By Bob Livingston
If you’re looking for justice in the American justice system, you’re not likely to find it. Particularly if you run afoul of the warriors in the “War on (some) Drugs.”
In fact, the American criminal justice system is aptly named. It is criminal the way the system dispenses “justice,” and that criminality infests the entire system. That’s because the system has become a business and a blood sport based on profit, control and winning rather than determining a person’s guilt or innocence.
Prosecutors regularly admit they are judged by the public based on convictions, not justice. That’s one reason multiple criminal charges are piled on people when they are arrested.
This process, called “overcharging,” does several things. It allows prosecutors to threaten defendants with extended prison sentences and fines upon conviction of multiple charges for the same crime. It gives prosecutors a backup charge to stick on the defendant in the event the defendant is acquitted of the most serious charges. It gives jurors more conviction options if there’s doubt over some or most of the charges if the case goes to trial. But most importantly, it gives prosecutors more leverage to coerce a plea bargain.
All this goes to pad the prosecutor’s “won-loss” record. It also goes to pad America’s prison population.
The pattern is to intimidate all criminally charged defendants today to plead guilty to “reduced” charges rather than risk a trial with the threat of draconian sentences in the implied event of a conviction. No trial? This means that the prosecuting attorney is the judge and the jury.
Unless we have missed the point here, all Americans are now subject to entrapment. Innocence or guilt has nothing to do with a judiciary gone wild.
You can commit a federal crime in America and not even know it. People are targeted and a crime is found to fit.
As Harvey Silverglate writes in Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent, “it is only a slight exaggeration to say that the average busy professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, takes care of personal and family obligations and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she likely committed several Federal crimes that day.” Why?
The answer lies in the huge volume of federal and state criminal laws which are broad and impossibly vague. They have become dangerously disconnected from English common law tradition.
If you think it’s only the criminals getting caught up in felony entrapment, think again.
Tens of thousands of people every year are sent to jail based on the result of a $2 roadside drug test that routinely produces false positives, as an investigation by the leftwing “independent” news group ProPublica found.
Amy Albritton, a mother from Monroe, Louisiana with a disabled child, was on her way to Houston with her boyfriend who wanted to try for an oil-rig job. Albritton had volunteered her car and had come along as a sort of “get-away” for herself. They were pulled over in Houston for a lane change violation and Albritton’s nightmare began.
She consented to a search of her car — a grave mistake. An officer claimed to have spotted a needle in the car’s headliner and a white crumb on the floorboard, along with a box of BC Powder.
She had been with the man about a month and said she didn’t know if he used drugs or what the white crumb could be. With the field test the white crumb — about the size of a grain of salt — tested positive for crack cocaine. She was booked into jail. Her boyfriend, who had been driving, was charged with driving without a license and released. She spent the night in jail.
The next day her court-appointed attorney told her she was looking at two years in prison if convicted, but only a 45-day jail sentence for a guilty plea. He didn’t give her much hope of an acquittal. Even if the “drugs” weren’t hers, they were found in her car. He assured her she would only serve half that jail term.
She agreed to the deal. It cost her 21 days in jail, and her job. It also gave her a criminal record which dimmed her prospects for getting a new one. Five months later a crime lab finally analyzed what was left of the crumb. No drugs were indicated. It was a crumb of unknown substance — likely food debris. But no one told Albritton and her record was never cleared, even though she was completely innocent, as she had maintained all along.
It’s not an isolated incident. Daniel Rushing, 64, of Orlando, was charged with possession of methamphetamine after glaze from a doughnut tested positive. The doughnut glaze was found, again, after consent was given to search his car. He was booked into jail, strip-searched and left in jail 10 hours until he could post $2,500 bond.
He was much luckier than Albritton. Three days later the crime lab determined the substance was sugar and not drugs and the charges were dropped.
Jessica Jauch of Mississippi was arrested in 2012 after she was pulled over for a traffic violation. She was arrested on an alleged drug crime she claims she never committed. Supposedly there was video showing her giving money to a drug informant for drugs, and she had been indicted on the basis of the video. She spent three months in jail without bail, without a hearing and without representation.
When she finally got a court-appointed attorney and he filed a motion to see the video, he learned she was borrowing money, as she said, not paying for something. Her charges were finally dropped.
The poor are especially hard hit because their court-appointed attorneys are usually overworked and sometimes lazy, uninterested, incompetent, or some combination of these.
A total of 1,632,921 arrests were made for drug law violations in the U.S. in 2017. Of those, 84 percent (1,394,515) were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 16 percent were for trafficking drugs.
There are some 2.3 million people in American state and federal prisons, local jails, juvenile correction facilities, Indian Country jails, military prisons and other incarceration facilities in the U.S. and its territories. Many of these prisons and jails are for-profit private enterprises with incentives to keep people incarcerated.
America is a prison nation that makes communist countries look like welcome centers. One in 3 Americans will be arrested by the age of 23, many of them arrested on “crimes” including truancy and misbehaving in school. The faux war on drugs has ensnared millions of Americans for the non-crime of possessing parts of a plant.
America’s rate of incarceration exceeds that of South Africa and Iran. The U.S. has 6 to 12 times as many incarcerated people per capita as does Australia, Canada, France Germany, Japan or the United Kingdom. America has 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of its incarcerated people, and half of the world’s academically qualified lawyers. Those lawyers consume about 10 percent of America’s gross domestic product.
In America, people can be and have been arrested for taking raw milk across state lines, selling “unapproved” rabbits, growing pigs the wrong color, uprooting a plant on their own property or draining their own pond.
And with the arrests — and sometimes with no arrest or no charges filed — come the asset seizures. American law enforcement agencies confiscate millions of dollars a year from people if they just suspect it is involved in or obtained by criminal activity. Most times they never have to prove the money or property involved illegal activity.
The war on drugs is scam and a fraud. It was started as a political tool in 1971 by Richard Nixon to go after anti-war protesters and black people. Since then, more than $1 trillion has been spent and tens of millions of people have been incarcerated and many, if not most, of them were likely innocent.
And despite their corruption — or, if you choose to give them a pass, their ineptitude — prosecutors and judges are rarely held accountable. And LEOs (legally entitled to oppress) making false arrests based on bad tests, overzealousness or outright ignorance of the laws they are supposed to “enforce” also aren’t held accountable because they enjoy qualified immunity; because the police, district attorneys and judges enjoy a special relationship in that they are on the same “side” in most cases; and because the American public sitting on juries has been propagandized into believing that cops are all paragons of virtue and the only thing standing between us and the vast marauding criminal element.
The result is criminal records for millions of people — mostly blacks — that haunt them throughout their lives by costing them access to jobs, housing and their families, all to benefit the corrupt system.