Exercising US Constitutional Rights comes with Price Tag

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Fighting for your Rights in a System of Privilege

According to the Bureau of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, statistics, in 2003, of 75,573 criminal cases, federal, and state, 95% were disposed of by a guilty plea. The statistics further show that an estimated 90%-95% of those cases were resolved through a plea agreement. In addition, for those seeking to defend their case at trial, under federal laws, a pre-trial determination of “Incompetent to Stand Trial” can be made by the court, if you are not cooperative with your attorney. mythology, lithograph, justice; constitutional rights

In 2016, Augusta, Ga. business owner, R.D. was accused of a crime. Due to his financial hardship, he qualified for a court appointed attorney. The appointed public defender further complicated the case once he determined that R.D. was only interested in challenging the criminal allegations against him. When R.D. did not accept the plea agreement presented by the state prosecutor, the public defender responded by ordering a mental Evaluation for competence to stand trial, and a test for criminal responsibility. The evaluation cited the public defender’s primary concern was that R.D. did not want to plead guilty. Upon contacting the public defenders office, they stated based on their policy, they do not replace the attorney initially assigned to a case.

The forensic evaluation was overshadowed by the weight of the state prosecutor’s allegation, and a vague record of 4 or 5 criminal charges from the past 35 or so years, that were essentially dropped, though they were presented to the court evaluator as though they were prior criminal convictions. One of the charges, for example, was for returning a rental vehicle late, to which the charge that was later dropped was for theft. In addition to this information, provided without context,  the prosecutor forwarded the case information, which included the unsubstantiated, and unchallenged allegation. The evaluator reviewed this information prior to conducting the actual forensic evaluation, a standard practice. The resulting report was presented at the court hearing regarding R.D.’s competency to stand trial, to which he did not have an alternative strategy of defense. The judge essentially obliged the prosecutor, and public defender, in signing an order of committal for inpatient treatment at a mental institution, for what is referred to as “competency restoration.”

The extreme measures to which this case has taken a turn are in stark contradiction to US. constitutional law. More specifically, amendments v , vi, vii. xiii  and xiv. Amendments that pertain to the right to due process of law, right to effective counsel, right against involuntary servitude, and equal protection of the laws. The courts ignore these rights in the absence of a competent lawyer. Discuss the questionable practices of the justice system with a private lawyer, and you are likely to be met with acknowledgement. However, you will be hard pressed to find a reputable attorney that will take a criminal case pro, or low bono.

image of document; motion of the court; privilege constitutional rights

Influence of Poverty in the Criminal Justice System

2013-2015 Federal Safety Net.com statistics cited the US. poverty rate among the black population as almost 3 times that of  white, non–Hispanics. Additionally, A  US. Census Bureau ACS study conducted in 2014 revealed 27% of black Americans live below the poverty level. In contrast, the rate for all Americans was 11%. The US. Census Bureau reports black Americans make up approximately 13.3% of the US. population, although statistics reported by the Bureau of Justice suggest 1 in 3 black men will go to prison in their lifetime.

Further, The NAACP reports that from 1980–2008, the number of people incarcerated in America grew from 500,000 to 2.3 million. What is more, black Americans constitute nearly 1 million, close to 50% of the total US prison population. Black Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, in a country that has one of the highest recorded prison populations globally.

The connection between poverty, and incarceration is glaring. Competent legal defense is the last line of defense that separates freedom from confinement. The adverse effects of poverty ripple out generationally, as mass incarceration deteriorates families, communities, and undermines America’s potential.

Change Starts With Outrage

When the president put forth his first immigration order in February 2017, the course changed for millions of people. Plans for attaining US citizenship, taking refuge in the US, and traveling to, and from America’s borders, was altered. Lawyers came forward. There was an outpouring of legal support, and defense for immigrants documented, and undocumented. Where is the outrage over mass incarceration, and it’s clear racial preference? As a nation, how is this phenomenon of epidemic proportion simply being treated as just an everyday occurrence. For anyone to say racism is no longer enforced, look again. The statistics are more than staggering.

As a society, to change a system that exploits human energy, we must first value the source of that energy. Long established attitudes of racism go well beyond our own personal, inner search for truth. They lie within the foundations of our society. In government, corporations, medicine, law. Wherever there is a lack of diversity, there is exclusion. There is a prevailing presence of boundaries, personal, as well as throughout the physical landscape. These boundaries contribute to a lack of understanding, and fear that is at the root of the devaluing of certain human lives. The leadership lies within our own selves, to change that landscape.

US Constitutional Amendments Cited:

  • Amendment v: …Nor be deprived of life liberty, or property, without due process of law.
  • Amendment vi: …And to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
  • Amendment vii.: …The right to trial by jury shall be preserved.
  • Amendment xiii., section 1.: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted , shall exist within the United States…

 

Bibliography:

https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/00https://

www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/rates.htmlhttp://

www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/

 

 

EASY COOKING WITH ROSEMARY

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DSCN8406 rosemary freshYou can find fresh herbs at the grocery store or supermarket. They come in clear, flat, 5 in. long containers, 3/4 oz. to 1 oz. for $2.oo,  (price may vary). Each fresh rosemary  package has several 4-6 in. long stems, called sprigs. Each sprig has many narrow leaves (about an inch long). One package may contain about 8-10 sprigs. The aroma of rosemary has a citrus type of quality, that when inhaled tends to clear your nostrils a bit in a similar way fresh pine might, though it is not overwhelming. It is best to select the greenest freshest looking herbs, additionally, you can usually pick up the  fresh scent through the closed package.

The Exhilarating Nature of ROSEMARY

The rosemary bush radiates exhilarating aroma. When cooking with rosemary, its effect is comparable to that of a humidifier. As it heats up, it clears the air. Slice three large russet potatoes, (baking potatoes). First cut the potato lengthwise in half, then cut the halves lengthwise again. Now you can either cut those into thin lengthwise chips or cut them into fries. Pour 3 tbsp. of olive oil, place one jalapeño pepper, and one sprig of rosemary at the bottom of a glass or ceramic cookware dish. Lay the cut potatoes on top and cook in a microwave for about 20 minutes (estimated). As it cooks the aroma will refresh the area and clear your mind up from a chaotic or stressful day. You will know it is ready when the potatoes are soft throughout and a touch of golden brown edges the tops of them. As you sit down to partake of this simple and fancy dish, you will be amazed at how easy and rewarding it is.

SELECTING OLIVE OIL

Choosing a good olive oil is pivotal in determining whether you opt to select olive oil as a cooking oil. I have been turned off  by some brands, and have found that no two brands have the same qualities; The most readily noticeable being fragrance. It is worth the invested time to try several brands before making a conclusion, as it can be a delightful addition to your eating experience. Extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil is widely recognized as an anti-inflammatory, (healing), food. There are generally two varieties to select from.  Extra virgin cold pressed is the first pressing of the olives,  and contains the health benefitting properties, a richer aroma and flavor with a greenish tint. The second pressing is golden in color. It is the refined

RSCN8381 Rosemary bush

Rosemary bush

oil with a milder flavor and generally costs a bit less. Olive oil is not recommended for diabetics. Sunflower oil could be a tasty alternative, and is vitamin and mineral rich, with a light aromatic flavor.