Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Justice? Mr. Justice Are You Here?

Justice? Mr. Justice, Are you Here?

By The Caged Bear of Freedom

Justice. It’s a word that when you think of it, you think of America, and everything we were founded on. It, indeed, was what we were founded upon. The Boston Tea Party was about Justice for the people: No Taxation without Representation. Then, The Boston Massacre, where 5 people were murdered in cold blood. We demanded Justice there as well. Fast forward to 1865, and when John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln (among the other screwed up attempts that occurred on that same day), manhunts were organized, and the bodies of anyone associated with the act, swayed in the breeze from the gallows. Justice. It’s what this damned country is supposed to be about! Well, maybe it’s what it’s supposed to be about, but not anymore. We now elect men, and women, to office that have the most money, and the best cover story. Those same people honestly believe that the Constitution, and Bill of Rights are dusty old pieces of paper, that may have had relevance at one time, but not anymore. Unless you are one of the 1% that line the pockets of these supposed “civil servants”, let me fill you in on where you stand: You’re on your own bucko! Good luck with that!

This occurred to me, when a friend of mine, who was in an abusive relationship, tells me today, that she finally got a restraining order. Most people would be relieved at that, finally, help has arrived from the Judicial System! First, let me qualify. I am an advocate of people who are considered, “Pro Se”, or self-represented, in the Criminal Justice System. Unprofessionally, these are people we would referred to as “screwed”, because without any type of representation, you are chum in a tank of sharks. So, I do what I can to guide these people to make the best decisions, and file the proper forms and motions they can, and best prepare them for what is to come. My friend had managed to obtain a restraining order on her own, and now we are back to where we were prior to my brief interlude. Unfortunately, in both of the cases I’ll describe, there are two reasons for Restraining Orders, or Protective Orders; 1.) For someone who is a defined threat to that person, and needs legal orders to further threaten harsher legal action if the person is to make any sort of contact, let alone any sort of violent act towards the person. And then there’s #2.) A person takes a protective order out because they can, and there is no real threat. (This is a harder one to prove, but the effects are the same). My friend we can safely file under #1, because this man can clearly be a threat to the health and safety of her and her family. But my response wasn’t one of jubilation that she had gotten this Restraining Order. No, my mind went back to a young lady I never met, Tonya Notice.

Tonya was also in an abusive relationship, with a man named James Carpenter. Tonya went and got a protective order against Mr. Carpenter, though Mr. Carpenter continued to harass Tonya, Tonya even called the police, many times in fact. One night, Mr. Carpenter walked right through that Protective Order, and even though Tonya had called the Police, James Carpenter killed Tonya Notice. So, when my friend told me she had gotten a Restraining Order, forgive my lack of enthusiasm, when I said it’s only a piece of paper. In 2012, someone attempted to murder me. It took 12 seconds, and left me in a coma for a week. I don’t think you can dial 911, and have someone answer the phone in 12 seconds, and this woman has now put her faith in a piece of paper. Is this what justice has become? A Man, with documented anger issues, who, with the proper set of circumstances, and mindset, could very well harm this woman and her family, and he’s given a piece of paper that says not to do it?
Prisons are terribly overcrowded, and we spend ridiculous sums of money to warehouse people, instead of reforming them as is our duty as a society. I won’t get in to my theories on how we can fix some of these things, but you figure, if we’re going to overcrowd prisons anyway, why are we not remanding people who are a defined threat in domestic violence situations? It’s supposed to be that we are monitoring these people, the ones who threaten violence, through GPS monitoring. It seems that is sporadic at best, and really, at a certain point, how many people can you effectively monitor.

Everyone can agree that the Criminal Justice System is fundamentally broken, and the only thing to fix it, would be a complete tear down to the foundation, and rebuild. We know that is an implausible action, and therefore, will never happen. But what is the alternative? Do we admit that yes, the system is completely fucked, but shrug our shoulders? I won’t turn this in to a political article, but similarly, this is where a Donald Trump as a President makes complete sense to me. The Presidency, and Government hasn’t always been a disaster, and the Criminal Justice system hasn’t either. But we’ve reached a point where the status quo isn’t cutting the mustard anymore, and bringing someone in that, granted, will make things really uncomfortable for a little while, but shit, maybe it will change the way things are. What have we got to lose? We’re headed in a disastrous direction, and maybe changing things up will help bring Justice back to the people. Maybe it will save lives. Just maybe, America will be the land of the free, and home of the brave, again. Because, I don’t know what it is now, but this isn’t what the Founding Fathers envisioned. 

In a future story, I will cover the wasteful spending by the State of Connecticut, so I can at least show you we’re investing Millions of Dollars in Turtles, and Pheasants, while we have Overcrowded Prisons, and people who are defined threats to others, and we can’t afford to monitor them. But, damn it, we know where the turtles are! 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

When The Scales Of Justice Need Re-Calibrating

When The Scales of Justice Need Re-Calibrating!
 By caged bear of truth

I consider myself an advocate for people going through the Criminal Justice System, and Family Services Division of the Justice System, because I myself have been through a good deal of both, and have studied extensively on the subjects of both areas, to the paralegal level, at a minimum. I had considered a professional career in this, but I think I would become more frustrated by the amount I couldn’t do, or wouldn’t be allowed to do, so I help people where I can make the greatest impact. To qualify, I have assisted Pro Se parties, (Self Represented) in both Criminal and Family cases, ranging from Divorce’s and Child Custody issues, to both misdemeanors and felonies, and I have managed the surrender of fugitives from justice. At least with me helping people, I have eased the most stressful part of any of those processes; being alone.

The reason I write this now, is we as a society lock up way too many people these days, and for the most asinine reasons. Although, statistics show overall, we’re getting better at it: With a total of Incarcerated Persons at 2,418,352 persons in 2008, to 2,220,300 in 2013, to  1,561,500 by 2015. The United States still has the highest rates of Incarceration of the world. Blame as to why this is, is being thrown all over the place, at everyone, and for every reason under the sun. No one will take accountability for it. But, the answer is simple: It’s the courts. The judges, & prosecutors specifically. Why? Because it’s easy, and they have caseloads that a robot would have a hard time with, and it’s just easier to throw people in jail. And when I say that, I mainly mean the end result. When folks are arrested, and arraigned, it’s a pretty simple game; You better have money available to bond yourself out, or you will be placed in a purgatory for an undetermined amount of time, where you will be forgotten as quickly as a piece of dust being swept up.

And the view that the public has of jails and prisons are so incorrect that everyone should have to spend a week in a county jail, just so they have an informed decision, before they spout off at the mouth about inmates and prisoners. Most people have this distorted view that everyone in prison or jail is a violent criminal or rapist, or thief, of druggie, and they should never be allowed to see the light of day again. The reality is, is that yes, there are violent, bad nasty people in prison, but they only account for a very small number of inmates. Sticking to County Jails, men and women can be in there for simple trespass, to larceny, to driving under suspension- anything they cannot post bond for, for whatever reason. Recently I came to find out that a good deal of inmates are in jail for failure to pay child support. The other reality people fail to realize, is that 90% of inmates have drug and alcohol abuse problems.

The question is, why should you care? Am I right? Well, here’s a fact that no one either realizes, or believes. Most think that we take people and put them in prison to remove them from society, when that isn’t just a lie, the truth is that Prisons and jails are actually part of society. They were originally designed to take these people, reform them and correct them, so that when we return them to society,  they are less likely to reoffend again. And here’s the second half of that uncomfortable truth: 95% of all inmates will eventually be released. But we got away from reforming anyone. In fact programs for inmates are being cut in record numbers. So, what we ultimately do, is warehouse people until they’re sentence is done, and having been so productive doing nothing in there, things like the Cheshire Home Invasion happen. Ask Mr. William Petit how that worked out.

The argument will always be,  that those programs cost money ( And we’re broke anyway, so how do you want to be able to pay for that?). The fact is, for basic services, it costs the State of Connecticut, $138 per day, per inmate. That doesn’t take in to account any medical costs, or programs. That’s Clothes, 3 Hots, and a Cot. (Tom Bodette at Motel 6 can do it cheaper, and shit, he’ll leave the light on for you!) So, if you do the math, figuring Connecticut has approximately 17,000 Inmates, that’s $2,346,000 per day, and $856,290,000 per year just to keep the inmates housed, clothed, and fed. That doesn’t take in to account costs for Staffing, Medical, Mental Health, Maintenance, etc, etc.
Maybe if we concentrated on treatment, rather than incarceration for Drug & Alcohol cases (Possessions, and DUI) and eased up on locking up Non-Violent Misdemeanors, and worked on Counseling Child Support Offenders for Employment Services- and those are just some ideas. Perhaps we could lessen up on Correctional Systems, and costs.

And, I have to throw this in, even though its partially decriminalized; How about legalization of certain amounts of Marijuana? I think Colorado has shown us that the Tax incentives are incredible, and crime went down 19%. I don’t use marijuana, but those are figures you cannot argue with.

In closing, I’ll address this to the Judicial System: Stop locking people up for minor infractions! When you do that, you do not correct problems in society, you are the problems of society!