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Thirteen percent of the US. population has a poverty rate that is almost 3 times that of the rest of the nation. Poverty is the modern-day vehicle for the system of free labor that dominated global trade for 400 years. Within our US. constitution lies one loophole that preserves this system of free labor. The 13th Amendment of the American Constitution declares: “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, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The stipulation here lies in the word convicted. To be convicted of any alleged criminal act, a person either pleads guilty, (accepts a plea agreement), or pleads his case before a judge or jury, wherein they deliberate the outcome of the case. One key element stands between the judge or jury, and the outcome in any case. That is legal counsel.


The 5th amendment of the US. constitution states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The language, “To have the assistance of counsel for his defense,” suggests that an American citizen has a fundamental right to the assistance of a lawyer that will work to defend him. However, often this fundamental right is not upheld. The Bureau of Justice reports, approximately ¾ of inmates in state prisons received publicly provided counsel on the cases in which they were convicted, and imprisoned. Further, in a 2003 Department of Justice study of 75,573 US. criminal cases, 95% were resolved by guilty plea. Essentially, only an estimated 3% – 4% of the total US. criminal cases make it to trial.


Black citizens in America today account for nearly 50% of the prison population. In contrast, according to the US. Census Bureau the black population forms less than 15% of the nation, of which, 27% live below the poverty level. The incarceration rate has steadily increased over the last four decades. The Bureau of Justice reports 1 in 3 black men will go to prison in their lifetime. This leads to a complete disruption in the family cycle, it disintegrates the foundation necessary to build generational wealth. Men are confined to the greatest extent. According to a 2010 finding by the Bureau of Justice, men are incarcerated well over 10 times the rate of women. Families are impacted by the absence of a father figure, and all that it represents.  Fundamentally, communities of these broken families are left to fend for themselves, while men are utilized as free labor, medical experimentation, and further exploitation.


This cycle of poverty is built into the American justice system. Free labor is a utility of the prison structure. Conversely, those reintegrated into society struggle to find employment, once freed, due to restrictions built into the justice system, and enforced by society at large. The value of American citizens is diminished not from crimes they have committed, though this is a common misconception. They are undervalued based on a system that castigates those living in poverty. The current system that devalues human potential, undermines the United States’ capacity to solve world, and domestic problems effectively. America is the richest, most powerful nation in the world, yet it has yet to resolve its own biggest problem, poverty.


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Fighting for your Rights in a Criminal Case; Why you Should Research and Hire a Lawyer


Fighting for your Rights in a System of Privilegeimage, ik art, justice, Rights

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.

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 con tacting 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 minor 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 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 “Competence 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.

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Influence of Poverty in the Criminal Justice System

2013-2015 Federal Safety 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, though it is not the only factor in the racial imbalance. USA Today recently conducted a review of 3,538 police departments across the US. The review was based on data reported by police departments to FBI annually. It concluded that black citizens are more likely than other citizens to be arrested in nearly every city, and for almost every type of crime, or offense, from loitering to murder. Information gathered showed 1,581 departments across the US arrest black citizens at rates higher than 3 times that of white citizens. At least 70 departments from Connecticut to California reported an arrest rate 10 times higher than that of the white population. In Clayton, a Missouri suburb, black citizens composed 8% of the population, and accounted for 57% of arrests.

The detrimental consequence of these disproportionate arrest rates is not just that they impact unequal incarceration rates, they factor heavily in how so they contribute. If these arrests, or charges remain on someone’s record, they can be utilized by prosecutors later to build a case against a defendant. This information contributes to higher bond sums, longer sentences, and more convictions. If not expunged, charges stemming from minor misunderstandings can later be mischaracterized to reflect a crime record. Competent legal defense is the last line of defense that separates freedom from confinement. The effects of racism and 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 its 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…






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 $2.00, (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 in a similar way fresh pine might. It is not overwhelming. On the contrary, it’s subtle aroma is perceptible through the closed plastic container. It is best to select the greenest, freshest looking herbs.

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. To begin, slice three large russet potatoes, (baking potatoes). 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, it will amaze you how easy and rewarding it is.


Choosing a good olive oil is pivotal in determining whether you opt to select olive oil as a cooking oil. Some brands are repelling, and I have found that no two brands have the same qualities. The most readily noticeable quality is fragrance. It is worth investing time to try several brands before drawing a conclusion, as it is a delightful addition to the culinary 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 has the health benefitting properties, a richer aroma and flavor with a greenish tint. The second pressing is golden in color. It is the refined oil, with a milder flavor, and costs less.

Olive oil is not recommended for diabetics due to its’ high concentration of fatty acids. Sunflower oil is a tasty alternative, and is vitamin and mineral rich, with a light aromatic flavor. Coconut oil is another healthful option, that has added benefits to the metabolism.

rosemary, cooking with herbs, easy cooking; photo of roseamary bush

Rosemary bush