Monday, March 15, 2010

Congressional Hearings on the USDOJ?

(10 paragraphs, 1 quote, 3 links, and signature block) -- A woman whose brother is wrongly incarcerated rather hospitalized for mental illness wrote a blog decribing horrible living conditions that inmates endure in county jails in Texas and stated there is no improvement even after facilities fail inspections. A modified version of my response is below. I am censored and subjected to cyberterrorism for writing about justice issues. See this link for example and the tweet that was not permitted to go to eonline:

Regarding Texas county jails, they have quite a reputation for ignoring the humanity of inmates, just as Memphis/Shelby County Jail has and others. Inhumane conditions in jails are especially egregious because many innocent-until-proven-guilty people there are awaiting trials, some for the lack of bond money. Numerous jail inmates will be found not guilty once they have their day in court, which could take over a year to happen. Indigent citizens frequently sign false confessions of guilt and accept probation to avoid living for months in abusive conditions while awaiting trial for offenses they never did.

I don't think we can blame abusive living conditions in jails and prisons completely on the individuals over specific facilities or even on the nation's economic downturn. Keeping prisoners in sub-human conditions and inmate abuse preceded the economic crisis. The U.S. Department of Justice has a duty to protect the rights of institutionalized persons, including inmates and hospital patients. In large part, the failure is there. The most important part of any structure is its foundation. The USDOJ was and is corrupt and cares nothing about HUMAN RIGHTS FOR PRISONERS. That not only applies to people who are held in offshore War on Terror camps, but it is just as true of American citizens under arrest in domestic facilities. Individual jails have no one to hold them accountable for inhumane inmate living conditions, substandard health care, abuses, and murders behind bars. There are protective laws on paper, but there is little or no enforcement.

The DOJ's lack of enforcement also applies to "free" Americans' constitutional rights. We rely on the DOJ to enforce our civil rights. Unfortunately, many citizens find that our "inalienable rights" are really quite alienable. Discrimination against minority persons and disabled citizens is not only allowed by the USDOJ, but the agency actually participates in it. Consider the Wrongful Death of Larry Neal (Google it), which the USDOJ helps to cover-up instead of helping his family resolve the murder of the mentally and physically handicapped man and arrive at justice. The DOJ is an outlaw agency that refuses to answer the Neal family's FOIA request about Larry's secret arrest and murder in Memphis/Shelby County Jail with responsive documents, and the DOJ withholds investigation of Larry's death. Sick people, especially African Americans, are in a lower caste than pit bulls in America because we have a corrupt DOJ. That is precisely why Texas' county jails and other "correctional" facilities do not do more to improve living conditions for prisoners.

Memphis/Shelby County Jail, where my brother Larry Neal was murdered in 2003, was already under direct supervision following a lawsuit against it by the USA for inhumane incarceration. Yet the DOJ deliberately ignores its responsibility to uphold Larry's survivors' right to basic information about his arrest and murder in a facility under its oversight and exact justice for the crime. Therefore, federal inspections like you described mean nothing, even if the inspectors are honest and report abuse and jails are sued by the USA for their failures. There will not necessarily be enforcement of the terms of agreements that follow federal lawsuits against facilities that have been found to violate civil rights of hospital patients or inmates. On the contrary, the DOJ may do as it does regarding the wrongful death of Larry Neal and actually help hide the crime to protect criminals and even accept known perjury in federal proceedings for agencies to win release from federal overview.

Life is cheap and liberty irrelevant in the eyes of too many American officials. It is time for We the People to use the power of the voting booth to elect officials who will demand human and civil rights for all their constituents and not ignore the humanity of 2.3 million prisoners who are also citizens. Most prison inmates have been stripped of their voting privileges, but candidates should recognize that each inmate is likely to have at least five people who care about them - voters. Human rights for prisoners directly impacts over 10,000,000 Americans. Their quest for human dignity for prisoners is joined by millions more Americans who understand that a nation cannot be judged by how it treats its dignitaries, but how it treats its most powerless people. America sucks on that point, but we can improve. Let's start now and continue throughout the next election. Make human rights for prisoners a campaign issue. Don't pass a national health care plan that ignores prisoners' health. Find out where your candidates stand on supporting H.R. 619, a bill by Rep. Johnson (D-TX 30) to resume Medicaid funds for inpatient psychiatric care for people from middle-class and poor families rather than continuing to have prisons be America's cruel, discriminatory answer to mental illness. Demand that inmates get decent medical care, also.

Recently, Jamie Scott almost died in a Mississippi prison when both her kidneys failed. Weeks passed before she was transferred from the prison infirmary to a hospital, only after petitions and phone calls by thousands of her supporters. What happens to inmates who do not have thousands of supporters? All it would take for most middle-class and indigent Americans to die behind bars is a wrongful conviction or excessive sentence like Jamie Scott has (a double-life sentence over an $11 theft she disputes having done). Hundreds of wrongful convictions have been overturned in recent years by DNA testing and many more prisoners were released after careful review of evidence during new trials and hearings. This proves that wearing an orange jumpsuit does not prove a person is a criminal. Many innocent Americans had their liberty taken because they lacked the financial resources to launch a successful defense. However, most inmates are guilty of the offenses that led to their convictions and were justly sentenced to serve time for those offenses – not die from medical neglect or abuse.

In 2007, it was reported that eight California prisoners died of tooth decay when infection from their rotten teeth entered their bloodstreams and killed them. All they needed was to have their decayed teeth pulled, but they died instead. To separate men and women from any means to provide for their own health care by incarceration and then allow them to die from rotten teeth is equivalent to murdering them. Such criminal negligence is evidence that while America wages wars, supposedly over human rights for people in foreign lands, many of our own citizens are deprived of human rights at home. Americans' health care needs, including prisoners, are ignored in part because of the huge war budget to continue a war that many citizens find objectionable.

The Bible says charity begins at home. Why is America spending billions to secure human rights abroad while inmates from families that pay taxes, fight in wars, and vote in elections are permitted to suffer in the conditions you described? Answer: Inmates' families and others who care about human and civil rights must unite and demand CHANGE, beginning with the foundation of the problem - the USDOJ. Since presidents seem incapable of appointing attorney generals who will uphold justice and enforce the Constitution of the United States impartially for all citizens, America needs congressional hearings regarding the agency's dereliction of duty that has continued for many years and shows no propensity toward change. Thousands of people would welcome the opportunity to testify about their civil rights being violated and justice quests ignored or impeded by the DOJ, and not all of them pertain to prison issues.

Senator Webb is doing a top to bottom review of the justice system. He should include congressional hearings and learn from We the People what that system is like and the negative impact the DOJ's criminality has on our lives. If the Constitution still has power, then let us demand that it is upheld and the rights guaranteed to citizens be honored. If the Constitution has been nullified, then that should be acknowledged and admitted to We the People. The power of the Constitution should not be eroded by legislation like the Patriot Act that flies in the face of its civil protections or a DOJ that refuses to uphold its provisions. Neither should the rights afforded under the Constitution and other laws be ignored for select citizens. While Americans' resources are abundantly spent on wars waged in concern for others' human and civil rights, let us not forfeit our own.

A man who will not take care of his own, especially those within his own household, is less than an infidel.~Holy Bible

Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill
P.O. Box 153, Redan, GA 30074

No comments: