An Interview with Anti-Drone Activist Mary Anne Grady Flores – July 25th, 2014

Ithaca peace activist Mary Anne Grady Flores was released from the Jamesville Correctional Facility last week — just one week after DeWitt Town Court Judge David Gideon sentenced her to a year behind bars for her drone protest activities outside the Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse. The decision to release Grady Flores was made by Judge Thomas Miller in the Onondaga County Court. Miller ordered a stay of her sentence while her case is on appeal. She was required to post $5,000 in bail.

In May, Grady Flores was convicted of violating an order of protection that required her to keep away from Colonel Earl A. Evans, the Mission Support Commander for the 174th Attack Wing at the Hancock base. Until her trial earlier this year, Grady Flores had never met him.

WRFI Producer Lori Sonken spoke with Mary Anne Grady Flores. They discussed why Flores protests the use of drones that target terrorists and kill innocent victims.

This interview originally aired on the July 25th edition of WRFI Community Radio News.

Local peace activist Mary Anne Grady Flores Sentencing – July 11th, 2014

Local activist Mary Anne Grady Flores was sentenced to one year in jail for for violating an order of protection requiring her to stay away from Colonel Earl Evans, a man she never met until her trial this past January.

An Ithaca resident, Grady Flores was also ordered to pay $1,255 in court fines.

The 57-year-old woman and other activists have participated in protests outside Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse where drones targeting terrorists are remotely piloted into Afghanistan. Ordered by President Obama and key military officials, the drone strikes have also reportedly killed innocent victims with no connection to terrorism.

WRFI Producer Lori Sonken recorded the sentencing.

This piece originally aired on the July 11th edition of WRFI Community Radio News.

WRFI Community Radio News Daily Brief – 6/19/2014

Local

Local police begin gorge patrols | 870 AM 95.9FM News Talk WHCU

Ithaca Residents Protest Cluster Development – Ithaca Times : News

‘No Question It’s Gotten Worse’: A Look Inside Ithaca’s Heroin Epidemic – Ithaca Times : News

Ithaca Juneteenth Celebration: Fun and Entrepreneurship – Ithaca Times : News

Tompkins seeks comprehensive plan input | Ithaca Journal | ithacajournal.com

14850 Today – Hanshaw Road closing to westbound traffic beginning Monday for road reconstruction – 14850 – Ithaca News

Chronic intake of Western diet kills mice | Cornell Chronicle

Ithaca’s affordable housing crunch explained in graphsThe Ithaca Voice

Region/State

Bill to Require Insurance Companies Cover Substance Abuse Treatment – Time Warner Cable News

Assembly Calls for Moratorium Extension | WENY-TV NEWS

Albany Agenda: Heroin, Common Core & Medical Marijuana | WENY-TV NEWS

Public use plans proposed for new Adirondack lands | News from North Country Public Radio

NY senators propose steps against Lyme disease | News from North Country Public Radio

Schumer: Feds must pay more for bridge fixes | Ithaca Journal | ithacajournal.com

City & State – Carpe Diem? Seizing the Last Day (or so) of Session

Senator calls nearly 300 bridges in WNY substandard – City & Region – The Buffalo News

Lawmakers, Cuomo near deal on closing centers for disabled

Lawmakers approve measure making kindergarten mandatory – City & Region – The Buffalo News

Proposal to un-crowd county jails waits in the Assembly | News from North Country Public Radio

National

Redskins Run In to Trademark Trouble in Clash Over Name Change – Truthdig

Immigrant children tread treacherous political landscape – CNN.com

Hatewatch Headlines 6/19/14 | Hatewatch

Charter school companies in US face corruption charges – World Socialist Web Site

Top Stories – Nuclear Weapons are not Going Away…3,970 Still Deployed – AllGov – News

Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase – ABC News

Redskins stripped of trademarks – Jonathan Topaz and Lucy McCalmont – POLITICO.com

Jindal says he’s withdrawing Louisiana from Common Core standards – The Washington Post

International

Human Rights Watch Daily Brief, 19 June 2014 | Human Rights Watch

U.S. military leaders warn of difficulty of conducting airstrikes in Iraq – The Washington Post

NASA: May 2014 was the hottest May in recorded history.

Science

Improving academic performance with physical fitness

Sports linked to life gains in CU study | Ithaca Journal | ithacajournal.com

Local Activists Speak out about the Tompkins County Jail Expansion

Check out this full report on the prison situation in New York state from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/ImpactsofJailExpansion_NYS.pdf

“There has been dramatic growth in the number of people held in local jails in New York State in the last de- cade, with the total capacity of jails in upstate New York and Long Island increasing by 20 percent, to a to- tal of 19,984 beds in 2006. By the close of 2007, over 30 counties in New York State will have built some 6,000 new jail beds, 2,976 of which are currently either under construction or are in the planning stages. This construction has come at tremendous cost to the taxpayers of New York – an estimated $1 billion according to the New York State Association of Counties. In many counties, these projects have been the largest locally financed capital project in the history of the county. It has also occurred at the same time as the population of people held in state prisons has continued to fall.

The growth in the number of people held in jail has not been caused by an increase in crime, as index crime reports decreased by 30 percent in the last decade in upstate and suburban New York overall. It has also not been caused by an increase in the base population, which increased by just 2.6 percent over this same ten year time span.

One major factor in new jail construction has been the State Commission of Corrections, a state agency appointed by the govenor that has been directly responsible for the size and scale of new jail construction in New York State. Although providing no financial assistance to counties building new jails, the SCOC has mandated the size and timeline of their construction and dealt financial penalties to counties who have chosen to pursue alternatives to expansion instead or do not otherwise comply. County legislators across the state have voiced frustration with the Commission, claiming that these are unfunded mandates and that the agency is acting outside the scope of its regulatory authority. They maintain that the agency would better serve the counties by examining why jail populations are increasing and act to address those factors instead. Some of these factors include: arrest policies that cause more people to spend time in jail for low-level offenses, a rising number of people being housed in jail who are mentally ill, system inefficiencies that make it difficult for people to move rapidly through the justice system, local jails being used to hold people detained by the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforce- ment and the U.S. Marshal Service, and a lack of coordination between county and state corrections of- ficials that leaves many people who have been sentenced to prison sitting in local jails.

The impacts of this jail expansion on New York State are significant. Economically, the cost of construction is estimated at $1 billion, causing property taxes to increase and cutting into county expenditures in
other areas. Socially, the burden of new jail construction is disproportionately experienced by low-income communities of color, who form a disproportionate percentage of people being held in local jails. This disproportionate representation is due to racial bias at every stage of the criminal justice system, yet it has long term consequences for individuals’ employment levels and economic success. Finally, new jail construction poses a large environmental risk to upstate and suburban New York, with the United States Environmental Protection Agency having identified correctional facilities as a large, but frequently over- looked, environmental issue.

Given that jail expansion has such a heavy impact on the communities and taxpayers of New York State, all alternatives to expansion should be examined before any new construction takes place. To that end, the report endorses the following recommendations:

  • The State Commission of Corrections should stop the practice of mandating the construction and size of correctional facilities in New York State;
  • In place of mandates regarding new construction, New York State counties should begin “evidence-based planning” regarding needs for local jail capacity, based on a real assessment of why increasing numbers of people are in jail and issuing recommendations accordingly; and
  • New York State should institute contract controls to monitor how contracts are distributed and their impacts on taxpayers.The issue of jail expansion in New York has to date been underexamined, yet the impacts are significant throughout the state. Failing to identify and address these impacts would be a considerable, and extremely costly, mistake. “

Remi Kanazi – November 11, 2013

Listen to our interview with the Palestinian-American Poet and Author Remi Kanazi.