Law and Disorder Radio – ACLU of Georgia to Release Report on Immigration Detention – HIV-Specific Criminal Laws – Lawyers You’ll Like: Attorney Daniel Gross, Executive Director of Brandworkers – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

Federal Appeals Court Revives Lawsuit Brought by Two Iraqi Detainees

Palestinian Prisoner Hunger Strike Update









ACLU of Georgia to Release Report on Immigration Detention in Georgia

A report released by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Georgia exposes the privatized corporate immigrant detention facilities in that state. The report contains interviews from more than 60 individuals detained inside four different detention centers.

Guest – Azadeh Shahshahani, the National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director with the Georgia ACLU.



HIV-Specific Criminal Laws

We talk today about HIV-specific criminal laws and sentence enhancement. HIV criminal prosecution occurs when an HIV-positive individual does not disclose their HIV status to a partner before engaging in sex. The person charged may face decades in prison, lifetime registration as a sex offender and stigmatization. While there have been hundreds of prosecutions for HIV crimes in the United States, disclosure and consent is a defense but is difficult to prove and actual transmission of HIV is unnecessary.

Sean Strub:

  • About 35 states and territories have HIV-specific statutes, that only apply to people with HIV, that mandate disclosure of their HIV status prior to engaging in intimate contact with another person, independent of whether there is any risk present, independent of whether there is any harm incurred and independent of any intent.
  • The statutes have created a viral underclass that is pretty concerning. Right now there’s an explosion of laws based on people’s viral status.
  • The vast majority of the prosecutions do not involve the transmission of the virus.
  • There are also a number of HIV prosecutions that fall within the phenomenon we call HIV criminalization that aren’t about sex but are heightened charges for other behaviors.
  • Willie Campbell in Texas is serving 35 years for spitting on a cop because the court found his saliva to be a deadly weapon even though saliva doesn’t transmit HIV.
  • We’ve been alerting people to the fact that this is horrific public health policy, that increasingly you hear, take the test, risk arrest.
  • The best defense (under the current laws) for not getting prosecuted for HIV criminalization is not getting tested. Not knowing your status in the first place.
  • A man in Iowa just had a 50-year sentence upheld. These forms are driving the criminalization specifically as well as contributing to the stigmatization that makes people reluctant to get tested, reluctant to disclose.
  • These states that have HIV-specific statutes, they don’t have specific statutes for hepatitis or HPV. Four thousand women died last year from cervical cancer; almost every single one of them got it from human papillomavirus, HPV.
  • But we’re not out prosecuting people for HPV.
  • The answer is obvious: those sexually transmitted diseases aren’t associated with an outlaw sexuality. They’re not associated with people of color or gay men, with anal intercourse or people who use drugs.
  • Poz Magazine The SERO Project

Guest – Sean Strub, writer and activist who founded several magazines and websites, including POZ Magazine and POZ en Español, (for people impacted by HIV/AIDS), and Mamm (for women impacted by breast cancer). He is the founder of the SERO Project to help oppose the use of HIV-specific criminal laws.


Lawyers You’ll Like: Attorney Daniel Gross – Focus on the Food Chain Victory

Victories continue for Brandworkers, a non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees. Last fall we talked with Attorney Daniel Gross, Executive Director of Brandworkers, about the $470,000 settlement reached in a labor dispute with Pur Pac, a food distribution warehouse giant that illegally withheld wages from their workers. Today we discuss the latest victory in another settlement recovering nearly $600,000 in unpaid wages and compensation for workers at Flaum Appetizing. According to Daniel Gross, the Latino workers there were subjected to constant verbal harassment and forced to work at unsafe speeds.

Attorney Daniel Gross:

  • New York City economy has a burgeoning food processing and distributing sector. There are 35,000 workers; the vast majority are immigrant workers of color.
  • The vast majority depend on this sector for their livelihood.
  • The business model is simple. It’s exploiting recent immigrant workers of color through wage theft, through reckless disregard of health and safety and egregious discrimination of workers from Latin America, China, Haiti, Nepal.
  • Flaum Appetizing, regrettably but not surprisingly, really fit the mold. Flaum is a hummus manufacturer and distributor of kosher food products based in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
  • It starts the sector of the “food corridor” of food manufacturing and sweatshops.
  • Flaum Appetizing engaged in a tremendous amount of wage theft, a failure to pay overtime and in some cases, minimum wage.
  • Millions and millions of dollars of real wealth had been illegally withheld from workers.
  • There was offensive and insulting discrimination against Latino workers including Latino workers being called cockroaches and aliens.
  • The Flaum Appetizing workers approached me in 2010 with some hope and energy because they had seen the victories of our members at Wild Edibles Seafood had won.
  • The workers through incredibly persistent grassroots energy persuaded over 120 of the most prominent grocery stores in New York to stop selling Flaum products, including their Sonny and Joe’s Hummus, until workers’ rights were respected.
  • Our commitment with Brandworkers is fight to win. When we engage with an adversary, they should know if we have to, we will chase them to the gates of hell and back.
  • Almost all of our members in the Flaum campaign are raising young children.
  • There were two components we were able to bring home in this really hard-fought struggle.
  • One was our members were proud to report they recovered $577,000 in wealth that will help them transform their families’ lives both here and in their home countries, Mexico and El Salvador.
  • They also won a binding code of conduct which will force Flaum Appetizing into full compliance with workplace protections.
  • Our model is the labor movement of the late 19th century, unions like Local 8, the great IWW on the Philadelphia docks that used worker direct action and everyday solidarity.
  • Unions and workers’ centers and community groups are going to converge at the New School on June 6, 2012. Food Justice Movement Food Chain Workers
  • I owe my politicization to a company that’s now bankrupt. That was Borders Books and Music.
  • I come out of working in retail and fast food and Starbucks as you mentioned.
  • My grandfather was a member of the Teamsters union. He drove a liquor truck out of the Bronx. So I knew in the back of my mind he was able to live the last years of his life as amazing grandfather with dignity because he had his union pension.
  • Fighting Starbucks honed my skills because they are such a sophisticated and determined adversary.
  • The evil brilliance of the Starbucks union busting operation.
  • I had the unique pleasure, which I will remember all my life, to be represented by Leonard Weinglass.

Guest – Attorney Daniel Gross, Executive Director of Brandworkers, a non-profit organization protecting and advancing the rights of retail and food employees.