Michael Marshall, 38 and Sharon Glass, 48 of Titusville, Fla. Sharon together with Michael Marshall, were charged Thursday, March 16, 2012, with three counts of aggravated child abuse. Police say the couple is accused of locking an extremely malnourished boy in a cage inside a closet. The boys had also been strapped to a bed. (AP Photo/Titusville Police Dept., HO)

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — When Florida police checked out a child abuse report, they found an emaciated boy lying on the floor inside a locked bathroom at his home, apparently punished for stealing food. The boy was rushed to the hospital where workers said he resembled a concentration camp survivor, and they treated him for malnutrition and dehydration.

The 12-year-old boy’s father and his girlfriend have been charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect. Two other kids at the home have been removed as child welfare officials investigate.

According to a police report, the boy – weighing just 40 pounds – was locked in a bathroom, strapped to a bed or caged in a closet for days or weeks at a time over the past year.

Brevard County Jail records show 38-year-old Michael Marshall and 48-year-old Sharon Glass have been charged with three counts each of aggravated child abuse and three counts each of child neglect. A judge ordered both be held without bond. It is not immediately clear if they have an attorney.

The Titusville Police Department received a report of a young child being unlawfully caged and suffering from abuse, though the report doesn’t spell out whether there was a cage inside the closet. Authorities in Titusville have not returned telephone calls from The Associated Press.

Marshall is the father of the 12-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. Glass is the mother of the 5 year-old boy.

The two other children at the home were being seen by doctors, said Carrie Hoeppner, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

“No doubt that the younger two have been subjected to mental abuse,” Hoeppner said.

Marshall also has a 17-year-old son with his ex-wife, Lisa Minshall, 36, who lives in southwestern Ohio. She said her son was still an infant when she and Marshall divorced, and Marshall hasn’t seen him since he was 3.

“I kind of feel sick, and I’m kind of happy that that situation didn’t happen to me and my son,” Minshall said. “If I would have stayed around long enough, he probably would have been abusive to his first son.”

Marshall was arrested on a criminal domestic violence charge in Ohio in 1995, records showed. It wasn’t immediately clear whether he was convicted.

Welfare officials investigated neglect and concerns about the home environment in the summer of 2010. Once the investigation was closed, the boy was taken out of school and went “unnoticed for so long,” Hoeppner said. There were no other reports from the home or contact between welfare officials and the couple.

Brevard Public Schools spokeswoman Christine Davis said the boy was removed from the system for homeschooling in August 2010. Records shows the boy was moved to a private school less than two months later, but the name of the private school wasn’t listed.

The couple’s home is located in Titusville, about 40 miles east of Orlando on the coast. The town was known as a good place to watch space shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral.

Myrtle Wilcox, a neighbor, said she hadn’t seen the boy since November, when he was outside on the front lawn playing with a dog.

“The boy looked to be about 8- or 10-years-old,” Wilcox said.

She said he was slender but nothing seemed wrong.

On Christmas Eve, Wilcox said Marshall had come over to get help jumping a car. He and his girlfriend wanted to go to a store to buy last minute gifts for their children.

“Just ordinary people,” Wilcox said. “Going to work and tending to their own business and taking care of their family. That’s the only thing I could assume about them.”

Views – 83