From the September-October 2022 issue of News & Letters
What is criminal justice reform? Why do we feel there is a need for it? How could it be reformed if the people who represent that system are corrupt? These are the questions posed by every person I talk with about criminal justice reform.
The criminal justice system is an authentic system, if executed within the boundaries of justice for the individual accused of a crime, with an honorable foundation. Some people think: “What right to justice does a murderer, a robber, a rapist, or a drug dealer have? What justice do they deserve?” These are thoughts that some correctional officers have no problem expressing verbally or through corrosive actions.
ARE THOSE WHO RULE US ABOVE THE LAW?
The essence of these words corrupts the criminal justice system. The people in positions to protect the honor of our laws and the liberty of the American people have created an image of themselves as superior to the law, which has subjected them to thoughts of committing treason against the U.S. Constitution and the people they swore to protect and serve.
A judge can set a robber’s bail at $500,000 with no 10% even though the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment states: “[E]xcessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel or unusual punishments inflicted.”
A judge giving someone a $500,000 bail, when that person didn’t even have a job, not only shows excessiveness in the bail, but it also reflects the psychological position of the person with the authority to represent and enforce justice in our courtrooms. The accused has no chance to properly defend himself. He is forced to fight for his liberty from a cell the size of a king size mattress, with access to the law library once a week, and that’s if they remember to open your cell door.
You are fed like a pig, talked to like a dog, and sometimes beaten like a slave for speaking up on behalf of the U.S. Constitution. If you go back to court, your court-appointed lawyer is trying to persuade you to take a plea deal for 10 years because you’re looking at 25 years to life, if you go to trial. Why are so many innocent people incarcerated, when the real violators of the law, the real robbers of liberty, the real terrorists of justice are the ones who are locking them up?
If a criminal is anyone who commits a crime, and a crime is any violation of the law, then, America, we need to hold each other and ourselves accountable according to law. Especially if you are in a position where you have been granted the authority to enforce it.
‘CRIMINALS LOCKING UP CRIMINALS’
The criminal justice system is corrupt because the people put in positions of responsibility are corrupt. You have criminals locking up criminals. There is no one holding anyone accountable because everyone is violating the law either to advance their careers, make extra money, participate in blackmail, or even exercise personal bias towards a particular crime or person.
Correctional officers are susceptible to corruption because they can spit in someone’s food, destroy their property, or put a knife in their bunk area and get away with it. If the inmate speaks up, they get beaten, thrown in the hole, starved, denied privileges (so they can’t call family) and in some cases murdered.
How much room does a convicted criminal have to improve his behavior and challenge his criminal ways of thinking if the people who are supposed to be leading by example are more of a criminal than he is? If the criminals running the justice system aren’t held accountable, the criminal justice system will always be corrupt. Law is law, and it shouldn’t change because of who you know or what group you’re associated with. Without accountability, there will always be a fight for justice and a revolution for reform.
Sean Daniels, #839717, Central Michigan Correctional Facility, 320 N. Hubbard St., Saint Louis MI 48880