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Chapter One-In The Beginning
Chapter One-In The Beginning
God's Gunner's, Booty Bandits, & Bad Boys
By R25288 ( c ) 2006
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethern, ye have done it to me."
They were the unchosens: the ones not picked first, second, or third, to be on the team-any team. Some are the most dangerous among us. We profile them to protect ourselves. Like an animal, they can smell fear. They are our barbarians, and to be civilized, we lock them up in our prisons. I walked among them; loved them; and came away alive. I now have a true story to share with you of God's Gunner's, Booty Bandits, & Bad Boys.
They awake with sand and sadness in their eyes, as they recognize their all too familiar , and confining surroundings. The bright lights come on, and the dorm is filled with seventy-one other bunks, just like theirs, surrounded by other unfortunate unchosens. They were my brothers in blue, and I too, had now become one of the outlaws; the undesirables; the unwanted; the unchosens.
It was a vast wasteland of ptenttial and opportunities , lost or denied. They were from homes, broken or breaking, where values of education and religion may have been taught, but never truly absorbed or internalized.
A few accepted personal responsibility, and their fate. Most, myself included, blamed it on the Judge, Prosecutor, or Public Defender, called, "Public Pretender," on the other side of the razorwire. Others blamed the system, the corrupt government, the vast right wing conspiracy. It was the typical, "them, not me," syndrome.
What needs to change: better humanistic staff training, and improved salaries; some form of work financial incentives for all inmates, not just the few; conjugal visits; resonable phoone rates; more educational and vocational training for inmates; real reentry assistance, and not just dumping us, unannounced, at homeless shelters, with only one-hundred dollars in our pockets, and no job prospects, like they did to me. it is not a surprise that the United States Department of Justice statistics rate rarrest of ex-convicts at sixty-seven and a half percent within three years of their release from prison.
We need an abolishment of: Minimum Mandatory vengewance laws; Prison Release Reoffender Punishment Act (PRRPA) type laws, which lock up our children for life, for physically harming no one; Three Strike laws: and all laws that choose incarceration as the first option for first time non-violent felons, as occurred in my case, because a Vietnam Veteran, family man, Republican Judge, did not like my former Vietnam War protesting, and current gay Democratic politics.
Because I was sentenced less than one month after 9/11/01, for an alleged crime that did not involve drugs, sex, violence, and I didnot have criminal intent, nor did I profit one dime; I was sentenced to five years in a medium-maximum security prison, even though I was a minimum security custody prisoner, and to ten years of probation.
I am a college graduate (University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, 05/94); a registered Conscientious Objector, on moral and ethical grounds; and a lifetime pacifist. I was, and I am, an innocent man, but to the Judge, I was the closest thing to a terrorist that he knew. Yes, Virginia, sometimes justice is deaf, dumb, and blind.
My biography and thoughts are available on the American Bar Association website, under Law Day, under Tinker v Des Moines. It was a case that set a precedent for Student Rights in America, in 1969. United States Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas wrote in the 7-2 majority opinion:
"It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."
A system that allows the white Michael Milkens to walk away with millions of dollars and minimum sentences, and locks up blacks, and the poor, for ten yers to life for physically hurting no one, is not equal justice under the law, nor fair, Christian, or humane.
We need to overcome our fear of the criminal, and recognize that locking him (for simplicity, I utilize the masculine pronoun throughout this book) up for life is an expensive and dehumanizing option for him, us, and his family. It often destroys the individual incarcerated, and diminishes our compassion, and our Christian (any religion may be inserted here) souls.
It is hard to embrace the criminal after he has abused us or our family, but it is only through this embracing, this forgiving, that we can hope to heal the criminal and ourselves. This is the teachings of Christ. As students of Christ, our Christian nation needs a new balanced direction in the area of criminal justice.
I have not met a murderer, , child abuser, drug dealer, bank robber or thief yet that does not possess some redeeming value. That is the God within, trying to shine through, trying to come out. Most criminals are childlike themselves in their ignorance and naivete, in knowing the ways of God. It is the ways of love and forgiveness. We, as a nation, and as human beings, too often choose the easier path of ignorance, hatred, and intolerance. It is to the disappointment of our maker, whose image and values we turn our backs on, in so doing. Our current prisons and laws exemplify this ignorance, hatred, and intolerance.
He would not let me leave, and for that I was convinced that God was a Republican, and he was punishing me. Three times I tried to leave this earthly environment, and he denied me. So, I went, unwillingly; I witnessed: I wept; I loved; and I made a book of it. I could do that, and no less. I thank God for sending me there, to prison, to discover another example of man's inhumanity to man. I also discovered love, and my redemption.