Injustice We Believe


Justice for All

I think that if the beast who sleeps in man could be held down by threats of any kind, whether of jail or retribution, then the highest emblem of humanity would be the lion tamer, not the prophet who sacrificed himself.

- Boris Pasternak

by Chuck Shepherd

In August (1997), the three murder convictions against Michael Pardue, 41, which sent him to prison 24 years ago, were dismissed by the Alabama Supreme Court as the product of a coerced confession (and a sister of one of the victims said she accepts that Pardue is innocent).  However, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles said in November that it will not release Pardue, because of three subsequent convictions during those 24 years, for attempting to escape from the prison that was wrongfully holding him.

Source: Funny Times "News of the Weird" date undenoted

Can this really be true?  It is a crime to try to escape false imprisonment?  Apparently not everywhere...

Trying to Escape from Prison Made Legal to Promote Freedom

Attempting to escape from prison is not considered a crime under Mexican law, because the legal system recognises that everyone has a basic desire to be free.  Thus, anyone caught attempting to escape does not receive any additional punishment on top of their original sentence.  This is part of a philosophy that runs through the country’s judicial system: that the accused is allowed to pursue freedom in any way possible.  It provides a final chance of justice in a corrupt and unfair system.

There are critics of the law who say that it demonstrates the weakness of the legal system in Mexico, but many support it as a humanitarian rule that respects people’s individual dignity.  As one Supreme Court judge put it, "The basic desire for freedom is implicit inside every man, so trying to escape cannot be considered a crime."  Indeed, many believe that it provides a final chance of justice for some individuals, victims of what many consider to be a harsh, corrupt, and unfair system.  Less easy to support, perhaps, is the related law that people lying about their own guilt on the stand are not considered to have committed perjury.

Nevertheless, the whole ethos of the system is an interesting one, with the human right to freedom at its core.  Sister Antonia, a nun who has lived and worked in a prison in Tijuana for 25 years, calls the escape law "an extraordinary law, a charitable and spiritual law," and there are many who agree with her.  The president of Mexico’s Justice and Human Rights Committee has himself said that "freedom is given priority over other values, including prison security."  Although this all sounds very moral and humanitarian, would-be escaping prisoners should also note that prison guards are still permitted to shoot and kill anyone attempting an escape.

Summarised from an article by Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan, entitled "In Mexico, Fleeing Prison Is No Crime", in the Seattle Times (November 17th 2002).  It originally appeared in the Washington Post


And I missing something here?  Attempting to escape from prison is not a crime, but the guards can shoot to kill?  What might they be allowed to do if escaping was a crime?!?

Injustice is No Joke So Why Am I Laughing?

by Butch McGill

I apologise to all the honest, hard working, dedicated, charitable, compassionate attorney's and judges who serve our country diligently and faithfully.  Many are outstanding community leaders who generously give their time, money, and prayers to civic and charitable causes.  I apologise to these fine people for what I am about to say, but I have to say it.

The courts of our land have become a Jesters Court.  The rule of law has given way to the whims of whatever fool sets on the bench.  The noble principle of justice for all has given way to a system of legalised bribery where the rich go free and the poor go to prison.  The concept of a fair trial has been lost in the sophistry and tactics of attorneys who care only about how things can be made to appear, and not how they really are.  The right to a speedy trial is lost in a swamp of paperwork and legal manœuverings.  Convictions are overturned on appeal because the political climate has changed.  Juries convict on the basis of ideological positions, or personal perspective tossing evidence and law to the wind.  "Expert" witnesses are paid by both the prosecutors and the defense to present conflicting viewpoints about technical matters.  Judges and juries who listen to these experts often have little basis on which to judge either the experts qualifications or the validity of his presentation.  Attorneys and abusers are allowed to beat up on battered women and little children, as if the accused's right to face his accuser gives him the right to continue the abuse.  Convicted murderers are set free because of legal technicalities and prison overcrowding; white collar criminals who steal hundreds of thousands of dollars are placed on parole; but a hungry man who steals over $100.00 three times can go to prison for life.  A black man goes to prison, and a white man goes home when both have committed the same crime.

The common man laughs at a justice system which has turned into a Jesters Court.  We have to laugh or we will cry.

Source: (link now inactive) ©1998 gam

Passing the Bar

by Chuck Shepherd

In October, Derek Farmer, 42, who served 18 years in prison for the murders of a civil rights activist and a police officer in Dayton, OH, passed Ohio's bar exam and was sworn in as a lawyer.  However, two weeks earlier, Kevin Kapel was denied permission to take the same exam because of insufficient "character and fitness" to become a lawyer; Kapel's criminal record consists only of charges that he stole a girlfriend's cat and once tried to take his car back illegally from a mechanic.  (Farmer's application was helped by the strong support of his presiding judge and two other judges.)

Source: Funny Times "News of the Weird" February 2000

Prisoner Abuses and Bilateral Logic

by Patrick Cox

"The horrors experienced by many young inmates, particularly those who are convicted of nonviolent offenses, border on the unimaginable.  Prison rape not only threatens the lives of those who fall prey to their aggressors, but it is potentially devastating to the human spirit.  Shame, depression, and a shattering loss of self-esteem accompany the perpetual terror the victim thereafter must endure."<

This statement does not, as some might expect, refer to Iraqi detainees, but is commentary by Supreme Court Justice Harry A Blackmun, in Farmer v Brennan, about the US prison system.  Those who draw a straight line of responsibility between the abuses of Iraqi prisoners by military guards to either Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or President Bush ought, at the very least, to have their own logic, or lack thereof, applied bilaterally.  Representative Charles Rangel of New York has filed articles of impeachment against Rumsfeld, and says "This rises to the point that it is a high crime and misdemeanor."  To the best of my knowledge, however, he has never considered resigning over serious ongoing abuses in his own state's prisons - including the stomping murder by guards of part-time deliveryman, Thomas Pizzuto, while serving a 90-day sentence for a traffic violation during Rangel's tenure.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for Rumsfeld's firing, intoning that, "The sad fact is that the abuses could have been prevented with proper leadership at the top of the chain of command."  In her own state of California, however, she did not apply this standard to the ongoing scandal of California prison conditions.  Even in her state's youth facilities, studies document widespread tolerance of violence and inmate rape.  The recent hanging deaths, apparently suicides by two teenagers unable to deal with conditions, have not yet been fully investigated.  Massive campaign contributions to Gray Davis's recall election campaign by the prison guards union, combined with a series of lavish salary increases he gave that group, surely merit similar outrage by the Minority Leader - as did the union's successful opposition to legislation that would have investigated abuse of prisoners by guards.  California's court system under Governor Davis was markedly unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute allegations of prisoner deaths at the hands of guards and the intentional subjection of targeted convicts to known rapists.  In fact, Pelosi opposed his recall.

Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, angling for a high-level firing or resignation, complained that, "No one has stepped forward to take responsibility for the conditions in Iraqi prisons.  Instead, fingers are being pointed in every direction.  With whom does this buck stop?"  Apparently, the buck did not stop with Byrd or any of his cronies when it was discovered that Fred Zain, the villainous West Virginia State Police Serologist, had falsified lab and test results on numerous occasions to put an unknown number of innocent people into his state's prisons.  The laws of probability almost insure that at least some of these falsely imprisoned individuals were allowed to be abused and raped by hardened criminals.

John Kerry, who sees evidence of the administration's incompetence in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, wants Rumsfeld fired.  He did not, though, make similar demands when his own state's prison officials nearly guaranteed that pædophile priest John Geoghan would be murdered by putting him within reach of violent inmates known to want his death.

Do I seriously believe that top state officials should be forced to resign whenever an abuse of a prisoner takes place under their watch?  No.  My point is that those vilifying the military and administration for allowing lesser abuses than those that occur in prisons in their own states are either completely uninformed or dishonest.  According to the Criminal Justice Institute, in the year 2000 alone, 55 inmates were murdered, 39 died "accidentally," and 118 died for unknown reasons in American prisons.  Studies by the nonprofit Stop Prisoner Rape assert that 1 in 5 male prisoners is raped while in custody, a view taken seriously by President Bush when he signed national legislation furthering research into the problem - spurred by estimates that one in four prisoners is HIV positive.

Even many Republican supporters of the administration are publicly calling for a proud double standard, saying that America cannot allow the sort of abuses shown in the prison photographs that have sparked outrage and prompted congressional interrogations.  Most admit that much greater evil took place under the rule of Saddam Hussein and continues to take place in many Middle Eastern countries that oppose the democratization of Iraq, but none has mentioned that worse abuses of prisoners takes place in America as well.  Moral posturing may serve political interests, but no honest person can be particularly surprised that wartime prisons manned by relatively untrained and inexperienced reservists are not superior to our own domestic penal institutions.  Those feigning horrified outrage ought to look to their own backyards before portraying abuses by a relative few in Iraq as particularly surprising or unprecedented.

Secretary Rumsfeld promised, in the hearings, that, "We will strive to do our best ... as imperfect as that may be."  Those who promise more than that do America no service.

Source: 10 May 2004 © Tech Central Station

However, the US Isn't the Only Country with Problems

Southern Arabia Man to Get 4,750 Lashes

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - A Saudi court has sentenced a man to six years in prison and 4,750 lashes for having sex with his wife's sister, a newspaper reported Sunday.  The woman involved in the case was sentenced to six months in jail and 65 lashes, the paper Al-Eqtisadiah reported, though the court found she had not consented to the relationship.  She had also reported the affair to the police.

Having a relationship with one's in-law is considered a serious offense under the strict Islamic judicial code that Saudi Arabia follows.  The court, in the port city of Jiddah, ordered that the lashes be administered to the man at a rate of 95 at a time.  Lashes are often handed out by Saudi courts, although rarely in such large numbers.  The court also ruled he was not eligible for a pardon "because of the ugliness and seriousness of his crime."

Source: The Washington Post Sunday 17 February 2002 © The Associated Press 

Teen Changes Plea and Admits to Incest

Kota Baru - A 17-year-old girl was bound over in the sum of RM1,000 (S$427.50) by the Syariah High Court here yesterday after she changed her plea and admitted committing incest with her father.

Judge Haji Abdul Aziz Mohamad bound her over to be of good behaviour for one year with her mother to stand surety because she was a juvenile.  If the mother failed to post the bond, the girl, whose identity was withheld, would be sent to a welfare home for two weeks, pending a probation report.  After that, she would be sent to a reform school.

The girl, who defended herself on Tuesday, changed her plea after a discussion with her mother.  She admitted committing the offence with her father at a house in Jalan Dusun Muda, here, at 1:35am on 26 January this year.  The court stood down after she asked to discuss the matter with her mother over the phone but after the break, the girl, who was crying, said she wanted to plead guilty.  "I have discussed with my mother and she wants me to plead guilty. I plead guilty and don't want to be tried," she said.

The girl and her father were arrested after a group of religious supervisors visited the house after a tip-off from the public.

Her charge under section 10 of the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code 1985 carries a maximum two years' jail and RM3,000 fine.  Her father was jailed for one year and fined RM2,000 last Tuesday after he pleaded guilty.  He received a similar punishment and two strokes of the rotan for committing another offence when he was caught trying to have illicit sex with his daughter. - Bernama

Source: The Straits Times Singapore Thursday 2 Mar 2000

Pardon me?  Am I missing something?  An underaged child is found guilty of having sex with a parent?  And in the first article, a lady who was apparently raped by her brother-in-law and reported the incident to the police is sentenced to six months in jail and 65 lashes?  It's a crime in some countries to be a victim?  Some judges have attitudes that are beyond belief.

Also see:

bulletZero Tolerance Policies - Brown was suspended from school last month when a deputy spotted a kitchen knife with a 5-inch blade in her car, which was parked in the school parking lot.  The teenager says she didn't know the knife was in the car and that it must have fallen out of a box when she was moving.  The school system's policy is that any student who brings a weapon on campus is automatically suspended...
bulletStudent Essays Undergo Different Type of Scrutiny - Last month, a 7th-grader in Ponder, Texas, wrote a Halloween story about shooting his teacher and three classmates and wound up spending five days in juvenile detention on suspicion of making terrorist threats...

For articles on white collar and petty crimes, injustice, capital punishment, race, executioners, freedom of the press, cheating, private prisons, punishment, retribution, prison labour, appeals, instant justice, electronic tags, lepers and second chances click the "Up" button below to take you to the Table of Contents for this Prisons section.

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