Read the keystone essay – Justice, Police, & Prison System
Our justice system is prominently featured in our culture as a source of fair-handed justice. Everyone stands before the law on an equal footing. The justice system in reality is a gigantic fraud of inequality and lifelong punishment. Our police lead the world in the rate at which they kill civilians. The promise of a fair trial before a jury of our peers is denied over 90% of the time. Coerced plea bargaining with the —>> read more –>>
If you are struggling to get your head around how racism works you will probably find it helpful to have a general framework as a guide. This one hour lecture from 2017 features an overview by Brown University Professor Tricia Rose of the structure of racism and how it works in the US (approx. 29 minutes). Then follows a case study by Samuel Rosen, senior researcher, How Structural Racism Works Project at Brown, of how —>> read more –>>
Tightrope provides a well-written description of the American crisis through personal stories and hard data. Unfortunately it falls flat in its call for action.
Once again we return to our comedians for information about what is going on in the world. This time more on the fraud that is our judicial system.
Eviction from home is a regular feature of life for the poor and working class, more so for black and brown people. The civil justice system works with the same imbalance of power as the criminal system. Based on the book Evicted by Matthew Desmond.
Louisiana provides a grievous example of unequal access to equal justice. According to a study by the American Bar Association Louisiana has only 363 legal aid attorneys where the case load requires 1,461.
It is not often that one can make a judgement that is nearly absolute in its accuracy. Most things in life are complicated, complicated by circumstance, money, class, family, just plain errors in judgement, execution, and on… But, when it comes to the American justice system you come face to face with a system that is a gigantic fraud. This is as close to an absolute truth as one is ever likely find in our —>> read more –>>
We have written earlier about the fact that effective legal representation and trial by jury is a rarity making one of our cultural icons a complete sham. As Jed Rakoff has noted: In actuality, our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone. In 2013, while 8 percent of all federal criminal charges —>> read more –>>
- Why Innocent People Plead Guilty" by Jed Rakoff in New York Review of Books 11/20/2014 accessed 6/24/2017
Hudson NY and Its SWAT Team State St Hudson NY 6/12/2018 – photo by Lance Wheeler for Columbia-Greene Media. Even here in our little city of Hudson NY (population ~ 7,000) we have a police SWAT team, benignly referred to officially as the Columbia County Shared Services Team. There has been plenty of concern over its use here in the last couple of years, most recently in June of this year. The website CityLab has published —>> read more –>>
- https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/08/militarization-of-local-police-isnt-making-anyone-safer/568900/ accessed 09012018
- http://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/early/2018/08/14/1805161115.full.pdf accessed 09012018
Gun Regulation, the 2nd Amendment, and Scalia’s Majority Opinion Fire arms proponents make much of the 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller in which the Supreme Court absolutely affirmed the right to bear arms as a constitutionally guaranteed right. Lost in this rhetoric is the fact that no rights are absolute. All are subject to constraints. For example, the First Amendment does not give a person the right to shout “Fire” in a movie —>> read more –>>
Mass incarceration, largely through the War on Drugs, combined with white racism has produced a catastrophe for African Americans. It is hard to imagine that if young whites, despite being no more likely to offend drug laws than blacks, were subjected to these laws that we would have seen a sharp reaction from the white majority. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is important reading and a call to action.
Opioids and White Privilege The arrival of opioids as a national concern might focus your attention on the role of drug companies, doctors, and hospitals in creating this new addiction path. In the October 30 New Yorker Patrick Radden Keefe provides a through introduction to this in his piece, “The Family That Built an Empire of Pain: The Sackler dynasty’s ruthless marketing of painkillers has generated billions of dollars—and millions of addicts”. But taking another —>> read more –>>
The Prison Policy Initiative has released a new study “Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017”. In a pattern that is similar to the fate of men in our mass incarceration system that charades as justice, 60% of those in local jails are there because they cannot afford bail. 29% of these women held for lack of cash are charged with drug offenses.
The US Wins Again – Incarceration in Global Context Americans love to think of the country as No 1 in every dimension. Richest, most powerful, most freedom, most dynamic economy, best healthcare, best sports teams, best education and on and on…… there are some things that we are No. 1 in and by such a stretch that they point to some pretty unfortunate features of our society. As noted elsewhere here healthcare is one of these —>> read more –>>
The reality is that legal representation for the indigent is worse than a charade. According to the ACLU 80% of those arrested for a crime can not afford a lawyer. But, no where in the country is a robust system of legal representation for these people in place. And as widely known, legal aid attorneys all too frequently meet their clients for a few moments before a court appearance and have no real resources to —>> read more –>>
So Jeff Sessions, tough guy, is going to reverse the very modest corrective direction of Obama’s policies to once again refill our jails. More vicious mindless policy making from the Trump regime.
A central dogma of American politics and culture is the rule of law. The ever present blind scales of justice are trotted out with such regularity that the briefest glimpse serves to remind us that we live in a country with a uniquely fair and just system of law. Of course, if you have ever had the slightest encounter with the reality of this system you will already know that it is only those with —>> read more –>>
Why waste endless words on this topic? I stumbled on this video, “The Drug War Is a Failure” by the Gregory Brothers via the New York Times.
I have noted here several times earlier about America’s longest war – the War on Drugs. Here is a graphic that displays the complete failure of our policies:
|source: http://m.theatlanticwire.com/national/2012/10/chart-says-war-drugs-isnt-working/57913/ – this graphic came to my attemtion via the Colbert Report http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/425397/april-11-2013/america-s-pot-astrophe|
America’s Longest War – a socio-political-military disaster – indicted by Global Commission on Drug PolicyJune 12, 2011
Report of the Global Commission on Drug Policy Last week this commission released its report, “War on Drugs”. This once again brings into focus our longest war, Nixon’s War on Drugs. Here are the first two paragraphs from the executive summary: The global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world. Fifty years after the initiation of the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, and 40 years after President —>> read more –>>