The Court system Guilty or Innocent it doesn’t matter in the USA!

As is has been shown recently in Georgia and many other various locations across the country our judicial system is fraught with dangerous perils and suffering quite often caused by unscrupulous prosecutors hell bent on furthering their careers. In a case in Durham North Carolina a state prosecutor was disbarred and charges were brought against him for prosecutorial misconduct, however this is rarely the case.

Prosecutors only further their political careers by their conviction rates and quite often they become our future politicians. For them the defendants are an afterthought, that they were placed into the system whether innocent or guilty is of little consequence to them even if that defendant was sentenced to death, they won the glorious conviction.

Plea bargains have become common place in this country and if all the defendants who were facing charges suddenly decided today that they wanted a jury trial as it is their right, the judicial system would grind to a halt and chaos would reign across the land and the attached courtrooms.

Police departments would actually have to gather evidence and build their cases and they would no longer be able to coerce confessions from frightened and overwhelmed defendants. Prosecutors would actually have to provide facts and real charges at Discovery hearings and they would never threaten the defendant with a cornucopia of charges trumped up previously to get them to accept a plea bargain to a lesser offense. They would in fact be forced to properly charge defendants and those defendants would have to have access to all the evidence and a competent and not overloaded Public Defender.

However even with this type of reform there would still be perilous pitfalls awaiting the defendant as Legislators across the US have continually approved twice the working budget for prosecutors than they provide the overburdened Public Defenders Office. This coupled with the fact that usually PDs as they are called, are often inexperienced recent law school graduates looking to further their careers as well, if they are successful they move on for more salary and better working conditions. What is then left for the defendant without the monetary means to hire proper legal counsel?

But if these unlucky defendants did stop the mayhem by calling for a trial rather than taking the tempting plea bargain so that they might return to this society that spurns their existence this might be a good wake-up call for our government officials. As they might then take the time to realize that the lost war on drugs is gobbling up to many tax dollars and destroying to many American lives as well. They could then take that time to reconsider the fallacy of minimum mandatory sentences as judges across the nation already have and consider less costly alternatives to our $60 billion dollar a year prison system.

On Minimum Mandatory Sentencing laws

Eric E. Sterling was counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, 1979-1989 and participated in the passage of the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Currently, he is President of The Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Washington, DC and Co-Chair of the American Bar Association, Committee on Criminal Justice, Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities.

There [have] been … literally thousands of instances of injustice where minor co-conspirators in cases … have been given the sentences that Congress intended for the highest kingpins. … None of us envisioned that the Justice Department would so profoundly misuse this statute. Looking back now, how do you measure the success of your work enacting mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses?

The work that I was involved in in enacting these mandatory sentences is probably the greatest tragedy of my professional life. And I suspect that the chairman of the subcommittee feels that way too. There [have] been … literally thousands of instances of injustice where minor co-conspirators in cases, the lowest level participants, have been given the sentences that Congress intended for the highest kingpins. Families are wrecked, children are orphaned, the taxpayers are paying a fortune for excessive punishment. You know there’s nothing conservative about punishing people too much. That’s an excess. And it’s just a waste. It is such a waste of human life. It’s awful.

The comments above from a story on Frontline shows the fallacy of the War on Drugs

In this country the United States Constitution no longer yields the power it once did, Justice for All, are mere words written in parchment and our founding fathers blood.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only about one case in 20 goes to trial as the rest are settled by the ominous plea bargain system.

In the recent case of Genarlow Wilson from the state of Georgia, he turned down a plea bargain from the local prosecutor after he had been charged with aggravated child molestation for having consensual sex with a 15yr old girl when he was 17yrs of age at the time.

Upon conviction of such a charge he would be ordered to serve out a 10-year mandatory prison sentence and a sex offender designation. Now 21 and recently released from prison after the United States Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 that the young man’s sentence “constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” he is glad he didn’t accept the aforementioned plea bargain.

Wilson has stated, “It might’ve been lesser time, but then again, I would have nowhere to go because I would have no home, I wouldn’t be able to stay with my mother because I have a little sister. You know, when you’re a sex offender you can’t be around kids. Basically, I can’t even have kids myself, you know, so what is the point of life?” he asked.

In Mr. Wilson’s case it was of little consequence to the local prosecutor that the state Legislature last year amended the law under which Wilson was convicted. The law was rewritten making such sexual encounters misdemeanors; however this was not to be enacted retroactively. So for this young man without the recent Supreme Court decision who heard his case which was brought by carrying compassionate individuals who do believe in justice for all, his life would have been one filled with much more suffering.

Today across the United States many will succumb to the carrot held out by the local prosecutor threatening more serious charges than the case would merit were it to go to a jury trial. The poor uneducated and frightened defendant fearing spending most of their life in prison will reach out and take the carrot rather than take on the daunting judicial system, guilt or innocence will not play into this process for either side.

The ever frightening prosecutor will feign compassion and offer to drop the most serious charges if the defendant will only plea guilty to a misdemeanor charge and if they take the bait the trap is sprung. The likely hood is now that the unfortunate defendant has entered the system and he will never leave it again. A minor infraction while on probation or a minor mistake later in life will bring him back and the second time around even for a minor offense will mean that he or she will spend time in prison; a vicious cycle will have already begun guilt or innocence aside.

There is also a financial incentive for the prosecutor’s office as asset forfeiture laws are now used more for budgetary reasons than criminal enforcement. In a reported 1990 Justice Department memo it was stressed to US attorneys, “Every effort must be made to increase forfeiture income during the remaining months of 1990”. It has also been reported that in 80% of asset confiscations no charges are brought against the confiscated owners and with that the judicial systems coffers grow.

The owners of real estate have lost their properties because a tenant or customer brought a prostitute or drugs onto their property without their knowledge be it a hotel or a house it’s all fair game for the judicial machine. Many pedestrians who have had the unfortunate circumstance of unwittingly walking through an area where drugs are sold have had their money confiscated, because any amount over $100 dollars constitutes “probable cause” for the local police department to infer their intent to sell or buy drugs.

The original intent of a trial in this country was noteworthy and honorable; however this is no longer the case in this country. A trial was designed to weigh the evidence of guilt or innocence; this was at a time when a prosecutor’s career was not dependant upon their conviction rate, quite often in this day and age at any cost.

However this original intent has been hijacked by overflowing court dockets, budget constraints and pressure to reduce costs, coupled with the ever-present furtherance of ones prosecutorial career.

No matter what the cost find them guilty of something and send them to prison or destroy them financially discredit them; show them the hell the judicial system can put them through is the call to arms. Upon the American lexicon have come the battle cries, “Saving our children from drugs”, without regard to guilt or innocence as the ends justifies the means.

In a recent report Robert Merkle a U.S. Attorney from 1982 to 1988 stated, Prosecution is “a result-oriented process today, fairness be damned.” Merkle further commented, “and that causes them to prosecute absolutely bogus cases to get those statistics.” In the same vein of moral injustice run amok Arnold I. Burns a Deputy U.S. Attorney General wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “it is time for a sober reassessment of the power we have concentrated in the hands of prosecutors and the alarming absence of effective checks and balances to prevent the widespread abuse of that power”.

Prosecutors with growing regularity are withholding exculpatory evidence and members of the jury are never made aware of the fact that witness giving incriminating testimony during a jury trial have rehearsed their testimony with the prosecutor for a reduced sentence or just plain monetary gain.

In a story by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1988 they summed their investigative reports of prosecutorial misconduct: “Hundreds of times during the past 10 years, federal agents and prosecutors have pursued justice by breaking the law. They lied, hid evidence, distorted facts, engaged in cover-ups, paid for perjury and set up innocent people in a relentless effort to win indictments, guilty pleas and convictions. Rarely were these federal officials punished for their misconduct. . . . Perjury has become the coin of the realm in federal law enforcement. People’s homes are invaded because of lies. People are arrested because of lies. People go to prison because of lies. People stay in prison because of lies, and bad guys go free because of lies.”

Also new to the judicial American lexicon is the term, “jumping on the bus”, in this slimy scenario informants sell information on cases to prison inmates and sometimes federal agents and prosecutors feed them the information directly. Once the inmate has placed the planted so-called evidence into their minds they then come forward hoping for a reduced sentence.

As they have taken all of the facts of the unsolved crime into their now present memory they now can present themselves as a convincing witness. Even if the prosecutor has to give them some coaching to further the now new witnesses memory so that an innocent unsuspecting pigeon can be apprehended and offered another plea bargain it doesn’t really matter as this will only further their prosecutorial career.

As the ends justify the means goes, prosecutors will use this tactic against someone they believe has committed a crime but they don’t have any evidence to proceed, so they make one up with an inmate, “jumping on the bus”, to help that along. Or maybe an unsolved case will need to be closed, so they feed the information to an inmate and there you have it an innocent victim spends their life in jail. In today’s jurisprudence this procedure has had the telling effect of filling our prisons with people convicted by those with questionable pasts. All the inmate had to do was remember facts filtered to them via other inmates or federal authorities from classified or never released information, so they might gain their release or receive hard cold cash for their lies.

Another methodology currently being used today is the professional informant and there are currently hundreds of thousands of them plying their trade across this nation. For the professional informant there is real money to be made and in their minds and with their limited education this is as good as it gets.

In the current system of justice in America Conspiracy is the operative word as no drugs need be present to send someone away for life on one of these charges. The professional informants fearful of going after a real drug dealer who might actually have them killed goes after a pigeon instead.

The scenario goes like this an informant pretends to be from a law enforcement agency and they knowingly find their pigeon to continue receiving their so-called salary as a professional informant. They will approach their latest prey with a story that goes something like this, “We want you to help catch a dope dealer. Now, in order to do that, you have to tell the dope dealers this story about all the stuff you’ve done.” Now the pigeon believes from this persuasive story that the people he’s talking to are dope dealers, but they are actually the DEA agents being conned by the informant. And so the unsuspecting pigeon is telling the DEA agents what he’s been told by the informant to say, all about all this stuff that he did. So now the pigeon gets prosecuted as a dope smuggling pilot, the informant gets his reward, DEA gets the case, who cares about the unsuspecting pigeon?

The once innocent now convicted by false evidence will receive a 15, 30 or life imprisonment sentence, the DEA agent will score points and move up the ladder this coupled with the fact that the DEA agent did not have to go after a real drug kingpin in foreign land which would have been really dangerous for him to boot. The professional informant will move onto another victim as the system will devour this latest kill for the day and in the name of justice.

There was a motorcycle enthusiast who had a friend who kept on coming over to his home and telling him how he wanted to kill someone, finally the homeowner grew tired of this constant talk of killing and told him, “do whatever you have to do”. Never suspecting that the man would actually perform the act and he never did the unsuspecting homeowner was sent to prison for conspiracy to commit murder and the beat goes on.

Our judicial system is broken and probably beyond repair as our Congressman sit in their plush offices on capital hill in Washington pondering their next piece of legislation. If the citizens of the United States fail to wake from their slumber and address these any many other miscarriages of justice they will only have themselves to blame.

Today you might not have a care in the world and have a good job with a loving family. But what about tomorrow if you are caught up in this world of lies and deceit or you say the wrong words to the wrong person.

Then your life will most likely come crashing down upon you and you will lose your family your job and your life. Maybe then you will begin to start caring about this horrible disease present in American society, or hopefully you will start caring today before its too late.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

 

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