Showing posts with label meth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meth. Show all posts

24 October 2019

Update from the Pen - The Lifer's Group


by Eve Fisher

Up at the pen, everyone's eyeing the upcoming legislative session with great interest.  The hot new issue right now is South Dakota's "possession by ingestion" law, which makes ingestion of any illegal drug - from marijuana to meth to heroin - a felony:
What that means is, whether you smoked marijuana or ingested something else into your system in state or out of state, if you get pulled over and you have a controlled substance in your blood stream, that is considered possession. You could also be charged with a felony depending how much is in your system.  (KOTATV)  
NOTE:  South Dakota is the only state in America in which first offense of possession by ingestion is a felony; in all other states it's a misdemeanor.

There's a legislative committee studying it, which is good.  Of course, we have the split between those who see lowering from a felony to a misdemeanor is just "watering down the drug laws".
Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan agreed that an ingestion misdemeanor would be disastrous. The nature of addiction is "so volatile" that his office typically sees an escalation to more serious crimes, including theft and homicide, he said.   (Argus)
Considering that South Dakota is bordered by states (MN, IA, ND, MT, NE) that have either medical marijuana and/or decriminalized marijuana, I doubt that everyone who caught a buzz in another state is coming home to kill someone.  Granted, meth is a different story - but shouldn't marijuana at least be taken off the list?

The other problem raised by legislators is, as always, cost.  Who's going to pay for treatment for all these addicts if we just "let them go" (although the idea is supervised treatment, folks!), and where is the money going to come from?

Imagine if everyone arrested for their first DUI was charged with a felony with mandatory sentencing in prison? We'd have to build a lot more prisons.  And speaking of prison cells, when legislators talk about the expense of drug and alcohol treatment, and where the money's going to come from - why don't they ever ask where the money's going to come from to pay for the $30,000-$61,000 per year it costs to house one inmate?

South Dakota Pen 2.jpg
South Dakota State Penitentiary - the Hill
Will keep you posted.

I keep tabs on a lot of issues like this, because Allan and I are entering our third year of being the pink tags (outside volunteer supervisors) for the Lifer's Group at the pen.  And yes, we're still working with the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).

When we tell a lot of people this, their reaction is one of fear, like we're always walking into Con Air or some Mad Max movie.  The truth is, lifers are a pretty nonviolent bunch.  Very few people want to spend the rest of their lives in constant chaos and violence, especially in prison, and so lifers work hard to create as safe a lifestyle as possible for themselves.  And that's the goal of the Lifer's Group.  To improve their lives, their homes - because (once they've moved past denial and anger to acceptance) the prison is their home, and will be for a very, very, very long time.

So the Lifer's Group has committees - legislative, compassionate outreach, daily life.

Legislatively, there's a number of issues that the Lifer's Group is working on, because some of South Dakota's laws are very unique:
(1) Possession by ingestion as a felony.  (see above)
(2) South Dakota and Maine are the only states in America in which a life sentence is always life without parole.
(3) South Dakota and Oklahoma are the only states in America in which you can get a life sentence for manslaughter.  Since manslaughter - read the definition here - means that you did not intend to kill the person, this is pretty outrageous to me.  How can "without any design to cause death" get the same sentence as premeditated murder?

On the other fronts, the Lifer's Group has been:
(1) Doing suicide watches.  (Yes, they're supervised by staff.)  They tag-team this, because they get called out at all hours of the day and night.  They also sit with the dying (usually another lifer) in the hospice room.  Both of these are very important to them.
NOTE:  We also brought in people from Hospice to talk about how to help dying inmates.

(2) Giving orientation talks to the A&Os (Admission and Orientation inmates, i.e., newcomers) to tell people brand-new to prison where things are, what the rules are, what the unwritten rules are, that they don't have to join gangs, and many other things that newbies can't / won't ask the administration about.  (Yes, they're supervised by staff.)

(3) Everyone would really, really, really like to get Restorative Justice (RJ) started.  This is "a system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large."  But it needs trained mediators.  We're still working on having this happen.

(4) Working on getting better stuff from commissary, from better food to better underwear.  (Let's just say that, without commissary, all an inmate gets is the absolute basics.)

(5) We hosted a Religious Enlightenment Conference that got a huge crowd that sat, respectful and attentive, to hear representatives within and outside of the prison talk about their religious customs, traditions, and practices.  Included were Christianity (representatives from both Catholicism and Protestantism), Asateru, Buddhism, Islam, and Native American traditions.  We're going to do it again in late December.

(6) We hosted a Talent Show which was a ton of fun.  Ear-splitting guitar, magic act, comedians (mostly clean), karaoke, and an audience that ranged from inmates, the COs on duty, to a surprising number of staff and COs who were off duty and just stuck around to watch the show.  Good times were had by all.  I knew that we had a good gig going when one guy put on "Old Town Road", and everyone in the room started singing:

Yeah, I'm gonna take my horse to the old town road
I'm gonna ride 'til I can't no more
I'm gonna take my horse to the old town road
I'm gonna ride 'til I can't no more (Kio, Kio)



We hope to do it again, in the dead of winter, when everyone needs something to sing along to.



01 February 2018

Just Another January in South Dakota


by Eve Fisher

I don't know if this made the national news, but the South Dakota media was all over the story of a 72 year old SD man, Daniel Lucas, who snow-birded in winter to Arizona, and who never came back last spring and was missing.  Well, they found him.  He killed himself in his car, they say.  His head was in a box, and his body down in a canyon in Maricopa County.  So how did he get dismembered?  Well, apparently a homeless man, Mattew David Hall. found him in his car, dead, and rather than call the police, he moved the body but kept the head to prove that he hadn't killed him...  And kept it for a long, long, long time...  They say that Mr. Hall has mental issues.  Yah think?  I think the guy kind of looks like Nick Nolte, so there's casting if they ever make a movie of it.

Mattew David Hall


Moving on, we South Dakotans have our own Kremlin connection!  We're so proud.  Paul Erickson, of Vermillion, SD, is a long time Republican campaign operative.  He worked in SD for Trump, and in 2016 Erickson claimed he was on the Trump presidential transition team.  Which is why he sent an email during the 2016 NRA convention to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump with the subtle subject:  "Kremlin Connection":
Image result for paul erickson south dakota
Fun Fact:  Back in 1994 Erickson was an entertainment lawyer
who booked John Wayne Bobbitt
on a “Love Hurts," worldwide media tour.
Subtle, he's not.
"Putin is deadly serious about building a good relationship with Mr. Trump. He wants to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to visit him in the Kremlin before the election. Let's talk through what has transpired and Senator Sessions' advice on how to proceed."
No one knows if that meeting took place:  Sessions told the House Intelligence Committee he didn't remember the request.

Okay, so Erickson is also connected to Russian gun rights advocate Maria Butina, who's worked for the deputy governor of Russia's central bank, Alexander Torshin, and who ran a pro-gun group in Russia supported by Torshin.  Erickson and Butina formed a limited liability company called "Bridges" in South Dakota in 2016 (I don't know if it was before or after the Kremlin Connection e-mail), which has an address in a Sioux Falls apartment building and no known actual purpose.  (Can't even find it on the web, dag nabbit.)  So - according to McClatchy news outlet, the FBI is investigating whether Torshin funneled money (thru Butina, thru Erickson?) through the NRA to help fund the Trump presidential campaign. The NRA spent $55 million on the 2016 election with $30 million of that going to the Trump campaign.
Gentle reminder:  The reason this matters is that it's illegal to use foreign money to influence federal elections.  (Thank you, Angela Kennecke for your investigation!)
BTW:  Check out this post from South Dakota's own Cory Heidelberger, with photos of Ms. Butina speaking all over South Dakota, including the Teenage Republicans Camp in the Black Hills, where a number of past and current South Dakota legislatures were counselors, or just there for the party.  Including Mr. Erickson...

Our South Dakota Legislature is back in session, and the legislation is coming out thick and fast, and piling deeper and higher.  Some of my personal favorites so far:

HB 1144, which makes it easier for city councils, county commissions, school boards, and other governmental bodies to do their business behind closed doors, especially if they're "Consulting with legal counsel or reviewing on communications from legal counsel about proposed or pending litigation or contractual matters.”  (Someone's trying to do something they don't want anyone to see...)

SB 107, which would repeal all regulations and licensing requirements for barbers.  Can't figure that one out to save my soul...
SB 109, which would repeal the licensing requirements for sign language interpreters.  Can't figure that one out, either...  

SouthDakota-StateSeal.svg
THE Official State Seal
HB 1102 started as a bill to require as much as a year in jail and a $2,000 fine for creating any replica of the Great Seal of South Dakota that did not include every detail specified by state law, including the state motto, “Under God the People Rule.” (See image to the right)

Well, the ACLU and most of us South Dakota smart-alecks had a lot of fun with that (google freely), and it's since been amended to ban renditions of the seal that are “greater than one-half inch in diameter and used for an official purpose or a for-profit commercial use” while at the same time making it clear that HB 1102 does not apply to “or limit any artistic or satirical use of the seal.”  More fun is still being had, because how can you resist shooting ducks?  (This is funnier up here, in Ducks Unlimited territory.)  Google freely.

State Representative Drew Dennert wants to make hunting, fishing, trapping and harvesting wildlife a constitutional right, that "shall be forever preserved for the public good" in HJR 1005, and make "Hunting, fishing, and trapping...  a preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife."  Still trying to figure out the "harvesting" part.  I can just see it now - hunters fighting against farmers in combines in the corn fields over the pheasants:
"I'm hunting!"  "But I'm harvesting!"  And shots ring out...

Meanwhile, a Mr. Levi Breyfogle of Rapid City has proposed a new Constitutional Amendment that would make all "victimless" crimes unchargeable:
"(1) A charge of a violation may only be filed by a victim whose person or property has been physically damaged by the defendant. If the victim is incapable of filing a charge of a violation, a family member may, but only if the victim does not object; and  (2) The damages must be physical, quantifiable, and have already occurred."
(Someone's done something they don't want anyone to know about...)

But enough of that, back to the news:

636523968955778979-DUUlef1W0AEUSO1.jpgLocal News:  On January 24th, in an improbably appropriate move, a woman crashed into the Billion Car Care Center.  Meth, not alcohol, and there were also 2 children under three in the back seat, who were unharmed, and are now "in the care of a family member."  Thank God.  BTW, here in South Dakota, if you get arrested, you get to do the walk of shame in jail stripes., which is then broadcast on the nightly news, and she looked shell-shocked, to put it mildly.  Whether it was the situation she finds herself in, or that she hadn't had any meth in over 24 hours, I don't know.

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The photo that launched multi-
million dollar investments...
The latest scam:  Perhaps because they saw the EB-5 and GearUp! rifling of federal dollars, Tobias Ritesman and Tim Burns (long-time Brookings developer) cooked up a new company, Global Aquaponics which was going to be a high-tech fish farm near Brookings, SD.  (check out their website here!)  They were going to grow fish and shrimp in tanks, and use the "nutrient rich" water to grow vegetables.

And apparently there were quite a few people who weren't bothered by the lack of experience in shrimp farming available in the High Plains, because they managed to raise a few million dollars. (P. T. Barnum was so right.) But a year later, while the ground had been (barely) broken, no tanks were being built, and there was no sign of anything but a nice office downtown in which Mr. Ritesman went slightly off his nut one day and wanted to know about Bitcoins while waving a gun in front of a tech consultant. Let's just say that everyone got ripped off, and Mr. Ritesman and Mr. Burns are facing federal charges.

In the "we should have known" department: Mr. Burns was involved in the EB-5 scandal. (Thanks again to Angela Kennecke at Keloland News)   And Mr. Ritesman claimed to have won the same "Entrepreneur of the Year Award" as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.  He didn't, but apparently no one checked before investing.
(BTW, this proves that there's a reason why Frank L. Baum made the Wizard of Oz a humbug and a conman in his earthly life back in Kansas and other parts of the Midwest.)

National News:  So, no fish, no shrimp, no vegetables in nutrient-rich water.  But we do have radium, at least in Brandon, SD.  Radium, which is (1) radioactive, (2) killed Marie Curie, (3) can occur naturally, and (4) has been in the city's water for decades. It's also not uncommon across the country. An analysis by EWG (go here for an interactive map) found 170 million people exposed to radium from drinking water in 22,000 utilities nationwide.  Brandon's radium level doesn't exceed federal guidelines.  What's amazing to me is how much (and many) poison(s) you can have in your drinking water before it exceeds the guidelines  Look it up some time.  

Well, that's all from South Dakota, where we talk like Mayberry, act like Goodfellas, and the crazy just keeps on coming.

 

My husband just looked this over and suggested, "Sponsored by the South Dakota Tourism Department".





27 March 2014

Look-alikes


by Eve Fisher

File:Number 12.JPG
"Number 12 Looks Just Like You"
One of the things about living in a small rural town is that pretty much everyone looks alike.  When I first moved up here, I wrote to my friends back east and said, "There are two ethnic types in this town, and I'm one of them."  Exaggerated, but close.  In a town of 90% Norwegian/German/Dutch/Swedish/Danish with blond hair and blue eyes, let's just say that I stand out a bit.  But you know, I think I'd rather stand out that look like everyone else.  There was an old Twilight Zone show called "Number 12 Looks Just Like You", where everyone picks one of a handful of faces...  well, I have sat many times in groups where there are three or four people who looked so much alike it was hard to say who was who.  Between large families, intermarriage among cousins, etc., it happens. I don't know what they think about it - but I'm not sure I'd like it.

But perhaps I feel a little uneasy because they're all in the same town.  I've run into look-alikes before: there's a cousin who looks just like Bob Bainborough (Dalton on The Red Green Show).  There's a guy here in town who looks like Kenny Rogers used to before his plastic surgery.  I ran into a guy at the pen recently who looked remarkably like Axl Rose.  Years ago I was working at a 7-11 in Georgia, and a guy who looked like Lee Majors (6 Million Dollar Man) tried to pick me up.

Of course, there's more to it than looks.  Or is there?  If someone looks like someone else, do you expect them to behave like that person?  Sometimes, yes.   And if they act like someone else...  well.  Miss Marple was always watching people, and thinking how so-and-so had a weak chin, or a direct stare, or a nervous twitch, and from there reminisce about someone back in St. Mary Meade who did something bad, or were on the receiving end of the same...  and history would repeat itself.  And I think she was (largely) right.

I do this all the time.  I know a meth twitch when I see one.  (Along with the skin sores and bad teeth.)  And there's also the liar's look:  Agatha Christie nailed it, the person who looks you straight in the eye without wavering. But if you look at their neck/chin/shoulders, they're braced and ready for someone to ask them questions...

We've all heard the person who tells you the story of his/her life at such speed and length that it takes you a while to put together the complexity of it and realize that it never could have happened.  They're lying about at least half of it, if not all of it, which would indicate that they are untrustworthy about other things as well.

There's the guy (sorry to be sexist, but these are mostly young men) who's always bragging about how tough he is, and you know, know, know that down deep he is scared s--tless.  Which also means, he is very dangerous, but mostly because when he is pushed up against a wall, he will either (1) run at the wrong time, leaving whoever's around in danger or (2) react violently, but in such an inexpert way that whoever's around is more apt to be injured than the source of danger.  I get away from these guys as quickly as I can. Thankfully, these days I usually only run into them in controlled environments.


The super-complimentary, women or men, sloshing sugar all over the place, are always, always, always up to something.  If nothing else, they're trying to be your friend without giving anything but compliments.

And, of course, the classic predator:  attentive, adhesive, encircling, gradually eliminating anyone and anything else but themselves, until they and they alone are the only person in their victim's life.

They might not all look alike, but they act alike...  Every time...




10 May 2012

The Circuit Administrator's Tale


by Eve Fisher
Here's another story from the old days when I was a circuit administrator:

     I was driving home from work, from the courthouse, going down Main Street, and I saw an old battered car sitting in a church’s parking lot to the right of me.  It was angled funny, and as I got nearer, it started to move.  My sixth sense clicked in, and somehow I knew he wasn’t going to stop coming out, even though I had the right of way, being on the main drag.  So I stopped just before the corner of this parking lot, and he came out, gunning the engine, burning rubber:  and coming right AT me.  Head on, without stopping, a fixed look on his face.  And there I was stuck, while this maniac played chicken with me with no place for me to even get out of his way.  At the very last minute he swerved, missing me and my front bumper by about an inch, and got on his side of the road.  But he was still so close he drove over the base of the lamppost in the center of the street, and nicked another one, and I watched his hub cap or wheel rim fly off.   
     And then he was gone.  Now I'd memorized his license plate - I had nothing else to do and nowhere to go while he was gunning his car at me, other than try to keep breathing and not pee my pants - so I went straight home and called the police.  I knew every cop in town - and in about 14 counties at the time - so it didn't take long for one to come by.  I told him what had happened, gave him the license plate number, and they found him in about fifteen minutes. There are perks to being a circuit administrator in a small town in a rural state...   :)
     When they found him, he admitted the whole thing.  He’d just had a huge fight with his wife and before he left home he’d busted out all the windows in his house and maybe some other stuff.  Then he was still so angry he decided to use his car as a weapon against the first woman he saw:  me.   His license was revoked, so he wasn't even supposed to be driving in the first place, but that was irrelevant to his thinking.
     That happened on Friday afternoon.  Monday morning, I told the Judge about what had happened. Later, the State's Attorney came to run over the court calendar, and the Judge brought up the incident.  
     The Judge asked "What did you charge him with?"
     "Reckless driving and reckless driving with a revoked license."  Two misdemeanors, very standard.
     "What about aggravated assault?"  
     The SA shrugged.  "Nah."
     "I think you should charge him with aggravated assault."
     "Mm hmm."
     "I said," (That got the SA's attention)  "I think you should charge him with aggravated assault.  Or attempted murder."
     "You're kidding."
     "No, I'm not.  He tried to kill her.  I want him charged with aggravated assault at least."
     So the SA charged the guy with aggravated assault, which is a Class 1 Felony.  The guy - who finally  figured out that he'd aimed his car at the wrong woman ("Man, you tried to kill the judge's CA!") - packed his bags and left town in the middle of the night, and was never heard of again.  
     As you can imagine, it felt good to have the judge stand up for me and protect me and all that.  Until I found out from the sheriff's department that the guy had been driving them nuts for a while. They knew he was dealing drugs, but they couldn't ever quite catch him.  Having him leave town was just as good as having him arrested.  And he'd never dare come back, because that charge would be waiting for him for - well, for a meth guy, which he was, basically forever.  
     So, was the judge standing up for me, or being diabolically clever on getting rid of a standing nuisance?  Or both?  Another day in the life...