Issue 2: Nov 5, 2015—Justice for All
America has a problem. We have more citizens in jail than any other country. Three citizens a day are shot by police, many unarmed African American and or poor and many are shot in the back. Many innocents are going to jail without adequate legal representation. Our inner-city schools are so bad that they bear the label “Pipeline to Prison”. The poor are easy marks for the police and prosecutors causing unjust imprisonment. The reputation of our police has been tarnished by unjustified use of force.
There are solutions for these problems and not only are there solutions, there are cities and states implementing these solutions at this very time. We have verified results showing that they work. We have solutions developed by foundations, universities and even the federal government. Many of these solutions have grants, manuals and even physical consulting help to develop these programs. But most of all, most if not all, pay for themselves.
Any program will face the cost factor. Not only is there a competition for tax dollars, most governments, local, city or federal, either already have a debt problem or a limitation of tax money and many times this is due to taxpayers revolt or party ideology. In addition, many solutions require money spent in advance and then the payback may take years if at all. On top of that, there may be party rejection of the solution.
In this series of articles, we will be dealing with problems with which most of America identify and agree with. The solutions many times will only require a change in laws or regulations; changes with no financial costs up front. I will be laying out these solutions so that the ones which take little if any costs will provide the largest savings. Then as we go into more complicated programs which require upfront costs, there will already be available savings to pay for those steps that must be taken; changes that will come with a slower rate of savings. In the end, we will a smaller jail population, a better work force, less crime and a better education process. More importantly, we will have a more equal system of Justice for All.
So, let us start with how one law can save us hundreds of millions (per state).
Table of Contents
DeCriminalization of Non-violent Minor Crimes
The Manhattan Bail Project
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Crisis Intervention for the Mental Ill and Drug Addiction
“Pipeline to Prison” Our Young Black Girls
“Pipeline to Prison” for Our African American Boys
Conclusions and Additional 'Resources and Readings'
DeCriminalization of Non-violent
I want to emphasis that we can make many changes without upfront costs and that these changes will yield millions of dollars. From the Vera Institute of Justice for the 40 states that remitted information, 39 billion was spent on incarceration. That figure not only leaves out 10 other states, but the addition costs to our society of the 600,000 prisoners released into society. According to the Wall Street Journal and I quote:
“For the more than 600,000 people who leave prison and re-enter society every year, finding employment can be a severe challenge. Prison time carries a social stigma, which makes finding any job, let alone a good job, all too difficult. The Labor Department doesn’t track the unemployment rate for people with prison records.
But a 2006 study by the Independent Committee on Reentry and Employment found that up to 60% if formerly incarcerated people are unemployed one year after release...”
So there is not only the actual cost of incarcerated but the cost to society of loss productivity to society as well as the associated social services that will linger for years to come. The actual costs of incarceration vary from state to state as well as from local jails to prisons. In the state of Missouri, the cost has been listed at $244.30 for a day and $89,170 for a year. That is near the middle of costs for all states and does not include the costs of policing and court costs. If we can reduce the number of people in prisons, we can save a millions of dollars.
As an example, Texas was on the verge of building another prison, but was able to close two prisons just by the decriminalization of some offenses of juveniles. We can take this a step farther by decriminalizing offenses of adults as well as the young. We can take some offenses completely off the table because they don't hurt anyone and we can reduce felonies to misdemeanors because they are non-violent. I don't think anyone should be arrested for jay walking (unless they are causing traffic problems or injury to someone), let alone to be shot in the back and killed.
Individual cities and states can decriminalize many laws but for the best results, we need Congress to step up and set standards that will apply across the country. What would take cities and states years to do, if they would all try, can be done with the will of Congress. In many cases, we are talking about the civil rights of individuals and especially of the poor and citizens of color, many of these laws are enforced in areas where they live. This makes an uneven application of Justice for All.
I have already mentioned jaywalking as a law to reduce or eliminate. If we decriminalized personal use amounts of drugs, our jails would rapidly reduce their population. Now I could have mentioned drugs by name, for example, marijuana, and many would have agreed with me. But I am leaving the term drugs as generic because we have a bigger problem with doctor prescribed drugs than with illegal drugs. In addition, many searches are made for just a trace of any drug in order to bring charges. These searches are almost entirely limited to the inner-city and people of color even though searches of white citizens yield more drugs. Leave the drug dealers to the police, but leave those with just a small amount of drugs alone. We will be more apt to have Justice for All.
Another offense that can result in jail time would be traffic tickets. With some cities using traffic offenses as a means to generate revenue, the abuse of traffic tickets along with pressure or quotas by city hall can result in jail time. At some areas near St Louis, Mo have been found to have an average of 3 unpaid traffic tickets for each resident. For the poor, this means that they will be unable to keep up on fines and eventually many of them end up in jail.
I also think of the staking out of decoys to catch prostitutes. If the city or state wants to criminalize prostitution, then go after the pimps and customers. Many, if not all, of the prostitutes become involved in the trade because of sexual abuse, a violent home life or the lack of a job as well as mental illness. They usually are poor without legal representation and will end up in the revolving door of jail. If the customer and johns are targeted, then the prostitution problem will be cleared up just as rapidly as targeting the poorer person of our society. The results will be less of a revolving door in jail for the prostitute.
Other felonies can be reduced to misdemeanors such as non-violent crimes and raising the limit on shop lifting before it becomes a felony offense. When our banking officials can bring our country to its financial knees without any criminal charges, but stealing a candy bar ends up with an arrest, one wonders where our Justice for All resides.
Changing our laws in the noted instance would immediately mean that thousands across our nation would not go to jail. In addition, those already charged could have their sentences reduced and in some cases they would be allowed to go free. (note: The Sentencing Project found that “• New York and New Jersey led the nation by reducing their prison populations by 26% between 1999 and 2012, while the nationwide state prison population increased by 10%. • California downsized its prison population by 23% between 2006 and 2012. During this period, the nationwide state prison population decreased by just 1%. • During their periods of decarceration, violent crime rates fell at a greater rate in these three states than they did nationwide “ ). We would immediately see our incarceration costs reduced and as in the case of Texas, we would be able to close many jails and prisons. Add in the cost of arresting and booking someone (Texas puts this at $1200.00) and soon we are saving lots of money. All this with no cost and lots of savings. Now we go to another action which again reduces jail time.
Texas is still having problems with their penal system, but they did make tremendous strides in their juvenile system and to give you an idea of the possible savings as posted by “The Texas Observer”:
In 2007, before Texas lawmakers began these reforms, 4,305 youths were locked up in state-run facilities. Today, less than 1,000 kids are locked up in state facilities.
The state also cut its spending on state-run juvenile lockups by $179 million, and closed eight of its lockups. Over the same period, researchers found, statewide juvenile arrests fell by one third.
Per capita spending at county probation departments increased from $4,337 to $7,304 from 2005 to 2012—counties, in other words, had more money to spend on each child in the local justice system.
In conclusion, decriminalization of laws through Congressional actions could reduce our unjust prison system and save hundreds of millions of money without investment and an almost immediate result.
The Manhattan Bail Project
The Manhattan Bail Project:
A half million of those sitting in jail are waiting for a court date or to be able to post bail. Most of these are there because of non-violent crimes and many are first time offenders. In 1960, in NYC, the Vera Institute of Justice began a project on following those who were allowed to be freed without bail. They found that not only did most offenders show up for court, but a higher percent showed up then those who had posted a bail bond. Since that time, NYC still does not require bail as well as Washington DC. Now Washington DC has one of the worst crime statistics of the nation, but they find that it is in their advantage to not have bail bonds. In Kentucky where for profit bail has been banned for 38 years 74% of defendants are released before trial. Only 6 % of felony defendants fail to appear for court. Yet, on a national basis, 18% of defendants released on commercial bail nationwide don’t show up. The American Bar Association, the National Association of Counties, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Association and others have condemned commercial bail as a system that discriminates against the poor and places American’s’ liberty at the mercy of private businesses. With a large percent of defendants not in jail, the daily cost of incarnation will be saved and this savings can be used to set up the program for ‘risk assessment. In fact there should be an excess of monies saved for use… “ Of the nearly 750,000 people in America's jails at any given time, two-thirds are awaiting trial. Of accused felons held until case disposition, 89 percent are there because they can't afford bail. The American Bar Association, the National Association of Counties, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Attorneys Association, and others have condemned commercial bail as a system that discriminates against the poor and places Americans' liberty at the mercy of private businesses. In 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder said commercial bail was a major obstacle to reducing inflated prison populations.” from Mother Jones
This does not mean that all will be released. A risk assessment will be made only those who are not considered risks will be released. The numbers released will be around 80% and that means that a large amount of the ½ million setting in jail will released saving incarceration costs.
Now you can see that there will be some costs. A program will need to be set up for risk assessment and a system of follow up by those similar to parole officers. The difference will be that the follow up officers are there not to bring them back to jail, but to work with them to keep them in school or at work without interruption. In addition they will be checking on family life and other social aspects of their life to help keep them out of additional trouble and make sure they are reminded to be available for their court date. In addition, they can look for mental illnesses as many of our convicted convicts are mentally ill. The costs for these additional officers will be far less than the money saved for them not being in jail.
There is little or no cost to the justice division. When bail is posted, the money goes to a bail bonds-person. None of this goes to the court system unless the person who posts a bond does not show up. If only those who are deemed a flight risk are given bond, they will remain in jail because only those who are not a risk are released. In addition, there is some court system where the bail bonds supplier owes the court for those who have disappeared. It seems that sometimes the bail-bonds people are just as guilty as the offender.
If we look at the savings, we must look at more than one aspect. There are appropriately ½ million in jail waiting for a court date. Sometimes these waits can stretch for a year or longer. If a large proportion of these are not made to wait in jail, then think of the savings. After all, they are innocent until proved guilty. While in jail, they may:
Lose their job
Puts a strain on their family relationships
May lose housing
Creates separation from children
Bail puts a strain on poor's finances
Each day in jail increases chances of recidivism
The American Bar Association, the National Association of Counties, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National District Association and others have condemned commercial bail as a system that discriminates against the poor and places American’s’ liberty at the mercy of private businesses
Studies also show that people become more likely to reoffend the longer they are detained pretrial: With just two to three days of detention, low-risk defendants are almost 40 percent more likely to commit new crimes before trial than equivalent defendants held less than 24 hours. Low-risk defendants held 8 to 14 days are 51 percent more likely to recidivate within two years than equivalent defendants held one day or less. ‘That recidivism has a toxic effect,’ Murray says, ‘not only with regard to the individual, but to the community that will ultimately be the victim.’ From Mother Jones (http://ow.ly/U0FWo)
There are advantages in having freedom while waiting for trial:
Saves prison costs.
The accused can prepare for a court date.
They are less likely to plea bargain. Many innocent accused plea bargain to get out of jail or because of lack of legal representation resulting in unnecessary jail time.
Enables them to find legal help
In 20% of the cases, charges are dropped, so unnecessary prison costs.
In addition, the court has time to acquire additional information which may reduce or eliminate incarceration time. Those doing risk assessment can:
Check for mental health issues.
Check for home or housing situation.
Check for drug addiction.
Follow up on abusive relationships.
And social services follow up to encourage making court date.
As you can see, savings will be created from the number of those not incarcerated. There will be some increase in cost from having people involved with risk management. Some of those who would have been incarcerated upon conviction will not be because of legal counsel and some will be enrolled in some mentally ill or drug addiction program where they belong again reducing costs. In addition the rates of recidivism will be reduced because of less time in prison.
Now may be the time to reconsider our attitudes toward the accused and/or convicted. As I quote from an article in DailyKos.com
“For some people the word "justice" means "punishment." But the righteous man knows "an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." That's not just Gandhi talking. That's reality.
The national rates of criminal re-offense after spending time in our world's largest prison system are atrocious. Generally speaking, over 40 percent failure across the board.
Every step that we take that brings us closer to clear goal of harmony is a good step. And smarter sentencing is a great step in that direction, because it empowers judges to make independent decisions.
I have often wondered: do we want a society that follows only the rule of law? The law and what is right are often different things. How about the rule of love? Or the rule of "harmony" if "love" sounds too hippie for you?
Of course that would mean a totally different type of training for judges, courts, juries, "detention centers," police officers and so forth. It would mean conflict-resolution training, ethics training, respecting people and separating that from their actions -- a re-imagining of a criminal "justice" system from the ground up.” From the Huffington Post (http://ow.ly/U0FgU ).
Even before states or the Federal Government takes legislative action, individual districts can enact polices that will limit for profit bail. Some suggestions are listed below:
From the Justice Police Institute (http://ow.ly/U0F6b ):
1.End for-profit bail bonding. Every jurisdiction should follow the lead of the four states where for-profit bail bonding is banned and institute robust, risk-based pretrial programs. Short of legislative banning, jurisdictions should implement non-financial release guidelines and procedures as well as work to reshape outdated pretrial attitudes and beliefs...
2.Promote and further institutionalize pretrial services. Pretrial services are the most effective means of managing the pretrial assessment and possible release of people awaiting a criminal trial. They should be incorporated in justice systems where they are absent and supported where they currently exist...
3.Require greater transparency within the industry. Until a time that for-profit bail bonding can be eliminated from our nation’s pretrial systems, the industry must be held more accountable,,,” see recommended readings for more information.
In conclusion; think of the money that could be saved with eliminating jail time and preventing more jail time by utilizing the “Manhattan Bail” system. To quote form Mother Jones as listed above: “ Of the nearly 750,000 people in America's jails at any given time, two-thirds are awaiting trial. Of accused felons held until case disposition, 89 percent are there because they can't afford bail.”
Millions of dollars could be saved!
Around three people a day are shot and killed by police. We don't know for sure how many as there is no mandatory reporting requirement by our US government. Only recently have we become aware of the number of police killings and mainly because of the cell phone video capability available to so many citizens. In addition we have some video from auto cameras and body cameras.
What has been disturbing has been the number of instances where someone was shot who was not a threat to the officer and in many cases was actually running away. In addition, we have viewed many videos where excessive force was displayed by the police officer sometimes ending in death. When you see a State Policeman in the middle section of a freeway beating and continuing to beat a woman, you wonder why. Then, recently, a video was released showing a homeless man surrounded by 8 white policemen. This Negro man is definitely nervous and upset and is waving a small pen knife. All of the police are at least 10 ft from him. They have tasers and one is holding a German Shepherd dog that is straining at the lease, leaping at the man. In an instance, 46 bullets are fired killing the man instantly. A shot to the leg would have downed this man. The dog could have taken him down. But this pales in contrast to over a 100 shots fired at another man, a homeless man.
We will never know what prompted such a display of anger and aggressive behavior, but according to the “Police Chief Magazine” , Anabolic Steroids are a problem with maybe as many as 25% of police officers. This would sure explain a lot of the aggressive actions by police officers. I know we make the jokes about the police officer and his weight gain due to eating donuts, but maybe it is the use of drugs causing the problem. It is not unusual to see a police officer with a stout neck rather than a double chin.
At any rate, we don't need to have our police using drugs that have been outlawed by the major league football teams because of the aggressive behavior generated. As a former truck driver, if we had an accident, we would be administered a test for alcoholic and then taken to a medical physicality for blood tests for other drugs. I would think that any officer who has a physical interaction with a civilian should have the same tests.
But as truck drivers, we were not let off the hook for testing after the accident. Originally we had to pass a yearly test and later on, this test became random. We never knew when we showed up for work if a test would be administered to us. The DOT wanted us checked before the possible chance of an accident. Police officers, at least in some areas must submit to drug tests and in some cases they may be random. But the test for Anabolic Steroids is not administered because of the extra costs.
As we look at the recent lawsuits settled out of court for as much as $6.5 million , we need to take actions. There is a cost to the numerous lawsuits against aggressive police behavior. If you go to a Dailykos.com (at http://ow.ly/U38oI ) article on justice, there is a list of recent settlements of police departments for civilians shot and killed. Most of these were settled out of court, many before the policeman had a day in court (usually they weren't even charged) and the other item is that none were charged with any wrong doing even though videos cast doubt on the innocents of the officer.
For your convenience, here is a summary:
The family of Freddie Gray--$6.4 million.
The family of Eric Garner----$5.9 million.
The family of Rekia Boyd----$4.4 million.
The family of Laquan McDonald---$5 million.
The family of Jonathan Ferrell---$2.5 million.
This list could have thousands of names on it.
“In 2010, the NYPD announced that they had spent nearly $1 billion settling cases of police misconduct in the previous 10 years.” You can read more about this Daily Kos article at http://ow.ly/U3c4z
Some police departments may see a reduction in aggressive behavior and resulting law suits through the use of additional drug testing. Insurance costs may go down. Regardless, this is a step that needs to be taken if we are to retain the citizen’s confidence in a regulated police force. As I have tried to emphasize, the savings from the previous two chapters should more than pay for additional drug testing and if implemented before the actions in this chapter, the savings would already be there. The savings from drug testing alone could amount to billions.
As I have researched this problem, it is amazing how many of the police who have been cited for excessive force or suspected shooting have a record of already doing the same thing. It seems that a few rogue police have cast a shadow on the reputation of our police. To combat this repetitive abuse of power, we would suggest that any police who uses excessive force or has a shooting incident be immediately taken off street duty and not allowed to return until satisfaction of his ability to properly enforce the law. This would include the removal of his firearm and any personal firearms.
As I bring this subject to a close, we need to look at the families of police officers. “According to several organizations, including the Battered Women’s Support Services, police officer-involved domestic violence is 4x that of the national average. The National Center for Women and Policing states that 40% of police households experience some type of domestic violence,” You may read the entire article at http://ow.ly/U3YIV .
The site Policeone states “Some authorities recommend that the Internal Affairs department immediately conduct an initial preliminary inquiry to determine the need for a formal internal investigation. The latter would follow the agency’s established protocol for criminal misconduct cases, including suspension of the officer’s police powers and reclamation of their weapon and police vehicle. Officers should be placed on off-duty status, pending administrative investigation and referral for a psychological fitness-for-duty evaluation.” Read more at http://ow.ly/U3Zhd. This remains a touchy problem because the abused partner is fearful to report to fellow officers of the accused and any safe-house will be know by the police force.
The question remains, why have the multiple incidents of injury and death to civilians continued in the first place and that will be covered in the next chapter.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
In June of this year (2015), I wrote this article for DailyKos.com. I write under “nailkeg” if you are interested in other articles I have written. We know that we have a lot of good, dedicated public servants serving in our police and justice departments, yet a lot of questionable actions have occurred recently and with this article, I have tried to explain how and why:
“The good, the bad, and the ugly:
Why are police allowed to shoot unarmed subjects without cause and what can we do to change the system?
According to Redditt Hudson on VOX.com at http://ow.ly/U3ews; “On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.”
The good is that 15% will do the right thing, the bad is that 15% won’t and the ugly is that when the other 70% join with the bad, we have “Stockton police officers fired over 600 bullets at a disabled vehicle with full knowledge that Misty was inside… of the bullets that struck Misty, every single one was fired from a member of the Stockton police.” Killing an innocent woman they knew was in the car. Quote from “Counter Current News com" or at http://ow.ly/U3eW6 .
The question remains as to why we have some estimates of around 3 people a day (1000 a year) killed and of those, almost nobody is prosecuted. (so far this year 500).
We may find an example at the Albuquerque police department (currently under a court-enforceable settlement agreement that will overhaul the way in which APD handles use of force by its officers) or at http://ow.ly/U3fnj . The DA Kari Brandenburg, cannot get reports from the police concerning people shot and killed. There are eight APD shooting cases, two U.S. Marshal’s shootings and three in-custody deaths and APD is heading up the investigations for all of them. But after months, they will not give any reports to the DA so that the cases can be investigated. The reason is that the DA has decided to proceed with murder charges against SWAT officer Dominique Prez and then detective Keith Sandy in the shooting death of James Boyd last March. As reported by KRQE CHANNEL 13 at http://ow.ly/U3fCK
So if a DA wants to charge our police with unnecessary killings, then don’t expect the police to work with you. The police work for nothing if the DA doesn’t prosecute the arrests and the DA has nothing to do if the police don’t bring them cases. So, they work together, covering for each other.
Now this addresses the subject of police misconduct (shooting unarmed subjects) with no convictions . But, we have DA’s with blood on their hands. In a study of death sentences overturned, of the first 70 investigated, 30 cases involved prosecutorial misconduct including knowing use of false testimony and not allowing information which would have proven the accused innocent. . Many career prosecutors have aggressively pursued life sentences or death sentences for innocent individuals, brazenly accusing people of crimes while having full knowledge of the defendant’s likely innocence In the same study, a third of the convictions not only have the same misdeeds by police, but in 11% of the cases, the police were involved in evidence fabrication.
In any organization there will be those who want to advance their career or just want to look good and sending someone to jail for life (or death) is just as terrible as shooting an innocent person.
What can we do to change this unacceptable practice?
Elimination of Absolute Immunity for Prosecutors
Mandatory Testing of Physical Evidence
·Require Video Taping of All Police and Attorney Interrogations and Interviews.
Have a special state court to investigate police and DA abuses
As reported by Change.org
And other suggestions:
I think we should add a couple of other things. For one, mandate prison terms equal to the time that innocent persons sent to jail have spent for anyone responsible of putting an innocent person in prison.
I would go a step farther. Right now we have many who have been put in jail because of misdeeds of our judicial system. To address this problem, I would suggest something on the order of the Truth Courts that South Africa used when revamping their racial society. As follows:
For one year after enactment of law, any person who was responsible for contributing to the incarceration of an innocent person would be allowed to come before a special court of judges who would hear and record the misdeed. They would not be held responsible and the person in prison would be released immediately. If after one year any previous misdeeds not reported would be punished as well as future actions. The court would have the power to immediately release the incarcerated person.
A separate board of independent prosecutors would determine if there was sufficient evidence to retry the released prisoner and if so, they would retry the person as he remained free. This same board would be responsible for investigating future misdeeds of police, DA’s and judges.
Most misdeeds by the police or DA’s are known by more than one person. So those who have been responsible would have an incentive to come clean in case other parties have for the same deed and they would be found guilty after the one year period. The threat of prosecution would flush many guilty parties.”
Around this same time, I gave a speech (“PROSECUTORS MISCONDUCT”), and in the speech I tried to show not only the problems with some of our prosecutors, but with our police and some steps that could be taken. You will find some repetition from the above article, but I think you will find it worthwhile to see addition information. One note would be that the figure of 10% of our jailed inmates is innocent, then over 100,000 of our prisoners would not be there and just think of the money that would be saved. There are a number of actions that would be necessary as listed in this article. Not only would previous savings pay for the added expenses, but just a few innocents not prosecuted or placed in jails would provide a large amount of surplus savings.
Now for the copy of the speech:
Imagine being in a room 6 ft. by 8 ft., less than half the size of a small bedroom for years. Imagine your feelings as the years slowly pass as you wait for your turn to spend your last moments in the electric chair. How would you handle this event if you were innocent of the crime?
From 1973 TO 2015 -- 154 PRISONERS were EXONERATED from death row...
Of those 154 prisoners, 3 men were held for 39 years. Prosecutors said that "victims of a terrible injustice".
Of those 154 prisoners, 5 men were held for 30 years and released for the following:
The prosecutor, who had a documented history of racial bias, said he could tell Hinton was guilty and "evil" just by looking at him
Two men are intellectually disabled - McCollum has an IQ in the 60s and Brown has scored as low as 49 on IQ tests. McCollum and Brown have maintained their innocence since their trial, saying they were unaware they were signing a confession. “
…Evidence was so strong that had it been disclosed during of the investigation there would not have been sufficient evidence to even arrest Mr. Ford!"
…because the state had withheld critical evidence. Griffin's conviction relied on the testimony of two jailhouse informants who received benefits in exchange for their testimony. Prosecutors withheld evidence that guards had confiscated a sharpened screwdriver from another inmate
(Held without charges)
Kalief Browder served for three years in Riker's Island without ever being convicted of a crime. 16 years of age when arrested for stealing backpack, spent almost 2 years in solitary confinement. Committed suicide shortly after release
Carlos Montero is in Riker's now and has served seven years there without ever being convicted. Carlos is not alone. While we do not yet know their names, at least five other people have been held in Riker's Island for six years or more without a conviction. It's believed Carlos may hold the record as the person detained the longest ever in New York City without being convicted for a crime.
A full 35 years later (that's more than 12,500 days), Hartfield, without being formally convicted of a crime, remains in a Texas prison.
Jerry Hartfield His conviction for murder was overturned all the way back in 1980. He was never retried. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, with a great deal of prodding from the federal courts, confirmed that Hartfield was currently in custody for no good reason—under penalty of no "conviction or sentence," the state judges ruled. And yet he still has not been released. Instead, prosecutors intend to retry him and are fighting to keep him in prison pending that retrial.
Life for selling pot:
At least 69, based on data collected by the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations.
This is not a talk about the death penalty. This is a talk about prosecutors as well as police and judges.
Prosecutors have enormous powers. They determine the outcome of citizens’ lives. They determine whether to charge a person for a crime with the available evidence.
Like police, politicians, and ordinary citizens, some lack a moral compass and many are driven by ambition. Not only do they take cases because they can win regardless of the innocence of the person, but once they take on a case, it is almost unheard of for a prosecutor to cease trying a case when evidence comes along proving the person innocence. Have you ever known of a trail that the prosecutor stopped because information came forward proving the subject innocence? For some reason the prosecutor seems to believe that his job is to prove everyone he charges guilty, not search for the truth.
To understand this problem, we need to look at who the prosecutor are. 95% of elected prosecutors are white with most being men. Many have been in office for years. This white presence is quite apparent when we look at the number of violent acts including deaths that police officers commit without little or any indictments. Less than one percent of police ever serve a day in jail.
When the prosecutor is African American, then obvious police killings are indicted. For example:
In Baltimore, one of the rare cities with an African American elected prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, six officers were indicted for their role in the murder of Freddie Gray.
In Brooklyn, where NYPD Officer Peter Liang shot and killed an unarmed man, Akai Gurley, in the stairwell of his own apartment, and then refused him first aid and argued with his partner over who should call it in, an elected African American prosecutor, Kenneth Thompson, filed manslaughter charges against the officer.
One only has to look at the ratio of blacks in prison to whites and compare with population figures support the fact that race does matter in judicial matters.
It is hard to know how many wrongful convictions have occurred, but the “Bureau of Justice Statistics from the United States Department of Justice concede that 8% to 12% of state prisoners are actually or factually innocent. If the error ratio of rightful convictions resides around ten percent nationally, 200,000 innocent people are currently imprisoned for crimes they did not commit and deserve judicial recourse.” https://www.change.org/p/justice-not-politics-hold-prosecutors-accountable-for-misconduct-in-wrongful-convictions
One way to verify is to study death row convicts who have had their convictions reversed. Of “70 cases that were reversed:
•Over 30 of these involved prosecutorial misconduct.
•Over 30 of these involved police misconduct which led to wrongful convictions.
•Approximately 15 of these involved false witness testimony.
•34% of the police misconduct cases involved suppression of exculpatory evidence. 11% involved evidence fabrication.
•37% of the prosecutorial misconduct cases involved suppression of exculpatory evidence. 25% involved knowing use of false testimony. *(Report: 2011 update- The Innocence Project)
30 of the cases would be almost half and if the prosecutor and police were giving wrong information on different convicts, a large percentage of the cases were caused by our justice system.
Suppression of exculpatory evidence
Facts that are hard to swallow.
There are steps that can be taken. For the prosecutors and judges:
Elimination of Absolute Immunity for Prosecutors.
Mandatory Referral to the American Bar Association
Judges, Prosecutors Must Be Subject to Full Transparency Regarding Histories of Misconduct.
Create a Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) in Every District Attorney’s Office in the United States. The Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) should be composed of independent legal, investigative, and scientific professionals tasked with the evaluation of cases suspected to be potential wrongful convictions. This will also serve as an independent body for appeals for future questionable convictions.
Require an open file law in all fifty states. Has to do with evidence available to the defense.
The following can then be done for police officers:
Mandatory Testing of Physical Evidence.
Require Video Taping of All Police and Attorney Interrogations and Interviews.
Body cameras for all on duty officers.”
READ ON FOR REFERENCE MATERIAL:
3 MEN 39 YEARS BEFORE RELEASED;
Charges Dismissed: 2014
Former death row inmate Ricky Jackson was exonerated on November 21 in Ohio, after spending 39 years in prison... convicted on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy who later recanted his testimony,...confirmed the boy was on a school bus at the time of the crime. Prosecutor Timothy McGinty said, "The state is conceding the obvious."
(K. Palmer, "Ohio man exonerated after 39 years in prison, to be released Friday," Reuters, November 20, 2014). or http://ow.ly/U3qXH
All charges against Wiley Bridgeman were dismissed, making him the 149th person exonerated from death row since 1973. Bridgeman once came within three weeks of execution, ...
(M. Gillispie, "Judge dismisses two men charged in 1975 slaying," Associated Press, November 21, 2014). or http://ow.ly/U3rjI
At a hearing on December 9, Kwame Ajamu (formerly Ronnie Bridgeman) was formally exonerated of the 1975 murder for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. Ajamu joined his brother, Wiley Bridgeman, and co-defendant, Ricky Jackson, in being freed. He became the 150th death row exonerate since 1973. ...(J. Caniglia, "'My battle is over!' Judge throws out the 1975 murder conviction of Ronnie Bridgeman," or http://ow.ly/U3rJh
5 MEN 30 YEARS BEFORE RELEASED;
Anthony Ray Hinton was exonerated after spending nearly 30 years on Alabama's death row.... The prosecutor, who had a documented history of racial bias, said he could tell Hinton was guilty and "evil" just by looking at him. ... In 2002, three top firearms examiners testified that the bullets could not be matched to Hinton's gun, and may not have come from the a single gun at all. In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that Hinton had been provided substandard representation ...Bryan Stevenson, Hinton's lead attorney, said, “Race, poverty, inadequate legal assistance, and prosecutorial indifference to innocence conspired to create a textbook example of injustice. I can’t think of a case that more urgently dramatizes the need for reform than what has happened to Anthony Ray Hinton.” (W. Hester, "Alabama man to be freed after nearly 30 years on death row," Reuters, or http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/02/us-usa-alabama-death-row-idUSKBN0MT24Q20150402.
The two brothers who were convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1984, were freed because of evidence uncovered by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. McCollum was 19 and Brown was 15 when they confessed to the rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie. Both men are intellectually disabled - McCollum has an IQ in the 60s and Brown has scored as low as 49 on IQ tests. McCollum and Brown have maintained their innocence since their trial, saying they were unaware they were signing a confession. ...The Commission found DNA evidence near the crime scene belonging to another man,.... "McCrory pardons former death row inmates cleared in 1983 murder," WRAL, June 4, 2015. or http://ow.ly/U3sVW
Ford had spent 30 years on Louisiana's death row...Louisiana Judge Ramona Emanuel ordered Glenn Ford to be “unconditionally released from the custody of the Louisiana Department of Corrections" on March 11, 2014. Prosecutors said they had received "credible evidence" ... was tried and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. One of the witnesses ...police had helped her make up her story. A state "expert" who testified about the victim's time of death had not even examined the body. Ford's lead trial attorney had never tried a jury case before. ...
(A. Cohen, "After 30 Years on Death Row, an Innocent Man in Louisiana is About to Go Free," or http://ow.ly/U3vfz
Missouri dismissed all charges related to his death sentence on October 25. (Associated Press, "Ex-death row inmate exonerated in prison stabbing," Oct. 30, 2013. Missouri's Attorney General Chris Koster said it was "the appropriate and ethical decision at this time."). Griffin had been sentenced to death for the murder of a fellow inmate in 1983. His conviction was overturned in 2011 by the Missouri Supreme Court (Griffin v. Denney, No. SC91112, Aug. 2, 2011) because the state had withheld critical evidence. .the Missouri Supreme Court said, "There is no physical evidence connecting Griffin to the weapon found in the gymnasium... State failed to disclose evidence that tended to implicate Smith, impeach Curtis and Mozee, and bolster the trial testimony of inmate Rogers, who maintained that the inmate fleeing the crime scene was not Griffin." (at 9).
See also DPIC's Press Release. Or http://ow.ly/U3vU0
1973 TO 2015 -- 154 PRISONERS EXONERATED. How many have been missed.
We have covered those who have been imprisoned because of police and prosecutors who misused their offices for personal gain, re-election, advancement and/or criminal actions. Billions have been spent for those wrongly accused not to mention the loss of contribution to our society of the falsely accused. More importantly, Justice for All has not been served especially to those of color and the lower-economic class.
Of all the changes I have covered in this article, almost all cost nothing. At the same time, the number of people who will not be in jail and the number of people who will never go to jail will be substantial. The savings will add up quickly, almost immediately. Keeping costs in mind, I want to address community policing.
As I pointed out, almost everything I suggest has already been tried in several places and most of all, they work. The example I have for community policing comes from Columbia Heights, Minn. I encourage you to go to The Star Tribune (http://ow.ly/U3ZSW ) and read the entire article. The article begins with: “In 2008, Columbia Heights' crime was spiking. So the new police chief pushed officers out of their squad cars and into the community. The result: Crime has hit a 25-year low. 25-year low. “
The article gives the results and I quote: “Robberies have dropped from 48 in 2007 to 18 in 2012. Thefts have been nearly cut in half from a high of 836 in 2007, and vandalism has fallen from 437 offenses to 147 during that same time period. “
“A different attitude toward policing and fewer people in jail. Police knocked on doors in problem neighborhoods. They made contact and shook hands so people would see who the police are. Our community knows our police better and knows they are there as a service to them."
The officers had a number of things that they did to introduce and allow themselves to be able to mingle with the citizens. This gives the citizens, especially the young, a chance to form an opinion of police as protectors, not enforcers.
Two other cities with similar programs are Memphis and Houston. There are a variety of activities that can be held by police, but the important action is to get the officer out of the car and in contact with the citizens in a peaceful atmosphere. Relationships need to be developed so that the citizen has the confidence that they will be treated fairly and that they can trust the officer with leads and other information.
As in our previous suggestions, we look at the costs of implementation of this program. There will be training and procedures that will take some time, but little costs. As you can see from the example, the reduction of crime can help with any expenses of this program. Keep in mind that a reduction of crime not only reduces judicial expenses such as courts and prison costs, but saves the community additional costs. I recently had a robbery of equipment on my motor home. The result was about 1100 dollars in loss. Insurance paid for 600 dollars so my out of pocket expense was about 500 dollars. Just as important was the fact that by the time I acquired estimates and had repairs completed as well as taking pictures and contacting my insurance, several hours of my time were wasted.
The police becoming intimately involved with the community not only helps in identifying who may be committing crimes, but who has mental illness and or drug addiction which may account for irrational behavior. This brings us to the next chapter.
Crisis Intervention for
The Mental Ill and Drug Addiction
In a 2006 Special Report, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) ( http://ow.ly/U40hd) , estimated that 705,600 mentally ill adults were incarcerated in state prisons, 78,800 in federal prisons and 479,900 in local jails. In addition, research suggests that "people with mental illnesses are over represented in probation and parole populations at estimated rates ranging from two to four times the general population" (Prins and Draper, 2009). Added up together, this is more than half of the prison population in the US.
Each one of these jailed and probationers and parolees were at some time in contact with a police officer. Man times, alterations between the citizen and the officer and/or officers occur because of the lack of knowledge and training by that officer. As noted in the actions described in the previous chapter, the officer may already know that the mentally ill has behavior problems, but this does not make him capable of defusing the situation. Many injuries and even deaths by the hands of police have occurred because of this lack of training.
“In 1988, the Memphis Police Department (http://ow.ly/U40r4 ) joined in partnership with the Memphis Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), mental health providers, and two local universities (the University of Memphis and the University of Tennessee) in organizing, training, and implementing a specialized unit. This unique and creative alliance was established for the purpose of developing a more intelligent, understandable, and safe approach to mental crisis events. This community effort was the genesis of the Memphis Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team.” This “Memphis Model” of Crisis Intervention has been copied by the Houston Police force and I am sure others as well.
Utilizing this program means that there will be sufficient patrol officers who have training on how to handle someone who is acting irrationally. Ideally, on each shift, there should be trained officers who are available to respond immediately to help defuse situations to prevent excessive force or even death to the suspect. By having a working relationship with mental health providers and other social groups, the suspect can be handled with respect and then if needed, referred to the proper agency for continued care.
By utilizing the use of CIT trained police officers, the frustration caused by lack of knowledge that the normal police officer feels in these situations can be directed to non-violent solutions. They will know that there alternate methods of diffusing a situation. By identifying those with mental health issues, think of the number of mental ill that will not be put into our expensive prison system. In addition, by directing these citizens to organizations that can help, future calls to the judicial system may be eliminated. In fact, if you look at the number of mental ill housed in our prisons, we are looking at a tremendous number. Most mental ill can be helped or at least controlled to some expense with treatment making both them and our society less of a danger. And treating the mental ill is cheaper outside of the prison system.
“Since the CIT program began in Memphis, the citizens and the criminal justice system of Memphis have experienced significant benefits of the program. Some of the benefits of the program are listed below.
Crisis response is immediate
Arrests and use of force has decreased
Underserved consumers are identified by officers and provided with care
Patient violence and use of restraints in the ER has decreased
Officers are better trained and educated in verbal de-escalation techniques
Officer’s injuries during crisis events have declined
Officer recognition and appreciation by the community has increased
Less “victim less” crime arrests
Decrease in liability for health care issues in the jail
As is quite apparent from the above quote from the Memphis Police web site, they are pleased with their efforts. I am sure there are other cities following the lead of Memphis and Dallas, but this is an effort that needs to be nationwide. The financial savings are great as well as better policing which will help reduce the racial animosity in our nation today. By reducing the number of mentally ill as well as those with drug addiction in our prisons, the savings can be sufficient to treat this segment of our society in a more civilized manner. Of course, “Justice for All” will be enhanced. We will address this solution in a later chapter, but for now, we need to address our “Pipeline to Prison:.
“Pipeline to Prison”
Our Young Black Girls
In the previous series of articles, we have dealt with changing a law. If the law is enacted without prejudice, then change will occur. One of the problems the American citizens have is their attitude and prejudice towards those of color and of color towards the white citizens. Even though our crime rate is down, a good many of both whites and of color are not aware of this fact and even among the black community, they feel that their own crime rate remains high and that they are responsible for that rate. As long as we have this idea within the mind of the white population, we will experience racism. That does not mean that we should not change our rules and procedures as much as possible to improve conditions. You may read more about this situation at Justice.Gawker.com (http://ow.ly/U4ZUd ).
I bring this up because in this article, we discuss what has been called our Pipeline to Prison. All the changes brought forth before will be of little use if we have a system that funnels people into prison. Our inner-city schools with a large percentage of black and brown students of color are responsible for many suspensions that eventually lead to a low rate of high school graduations. This group in turn makes up a lot of our prison population even starting with juveniles. Probably a lot of this problem is caused by the over-abundance of white teachers with limited experience and the above mentioned racial attitude. They may not be racist, but if they share the idea that blacks are responsible for a large part of crime, then their actions may reflect this attitude.
We can begin to see this problem even in preschool. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights , (http://ow.ly/U506m ), “black preschoolers (yes, four and five year olds) make up almost half of all our-of-school suspensions for preschoolers”. “The Nation” goes on to report “What any preschool student has to do in order to be suspended is beyond me. That said, black students are receiving the message—at younger and younger ages—that their behavior will be regarded differently, as inherently more disruptive and therefore more deserving of punishment. “... “The majority of black girls who have been suspended got kicked out for being loud, even if they weren’t being disrespectful.” It’s consistent with the way school discipline is meted out: black students’ behavior is interpreted as more threatening than that of their white counterparts.
I am reminded of those who live in Italy. If two men are talking, they will stand very close to one another. In the US, we would feel that someone standing that close to us would be encroaching on our personal space and we would step back until that space became to what we were accustomed. If repeated, we would feel threatened.
All those raised in the inner-cities have a different background. Many times it will be reflected in our speech. But our young black girls may come on as strong or a little loud which a white teacher raised in the suburbs would be “interpreted as more threatening than that of their white counterparts”. As the black girls move up through the grades, more teachers may feel threatened and the 'out of school suspensions' become an offense that brings in the juvenile authorities. Before they are out of high school, they may have experienced time incarcerated. Although this happens to black boys more often than with white girls, today we are seeing more black girls than black boys.
From “women’s e – news” which no longer has a site :
"The majority of black girls who have been suspended got kicked out for being loud, even if they weren't being disrespectful," said Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women's Justice Institute, based in Oakland, Calif. "It's cultural for black girls to speak up, and they are going to fight back if something is wrong."
…"We need to stop these push-out practices that criminalize girls for who they are instead of what they've done," added Morris, whose article "Education and the Caged Bird: School Pushout and the Juvenile Court School," published in Poverty and Race Research Action Council, offers a rare exploration of the intersection of black girls, education and the juvenile justice system. "Girls are at an increased risk because there is a lack of community-based response to their problems. We have male-oriented reporting centers, but there's no exploration of what girls need so that they won't re-offend."
“Once they've gotten stuck in a troubled pattern, many black girls simply drop out of school.
Just 60 percent of black females graduate high school in four years, the National Women's Law Centerreports, compared to 78 percent of white females. Black girls are three times more likely than white girls to receive out-of-school suspensions, according to a 2012 report by the Department of Education, and are more likely to repeat a grade....a 2007 study by Edward Morris. The study found that black girls were more likely to be punished for being "unlady-like" than white girls, and also reported that teachers identified black girls as being "loud, defiant and precocious."
"Our traditional racial justice work is not about black women; our gender conversations plateau at pay equity. The less educated a young woman is, the more likely she is to become part of the system. Once these girls are criminalized, they get locked in a cycle -- they get rearrested. Girls disappear, they drop off the map. We can't afford that, no community can afford that," said Lewis, formerly the racial and gender equity program manager at the Schott Foundation, based in Cambridge, Mass. “
The article goes on to say”.... black girls--can wind up in these places far more easily.
In 2010, 67 percent of the 500,000 young women in the juvenile justice system were arrested for larceny-theft, loitering or violating curfew, disorderly conduct and other low-level offenses.
These low level offenses which are non-violent “account for 30 percent of arrests for breaking curfew and loitering, 34 percent of disorderly conduct arrests and 45 percent of arrests for theft, according to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. “
Taking into consideration that those with less means for acquiring legal help, we find that “The average age a female teen first enters the juvenile justice system is 13 or 14 years old. And historically, blacks become part of the system at even younger ages, regardless of gender.
Excuse me for the extended quote, but the site is down and the information is vital.
Girls are usually not arrested for violent crimes but rather, because they commit status offenses, those acts that would not be illegal if they were performed by an adult, such as truancy. The 1974 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act protects juveniles from being detained after committing a status offense, but many are still arrested because of an exception in the law if a court order has been violated.”
“...according to the FBI, for prostitution arrests under the age of 18, African American children comprise 59 percent of all prostitution-related arrests in the U.S. As the Executive Director of the Human Rights Project for Girls, Malika Saada Saar, has pointed out to me "Our girls are criminalized for being subject to commercial rape. They are not treated as the victims and survivors of child rape that they are--instead they are unjustly arrested, jailed and detained as prostitutes. Even though many are not of the legal age to consent to sex."
There are other ways that girls are pipe lined into the sexual abuse to prison pipeline. For instance, over the past twenty years, girls have accounted for approximately 60 percent of runaway cases. It is a status offense to run away, so girls are getting locked up for running away--even though running is a common (and necessary) response to sexual and physical violence. We tell women to run from violence, but when girls run, we arrest and detain them.”
He goes on to say: “The terrible truth is that if you are a poor Black or Brown girl who is victimized by sexual or physical violence and trauma, your suffering is denied. Instead, you are punished for it. You are told you are not a victim of child rape, you are a child prostitute; you are not a scared, hurt girl trying to run away from an abusive parent, you are a delinquent; you are not a survivor of the sexual assault perpetrated by those you were supposed to trust, you are a bad girl.”
The end result is that we have a growing body of African American ladies who are serving time in prison while losing out on the opportunity of finishing high school with the additional wages and losing other rights including many time even their children. Again, if the CIT system described in the previous chapter were incorporated in our justice system, these girls would be treated by either mental health or other social services.
Follow me to the next chapter of “Pipeline to Prison” for African American boys and we will embrace ideas to stop this pipeline for all African Americans.
“Pipeline to Prison”
for Our African American Boys
I have split up the two chapters on “Pipeline to Prison” because I felt most of America and maybe even the African America society is not aware of the increased problem with black women going to jail. This is one of our fastest growing population and although black girls share a lot of the same issues with our schools, they have become a major item in the “Pipeline to Prison”. As we go through this chapter we will be looking at actions that affect both the male and female students and we will be looking at remedies to halt or even destroy this pathway.
In order to have a better education experience for those in our inner-city schools, a zero-tolerance toward unruly students was implemented. The end result was that lots of African American students ended up with 'out of school' suspensions and many times ended in the juvenile justice system which included incarceration. What was found was that even a day or two in jail increased the chance of repeat incarceration. After all, a young man is subject to impressions from other youths and the jail became a school for mischief.
Now think about a African-American student who has seen or experienced in-school or out-of-school suspensions since the first year of school. What does this do to their own self-worth or self-image. Tack on to that the fact that many in their family including fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles and on and on have been or are presently incarcerated.
Include in their living experiences the factor that inner-city families will experience poverty at a high rate. They may come to school hungry, ill, and in many cases homeless. Some students come to school without an actual home or in other instances, living in a run-down motel. They depend on charity for school supplies and even much of their clothing. And now they can't seem to do anything right and they are suspended.
As they experience more problems, they are referred to the juvenile justice services and may even spend time in jail. By now they are known as troublemakers at school and the school doesn't want them any more than they want to be there.
For a “difficult' student, to have the police called and then to be led away in handcuffs not only makes his self-worth poor, but the action telegraphs to all the African-American students; “This is what you are”. To reinforce their lack of self esteem, handcuffs, being slammed against the wall and of course since all African-Americans deal in drugs, the entire school must have drug inspections where all lockers are searched even of the ideal student.
As the Schoott Foundation advocates ( http://ow.ly/U5beD):
"Rather than improving safety in schools, harsh zero-tolerance discipline has far-reaching negative consequences—dramatically increasing the risk of failure, dropping out, and involvement with the justice system. Even worse, these types of severe punishments disproportionately fall on children of color, particularly African-American students, who are three times more likely than white students to be suspended, even for similar types of misbehavior."
They go on to give an example of Boston where zero-tolerance was revised:
"In 2007, the high school graduation rate in Baltimore, a city where the school system serves 85,000 mostly African-American and low-income students, was an abysmal 34 percent. Then Andrés A. Alonso, ...revised the code of discipline to prevent suspensions for less serious offenses and instituted targeted counseling, after-school programs, and academic interventions to help students succeed.
Four years later, the dropout rate had been reduced by more than half. Eighty-seven percent of Baltimore students who began high school the year the reforms were implemented had either graduated or were completing their studies."
But even the quality of the education will not be on par with the schools in the suburbs. As an article about school discrimination in the Huffington Post.com (http://ow.ly/U5bre ) states:
“Seven percent of black students attend schools where as many as 20 percent of teachers fail to meet license and certification requirements. And one in four school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.”
Even the better schools will have the inexperienced teachers with fewer class options, older schools, and lower per student money available. Many times the problem student is the result of a teacher who needs help or a school system that does not serve the student. In addition, many have mental illness problems, situations at home that a trained social worker could help remedy, and in some cases sexual and/or physical abuse at home or with relatives which needs to be addressed by social workers.
If you think that suspensions is not a problem, the read this quote from “Dignity in Schools “ ( http://ow.ly/U5bD2 ) :
“• 3 million students are suspended from school each year. The vast majority of suspensions are for minor, subjective infractions. Disparities in School Discipline
• Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. “
They also suggested the following steps to stop unnecessary suspensions:
“• Ensure that all schools adopt school-wide, preventive and positive discipline policies, ...
• Revise codes of conduct to limit suspensions, expulsions and other removals to be used only for the most serious behaviors and only as a last resort.
• Limit the presence and role of any law enforcement personnel in schools to ensure they are not involved in school disciplinary matters, invest instead in counselors and other support staff in schools.
• Ensure that students and parents have a right to participate in decision-making affecting school policies.
• Provide regular training and supports on positive approaches to discipline for all school personnel – including teachers, principals, support staff, and school-based law enforcement officers. “
There is one more program that I want to mention. Having suffered from an inferiority complex myself even though I am white and had a middle class upbringing, I can in some ways relate to how the black male (and female) must feel. I know that it took me some 50 years to overcome the feelings of not having self-worth. I can't imagine what it would be like for those who never have any positive reinforcement. I came across a program in California that not only addresses the upbringing of African-American males, but has a proven success rate and grows larger by the year. I wish it could be provided for all inner-city schools.
The emphasis of this group, called the Manhood Development Program “is unique because the course is taught during the school day by African American males at nearly every middle and high school in Oakland. “We learned that few adults at schools even ask students how are you? or what do you want to be? There is a general consensus that our young brothers are not having a good experience. While we are trying to change the school system and improve adult behavior, we need something that is tangible for these students. It’s not just about changing structures. It’s not just about changing policies. It’s not just about changing practices. It’s about helping students, in real time, who are being treated like villains and suspects when they have done nothing wrong,” says Christopher P. Chatmon, executive director, African American Male Achievement, OUSD. “
You may read about it by clicking here (http://ow.ly/U5bNx ) and see how:
The Manhood Development Program supports African American male achievement through:
• Culturally relevant curriculum
• Leadership and character development activities
• Transcript evaluation and college and career guidance
• Family engagement focused on college readiness and parent leadership development
• Recruitment and development of African American male instructors
• Cultural, college, and career field trips
In the first chapters of this book I have emphasized how many of the programs had costs that were small and benefits and savings almost immediately, but in the next chapter we will be examining these costs and savings more closely because the costs of improving our schools and later projects will be substantial. But bear with me as we see that the savings will exceed the costs and the benefits to society even more.
Never let it out of sight that the basis of it all is Justice for All.
Each chapter (step) that we have covered will have cost savings. As we go from one project to another, social and mental health programs are initiated which will more than be funded by the savings. Sometimes these cost savings will amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Most of these will have savings that occur almost, if not immediately, as with the first chapter. As we go through the steps, more and more procedures will require money to be invested. As we move into Chapter VIII, we will begin to see some substantial investments although we will still be able to show savings although some of these will be in future times. Then as we finish the course of steps, we will find more savings along with more investments. Because of the enormous savings (in the hundreds of millions of dollars) occurring almost immediately, care must be taken to account for and utilize at later stages of this program. If only the first chapters are utilized, then gradually our system will revert to its original unacceptable state.
We could use the example of our Power Ball gambling as a guide as to what can happen. When the argument was made to have state financed gambling, the argument was that the money generated would go to our schools. Once the measure passed, one of two things happened. First, the total earned did not go to the schools. It seemed that there was a loop hole there that enabled some of the money to go elsewhere for state needs. Then, the money that went to the schools didn't increase their spending power. The money generated allowed the states to stop funding from other sources and so any money going to schools only made up for losses. In the end, we have schools in worse shape financially then before the gambling proposals. If we do not account for the savings from this program outlined here, then the savings will go to other state needs or reducing taxes.
The state of California put out a guide for the state for their Proposition 47 which could be adjusted for a city or as I would like to see this program adapted by, the federal government. As follows view web site here (http://ow.ly/U5cvF ):
“Require the state to calculate the savings from the reforms each year and deposit them in a dedicated fund. The initiative would require California’s Department of Finance to estimate the state savings attributable to the measure each year and deposit them in a special fund.
Earmark the savings for specific investments. Savings deposited in the fund could only be used for three explicit purposes and in specified proportions: 65 percent would go to mental health services, drug treatment, and “diversion programs” designed to enable offenders to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record; 25 percent would go to supporting at-risk youth in schools; and 10 percent would go to victim services.
California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office has estimated that Proposition 47 would likely cut the state’s prison population by “several thousand” inmates while generating corrections savings in the “low hundreds of millions” of dollars annually.”
Below is a summary of how the financial accounting would proceed:
DeCriminalization of Non-violent Minor Crimes
When Texas was working on changing juvenile laws concerning nonviolent crimes, they quoted a figure of $162,000,000 (162 million) as a cost for 800 youths in state lockup which would be saved through their program. This was only part of their reforms. As you can see, just reducing the prison population in CA would generate savings in the “low hundreds of millions” of dollars annually. Changing laws for decriminalization of nonviolent crimes in itself does not cost anything except for printing of the new law. Of course, there will be some notification of the justice system which will consist of a minor expense.
As for other savings, Texas figures $1200.00 as the cost of each arrest and booking. In addition, if the suspect is kept in jail until bail posted, the daily cost for housing that person will be taken into consideration. Depending on what crimes are decriminalized will determine the total savings, but you can see that this can add up rapidly and will continue year after year.
The Manhattan Bail Project
Because many of the suspects will not spend any time in jail waiting for bond, there will be a reduction of jail space need and the associated costs. Sometimes this can amount to long term stays just waiting for trial with extremes running over a year. In addition, since 20% of charges are dropped, the jail costs involved there are eliminated. In addition, this allows employment to continue reducing the need for falling into the need for costly social services. This action does not save on a large-scale basis even though the savings will be there.
For the first-time we will need to invest some of the savings from Chapter I. In order to allow someone out without posting bail requires a “risk assessment” to determine if it will be allowed. Since there will need to be a determination of their mental health and also their living arrangements, jobs or schooling and/or other adverse conditions, mental health experts and social services will need to be available and this may require additional personnel. Of course, getting someone mental health help may save future arrests and associated costs as well solving some social ills may do the same. By having information concerning these possible personal problems may enable the judge to give a different sentence which might include punishment other than jail time and the associated costs.
We are seeing deaths and injuries by police settled before any trial. Now they are reaching 5 and 6 million dollar settlements. New York City has paid out over a billion dollars in police violation of health and life. Nobody knows if police on drugs is the problem, but they seem to relate to each other and it is for sure we don't need any public servant on drugs anyway. So the savings here may not show up for some time although getting police off these drugs should cleanse their systems fairly quickly.
There will be a cost for additional drug testing and although it is not little, we are not looking at anything like building a new prison. The money needed will have already been saved by the previous actions.
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
The first savings will be from those who have been jailed who are innocent. Estimates of about 10% of those who are in jail are innocent and if we were to reduce jail costs by 10%, we are looking at hundreds of millions of dollars. Have you noticed how many times this figure is used? In addition, every trial costs money and if suspects we know are innocent are convicted, then we have unnecessary costs.
To implement the steps necessary to ensure honest police and prosecuting attorneys will require a number of additional attorneys and support staff. If only one innocent person is kept out jail for a year, think of the savings. If a lifer is not sent to prison at $100,00 per year for year after year after year... As my examples have shown, there would be an excess of savings to cover the costs of implementation of this chapter.
Community policing should result in a better relationship with the neighborhoods and the result would be less crime and notable the keeping of the mentally ill out of jails for a lower cost.
The costs of community policing might be less than our current methods of policing. We could save on auto expense since the officer is spending more time out with the citizens. Otherwise, training would be included in regular training and should not be excessive if any additional costs.
Crisis Intervention for The Mental Ill and Drug Addiction
“...a 2006 Special Report, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) estimated that 705,600 mentally ill adults were incarcerated in state prisons, 78,800 in federal prisons and 479,900 in local jails. In addition, research suggests that "people with mental illnesses are over represented in probation and parole populations at estimated rates ranging from two to four times the general population" (Prins and Draper, 2009). “ The cost of putting a mentally ill person in jail or prison can run several times more treating them outside the justice system. If a large number of the mentally ill are removed from the justice system, just look at the savings available. The savings will be immediate and may well stretch on for years.
The costs will involve hiring more social workers and others capable of dealing with this type of illness. In addition, there may be medical costs to deal but this will reduce medical costs incurred by the incarceration. Some will need help with housing and other physical needs. In other words, they will need the same things that they would need if incarcerated. Just at a lower costs. In addition these needs may taper off if treated while if incarcerated they would be more apt to continue on the same path or even worsen. Again the chance of lawsuits will lessen.
“Pipeline to Prison” Our Young Black Girls
In the previous steps, we have seen where savings can be in the hundreds of millions pf dollars as hundreds of thousands of inmates are dealt with in a less costly manner as well as the steps taken that may reduce incidents of crimes and long term incarceration. When it comes to our schools, we will be looking at additional costs and that is why the savings from before must be accounted for and saved for this project. Not addressing our “Pipeline to Prison” will only refill our jails.
Some of the costs will pay for their selves. In our area, the school receives money from the state for each student that attends on a day to day basis. Out of school suspensions mean a loss of income and with a large percentage of students dropping out before graduation means an even greater loss of income for the school. Of the solutions I have mentioned before, most are not that costly and would probably be paid for just by keeping more students in school. But to give an equal chance for a good education requires a school that is EQUAL to the schools in the suburbs. That requires a greater investment and if the case of Prop. 47 in California is followed, much of the savings from keeping our population out of jail should be directed toward our schools.
We can expect long term results from this action. Students with a high school degree make more money and are less apt to be dependent on social services. There children will have a better chance to have an educated parent who has not or is not serving time in jail.
“Pipeline to Prison” for Our African American Boys
Same principles as for the girls.
Now on to how to spend some of the billions of savings:
When I was with Red Cross as a volunteer, I began riding the food truck that went around once a week and fed the homeless. On my first trip, we stopped on an overpass near the “Country Club Plaza”, a worldwide know upscale Center in Kansas City MO. The regular Red Cross volunteers for this run, said there would be a man come up and sure enough, a person came up for food. Not the one they expected and as I looked at that person, I couldn't tell if they were a man or woman. They had double coats on and their head was wrapped with scarfs. As it was the middle of August (shortly before I went down to work Katrina), I knew that person had to be either very sick or mentally ill. Our next stop was at an underpass just before the Broadway Bridge. Under the bridge were several men living in shelters they had made from old boxes and scraps of tin. This location was within 3 blocks of office the buildings that soared high above the ground making downtown Kansas City, Mo. I don't know the reason for the men to be homeless except they were about the age of returning veteran of the Iraq war.
Homelessness has become a major problem in the US. There are many reasons and I will try to list some here:
Mental Illness; Some are born with an imbalance of chemicals within their body. Others may have head injuries. Physical and sexual abuse may contribute to mental state. Some statistics put 90% of prison inmates having been subject to abuse. Serving as a soldier in war may affect ones mental state. Mental illness is not a state of choice!
Drug addiction; A good portion of drug addiction is to prescription drugs and/or is developed from the addiction of prescription drugs. Many times the chronic pain caused by injury or other pain remains and when the prescription drug either becomes to expensive or unavailable, street drugs are substituted. Some people seem to be prone to drug addiction and the use of a drug that doesn't affect one person may become a serious problem for others. Alcohol addiction is a common cause of homelessness.
Loss of Job; When we have a collapse of our economy as in '08, jobs disappear and many times even if another one is found, house payments will not be made because the new job pays less. We have a lot of people living in rundown motels paying enough to make a rent payment, but because of the economic situation we are now in, they can't save enough to make deposits on utilities and first and last month rent payments. Instead they live in one room motel, sometimes with children, struggling to pay a weekly rent. When good jobs are non-existent, it is hard to blame the individual for this situation.
Physical Illness; Physical illnesses can happen to anyone as well as injuries and in many cases, the individual is not to blame and sometimes the illness may happen from work causes without any recourse from the employer.
Loss of House that was home; This can happen because of the above reasons, but in '08, many lost their homes because of a bubble in our economy that was caused by the greed and lack of moral actions of our largest banks. People were sold homes at inflated prices that they were not qualified to purchase and along with the collapse caused by the banks actions, many are homeless not because of any of their actions.
All the changes and improvements I have described before this chapter, save money. Many save money without any or little upfront investment. There are a number of cities that are attempting to eliminate homelessness. Many of the homeless individuals are frequent objects of arrests and then jail stays and in many cases incurring medical attention with the associated costs. Many of the homeless will be involved in vandalism, robberies, emergency room visits, and frequent police nuisance calls, all which have associated costs.
In the attempts to solve homelessness, different angles have been tried from building small homes the size of a storage shed to furnishing the person with a full size home. No matter which angle is tried, the one thing that seems to bear true is that it is cheaper to furnish a living space, furnish some food (through churches, etc.), enroll them in Medicaid for medical help then allow them to live on the streets. In different areas the costs will be different, but one constant seems to be that the cost of providing a home is somewhere around a third of what living on the street costs. For the mentally ill and or those addicted to some substance, what they have found is that some of these individuals actually show some improvement in their addictions and of course the mentally ill get treatment that they need.
For others on the list, it is almost impossible to get a job without a permanent address. Sometimes the help in getting into a home will allow them to save and begin to start paying on their own rent. In addition, if there are children involved, think of the emotional security they will have if they have a home rather than living in a car or motel room.
This is one of those issues where we have thousands of mentally ill in jail, thousands of people who are homeless, thousands of people who are addicted, and we need to ask ourselves if it is moral to allow these people to suffer needlessly especially since it would cost less to house them.
We can't look at the problems without addressing all the causes. We may ask the question of why do people shop lift, rob, use drugs, and more importantly sell drugs. If a man (or woman) can't get a job, what are they supposed to do? When our society does not generate enough jobs for everyone to have one, What can we expect? Does society have any responsibly to the person who comes into this world. I think we are our brother’s keeper at least to some extent. We just had a meltdown of our economy in '08 and although we could directly blame the cause on the financial institutions, we baled many of them out from their own mess. At the same time we saw jobs disappear and citizens lose their homes through no fault of their own. Is there not just as importantly a reason to bale out the homeless who had nothing to do with the situation they are now in.
Our government could make a difference. By taxing those who profited from the meltdown at the expense of others, we could have the money necessary to rebuild our infrastructure creating many good paying jobs. This was done during the 60's through the 90's and we saw one of the most beneficial times of our history with the middle class growing and in doing so giving the others with less at least the hope of moving up and doing better in our society.
In addition, we could raise our minimum wage. The wage has remained at its present level for too many years and has a purchasing power that does not equal past years. “Teddy” Roosevelt as president in the early 1900's called for a 'living wage' and I quote:
“We stand for a living wage.
Wages are subnormal if they fail to provide a living for those who devote their time and energy to industrial occupations.
The monetary equivalent of a living wage varies according to local conditions, but must include:
enough to secure the elements of a normal standard of living–
a standard high enough to make morality possible,
to provide for education and recreation,
to care for immature members of the family,
to maintain the family during periods of sickness,
and to permit of reasonable saving for old age.”
Later on after the Great Depression of the 30's, Franklin Roosevelt called for better wages and then in 1950, President Truman almost doubled the minimum wage. Our economy did not fail and for the capitalistic society to work and following President Truman's actions, we saw 50 years if growth. There must be a movement of capital. With the current practice of all the wealth going to the top 1/10th of 1% of the ultra-rich, there will be less and less money available to keep our economy going. And a 'Teddy' Roosevelt said: we cease to have “a standard high enough to make morality possible”.
Here are some examples of housing the homeless and the results:
Housing First- (http://ow.ly/U6DL2 ) “Studies also show that Housing First approaches involving permanent supportive housing tend to be much cheaper for taxpayers than allowing people to remain homeless. As homeless individuals with the highest health and service needs benefit from the stability of housing, they are better able to tend to their needs in productive, self-driven and long-term ways. As a result, they make less frequent use of expensive, publicly funded services like emergency rooms, shelters and jails - See more at: http://100khomes.org/read-the-manifesto/housing-first#sthash.GAG61Fw7.dpuf “
at Daily Kos- (http://ow.ly/U6Emh ) ““If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you. -- Leviticus 25:35-36 ….Cooperative Christian Ministry (CCM) began in 1981 when seven Concord (NC) churches decided that by combining their efforts they could reach more people in need and provide greater assistance to the community as a whole. Today churches, businesses and other organizations work in conjunction with many, many individuals to actively support the ministry. “ The church has had 4 families living there for 18 months and none of the neighbors noticed until application was made for 4 more.. For 18 months the church has been so quiet nobody noticed.
From the Milbank Quarterly (http://ow.ly/U6F1M ) “Housing First for Homeless Persons with Active Addiction: Are We Overreaching?” “Context More than 350 communities in the United States have committed to ending chronic homelessness. One nationally prominent approach, Housing First, offers early access to permanent housing without requiring completion of treatment or, for clients with addiction, proof of sobriety”
From NAMI (http://ow.ly/U6FsU ) “Treatment, not punishment: NAMI believes that persons who have committed offenses due to states of mind or behavior caused by a brain disorder require treatment, not punishment. NAMI believes that a prison or jail is never an optimal therapeutic setting. NAMI believes that mental health systems have an obligation to develop and implement systems of appropriate care for individuals whose untreated brain disorders may cause them to engage in inappropriate or criminal behaviors.
From “The Atlantic dot com” (http://ow.ly/U6JCn) “Tiny Homes for the Homeless One Nashville pastor has a plan to help those without permanent shelter: building 60-square-foot houses with no bathroom, kitchen, or electricity.
From Vanderbilt Universities (http://ow.ly/U6Kd3 ) “Subsidized housing vouchers are more effective in curbing the homelessness cycle than other programs, according to the first large-scale study ever conducted to assess the effectiveness of homelessness assistance programs for families. Results were announced July 8 at a briefing in Washington, D.C. “
From HHS.govU.S. Department of Health & Human Services ( http://ow.ly/U6KPP ) Grants “Targeted homeless assistance programs are specifically designed for individuals or families who are experiencing homelessness.”
From the “LA Times” (http://ow.ly/U6Lns ) Last month, officials announced that they had reduced by 91% the ranks of the chronically homeless — defined as someone who has spent at least one year full-time on the streets — and are now approaching "functional zero." … Studies showed that Utah's chronically homeless — while a fraction of an overall homeless population of 14,000 — used 60% of the services for those living on the streets.
The cost of providing an apartment and social work for clients in the Housing First program is $11,000 annually, while the average price of hospital visits and jail for street denizens is nearly $17,000 a year.
In Housing First, clients pay $50 a month or 30% of their income, whichever is more. Said Walker: "It's not just more compassionate — it's cheaper."
There are a number of programs out there besides the ones I have listed. I have not yet found one that doesn't at least not cost and most can be shown to save money which can then be invested in education and mental illness among other things. Just another step in “Justice for All.”
There are people who are so dangerous that they should no be out in the general public. We don't always know why some people become that way. Maybe they are born with a lack of decency toward other or maybe they were affected in some way while in the womb from poisons, ill health of the mother or any number of other factors. We will never know every factor and the results and it seems that sometimes, even twins, may develop in different ways.
What we do know is that some 90% of those in the penitentiary were either sexually or physically abused in their youth. What we do know is that a prisoner put into solitary confinement will within a day or two start to develop a change in their relationships with others including a withdrawing of social skills. What we do know is that in many cases, a guard may send someone to solitary out of spite or for minor offenses and in some cases, they may remain there for years. In other cases, the solution for someone mentally ill is to put them in solitary confinement. How, may I ask, would this not change a person for the worse?
Many inmates incur beatings and rapes (especially women inmates) without recourse. Any actions to remedy their miss-treatment always holds the possibility of being thrown in to the hole. Physical illnesses receive poor treatment and just recently, we have seen suspects, not convicted inmates, die in their cells when treatment was not administered.
Any inmate only has to look around to see that people of color have been arrested and convicted more often. African-Americans are stopped, searched and arrested at a higher rate than other races. With white judges, white guards, white police, any unequal or harsh treatment is bound to cause resentment and probably behavior changes
Many prisoners are moved across the state to locations that make it difficult for family to visit. Although we may be seeing changes, phone systems are set up to provide a extreme profit to the provider and of course, a kick back to the prison. Expectant inmate mothers will expect to see their child taken from them and will have little chance of having custody once they have served their time.
After experiencing harsh conditions with little human empathy, the inmate will be released into society with little money, no housing available for convicts and some 60% will not be able to find employment in the first year. Of course, there is always a life of crime and they can start the process all over of becoming a career criminal.
Abuse from other inmates and guards is especially bad for juveniles. In the example above where Texas changed their methods towards juveniles, the reason change occurred was because of the sexually abuse of the young. Prisons for profit seem to have a high amount of abuse because of the pressure to cut costs (guards) and lack of over sight.
We can't forget the ones that are forgotten. One for example in Rikers for 7 years and some more for 6 years that we know about without a trial. Then there are those who are waiting for a year or so all across our country, not forgotten, just haven't the time to give a speedy trial.
Spending a couple of days in prison waiting for bail is enough to influence the chances of the suspect to return to jail. Long term prisoners have a return rate of around 60%. Our incarceration system apparently is not rehabilitating most and the punishment is not prevent a large-scale re-incarceration.
As I have mentioned before, suspects held awaiting a hearing before a judge will in some 20% of the cases be dismissed before that hearing. In addition, some 10% may be innocent. Here is an example of many first time suspected offenders living in a violent condition learning from other sometimes hardened criminals how to 'become a criminal'. Sometimes the wait for a trial may be a year and in some cases, many years.
Texas, as I reported on earlier, revamped the juvenile justice system because of wide spread sexual conduct toward these young by guards. We tend to think of rape occurring between inmates and this certainly happens especially to the young and weaker inmate. This sexual abuse is a problem in our prisons and jails for women. With a majority of guards, poorly paid and male, the opportunity for them to take advantage of in female inmate is great. In addition, physical abuse of inmate happens. As with the police department, body slamming, choking and other excessive actions happen. And as with the 'blue line' of police, the same restrictions of reporting abuse exists within prison personnel.
Our prison system in itself produces a recurring population. Some countries treat their inmates differently. For example, in Some Scandinavian countries as “The Atlantic” (http://ow.ly/UcSSa) reports: “Suomenlinna Island has hosted an “open” prison since 1971. The 95 male prisoners leave the prison grounds each day to do the township’s general maintenance or commute to the mainland for work or study. Serving time for theft, drug trafficking, assault, or murder, all the men here are on the verge of release. Cell blocks look like dorms at a state university. Though worse for wear, rooms feature flat-screen TVs, sound systems, and mini-refrigerators for the prisoners who can afford to rent them for prison-labor wages of 4.10 to 7.3 Euros per hour ($5.30 to $9.50). “
In Norway as the “Guardian” (http://ow.ly/UcUjC ) reports where small cottages house a few inmates:
“Nilsen has coined a phrase for his prison: "an arena of developing responsibility." … "In closed prisons we keep them locked up for some years and then let them back out, not having had any real responsibility for working or cooking. In the law, being sent to prison is nothing to do with putting you in a terrible prison to make you suffer. The punishment is that you lose your freedom. If we treat people like animals when they are in prison they are likely to behave like animals. Here we pay attention to you as human beings."
A clinical psychologist by profession, Nilsen shrugs off any notion that he is running a holiday camp. I sense his frustration. "You don't change people by power," he says. "For the victim, the offender is in prison. That is justice. I'm not stupid. I'm a realist. Here I give prisoners respect; this way we teach them to respect others. But we are watching them all the time. It is important that when they are released they are less likely to commit more crimes. That is justice for society."
In an Article by “Policy.Mike” (http://ow.ly/UcVmD) :“In Nordic countries like Sweden, which have far lower incarceration and crime rates, prison is about rehabilitation. And it works far more effectively. ...Getting people in better shape: "Our role is not to punish. The punishment is the prison sentence: They have been deprived of their freedom. The punishment is that they are with us," Nils Öberg, director-general of Sweden's prison and probation service, told the Guardian in 2014.
Sweden's prison system boasts impressive numbers. As the Guardian notes, in the past decade, the number of Swedish prisoners has dropped from 5,722 to 4,500 out of a population of 9.5 million. The country has closed a number of prisons, and the recidivism rate is around 40%, which is far less than in the U.S. and most European countries.”
Both parties and the President are united for Judicial reform. Now is the time to let them hear or voice while citizen pressure can move the process forward. As a quick summary:
Of the nearly 750,000 people in America's jails at any given time, two-thirds are awaiting trial. Of accused felons held until case disposition, 89 percent are there because they can't afford bail (http://ow.ly/Ufgdk)
This would be about 630,000 that would be released with the Manhattan Project
at a savings of some $300 each
• States spend $5.7 billion a year on the juvenile justice system instead of our schools. On average, states spend $88,000 to incarcerate a young person, but only $10,000 to educate one. (http://ow.ly/UeACr )
Over one million are in jail because of mental illness. This is around half of our prison population for which we spend over 80 billion dollars. So we would save half of this by redirecting the mentally ill to appropriate places saving over 40 billion. Of that, about 15 billion would be needed to treat them giving us a savings of 25 billion.
Not only would the costs be less, but we would see better education and a more productive society and we would be giving “Justice for All”.
We have many who want us to write our congress, but I will suggest another step; order a copy of this book from Amazon and have it sent to your congress person. Give them something to think about. “Give them an ear full” . The small amount the book will cost will be far less than any campaign contribution and they will hear YOUR VOICE right in their mailbox. That book lying around will have more impression than any e-mail, letter or phone call!
To e-mail your Senator Click Here and choose state (http://ow.ly/UliDG )
To e-mail your Representative Click Here and put your zip code in upper right corner (http://ow.ly/UliKY )
To e-mail the President Click Here (http://ow.ly/UliWy )
Find your local state representative CLICK HERE (http://ow.ly/Ulj5z )
Make an impression, do all.
“Whispers by many become a roar”
Our contact information
www.Our-Voice.Us (http://ow.ly/UljcH)------ Sign up for our mailing list here.
gary@Our-Voice.Us contact us here or go to our Facebook page at Gary Peterson
Additional Readings—Chapter I
From Daily Kos (http://ow.ly/U99gy )
“As of Friday, police say 109 addicts have turned themselves in seeking help, 16 percent of them hailing from out of state and about 70 percent of them men. All have been placed into drug treatment programs at a total cost of about $5,000 to the department. “...” Select officers in Seattle, for example, are allowed to redirect low-level drug and prostitution offenders into treatment rather than arresting them and sending them to jail. “
From Miccd dot com (http://ow.ly/Udixv )
2. Remove youth from adult jails and prisons.
3. Require oversight and public reporting on youth in the adult system.
4. Require judicial review of all transfer cases.
5. Develop policies to reduce the over representation of youth of color in the adult system.
6. Provide effective legal representation to youth.
7. Offer developmentally appropriate and rehabilitative alternatives to youth in the community.
8. Restrict the use of segregation.
9. End the option to sentence youth to life without the possibility of parole.
10. Effectively partner with families and victims at all stages of the criminal justice system.
Additional Readings--Chapter II
From the Justice Police Institute (http://ow.ly/U0F6b ):
How the bail bonding industry stands in the way of fair and effective pretrial justice.
Additional Readings-Chapter III
Let's stop saying bad police officers are rare. Fact is they're plentiful from coast to coast. From Daily Kos ( http://ow.ly/U3c4z)
From the Guardian ( http://ow.ly/U9fuH )
Addition Readings-Chapter IV
From Daily Kos (http://ow.ly/U9ako )
For more about about school suspensions
From Dignity in Schools (http://ow.ly/Udk4i ):
Recommendations for Policy Change
• Ensure that all schools adopt school-wide, preventive and positive discipline policies, such as Restorative Practices and school-wide Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.
• Revise codes of conduct to limit suspensions, expulsions and other removals to be used only for the most serious behaviors and only as a last resort.
• Limit the presence and role of any law enforcement personnel in schools to ensure they are not involved in school disciplinary matters, and invest instead in counselors and other support staff in schools.
• Ensure that students and parents have a right to participate in decision-making affecting school policies.
• Provide regular training and supports on positive approaches to discipline for all school personnel – including teachers, principals, support staff, and school-based law enforcement officers.
Fact sheet: School Discipline and the Pushout Problem
The majority of suspensions are for minor misbehavior, including “disruptive behavior”, insubordination”, or school fights, which can be interpreted in subjective and biased ways (even unintentional)
On its 2006 review of exclusionary and zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, the American Psychological Association found no evidence that the use of suspension, expulsion, or zero-tolerance policies has resulted in improvements in student behavior or increases in school safety. They found that suspensions and expulsions are linked to an increased likelihood of future behavior problems, academic difficulty, detachment and dropout.
Additional Readings-Chapter IV
The good, the bad, and the ugly
On Saturday, October 10, the prosecutor overseeing the Tamir Rice grand jury investigation released two reports authored by independent experts and concluding that Timothy Loehmann, the cop who killed the 12-year-old African American boy in Cleveland last November, acted within the law. The Cuyahoga County prosecutor, Timothy McGinty, knew this was an unusual move to make during grand jury proceedings. "Historically, the norm in most places has been that there's an incident, and then a long investigation shrouded in secrecy, followed by a conclusion that sometimes mystifies large segments of the public," a spokesperson for McGinty's office told Mother Jones regarding the publication of the two reports. "We're trying to break that pattern."
Efforts by the prosecutor to sway the grand jury as reported by “Mother Jones”:
“He (Phillabaum ) was fired from his role as assistant prosecutor—an unusual twist in a story such as this one, since in many other places,including California's Kern County, prosecutors keep their jobs even after instances of egregious misconduct.
He was also indicted on both felony and misdemeanor charges, including "dereliction of duty, tampering with records, interference with civil rights and using a sham legal process." He plead guilty to dereliction of duty, a misdemeanor charge, and was sentenced to 90 days suspended jail time, provided he complete a year of community control and probation. And, last July, the state's disciplinary board determined that Phillabaum acted in violation of four professional conduct rules.”
SOMETIMES A PROSECUTOR IS PUNISHED FOR MIS-CONDUCT: from dailyKos ( http://ow.ly/U1nKe)
Additional Readings - Chapter V
Daily Kos http://ow.ly/U98v8
Additional Readings-Chapter VII
Black girls receive more severe sentences when they enter the juvenile justice system than do members of any other group of girls, and they are also the fastest growing population in the system.
From The Atlantic Philanthropies org (http://ow.ly/U9mdX )
“Black Minds Matter: Supporting the Educational Success of Black Children in California,” examines how the nearly 1 million Black youth in California are faring from preschool through college and reveals the distressing disparities that newly released state and national data show persist at all levels of their educational journey. The report also highlights the groundbreaking efforts underway to reverse these trends in California and close achievement and opportunity gaps for African American students. “ view entire report at
west.edtrust.org (http://ow.ly/U1kte )
A list of recommendations from the California report. (http://ow.ly/U1kLr )
A One Page Summary (http://ow.ly/U1kWw ) :The Education Trust-West
“Black Minds Matter: Supporting the Educational Success of Black Children in California At-A-Glance HISTORICAL IMPACT OF DISCRIMINATORY POLICY DECISIONS AND INSTITUTIONAL DECISIONS “
From the Educational Trust-West (http://ow.ly/U1lSq)
the following site is no longer a valid web site, but I found this page still posted
Pushed Out of School, Black Girls Lose Huge Ground | Womens eNews (http://ow.ly/U9pyw )
Additional Readings-Chapter IX
From the Justice Policy Organization (http://ow.ly/UdkGs ):
Statistics on the National Pushout Problem
• States spend $5.7 billion a year on the juvenile justice system instead of our schools. On average, states spend $88,000 to incarcerate a young person, but only $10,000 to educate one.
• 3 million students are suspended from school each year. The vast majority of suspensions are for minor, subjective infractions. Disparities in School Discipline
• Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students.
• 70% of students arrested or referred to police at school are Black and Latino. While Black students represent 16% of enrollment, they represent 31% of school-related arrests.
• Students with disabilities are more than twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than students without disabilities.
Additional Readings-Chapter X
“In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015 . How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker.“
From the “Nation of Change”
“As originators of Housing First, Pathways to Housing National’s mission is to transform lives by ending homelessness and supporting recovery for those with mental health challenges.
We believe housing is a basic human right (it) and aspire to change the practice of mental health and homeless services by:
Providing immediate access to permanent housing, without preconditions
Providing support and treatment based on choice and services that support recovery, social inclusion, and community integration
Conducting research and training to develop best practices for recovery-oriented care.”
From “Pathways to Housing National”
Pathways to Housing National's Mission ( http://ow.ly/U9Svy )
“The money raised paid for the first six houses, and an electrical generator to power heating and cooling units, mini-fridges, and microwave ovens. They were set up August 21, on a lot owned by the Green Street Church of Christ, where homeless folks had been allowed to camp. “
From “Goodnews Network”
Church Installs 6 Colorful Micro Homes in First Nashville Village for Homeless/ (http://ow.ly/U9Tcv )
“That approach works well in Houston, where one program has enabled hundreds of thousands of poor residents, many of them immigrants, to move up the ladder of economic and educational opportunity each year. It’s a strategy that can — and should — be implemented nationwide. “
From NY Times
“a new California law, which went into effect this month, is making the process of obtaining identification much easier by requiring state recorders to hand them out for free, the Sacramento Bee reported. “
From the “Huffington Post”
“ policy suite to boost affordable housing — centered on inclusive zoning and rent control — simply does not create enough units fast enough to prevent low-income people being priced out of the market “
From “The Week”
Economic research supports raising the minimum wage (http://ow.ly/UdjlM ) ” No one found significant employment losses when President Truman raised the minimum wage by 87% in 1950. When Congress raised the minimum wage by 28% in two steps in 1967, businesses predicted large employment losses and price increases. As the Wall Street Journal reported six months later, “Employment and prices show little effect from $1.40-an-hour guarantee.”
10 U.S. Companies That Pay Above Minimum Wage (http://ow.ly/UdjpH ) 3. QuikTrip
This Oklahoma-based convenience store and gas station chain offers entry-level employees an annual salary of around $40,000, plus benefits, the Atlantic reports. Defying the stereotype that paying higher wages is bad for business, QuikTrip has expanded to 645 locations across 11 states.
Bernie Sanders: Let’s Invest $1.3 Trillion In Infrastructure To Create 13 Million Jobs (http://ow.ly/UdjsE ) “…I want to invest a trillion dollars in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. I do want to do that because I think that will create up to 13 million jobs. ...Corporate America, you aren’t going to stash your money in the Cayman Islands and not pay any taxes at all… “
Addition Reading-Prisons-Chapter XI
Man Jailed For Unpaid Traffic Ticket Suffers 'Excruciating' Death In Cell: Lawsuit
From Huffington Post ( http://ow.ly/U9WI6 )
From the office of Justice Programs (http://ow.ly/Udj2Y ) :
HIGHLIGHTS…A ..STUDY OF SERIOUS ADOLESCENT OFFENDERS
The most important conclusion of the study is that even adolescents who have committed serious offenses are not necessarily on track for adult criminal careers. Only a small proportion of the offenders studied continued to offend at a high level throughout the follow up period. The great majority reported low levels of offending after court involvement and a significant portion of those with the highest levels of offending reduced their re-offending dramatically. Two factors that appear to distinguish high end desisters from persisters are lower levels of substance use and greater stability in their daily routines as measured by stability in living arrangements and work and school attendance.
The second conclusion is that incarceration may not be the most appropriate or effective option, even for many of the most serious adolescent offenders. Longer stays in juvenile facilities did not reduce re offending; institutional placement even raised offending levels I those with the lowest level of offending. Youth who received community based supervision and aftercare services were more likely to attend school, go to work, and avoid further offending during the 6 months after release and longer supervision periods increased these benefits.
Finally, substance use is a major factor in continued criminal activity by serious adolescent offenders. Substance abuse treatment for young4 and offenders reduces both substance use and non drug related offending in the short term if the treatment period is long enough and if families take part in the treatment with the offender. Most young offenders who are diagnosed with substance abuse disorders, however, do receive treatment in institutions or community based settings. Given that community based supervision may reduce re offending and promote pro social attitudes and behaviors and continued substance abuse treatment may be needed to prevent longer term relapses, integrating substance abuse treatment into community based services may realize greater benefits in reducing serious adolescent offending while providing more efficient and effective delivery of services.
Ferguson Considers Settling Suit Over 'Debtors Prison' Abuses http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ferguson-municipal-court-federal-civil-rights-lawsuit_562542a7e4b0bce34701a232 “The report found that the city, police and court officials have “worked in concert to maximize revenue at every stage of the enforcement process” for several years, and that black citizens were disproportionately ticketed. ….the tiny municipality of Velda City, agreed to end its cash-only fixed bail system that kept the poor imprisoned over low-level charges. “
Ferguson is negotiating over a federal rights lawsuit on their court practices. @http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ferguson-municipal-court-federal-civil-rights-lawsuit_562542a7e4b0bce34701a232 “The lawsuit filed in February said that impoverished people arrested in Ferguson are:
kept in overcrowded cells; they are denied toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap; they are subjected to the constant stench of excrement and refuse in their congested cells; they are surrounded by walls smeared with mucus and blood; they are kept in the same clothes for days and weeks without access to laundry or clean underwear; they step on top of other inmates, whose bodies cover nearly the entire uncleaned cell floor, in order to access a single shared toilet that the City does not clean; they develop untreated illnesses and infections in open wounds that spread to other inmates; they endure days and weeks without being allowed to use the moldy shower; their filthy bodies huddle in cold temperatures with a single thin blanket even as they beg guards for warm blankets; they are not given adequate hygiene products for menstruation; they are routinely denied vital medical care and prescription medication, even when their families beg to be allowed to bring medication to the jail; they are provided food so insufficient and lacking in nutrition that inmates lose significant amounts of weight; they suffer from dehydration out of fear of drinking foul smelling water that comes from an apparatus on top of the toilet; and they must listen to the screams of other inmates languishing from unattended medical issues as they sit in their cells without access to books, legal materials, television, or natural light.
About the Author
As with many authors, The author has had a multitude of jobs. In his search for satisfaction, in his early 50's the desire to write overrode all else. The last paid position he held was working with those with 'special needs' and was so satisfying that he almost worked past retirement age. But other desires overtook this satisfying position. Two books were penned; (“Talk to Me Dad!”, is a deeply troubling novel of child abuse, brutalization and revenge. The author has managed to effectively combine relentlessness with sensitivity in his presentation of a disturbing story) and “Flood on the Buffalo”, (an adventure story of boys on a float trip for the teen market”) Both books are fiction and are written under the pen name of 'Pete Williams'. Eventually the author began working on web sites, making numerous speeches at a Toast Masters club, contributing articles to the popular web site-Daily Kos(under the name 'Nailkeg' and researching the problems facing people of color and of modest means of living. This lead to the current book “JayWalkers Shouldn't be Shot”
In '05 when 'Katrina” hit New Orleans, the author worked as a volunteer for “the American Red Cross” for 3 months. He has also taken a Karaoke machine and preformed at many senior citizens and special needs groups. With the Karaoke machine, many times the audience, especially those with special needs, join in and sing along or by their selves. An active organic gardener, the author has been active in starting both organic gardens for groups and farmers markets for those in 'food poor' areas. He has also supplied farmers markets in senior citizen apartment building. In addition, he has spent time farming and after working side by side with an Amish family for three years, sold a small organic farm to this family that they used to raise organic grain.
In his mid 20's, a mysterious illness put the author on his back unable to work for three months and then for another year struggled to regain his health and during this time experienced many of the trials that the homeless face and so gained some insight into their problems. In addition, while dating an African-American woman, he was pulled from a 'white' church to be confronted by state troupers and questioned as to why he was at the church, all because he had a black girlfriend. This gave him some insight into the trials the the black community faces everyday.
In addition, the author has had some experience and success in fighting city hall water dept), campaigning with the community against Walmart (they won, but gave up and left in face of our efforts) and worked with limited success with groups for increasing minimum wages.
His favorite saying coined by his self: “A whisper by many become a roar”