Monday, August 5, 2013
Can Orange is the New Black, the new weekly comedy-drama television series, focused on the American criminal justice and prison system, do something that no one has ever been able to do before?
For the sake of our economy, and our society as a whole, I sure hope so. http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/07/30/orange-is-the-new-black-season-1-review
I read Piper Kerman’s book, Orange is the New Black, when it first came out and found it compelling, gut wrenching, and sad but true.
Given my experience in running Rikers Island and the NYPD, I have learned that you cannot fix a problem that you do not know exists. Given what I observed during my own incarceration, I am convinced that our legislators, courts, criminal justice administrators and the general public, have very little real insight, into something that has had, and continues to have such an negative impact on our children, economy and our country.
Hopefully, Orange is the New Black, will bring one of America’s most important issues, into the halls of Congress, and the living rooms of a general public, to give them a birds-eye-view of the collateral damage that prison and the criminal justice system can quite often have on families, children, the economy, and our society as a whole.
Bad people that do bad things belong in prison, and some, for a very long time. Some forever. But there are many first time, non-violent offenders sitting in prison, that could be punished by alternative sentencing, such as fines, probation, community service, and other methods, which would allow them to work, take care of their families, pay their fines and restitutions, and most importantly build a stronger bond with their children.
Justice would be served, and families could survive. The collateral cost of continuing down the road we’re on, will ultimately destroy generations of our youth to come, and our already dire economy.
Thank you Piper Kerman for your story, and to Netflix for having the foresight, and courage, to touch on a topic that NOT so many wish to discuss, or have the courage to do so.
Hopefully, in the course of your efforts, you can convince our legislators that inaction in criminal justice and prison reform is not as much soft on crime, as it is stupid on crime.
Without it, our children and theirs, our economy, and our society as we know it, is doomed to failure.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Last night, a jury consisting of six women in the State of Florida, found George Zimmerman, not guilty of a crime, in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The spectacle that has followed this tragedy from the time of the shooting, makes me wonder, if we as a country, haven't lost sight of what our founding fathers intended when they created the U.S. Constitution.
The Martin family deserved answers concerning their son's death, and Zimmerman deserved an unbiased, fair, and impartial investigation into his actions. That's the way it all began, but it is not the way it ended.
The Sanford Police conducted their investigation in conjunction with the local prosecutor's office, who concluded that the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, although tragic, was done in self-defense, and no criminal charges were brought.
By all accounts, the initial investigation of the shooting was thorough, fair, and conclusive, but for some in the media, that just wasn't enough, so they alleged that the real motive for the shooting was race, and within days after their focus on George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin began, they turned one into a saint, and the other into a monster. Neither, was a fair, or even close representation.
Then came the appointment of a special prosecutor, who using the same evidence, charged George Zimmerman with second-degree murder, a conviction of which could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life.
A truly objective onlooker would have to wonder, how could the two investigations have such different results. The truth of the matter is that it is not that difficult, when a prosecutor is motivated by politics and the media, and begins to infuse into the real evidence, their own personal conjecture and lopsided crime theories that can ultimately change the entire dynamic of the investigation.
The special prosecutor in this case claimed Zimmerman shot Martin because "he wanted to." They labeled Zimmerman a wannabe cop, claiming he followed Martin, after profiling him as a criminal. There was no evidence that that was the case, but they said it anyway, knowing it was a lie, and hoping that those words would win them a conviction.
That is not justice.
Prosecutors are not supposed to break the laws to enforce them. They are not supposed to be driven by the press or media, or influenced by political parties or activists, but unfortunately some are.
If a local, state or federal law enforcement officer got up on the witness stand, and lied to the court, or a jury, they would be charged with perjury, false statements or misconduct. Prosecutors should not be immune from those same standards and scrutiny, but unfortunately, for the Martin and Zimmerman families, they are.
In the end, the jury concluded what the initial investigation concluded - that the shooting of Martin, was not a crime.
The aftermath of the trial, is perhaps even more disturbing than the fact that Zimmerman was unjustly charged with a crime in the first place.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz tweeted, "Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn't last a year before the hood catches up to him."
Did we want justice, or did we not? Justice doesn't mean, you get the results you want or else! Justice should never be influenced by politics, the media or activism.
The political and civil rights activists will not be happy until they have destroyed Zimmerman and his family. Eventually, he'll lose his job, home and life savings, if he hasn't already, and he'll be bankrupted by legal fees and law suits. His life will never be the same, and this is just the beginning of the torture and torment he will suffer forever. This is not justice.
The initial investigation by prosecutors and the Sanford Police Department, and the findings of the jury was justice. Everything else, was a charade, and anything further would be a travesty.
Enough is enough.
Once and for all we should live and abide by the Constitution that was created to protect us. Ignoring it, is doing nothing but tearing us apart, and destroying this great country.