It is not guilt or innocence, or even justice itself that drives our prosecutorial criminal justice system, it is the political advantage gained by winning.
Not everyone is going to be a movie star, a brain surgeon, or a Senator. Few of us are going to be wealthy or much of anything at all. Most of us are just going to live out our trivial lives as best we can. Pondering our meaningless existence can cause severe mental anguish in many, so most of us lie and cheat our way out of it in one way or another. Some of us pretend we are just getting started, and the sky’s the limit; that is called The American Dream myth. Some of us pretend there is some omnipresent power watching over us who will improve our lot in the afterlife; that’s called the religion myth. Many others have trouble living either myth and choose to sometimes escape through the blur of drugs or alcohol. We all seem to lean on one crutch or another. It’s the reality of human existence for the majority of us – whether it be myths or escape, we do what we have to do to survive. And for those who do choose escape over myth, jail is most certainly not the answer.
Lock ‘em Up!
Republican sponsored Truth in Sentencing laws require inmates to serve 85% of their time, doubling the population of prisoners over 50 every three years, while prisoners over 50 cost the most to incarcerate and have the lowest recidivism rate.
Incarceration rates per 100,000
· Netherlands 49
· Ireland 62
· Finland 65
· Denmark 66
· Sweden 69
· Belgium 71
· Germany 80
· Italy 80
· France 84
· Switzerland 85
· Austria 88
· Spain 90
· Australia 91
· England 93
· Canada 116
· USA 519
So why do we have five to ten times the incarceration rate as the rest of the civilized world? Well, let’s look at how we differ from all those other horrible places:
· We are the most Christian.
· We are the least Agnostic.
· We are the most conservative.
· We are the least socialist.
· We execute the most people.
· We have the least gun controls.
· We pay the least taxes.
· We have the harshest drug laws.
· We have the longest sentences.
· We are the most racist.
· And we don’t give a crap.
Conservatives would have us believe that the blame for having the highest crime rate in the world is because of welfare, gun controls, short prison sentences, too few executions, not enough jails, not smacking our children around hard or often enough and of course, not having enough Jesus Christ in our diet.
Well excuse me! All those awful other countries who suffer far less crime have more welfare, more gun controls, shorter sentencing, no executions, less jails, do not hit their children as much as we and have far less Jesus shoved down their throats. All these conservative arguments are straw men bypassing the underlying truth of their core ideology. That it is their selfish callous disregard of both their conservative politics and personalities that is the central problem in our moral decay.
The amount of people we are sending to jail is a reflection upon the failure of our society. That failure is not about lack of prayers, naughty songs or high taxes; it’s about the growing disparity of wealth, job insecurity, loss of benefits, more guns and the central conservative value that “I am the only one that matters”.
By admitting to the need of drug testing, we also admit that drugs do not affect the quality of one’s work. If someone is unproductive and drooling on the job, get rid of them, don’t suffer our society the indignity of exposing our genitals to strangers. And if drug use does not affect the work, it is no business of employers.
Stuck in a boring dead end job?
Want a career you can be proud of!
Want to meet new people in pleasant surroundings?
Have you no concept at all of the 4th Amendment?
Are you an out of work conservative Republican whose only skill is listening to Rush Limbaugh?
Do you enjoy looking at other people’s genitals?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions you are ready to join the thousands of Americans who have made something of themselves by becoming:
Thousands of companies large and small, including every facet of local, state and federal government need people like you to watch other people pee! Not only do you get the satisfaction of watching strangers drop their pants or lift their skirts to fill a jar, but you get to walk around all day in rubber gloves with steaming beakers of phis!
The Vast Right-wing Yuck
“We believe the global war on drugs is now causing more harm than drug abuse itself.” Statement signed and published in the New York Times by hundreds of prominent credible people from around the world.
I have come away from the decade long Right-wing Jihad to bring down the Clintons with one question I cannot seem to find either adequate precedent or a satisfactory answer for the Whitewater Scandal: Why in the Hell did we allow the government to investigate what a President and First Lady may have done 15 years before they gained the White House?
That is the issue which should try our souls. How could we have stood by and allowed political prosecutorial power to get so out of control?
And you know, as bad as that is, it doesn’t hold a candle to our most serious legal problems which almost all of which can be blamed on this madly driven War on Drugs. Destruction of the 4th, 5th and 8th Amendments. The old whine of law and order (fascism), mandatory sentencing (totalitarianism), forfeiture of property on accusation (denial of due process), executions (barbarianism) and the thousands of instances of felony perjury by law enforcement in our courtrooms every day.
The 4th Amendment
I think that anyone who wants to shove stuff up their butt should be able to keep whatever it is they stick up there.
Watching all those COPS shows on TV got me thinking that if we inserted just one word into the 4th Amendment, and accepted the rest of that Amendment as it was written and intended, perhaps we could cut the non-violent prison population by at least half.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, vehicles, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Crime & Punishment – American Style
Inmates who get a college degree while in prison have a recidivism rate of 15% compared to the average 60%. Republicans consistently do all they can to eliminate college courses in prisons.
Conservatives are always screeching that the justice system is a total failure, that criminals are getting off on technicalities or just a slap on the wrist, and that the punishment should fit the crime. Okay then.
Oliver North planned and funded – with malice of forethought – to murder thousands of innocent people in Nicaragua, which he and the Reagan Administration succeeded in quite well. He also lied to Congress under oath about what he was doing, used taxpayers money for his own personal ends and took it upon himself to usurp the democratic process and form foreign policy on his own.
What punishment did he get? A $100,000 fine which conservative groups were falling over each other to pay, and 200 hours of community service. Not only did he nor anyone else ever pay one penny of that fine or spend one minute in community service, but he later got off on a technicality. The popularity of his criminal acts also gained him the support of conservative businessmen to start his own business ventures making him a multimillionaire commanding five figure payments for a speech, giving him his own syndicated radio show and ensuring him a run for the Senate. He even had an “Action hero” doll named after him! What sensible punishment for his crimes hey?
But you see, Ollie benefited grandly from his crimes because in one hand he waved the flag and in the other he thumped the Bible. Rather than the felonious usurper of the constitution, denier of the democratic process, perjurer and peasant killer he actually is, in this nitwit nation of ours, he became a multimillionaire and national hero.
But if as they say, punishment should fit the crime, Leroy Jefferson who got caught selling a gram of crack cocaine should be appointed Attorney General while Ollie should be cuffed to a pole and whacked with a cane for every Central American death he is responsible for, and given the maximum sentence for illegally selling weapons to an enemy of the United States.
Pardon me, that’s right, Leroy wasn’t white or was he waving a flag, and he left his Bible at home that day. Leroy will get a ten year mandatory sentence in federal prison with his life and family in ruin forever while Ollie becomes rich and famous. Traditional American values at work.
H.R 666 [at least the bill number fits]
Bill McCullum (R-FL) who has almost single handedly destroyed the Fourth Amendment regarding search and seizure is at it again. He is sponsoring a half a billion dollars in federal kickbacks to cities and states whose prosecutors try 15 year olds as adults, i.e., Republicans will pay you to execute 15 year olds!
The Exclusionary Rule Reform Act blows a hole as big as Rush Limbaugh’s butt right through the 4th Amendment. It legislates an earlier Supreme Court ruling which allows federal prosecutors and police agencies to use evidence obtained in good faith searches and seizures as evidence in court. The words good faith [of the police] now replace what was once called probable cause.
The debate on the floor was highlighted by an amendment to exempt the ATF and the IRS. Sadly, it was a Democrat, foaming at the mouth barrelhead Harold Volkmer (D-MO) reading NRA propaganda sheets, who managed to push it through (Harold was subsequently tossed out of Congress on his Uzi ass in 1996). The gist of that amendment was that the Feds can come storming into your home, search it and then use the evidence unless you are an illegally armed religious cult or racist group who refuse to pay taxes. Believe it or not, it passed.
Another interesting Amendment was submitted by the Democratic side of the aisle which the Republicans immediately and angrily blocked: The full text of the 4th Amendment.
The H.R.666 bill itself is thus far the best signpost to the real intent of the Republican Party, the key in understanding their hypocritical screams of getting the government out of our lives while they come crashing through our doors. Republicans only want to get the government out of their wallets, nothing more.
“Indeed, it seems to me that the more Christian a country is, the less likely it is to regard the death penalty as immoral. Abolition of it has taken its firmest hold in post-Christian Europe and has least support in the church-going United States. I attribute that to the fact that for the believing Christian, death is no big deal.”– Antonin “Benito” Scalia speaking out for the delight Christians take in nailing wrong-doers to trees. Who also seems to be unable to realize his quote is far more applicable to Islam than Christianity.
Second only to Political Correctness as the cultural boogyman defining all that is liberal as horrible and evil, comes that rabid conservative hatred of lawyers, i.e., those who know the law best. Considering conservative’s constant screaming about the importance of the rule of law. All our judges and prosecutors are lawyers, most of whom are conservative and doing what conservatives want most, sending Negroes to jail and executing as many as possible. And all the Right-wing bastards on the Supreme Court are lawyers beloved by conservatives. It’s all very confusing.
When pinned down to who exactly they mean by lawyers, they usually limit it to trial lawyers. Still a pretty big ocean of applicants, including Rudy Giuliani, Ken Starr, and Antonin Scalia along with about 90% of the rest. It’s all very confusing. Pinning them down further we find there are only four groups of trial lawyers they hate so much their hair bleeds:
1) First and foremost black Lawyers, Johnnie Cochran! Wow do they hate him. And of course black civil rights lawyers, and white ones too.
2) Lawyers who represent individual or groups of Americans in civil cases to win monetary rewards from either government or corporate fraud and chicanery.
3) Public defenders. Those lawyers who do pro bono work to try and give the poor a chance in our money drive justice system and who do appeal work for those on death row.
4) Those lawyers who have the word “Clinton” in their name.
So it really isn’t all that confusing, its just the same Beast that drives them in all things.
Newt Gingrich (Egomaniac – GA), Dan Burton (Airhead – IN) and Bob Barton (Boob – TX) are the only three members of congress who force their staffs to be drug tested. Republicans are just so concerned about individual liberty hey?
One of the primary roads toward a police state is giving the government the authority to invade the privacy of anyone they wish, for whatever reason they wish, without paying any price. In our system the safeguard against this is called the Exclusionary Rule inherent to the 4th Amendment. That if police conduct themselves illegally, whatever information or evidence they find cannot be used, and both juries and judges are required to ignore it. The Republicans, with Bill McCullum (R-Fascist) leading the pack, have virtually destroyed not only that concept, but the 4th Amendment as well.
Remember conservative Judge Bork’s defining issue? “There is no right to privacy inherent in the constitution.” The reason the Religious Right pushes that crap is twofold. First they wish to open our bedrooms to police surveillance to keep sodomy laws on the books so they can openly discriminate and throw gays in jail. And secondly, by removing any privacy issue between women and their doctors they can overturn Roe vs. Wade. Though the War On Drugs has played the strongest hand in usurping our constitutional rights, it is these two matters regarding sex that drives the Religious Right. The Exclusionary Rule is the basis of keeping people free, and no matter their blather about liberty and personal freedom, the Republican Party gives not a hoot about anyone’s liberty or freedom other than regards to their own wallets and weaponry.
History of the War on Drugs
I came of age in the 60’s. In both the military and in college I saw drug use run rampant. Of the hundreds of people I have known who used drugs often, not one ever went to the hospital, a mental ward, into a dry-out program or died. But at least a score of them ended up in such places because of alcohol. And my experience is not that unusual. It’s that hypocrisy that has lost the War on Drugs.
I first want to make sure I am clear on this often muddied issue. The War on Drugs is the single largest deterrent to individual freedom in this country. It is NOT the Brady Bill, not the Assault Rifle Ban, and not mistakes or stupid actions by federal agents going after violent Right-wing Christians dealing in the sale and purchase of illegal guns.
The DEA, Customs, state & local police fighting our draconian War on Drugs have destroyed more lives and more families than the drugs themselves. I am also for making it legal for individuals to grow marijuana (the most benign of all illegal drugs) for their own use. I think the answer to the rising prison population (now projected to double every six years), is an across the board reinstatement of our 4th Amendment rights. If people decide to use and move drugs in an intelligent manner they won’t have a problem other than what they bring into their lives themselves. Only those out there screwing it up or taking it to extremes will end up having the State ruin their lives for them.
The legalization of marijuana would have little impact upon society, what little rise in use would be negligible, but to take the crime out, which is the entire purpose, legalization of cocaine, methaphetamines and heroin would have to be the centerpiece of the issue; the immediate low cost ability to purchase all drugs anonymously at convenient locations. Unlike other drugs which most people find unpleasant or are afraid to take, cocaine and crystal meth are highly enjoyable experiences. If legalized it would increase usage to such an extent it would be near impossible to find a place to park down at the Quickie Mart to buy a paper.
I find the full legalization of drugs an absurd idea. First and foremost is because it will never happen so why waste bandwidth on the discussion. And lastly, the actual implementation of it is more absurd than the idea itself. I much enjoy watching Charlie Rangel (D-Harlem) argue against legalization. He has the right approach. Okay, he says, explain the specifics, who, what, where, when and how much? Let me take that approach:
· Instead of Wonderbread trucks on the streets stopping and going to the Quickie Marts will it be Wondercrack trucks?
· Will there be ACID R US stores?
· Will ROBITUSSIN hire thousands of Quaalude salesmen?
· Will users be able to light up their pipes and take out their spoons right there in the Quickie Marts?
· We know Coca Cola was initially a success because it contained cocaine, will we now have beer with cocaine brewed into it?
· Will cars have little horizontal mirrors built into the dashboards like coffee mug holders?
· How many cases of cocaine can one buy at a time?
· Will you be able to get a deduction on a two line business lunch?
· Will Crackwiser replace Bud as the sponsor of the NFL?
· Will Daryl Stawberry be able to snort a few lines off second base?
· Will the NBA allow the players to pop inject speedballs on the bench?
· Will Bob Costas give public service announcements that five lines is enough?
· Will the kids go to the fridge and take their parents cocaine when they’re not home and level it off with crushed peppermint Pez?
· Who is going to clean up the billions of quartered McDonald straws littering the streets?
· Will nose doctors go public so I can buy stock?
· How about a string of Libertarian convenience stores? Snort & Loads – one stop shopping – guns, ammo, crack and no sales tax!
In the past fifty years, literally tens of millions of young people have been harassed, arrested, jailed and have had their lives ruined because of harsh marijuana laws. This has been the prime driving force of how two generations have lost respect for the police. Millions have witnessed police both at the scene and under oath lie about the probable cause of the initial arrest. Millions more have witnessed perjury from law enforcement in traffic and misdemeanor courts. Decriminalization and rehabilitation are the answers to our drug problems, not legalization or more jails.
Where did this mandatory crack sentencing come from? Introduced in 1988 by Senator Jesse Helms.
Our Federal prison system now has three times as many prisoners as it did in 1980. 50% of them first time drug offenders and virtually all of that increase drug related. These first time, first offense, first mistake, offenders are predominantly Black who are in for the possession of a few grams of crack cocaine. These are not big time dealers or kingpins, but mostly those who supplement their income or cope with the young Black male unemployment rates (20% to 30%) by selling drugs.
Five federal judges were interviewed on ABC’s 20/20. Three of the five were conservative Reagan appointees, the remaining appointed by Carter. Filling our much needed prison space with non-violent offenders for five to ten years, for selling minimal amounts of this smokable form of cocaine was so absurd to one of those Reagan judges, that he resigned. The other four judges, whether Reagan’s or Carter’s, have also rebelled by refusing to accept any more drug cases at all. As each one of them said, the laws may not have been meant to be racist, but there is no getting around the fact they have turned out that way.
Watching those judges got me wondering why there was no opposition to the thrust of the piece. After all, how could anyone rationalize a five year mandatory sentence without parole to mostly poor Blacks for a few grams of crack cocaine, while richer Whites could possess a hundred times as much cocaine in powder form to get the same punishment. But at the end of the piece they did find a pompous dweeb to speak the conservative line. Someone promoting how wonderful mandatory sentencing was and that if the judges didn’t like it they could take a hike. Phil “Yertle the Turtle” Gramm, US Senator from Texas.
The Crime Bill which passed not long ago – which many States have adopted – makes matters even worse. Mandatory life without parole for three strikes, more life sentences, no parole, no probation and a lot more crimes stipulating the death penalty at the Federal level.
Even More BJ’s in the News!
Street crime costs us $11 billion a year. White collar crime costs us $200 billion a year.
The Supreme Court recently stated that the government has the power to confiscate any property used in a crime, not only before anyone is convicted of anything, but even if the property owner is not involved in the crime.
Tina Bennis was unaware that her husband had used her car to enjoy the oral favors of a prostitute. Police arrested her husband and confiscated the vehicle the heinous criminal act was performed therein. Tina, already a bit miffed at her husband for said dalliance, was victimized further by losing her car. She had done nothing wrong, was a victim and was not a party to the crime in any aspect.
The five justices adding insult to injury to Tina; Rehnquist, Thomas, O’Conner, Scalia, and Ginsburg (Ginsburg!) said: “A long and unbroken line of cases holds that an owner’s interest in property may be forfeited by reason of the use to which the property is put, even though the owner did not know that it was to be put to such use.” Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and Kennedy dissented: “The logic of the court’s anualysis would permit the states to exercise virtually unbridled power to confiscate vast amounts of property.”
This is yet another example of where the mentality of our War on Drugs has driven us. Over the years it has done nothing much to stem the use or availability of drugs, but it sure has hell just about destroyed the 4th Amendment. It has also tripled our prison population, ruined more individuals and families than the drugs themselves, created such fascist ideals as mandatory sentencing, three strikes you are out, relying on the good faith of the police in searches and the government right to take all one’s property for little reason. Even worse, it has managed to move all these terrible ideals into every area of criminal law, as it has with Tina Bennis.
Very Bad Law
“The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilization of any country.” Winston Churchill.
Though there are thousands upon thousands of similar examples, let us just examine this one which, like so many jumps headlong into all this zero tolerance crap. They passed a law in Michigan called the 650-LIFE law. It mandates a life sentence for possession of 650 grams of cocaine (a little over a pound with a purchase price of around $2000) of cocaine.
An 18 year old was set up by undercover cops who first bought a little marijuana from him, then a little cocaine, and after months of buying small amounts of drugs from him asked if he could get them a kilo of cocaine. The young man, being a dumb teenager, wanted to show himself off as a big man for these cool older guys, so he acted as middle man for them and was then arrested and prosecuted under the 650-LIFE law.
After deliberating for 50 minutes, a jury of older adults, people totally unlike him, found the teenager guilty of this, his first offense. The judge then sentenced this boy to life in prison without possibility of parole and added, “And you will die in prison.”
To be sure this is bad law, it is entrapment, it is unfair and seeks no justice, but the real horror is not that the police, the courts, the appeals courts, the Supreme Court, and the jury all are in agreement with the sentence, but the American public’s standing ovation. A young redeemable life and his family destroyed forever. Intelligent American public my ass
That Responsibility Crap
85% of those sentenced to live in prison under California’s three strikes and you’re out process are non-violent.
Pat Buchanan is not all that unusual regarding a recent rant from him advocating that drug dealers be denied lawyers, due process and bail because they poison our children and turn them into dope fiends. Which brings up a question. If Buchanan and his gang of xenophobes, who are forever screeching about children having to be accountable and responsible for their own actions (tried and punished as adults), then why are they not the ones accountable and responsible for taking the drugs?
70% of all people in prison are there not for any criminal activity, but for technical parole and probation violations.
I watched a Frontline documentary on the North Carolina Little Rascal sex abuse case not long ago. The case involved seven daycare workers who were accused of hundreds of counts of rape and sodomy with children aged two to five. There was no physical evidence, no proof of physical or sexual abuse of any of the children, no witnesses other than the children themselves, no logic to either the why or the how such persistent and deviant sex abuse could have happened in such an open environment, and most importantly, no child had made any accusations against anyone until after eight months of sexual therapists grilling them with anatomically correct dolls.
The documentary sided with the defendants telling the personal stories of their seven year ordeal; about their years in jail, their life sentences, their plea bargains, and eventually, them all being found innocent.
Watching those seven people deal with that example of collective behavior run amuck in the town of Edenton, North Carolina and suffering so many years in jail and shunning by the godawful people of that godawful place, one refrain I just could not help but scream at the television every two minutes concerning what all seven defendants didn’t seem to grasp. GET THE HELL OUT OF NORTH CAROLINA YOU BOOBS!
Children in Adult Prisons
A bill sponsored by the Republicans in Congress gave a $1.5 billion bonus to states that try 13 year olds as adults. Throw 13 year olds in state pens with all those cool older mentor guys, execute a few here and there and you get big cash dividends!
Columnist Anthony Lewis told the story of Rodney Hulin, a 16 year old tried and sentenced as an adult in Texas. Rodney went to court and admitted to a case of arson, which did $500 worth of damage. He was sentenced as an adult to an adult prison for eight years. Two weeks after arriving at the prison he wrote his father telling him he had been raped, his rectum torn and that his chances were not good as more than half of the 2200 inmates at the prison were HIV positive. He had asked to be put in a safe area, which the Warden refused to do, and was raped time and again. A few months after his first letter to his father, he wrote again asking that his father pray for him to get out alive. A month later he was found hanging in his cell. Lewis listed more instances:
A 15 year old “A” student girl in Ohio ran away but voluntarily came home the next morning. She went before a judge who threw her in jail with adults. She hung herself later that night.
A 15 year girl in California who violated curfew by being out after 10 pm was sentenced to adult jail by a judge, she hung herself in her cell a week later.
A 17 year old boy in Idaho was put in jail with adults for not paying $73 in traffic fines, he was tortured and murdered by inmates.
This crap is a political game to get the votes of our blood thirsty vital center, with both parties trying to out-do each other. And it stinks. I guess it’s one more of those swell Christian ideas. Isn’t it something? Our thirst for vengeance, revenge, whacking, smacking, paddling, canning, hitting, shooting, bombing, killing and capital punishment comes not from Hell as one would expect, but from those who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Our millions of mud dumb Christians who have not a clue regarding other religions, but can’t even understand their own.