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Cheney, Gonzales' Prison Corp. A Violation of RICO?

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Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act

Recently, a south Texas county indicted Cheney and Gonzales for holding stock in a private prison corporation which allegedly abused prison inmates. Whether that indictment is successful in securing a prosecution of the Vice-President and former Attorney General of the US, the disclosure of such ownership may have revealed violations of ethics and interstate racketeering laws.

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According to the Ninth Circuit, 'When a government agent uses the governmental powers with which he has been trusted to gain personal rewards,... he is engaging in extortion under color of official right.'

Under the Canyon County ruling, RICO, Section 1964C, F.3d at 977, "government does not possess a property interest in the law enforcement... services that it provides to the public." One might inquire, therefore, whether such a property interest exercised by Cheney and Gonzales is not a violation of ethics and RICO laws.

When the State of California Prison Guards Union lobbied against decriminalization of medical marijuana, the union was expressing its right to protect their jobs, since so many inmates were sentenced for non-violent possession. They have a property interest in maintaining or increasing the number of prisoners under their aegis. Certainly, if the guards had their way there would be more prisoners and more guard jobs.

This in itself may be a violation of the law, but certainly the owners of a private, for-profit prison corporation have a vested interest in the numbers of prisoners for which the government is paying them-- literally, a property interest in law enforcement, since the profits of the corporation derive directly from the numbers of prisoners and the duration of their sentences.

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When the prison owner is an agent of law enforcement such as the Attorney General of the US, such ownership takes on the nature of a private fiefdom. When the government agent is the Vice-President of the US, he can be seen to have an effect on the very laws under which those prisoners are judged and sentenced as a voting member of the US Senate.

Thus his stake in the process becomes a matter of personal rewards and, according to the Ninth Circuit, may violate the RICO Act. Further, victims of such violations can sue in Federal Court for triple damages, leaving the people of the US liable for all the profits Cheney has reaped, along with civil damages resulting from violations of inmates' civil rights.

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