Conviction abuse: Coerced plea experiences will expose the truth about of America’s system of criminal justice.

Truth, justice and the American way: Actual first-hand experience with today’s method of conviction, both by prosecutor concern or trial process manipulation is the real, factual truth about the American system of criminal justice. Today, at the time of this writing , elections are pending and those of us with that experience must influence our circle of acquaintance to unelect any candidate plugging “law and order” in any kind of language, even “make America great again” because what got us here today was and still is an abuse of “truth, justice and the American way. [1]

Having personally experienced the State of Florida’s process of conviction, incarceration, probation and sex law registration complete with GPS monitoring I feel I that have had a well-founded tutorial on Florida’s criminal justice methods and, more importantly, a record of their work. Being “inside,” the insider’s idiom for being “inside” jail and prison, gave me access to many other men with similar experiences and, in some cases, their “paper” –the investigative and court documents as well. I found the experience unnerving. I was stunned and confused by my conviction experience and even more shocked by the others disclosed to me. The rule is don’t tell anyone about your case. The laugh is that a discriminating close look at cases in the framework of truth and ethical criminal justice reveals more wrongdoing on their part than on those of us referred to by Departmental of Corrections officially as “offenders.” The truth is that we are “inmates” of their institution. “Offender” is a prejudicial term that implies that an inmate has a mind to offend, the impression of dangerousness that law and order actors must impose on the public mind to justify the righteousness of their “tough on crime,” “zero tolerance,” and pious law and order propaganda.

I sensed confusion as well, much like any victim of evil and abuse. It is heresy for a convicted person to claim victimhood but I believe that this writing an others in the future will convince any fair-minded person that the law and order plea conviction system is crime in progress, justice run amuck; at least two thirds or more of the convicted people in and out of prison are a product of law and process concocted to incriminate people indiscriminately for political reasons rather than anything having to do with the public well being. Confusion stems from the fact that, myself and my fellow convicts, believed that the United States stood for “fighting evil with Truth, Justice and the American Way,” Instead we found that our tax paid actors of the in the criminal justice system, lawmakers, law enforcers including corrections people, prosecutors, defense counsel, and judges, so called treatment providers and even supply and service contractors blind themselves to the excesses and abuse of law and practice in what is not a system of criminal justice but a criminalized system of convictions in the United States today. At the root is vote sensitive law makers, voter sensitive judges in political collusion with county sheriffs as the senior law enforcement officer and the police misconduct by their fellow officers and the legal protection of qualified immunity. Prosecutors, some elected some not, but all protected by absolute immunity and there lies the source of righteous convictions based on wrongful conduct.

Inmate conviction accounts uniformly reported police, prosecutor and even judges’ misconduct, evidence fudged, planted or cherry-picked, shameless lies to willfully indifferent judges or a judge who boasts that “I wanna’ retire with a million years [of sentencing] behind me.” And the community of private and public defense counsel appears to be mute on the issue. Crime control defense counsel are expected to cooperate in bringing in the defendant’s guilty plea. The defense evidence must be overwhelmingly exculpatory to embarrass the prosecutors and the judge. At first I thought this kind of railroad justice was confined to the county I was in but once in state prison I found the same pattern of over-charging threatened over sentencing while ignoring exculpatory material in the investigators’ own “paper” ignored. opt for the jury trial and beware—that process is rigged for guilty verdicts and the sentencing is even more vindictive, it’s called the “trial penalty.” In the lessor of two trial cases with comparable prosecutor plea offers of “five and five,” i.e. five years of incarceration and five years’ probation, the defendant received fifteen years prison plus significant probation. The higher and most outrageous trial outcome was a life sentence without parole or probation. The “Lifer,” a woman twenty years old at the time, copes with the PTSD and hopes and fights for a future. I met her family after my release; they told me that outside the courthouse the towns’ people milling around to go into the trial were talking about how this trial was going to be a “lynching,” and they were proud of it and indeed it was. Presumption of guilt by media release is the most pernicious weapon in the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors.

Personal qualifications: I’m neither a lawyer nor a scholar of criminal justice. My background does include a degree in Administration and Supervision–and today’s crime control criminal justice system convicts” administratively” not judicially and the State Correction’s system is retributive not rehabilitative. For a significant period of my work experience I produced and presented mini-video lessons designed to unwrap knotty concepts in science and math to support classroom teachers in these subject. The Crime Control model of criminal justice in the hands of law and order political interests literally criminalizes millions of decent people, labels them for scorn and disenfranchises them for the advantage of those political interests. I was confused because I experienced a self-convicting 5th Amendment violating guilty plea process which produced a civil contract made under duress which, if nullified, is so conceived as to double my jeopardy in that with the civil contract nullified, the original criminal charges remained in place with the same unwholesome criminal justice actors ready to stick it to stick it to me all over again. This wildly deceitful truth is not only not understood, it is believed to be Biblically inerrant because “you must have done something wrong or God (or their secular authorities) would not have put you here.” Florida lockups are filled with good, decent, compliant, people which is why they do not over-whelm wrongfully trained corrections staff who, like the public see “criminality” in character as well as conviction. These convictions create “criminality” in label but not in character. A subtlety ignored by law and order folks. My conviction was a voyage of discovery of the goodness and decency of people labeled “offenders” rather than clients or inmates and the unspeakable evil with which many of the actors in this criminalizing system are legally protected from consequences of their wrongdoing. I would day-dream with this vision, you s—heads brought me into your citadel of evil and I am going to spend the rest of my life deconstructing and exposing it. With a loving life partner to motivate and inform me, a lifelong interest in history and public affairs–chiefly politics—that now comes into practical use; a fatherhood and minor military experience and caregiver of various small animals–all of which give me a sense of what a and good wholesome the administration and supervision of a critical governmental institution, criminal justice, is supposed to protect. It not only fails to protect life, liberty and pursuit of happiness it is institutionalized to destroy it and we who know it best have our experiences with it as weapons to destroy it once we know how to use them. That is what my series of essays will be about. There is a lot to learn to educate the public well enough for them to return to what the nation’s Founders intended in the first place and what is viciously contradicted in today’s American system of criminal justice.

Crime creation, critical thinking and self-objectiveness: Teaching people to cope with knotty concepts or institutional system seemed to be a necessity for their peace of mind, their ability to cope. It as simple as stepping back, invoking some self-objectiveness and critical thinking about the larger context that they, or we, live. For example, drug laws invoked to protect the public from the consequences of their use or misuse. Do we as humans indulge in mind altering substances to incriminate ourselves or to refresh ourselves or even to over use in order to escape reality. Both apply to any mind-altering substances but alcoholic substances are “controlled” but not criminalized; alternative mind-altering substances are both controlled and criminalized. Still Americans spend perhaps 50 billion dollars a year on criminalized substances and stoking out-of-country and off-shore entrepreneurs from meeting that demand, classic capitalism. This kind of logical but moral disconnect is a plague on the nation because it accounts for millions of life days destroyed by confinement and scorn by fabricated rather than real criminality.

America, the great legal killing field: Most truthfully and logically outrageous is the justification for meticulously registering people and notifying the public that “those people” are “potentially dangerous” but failing to do the same for instruments that are factually and unfailingly dangerous to public safety, handguns and military assault rifles. Laws protect the manufacturers, distributors and owners from any consequences of their weapons. A handgun drops out of a patron’s pocket in an eating place, discharges and kills another patron. No one, neither gun owner, maker, lawmaker, etc. who makes this killing possible is accountable. Stand-your-ground laws let gun users murder on a whim of “being in fear of their life” even though their alleged assailant armed with absolutely nothing. The result makes almost anywhere unsafe. The Republican Party policy platform makes pro-poses criminalizing access to pornography because it is a “threat to public health” and then invokes the Second Amendment to shield makers, owners and handlers’ lethal weapons from the consequences of misuse. The bloody cost of embracing the Second Amendment protection firearms is 30,000 human gun deaths a year. The human death cost of porn is zero deaths per year. The societal cost of disregarding 4th, 5th and 14th Amendment protections in the criminal justice process is millions of life days a year. Law and order actors need a high rate of convictions to label and incarcerate to stoke the cycle of crime fear and demand more stringent crime control measures and elect more law and order politicians to provide them. We, labeled people, are made to be visible images of crime threat, tokens of law and order success in keeping the public safe. The result of Nazi German law and order politics was the mass destruction of good, decent, innocent men, men women and children. The German people, considering themselves as people of good conscience drank the cool aide of law and order righteousness and consented to the slaughter by willful blindness if not explicit consent. Today’s voting public does the same because there is no articulate pushback from the those of us who are in a slow process of annihilation, it’s time to comprehend the abuse of our conviction experience and inform the people around us of the truth.

Educating people to at least comprehend their systems with which they must cope to benefit or escape the worst effects of the experience was a satisfying practice for me. Besides observing and notetaking inside I’ve spent a good many months outside searching for that which can illuminate, explain this monster whose evil is so invisible to the American public.

“The System” as criminal justice is known to its actors, the practitioners, must be understood in its perverse reality both to cope with it and to reform it. Every problem must be defined to be disassembled and resolved. Its parts must be labeled with a nomenclature that identifies its components, its processes and its effects. Confusion was the most common mind set I found among my prison mates. Confusion over guilt for charges specified and the actual or factual circumstances that went into the convictions. They, like me, expected to be treated with some degree of Constitutional fairness, the “American way”—but all we got was shameless arrogance of deceitful professional misconduct from the get got. Inmates giving me their conviction account would acknowledge the “guilt” but with awkwardness, looking at themselves as outsiders look at them: “you are nothing but an another convicted felon so suck it up.” “Well,” I’d ask them, “do you feel that you were convicted in an honest and professional manner?” There would be a pause, a gaze into the distance and then, “hah—shit . . . “and off they would go with the truth of what they felt and experienced. That is where the truth of law and order justice really lies, in the experience of those who have suffered it, not in the actors who deliver it. How stupid can we be? And that is why in Florida, law and order actors must portray convicted people as character flawed, offenders and felons, just as Nazi German law and order people dehumanized Jews and other ethnicities to make them appear unsuitable for cohabitation with their image of a Master Race–racial purity.

Due Process and Crime Control–two models of U.S. Criminal Justice: Until a year ago when I picked up a copy of what turned out to be a popular police training textbook, The American System of Criminal Justice, [2] I had no idea that a polar opposite “Crime Control” Criminal Justice system operated in the United States and as I investigated it I realized that my conviction gave me a first-hand look at it. The authors compared the Crime Control to America’s traditional Constitutional Due Process model The authors put the two “models” on balance as to their legitimacy as processes by which criminal justice is to be administered in the U.S. In the Crime Control model police and prosecutors are expected to, on the strength of their “expertness,” assess potential criminality with “efficiency and . . . catch, try, convict, and punish a high proportion of offenders . . . [with] . . . speed and finality.” Criminologist Herbert Packer [3] presented the classic description of Crime Control in fifty years ago in 1968 and that is the chief tool of law and order politics which began with Presidential Candidate Richard Nixon in the same year and has since created the great mass of prisoners, probationers, sex law registrants, and label stigmatized people we have in the United States today. That’s 50 years ago and the public still believes that America’s produces convictions inerrantly “fair and just” with Constitutional Due Process. It doesn’t happen that way.

Due Process, the adjudicative model: Prosecutor and defense counsel square off and duke it out over the “factual truth” of the evidence presented, the judge mediates fairness of the “duking out” process and the jury evaluates the truth of the evidence presented and either convicts or acquits the defendant. The judge then affirms the result and orders the defendant freed if acquitted or passes sentence for the charges on which the defendant was convicted. Such criminal cases are few and far between, 95% of convictions today are the result of a defendant pleading guilty. What I never understood until I dug into the manner of our convictions is that we never really enter into the Due Process system unless we choose a trial. The public assumption, a myth, is that we are presumed innocent and treated so until convicted. The public impression of a plea conviction is that a benevolent prosecutor lays out their overwhelming factual evidence to the defendant or their counsel and graciously offers lessor charges to save the cost of a trial. Reality today is another matter.

Crime Control, the administrative conviction model: Herbert Packer couched his essay in scholarly generalities but made this point very clear: “The pure Crime Control Model has no truck with the presumption of innocence.” Law enforcement and prosecutors proceed on a “presumption of guilt” based on the strength of their expertness, defense counsel and the judge are expected to induce the defendant to avoid an expensive and time consuming trial in court. In practice I found that law enforcement investigates to incriminate, a prosecutor “stacks” “probable cause” allegations and charge counts which are “enhanced” with felonious mandatories to create a “trial penalty” to coerce the guilty plea. I was told more than once that “the judge pushed his mike out of the way told me that if ‘we convict you, you will be sentenced to the maximum the law allows.’” Learning this in jail even before my attorney let it be known to me I could only watch and wonder as did my family as all he all he did was negotiate, not defend, and he never explain that “The System” was a methodical conviction process, just the opposite of Due Process. Just take the plea, three years prison, seven probation or risk a trial and get 30 years if you lose. He did tell me something like “You don’t have a chance with this judge and a jury in this county.” This table is my summary of Packer’s description of the two models or systems:

Model Goal Conviction process Decision by
Constitutional Due Process individual liberty adversarial prosecutor vs. defense moderated by judge and jury fact base evidence and impartial law
Law and order Crime Control repress crime administrative negotiation by prosecutor and defense counsel police/prosecutor discretion

Herbert Packer went to great lengths to warn that while Due Process is balanced to protect the factually innocent as well as to convict the factually guilty in order to administer justice, Crime control is dangerously authoritarian and rejects that balance out right. It’s clear by now, 50 years later, that the law and order Crime Control and conviction system has been a horrific success as a vehicle for injustice and punishment and it serves neither justice or public safety. The actors themselves are just as dangerous as the core criminals that they link to any-one else they touch with their conviction system. A factually unwarranted life sentence is a death sentence, the life years lost–pure evil, and the actors, the perpetrators, they go home, enjoy their families and rest assured of what, professional integrity?

Jury trial Crime Control style: I heard several trial accounts and they were chilling as was the life sentence verdict above where I had access to the trial transcript and other documents. In the trial the defense counsel and judge take the position that the State is obliged to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt, that is their immutable task. Both then sit back as the prosecutor flaunts evidence and choreographs testimony with violations of truth, ethics and procedurals protocols and the defense and the judge make a muted show of due diligent objections which leave the prosecutors case looking watertight, so the jury votes the defendant guilty.

When the Law and Order Crime Control conviction system was first described in 1968 the United States convicted and incarcerated on a national average of about one hundred persons for each 100,000 people in population, that’s a rate of 0.1% per 100,000 population. The United States over the past fifty years since then has incarcerated around 700 prisoners per 100,000. If I subtract that first 100 inmates from today’s incarceration rate that leaves 600 people incarcerated today than would not have been incarcerated in the 100 years before the mid-1970s. Or, compared to other criminal justice systems around the world, the United States has 25% of all of the prisoners in all of the lockups around the world but the U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s entire population. So, two questions: Are we, today, so abysmally corrupt as human beings that America’s conviction system is fair and just and finds five time more criminals than does the rest of the world is America’s conviction system massively corrupt and in need of massive reform? There are truly dangerous, violent, core criminals among the mass of convicted people in prisons, I met some. But I found most of the men around me to be decent everyday people. It’s safe to assume that core criminals fit into the one hundred inmates out of 100,000 population or 0.1%. That means that the rest of us are doing the other guy’s time to satisfy other people’s political needs. This fact needs to be plastered over the foreheads to be read inside the head and outside of every person convicted and labeled as felon or offender whose conscience knows the truth of their conviction. Law and order people can’t deal with Due Process, it can’t mass process convictions.

The O.J. Simpson case: Crime control exists because of public consent. Crime control delivers publicly satisfying conclusions to the arrest and conviction process. Due process is messy because factual guilt may be overturned by errors or abuse of the process. The O.J. Simpson trial ended with an acquittal because the jurors took the fact that the bloody glove did not fit O.J.’s hand as reason to vote “not guilty.” The factual truth may be that when on June 15, 1995, O.J.’s defense attorney Johnnie Cochran goaded the assistant prosecutor into letting O.J. try on the glove. Cochran knew what anyone who wears leather gloves knows, they shrink when they dry out and must be worn for a while to turn supple and fit properly. The due process acquitted Mr. Simpson despite what the real objective factual situation might have been.

The Casey Anthony case revisited: Just to remind myself of what Constitutional Due Process justice is all about I studied “Casey Anthony, the Summer of lies,” a CNN Television Special Report that aired the week of July 15, 2018, the tenth anniversary of the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando, Florida. I had read her defense counsel Jose Baez’s book Presumed Guilty and examined the Special Report minute by minute. It demonstrated that Constitutional due process, that truth, justice and American way, could cut through the pretrial public outrage stoked by law enforcement and prosecutions’ handling of information and allow the trial jury to acquit Ms. Anthony in spite of that mob outrage. Only Caylee’s dried bones were found and the medical examiner could only put the cause of death as “undetermined.” Nevertheless the examiner posted “homicide” in the Medical Examiner’s report and the prosecution charged Casey with first degree murder in October, two months before Caylee’s bones turned up.

In pretrial months police and prosecutors released their findings and their opinions to the media, and in the actual trial proceeding the prosecution focused on those findings; suspicious but not direct evidence, and on Casey’s aberrant behavior during the month between Caylee’s disappearance and her arrest and her subsequent lies to explain that conduct. As the trial proceeded, Attorney Baez listed the State’s allegations with a fat marker on a poster sized newsprint pad. For each allegation he scored a zero because it, in and of itself, could not and did not explain how Caylee died and, if not by accident, who did it. Mr. Baez gave the jury two reasons to acquit Casey on reasonable doubt; he displayed large photos of Caylee opening the sliding glass door between the house and the back yard, the above-ground swimming pool with the access ladder in it, and pictures of Caylee playing in the pool. As for Casey’s lies and aberrant behavior, this TV report showed Baez in his opening statement he contended that Casey and her father lived a daily life of lies because on any day Casey could wake up in the morning with her father’s penis in her mouth and then go to school and play with her girlfriends as if nothing unusual had happened to her. Baez described how her father may have terrorized Casey when he found Caylee dead in the pool when he pantomimed the father cradling Caylee’s body in his arms and lunged across the front of the jury box shouting “Now, look what you’ve done!”

Baez, who normally practiced in Miami, said he took on the case because of the first-degree murder, death penalty charge. Without the due process trial prosecutors would have coerced Casey into a guilty plea with the help of her local defense counsel and recommended a life sentence in prison, likely without possibility of probation just like the sentence the Lifer received. Ms. Anthony had a gutsy attorney; the Lifer had a vote sensitive go-along-to-get-along pro bono defense counsel who ran for a judgeship shortly after the trial. Casey’s trial judge made a comment on TV that went something like this: “The jury has only two choices to report; ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty.’ If you don’t know [reasonable doubt] you have to check the box for ‘Not guilty.’” Such due process justice does not satisfy law and order believers. Social turmoil in 1968 when Packer described the identified the Crime Control process included the Supreme Court abolition of antiabortion laws and school segregation, the Civil Rights Movement that overturned the Jim Crow justice of the South, the anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, the riots that followed the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King. In this context Republican candidate Richard Nixon ran for President and won on a law and order platform and Crime Control was the perfect instrument for law and order measures because it cloaks its authoritarian processes as a device that protects people’s “human freedom” and “liberty.” Herbert Packer points out that he values system that underlies the Crime Control Model is based on the proposition that the repression of criminal conduct is by far the most important function to be performed by the criminal justice process and “retributive” criminal sanctions are the surest tools. Packer explained that the public sense that failure of law enforcement to bring criminal conduct under tight control is viewed as leading to the breakdown of public order and thence to the disappearance of an important condition of human freedom. If the laws went unenforced—which is to say, ”if it is perceived that there is a high percentage of failure to apprehend and convict the . . . law-abiding citizen then becomes the victim of all sorts of unjustifiable invasions of his interests. His security of person and property is sharply diminished, and, therefore, so is his liberty to function as a member of society.” Of course, what we have today is the product of law and order crime control criminal justice: the 900,000 per-sons on sex law registries around the nation, they are an extension of the 2.2 million persons confined in Amer-ica’s lockups and they are one in the same phenomena, all part of 6,906,200 combined total of incarceration and community supervision reported in Wikipedia in 2013. There are latterly millions of other men and women life-hobbled with “felon” or sex “criminal” labels, many banned from voting; all of which makes the purpose of our convictions to label us and make us visible images of crime threat. That’s political repression, not public safety. Over the months of questioning about convictions I felt that a man’s reluctance to talk about the conviction process was more a matter of confusion than submission to it. I believe a full exposition of the inside processes of repressive law and conviction will unleash a look at their own conviction record and a push back by those of us who experienced the deep injustice of the crime control process that is carried on in the name of “law and order.”

——————————————–

[1] The announcers closing words for the latest episode of The Adventures of Superman radio broadcasts of my childhood listening days.

[2] Cole, George f., Smith, Christopher E. The American System of Criminal Justice. (2007) pp. 10-11.

[3] Packer, Herbert L. Two Models of the Criminal Process. Note: There are two excerpts from Packers hard-cover essay The Limits of the Criminal Sanction. (1968). One is two pages long the other the other is a 14-page Part II segment of the book. (Criminal sanction is punishment for crime.)

1 comment for “Conviction abuse: Coerced plea experiences will expose the truth about of America’s system of criminal justice.

  1. Scott
    October 19, 2018 at 12:28 pm

    It all comes down to who you are and what BIG name you carry within your community or position of power. We all know that Money buys justice and yet the Judicial system will deny it all the way. The reason why lady justice has a blind fold should tell you something. In my opinion, People who ruin other peoples lives by lying, should pay a much more severe penalty of law, especially when a person is sent to Prison or having their name defamed for such a long period. You never recover from the stigmas in the local community. Its kind of like social media or a picture that’s been posted online. Once its out, it’s already to late.

    Prisoners DO NOT get enough rehabilitation inside and very few communities offer such programs for SO’s coming out where they can go for support groups or somewhere they can reach out for self help. I am not sure who to contact except Pray to Jesus, but we certainly could use more after care and support group programs.

    I also DO NOT agree with the policy of sending someone to jail because they feel they may re-offend due to stresses and oppression they have. People have a need to be able to work and make a living. however by these current laws that are in place in many states, oppression drives them to re-offend because they have “Nothing” and have no support to ease their burdens. The Stigma is REAL and the Lies the public is told that offenders are the most dangerous is “way out of line” especially when they refuse to offer any kind of support for SO’s.

    hardly anyone will hire you and it’s not exactly easy to find housing either. Now we are faced with possible loss of Food Stamps and Federal Law prohibits HUD to house anyone with a sex offense. Community notification is as bad as identity theft. Your civil rights are stripped.

    Some states also share SO’s email addresses with social media sites and frankly allow the social media providers the right to close your account down at their own discretion. Freedom of speech in the digital world has now been violated as everybody else uses these forms to communicate.

    Everyday i feel as if i have no voice with these restrictions and it kills my level of self-worth. Most people would just say, Hows it feel??

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