FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

America Locked Up

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

 

While enjoying Christmas, good food and drink with family and friends in the warmth and comfort of your home, take a moment to remember the falsely imprisoned. Think about how your own family would handle the grief, because wrongful imprisonment can happen to you.

In a just published book, “Thinking About Crime,” Michael Tonry, a distinguished American law professor and director of Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, reports that the US has the highest percentage of its population in prison than any country on earth. The US incarceration rate is as much as 12 times higher than that of European countries.

Unless you believe that Americans are more criminally inclined than other humans, what can explain the US incarceration rate being so far outside the international mainstream? I can think of the following reasons:

(1) In order to prove that they are “tough on crime,” politicians have criminalized behavior that is legal elsewhere.

(2) Many innocent Americans are in jail.

There is enormous evidence backing up both reasons.

Professor Tonry notes that during the past three decades the number of Americans in prison has increased 700%. Imprisonment has far outstripped the growth in the population. Subtracting children and the elderly, one in eighty Americans of prison eligible age is locked up.

America’s privatized prisons have to be fed with inmates in order to maintain their profitability. Prosecutors need high conviction rates to justify their budgets and to build their careers. Taken together these two facts create powerful incentives to put people away regardless of crime, innocence or guilt.

Consider the case of Charles Thomas Sell as recently told by Carolyn Tuft of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and by Phyllis Schlafly on TownHall (Dec. 13). Mr. Sell, a dentist, has been locked up for almost 8 years without a trial. Allegedly, Sell is guilty of Medicare fraud, but with no evidence or witnesses against him, the virtuous, just, democratic, moral US government tortured Mr. Sell in an effort to make him confess. Now they can’t bring him to trial where he will talk. So Mr. Sell is kept locked up under the pretense that his unwillingness to admit his guilt is evidence that he is mentally incompetent.

Schlafly asks the correct question: “Is there no accountability for this type of government misconduct?” The answer is NO. Mr. Sell might as well be in Stalin’s Gulag or in the hands of the Waffen SS or US captors at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. No one will do anything about the crime that the US government has committed against Mr. Sell.

No one will do anything to help William R. Strong, Jr., another victim of our heartless injustice system. Strong has been in a Virginia prison for a decade on false charges of “wife rape.” Mr. Strong has been trying to get a DNA test, confident that the semen in the perk test is not his but that of the lover of his unfaithful wife. But since Strong was convicted prior to the advent of DNA testing, prosecutors argue that he has no right to the evidence.

Another innocent victim of “Virginia justice” is Chris Gaynor, who my investigations indicate was framed by a corrupt prosecutor with the connivance of a corrupt judge, who intimidated Gaynor’s witnesses by jailing one of them. Only liars were permitted on the witness stand. I brought the facts to light in the newspapers at the time, but the Arlington, Virginia, criminal injustice system did not let facts interfere with its show trial.

Government routinely breaks the laws. So says Judge Andrew P. Napolitano in the current issue of Cato Policy Report and in his book, “Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks Its Own Laws.” Judge Napolitano reports on cases of torture, psychological abuse, and frame-ups of innocents that he discovered as the presiding judge. Any American naive enough to trust the police and prosecutors should read what Napolitano has to say.

Torture has become routine in American prisons. The goal of the torturers is guilty pleas and false testimony against innocent defendants. The torturers succeed. Napolitano reports that “fewer than 3 percent of federal indictments were tried; virtually all the rest of those charged pled guilty.”

Does anyone seriously believe that the police are so efficient that 97 out of 100 people indicted are guilty?!

The cherished code, “you are innocent until proven guilty,” no longer holds in America. You are guilty when charged. You will be tortured or abused and threatened with more charges until you agree to a plea bargain.

Diane Lori Kleiman is an attorney who has worked in a district attorney’s office and for the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. She says prosecutors have little concern with real crimes, preferring to target high-profile individuals in order to garner headlines and create a political career for themselves. Martha Steward is a victim of prosecutorial ambition as was Michael Milken, whose false imprisonment created a political career for Rudy Giuliani.

Kleiman says that prosecutors look for high-profile targets. “It isn’t necessarily an issue of right and wrong. It’s an issue of taking the case to trial and getting the publicity. That makes your career.”

The Martha Stewart case, Kleiman says, “is the first time in history where they charged an individual with false statements, without her signing the statement or without a tape recording that she even made the statement. And not under oath.” Kleiman is referring to US history, not Soviet or Nazi history, histories that our criminal injustice system now mimics.

The US criminal justice system is bereft of justice and accountability. It only serves the ambitions of prosecutors. In America, criminal “justice” operates like a Stalin-era street sweep in which hapless citizens instantly became “enemies of the people” simply by being arrested.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions, a book which documents the destruction of the legal principles that protect the innocent.

 

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
Gerry Condon
In Defense of Tulsi Gabbard
Weekend Edition
May 19, 2017
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Getting Assange: the Untold Story
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Secret Sharer
Charles Pierson
Trump’s First Hundred Days of War Crimes
Paul Street
How Russia Became “Our Adversary” Again
Andrew Levine
Legitimation Crises
Mike Whitney
Seth Rich, Craig Murray and the Sinister Stewards of the National Security State 
Robert Hunziker
Early-Stage Antarctica Death Rattle Sparks NY Times Journalists Trip
Ken Levy
Why – How – Do They Still Love Trump?
Bruce E. Levine
“Hegemony How-To”: Rethinking Activism and Embracing Power
Robert Fisk
The Real Aim of Trump’s Trip to Saudi Arabia
Christiane Saliba
Slavery Now: Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia
Chris Gilbert
The Chávez Hypothesis: Vicissitudes of a Strategic Project
Howard Lisnoff
Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain
Brian Cloughley
Propaganda Feeds Fear and Loathing
Stephen Cooper
Is Alabama Hiding Evidence It Tortured Two of Its Citizens?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail