It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.

 

Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.

 

Over 3,000 US prisoners serving life without parole for non-violent crimes

page: 1
6

log in

join
share:

posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 02:00 AM
link   

ACLU report chronicles thousands of lives ruined by life sentences for crimes such as shoplifting or possession of a crack pipe.

At about 12.40pm on 2 January 1996, Timothy Jackson took a jacket from the Maison Blanche department store in New Orleans, draped it over his arm, and walked out of the store without paying for it. When he was accosted by a security guard, Jackson said: “I just needed another jacket, man.”

A few months later Jackson was convicted of shoplifting and sent to Angola prison in Louisiana. That was 16 years ago. Today he is still incarcerated in Angola, and will stay there for the rest of his natural life having been condemned to die in jail. All for the theft of a jacket, worth $159.

Jackson, 53, is one of 3,281 prisoners in America serving life sentences with no chance of parole for non-violent crimes. Some, like him, were given the most extreme punishment short of execution for shoplifting; one was condemned to die in prison for siphoning petrol from a truck; another for stealing tools from a tool shed; yet another for attempting to cash a stolen cheque.


www.theguardian.com...

I simply have no words to describe how I feel about this. Something needs to be done to avoid such absurdities. Paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep somebody, who tried to steal a 159-dollar jacket, away from the society...




posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 02:16 AM
link   
reply to post by Cabin
 


I don't agree with a lot of the anti American rhetoric on here, but the crimal just ice system needs a major overhaul. Minimum and maximum sentences are supposed to discourage corruption but its an absurd system. Plea bargains are ridiculous and do the most harm to everyone except the ones making all the money. The war on drugs is a huge failure.

Prisons don't rehabilate anyone. Everyone who goes to prison is just cattle once they get there. Hardly in consideration for the different types of offenders. The system doest encourage productive members of society once they served their time. It aims to put them right back in the system.

Thousands of federal laws. Then add on city state county laws and ordinances. You need a team of legal experts to follow you around to help make sure you don't break the law.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 02:37 AM
link   

Cabin

Something needs to be done to avoid such absurdities. Paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep somebody, who tried to steal a 159-dollar jacket, away from the society...



Whats so absurd about it,,- he stole a jacket - ,,business have to charge everyone else more to make up for the loss of stolen merchandise.

whats really absurd would be the bankers/financiers having to do jail time for the damage they've done to society,,'prices never go up because of their reckless practices


edit on 15-11-2013 by Blowback because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 03:09 AM
link   
reply to post by SasquatchHunter
 



not to mention how angry people who actually make it out of prison become,generally even more detached from society.....

its not just the legal system that need an overhaul it is society as a whole......it would seem that life for the cattle these days is geared toward a major upheaval....the rich sit back and laugh while the world as we know it goes to hell



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 03:21 AM
link   
Forgive me if I come across as harsh but I find it hard to feel sorry for what appears to be a career criminal. If you make a life out of robbing and ripping off people and businesses then you really have no right to be a part of civilized society. Apparently he never learned his lesson and violated Louisiana's four strikes law, which if I understand correctly, and correct me if I'm wrong, is four FELONIES. If you can't get your crap together, pull your head out of your backside, and live among society without repeatedly committing felonies (and he did just that) then you don't really deserve to live among civilized people. I'd like to know what all his previous charges are and if in fact he has mad a life choice to victimize businesses and people for a living, rather than getting a job and earning his keep like everyone else, then I say we should spare taxpayers the burden and give him the express route out. People like him are what's wrong with society. He obviously wasn't contributing in any way and maybe the world is better off without repeat criminal scum like him. And yes, the same goes to drug dealers, banksters, pedos, etc.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 05:43 AM
link   
reply to post by Crackavelli
 


id gladley pay a few bucks more for a jacket than pay a little bit of each paycheck for the rest of my working life. It might make room for some real criminals. Politicians, Banksters, CEOs, Judges , Cops , and everyone in between.




posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 08:04 AM
link   
reply to post by Crackavelli
 


Star for you.

Most people that are given prison time for non violent offenses generally have a lengthy criminal history that includes other felonies like burglary, grand theft, fraud and robbery. They are given prison time due to repeat offender statutes. The non violent offense is just the straw that broke the camels back.

I am not saying the criminal justice system doesn't need change, but I find it hard to have any kind of sympathy for repeat offenders.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 08:49 AM
link   
reply to post by Cabin
 



Paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to keep somebody, who tried to steal a 159-dollar jacket, away from the society...


To be honest, that bill would be racked up for this guy whether he is in jail or not. Think about it. He stays out of jail and continues his life of crime. We will have the value of the merchandise he continues to steal, the cost of the man hours for the police who have to investigate his crimes, the cost of the state's attorney, judge and possibly juries to try him for his crimes. Not to mention the public defender who will be afforded to him at the cost of the public. Then his multiple stays in jail, just to be released so he can do it again?

When you look at it this way, if the public is going to spend money on him either way, he might as well be somewhere he can no longer victimize people.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 09:05 AM
link   
reply to post by SasquatchHunter
 



Plea bargains are ridiculous and do the most harm to everyone except the ones making all the money.


Please clarify who is making money off of plea bargains because I do not understand what exactly you are trying to say here.


Prisons don't rehabilate anyone. Everyone who goes to prison is just cattle once they get there. Hardly in consideration for the different types of offenders. The system doest encourage productive members of society once they served their time.


Prison can rehabilitate someone if that person WANTS to be rehabilitated and learn from their mistakes.

In fact, the guy the article is about seems to have been rehabilitated and is now a changed man according to him.

“I am much older and I have learned a lot about myself,” Jackson wrote to the ACLU from that cell. “I am sorry for the crime that I did, and I am a changed man.”

From the original article

So, is the guy lying? Or has he just changed his tune because he is facing a harsh penalty?



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 10:42 AM
link   
reply to post by areyouserious2010
 


First of all let me say I'm not defending the guy in the article. I speaking in general of the system.
Plea bargains are huge problem in many ways. The purpose of plea bargains is to avoid lengthy crimal trials. 90% of cases are decided by plea bargains there's never any evidence presented or witness present. Its a win for the D.A. and a pass for the Public defender.
The police know this they can stack on numerous bogus charges knowing that the chances are the person will just take a plea bargain. This is how people end up with felonies on 3 strike laws.
So you are a poor person that got busted say shoplifting. Then the officer that arrested decided you were resisting arrest when you back talked or something. Tacked that charge on.
So your in jail waiting to hear from your public defender. You wait a week a month, its your day in court and you haven't seen your lawyer. He/she sits you down says heres your charges shoplifting, and resisting arrest heres the minimum maximum of the charges. (ok the shoplifting charge is real,the resisting arrest charge is bogus) you explain that to your defender remember your sitting in court with the D.A. and judge staring at you in shackles. Your public defender says OK if you wanna take this thing to trial we can do that but if you do you risk the chance getting the maximum on these penalties. Let me show you the D.A. offer for a plea bargain. They offer you the minimum on each charge and you already served half the time they may even add on more good time served or something to make the deal harder to resist. This all works extremely efficient against the poor. Someone who has never actually committed a felony can rack up enough charges this way to where they are felons because the amount of charges.

On the flip side serious offenders accused of sex crimes murder armed robbery etc. They can take a plea bargain and serve a much lighter sentence if guilty. The rich can hire lawyers to fight these charges tooth and nail and either force a plea bargain or get the case thrown out.

When nearly all criminal cases are resolved by plea bargains, you have consider who this is working for and who it is not.

Prison doesn't help non violent criminals it breeds violent criminals.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 11:08 AM
link   

hopenotfeariswhatweneed
reply to post by SasquatchHunter
 



not to mention how angry people who actually make it out of prison become,generally even more detached from society.....

its not just the legal system that need an overhaul it is society as a whole......it would seem that life for the cattle these days is geared toward a major upheaval....the rich sit back and laugh while the world as we know it goes to hell


I agree with you on this. Like one poster commented about the long rap sheet of this person arguing they are nothing more than a career criminal. While I can't argue that I know that the majority time those people were never put on trial or had a judge ever hear any evidence. Society doesn't consider this.
Felons have little chance to reintegrate into society and probably came from hardship to begin with. When people plea bargain themselves into a felon and their out of jail in 6months they are more than likely to end up right back in. Career criminals.
Only a small percentage of cases go like the fancy trials people see on t.v. with high powered attorneys destroying inept D.A. s who rarely go to trial.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:03 PM
link   
reply to post by SasquatchHunter
 


I think you may have a misconception on how court cases work.


The purpose of plea bargains is to avoid lengthy crimal trials. 90% of cases are decided by plea bargains there's never any evidence presented or witness present. Its a win for the D.A. and a pass for the Public defender.


This is correct. If every case in the criminal justice system went to trial, the system would be overwhelmed.

A vast majority of criminal cases have overwhelming evidence against the person accused. And in a vast majority of those, the person accused offers no contest to the charges because they know they were responsible.

A plea bargain can work for the defendant in some ways. If they know they are guilty of the charges, they can get the state's attorney to drop some of the lesser charges, or sometimes the more serious charges in order to avoid a long drawn-out trial in which the person knows they are guilty. In a sense the courts are saying, "if you know you are guilty, just own up to it and take responsibility and some consideration will be given."


The police know this they can stack on numerous bogus charges knowing that the chances are the person will just take a plea bargain. This is how people end up with felonies on 3 strike laws.
So you are a poor person that got busted say shoplifting. Then the officer that arrested decided you were resisting arrest when you back talked or something. Tacked that charge on.


This is a misconception.

If the officer charges someone with a crime, when none of the elements of the crime are present, the state's attorney will immediately drop these charges. If the officer does it maliciously, knowing the person committed no act to satisfy the elements of the charge, the officer opens his or her self up to misconduct charges. The state's attorney faces the same penalty if they go ahead with charges where none of the elements of the crime are present.

Another safeguard against this is the procedure in the courtroom. Even if one pleads guilty to a crime, the probable cause must be read into the record and heard by the judge. If the judge identifies a charge which the elements of the crime have not been satisfied, the judge can dismiss the charges outright.

Additionally, public defenders are not stupid and are sometimes private defense attorneys who are donating their time. If a public defender saw that their client had a charge and they did nothing to satisfy the elements of that charge, they would easily get the charge dismissed.


On the flip side serious offenders accused of sex crimes murder armed robbery etc. They can take a plea bargain and serve a much lighter sentence if guilty. The rich can hire lawyers to fight these charges tooth and nail and either force a plea bargain or get the case thrown out.


A plea bargain, in most instances, does not guarantee a certain number of years. A plea bargain between someone and the state's attorney only effects what charges are considered by the judge when pleading guilty. The sentence is still decided by the judge after accepting the guilty plea.

So lets say someone commits an armed robbery. During the commission of this robbery, that person also commits an assault, theft and possession of a deadly weapon.

The evidence is so overwhelming against the person, because there is video surveillance or whatever, that the person and their defense attorney decide to plea guilty with a plea bargain.

The state's attorney, because it is their first offense, offers to drop all other charges and have them plead guilty to just the robbery charge. This way, the judge can only consider the one charge during sentencing and not rack up consecutive terms for each charge.


Prison doesn't help non violent criminals it breeds violent criminals.


I agree.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:56 PM
link   
reply to post by areyouserious2010
 


I think you have misconceptions about how court cases work. When and where pretrial and People are arrested and charged with a crime. The D.A. only has so much time to file charges in some felony cases they will need a grand jury indictment. After you have been booked into jail. You are the arraigned by a judge who just sets your bond or bail amount. The poor more than likely arent going to post bail.
After the arraignment. At some point after an arraignment you will show up to plead guilty not guilty. At this point you may be offered a plea bargain especially in misdemeanor cases, your not likely to have a pretrial in misdemeanor cases. In felony cases their may be requests on either side for a pre trial.
The evidence is overwhelming against the defendant because in most situations all anyone is going off of by this point is the officers report. The judge isn't considering elements of a case, your giving up your rights and pleading guilty in a plea bargain.
Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure governs plea agreements and, among other things, prohibits judicial participation in the plea discussions with the criminal defendants. (Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1); United States v. Baker, D.C. Circuit, Case No. 05CR00364-01 (June 5, 2007)).
Furthermore just because charges are dismissed in cases where probation is given the charges can still affect the conditions of probation.
This is an overwhelming process for someone to navigate who doesn't have the money to hire legal defense with a monetary reason to work for them. Some may get lucky and get the volunteer attorney or the ethical attorney who wants to do everything they can to help a complete stranger for little to no gain for themselves. This very doubtful that this happens for the majority. The poor are going to sit in jail without posting bail and get to court and get a defense that has little incentive to do anything but resolve the case as fast as they can. Here enters the plea bargain the great solution for everyone. With the majority of all cases being resolved in this manner your assuming the huge amount of charges people are convicted on were legitimate the majority of which were all decided by a police report. Not witnesses or testimony or trials.
These misdemeanor charges rack up when it seems much easier to take a plea bargain and get out jail only to find out the conditions of probations are much harsher than expected and that subsequent misdemeanor charges will result in felonies.
edit on 58pm58q000000pm302013-11-15T13:20:58-06:000101 by SasquatchHunter because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 05:34 PM
link   
reply to post by SasquatchHunter
 


A very well informed reply.


The poor more than likely arent going to post bail.
After the arraignment. At some point after an arraignment you will show up to plead guilty not guilty. At this point you may be offered a plea bargain especially in misdemeanor cases, your not likely to have a pretrial in misdemeanor cases. In felony cases their may be requests on either side for a pre trial.


So then it sounds like the failure in the system is the defense attorneys who are not taking the adequate time to prepare for cases.


The evidence is overwhelming against the defendant because in most situations all anyone is going off of by this point is the officers report.


And the defense attorney is provided with a copy of the police report before trial. If there is any challenge to the facts contained in the police report, then the plea should be not guilty and there should be a trial. Again, this is the responsibility of the defense attorney.


The judge isn't considering elements of a case, your giving up your rights and pleading guilty in a plea bargain.


Even when one pleads guilty, the probable cause is read into the record, by the state's attorney, in front of the judge. At least in some states. I cant speak for all states.

When this probable cause is read, the judge must listen for the elements of the crimes the person is charged with. If the probable cause, when read into the record, does not substantiate the charges listed against the person, the judge can dismiss the case based on lack of evidence. And the state's attorney can be held liable for even presenting the case knowing it didn't even meet the basic elements of the charges.


Some may get lucky and get the volunteer attorney or the ethical attorney who wants to do everything they can to help a complete stranger for little to no gain for themselves.


Public Defenders are compensated for their time. Maybe these attorneys should view it as their duty to provide quality representation for all clients, even the poorer ones, and hold all defense attorneys to this standard.

All I can really say is if one is REALLY not guilty, then plead not guilty. If one is really guilty and you have been caught, plead guilty and save everyone some time.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 06:03 PM
link   
I read this in the article and my eyes almost popped.


Washington insisted at trial that the jerseys were reduced in a sale to $45 each – which meant that their combined value was below the $100 needed to classify the theft as a felony; the prosecution disagreed, claiming they were on sale for $60 each, thus surpassing the $100 felony minimum and opening him up to a sentence of life without parole.


How the hell can a felony be set at $100 value when it is meant to define a more serious crime. That's petty theft, not a serious crime.

How can things like this be held up when your Constitution specifically prevents cruel and unusual punishment.

How does theft of 2 MJ jersies fit into this...

dictionary.law.com...


felony

n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison, as distinguished from a misdemeanor which is only punishable by confinement to county or local jail and/or a fine. 2) a crime carrying a minimum term of one year or more in state prison, since a year or less can be served in county jail. However, a sentence upon conviction for a felony may sometimes be less than one year at the discretion of the judge and within limits set by statute. Felonies are sometimes referred to as "high crimes" as described in the U.S. Constitution.


As opposed to this...

dictionary.law.com...


n. a lesser crime punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year. Misdemeanors are distinguished from felonies, which can be punished by a state prison term. They are tried in the lowest local court such as municipal, police or justice courts. Typical misdemeanors include: petty theft, disturbing the peace, simple assault and battery, drunk driving without injury to others, drunkenness in public, various traffic violations, public nuisances and some crimes which can be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances and the discretion of the District Attorney. "High crimes and misdemeanors" referred to in the U.S. Constitution are felonies.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 06:48 PM
link   
reply to post by areyouserious2010
 


In defense of public defenders the majority are usually chosen from a pool of practicing attorneys in the area, they are paid almost nothing by anyones standards for the time they spend on these cases they're usually overloaded on their own cases.
When your offered a plea bargain the defense has usually already negotiated the deal with D.A. before your court date. By the time this happens for a poor person who cpuldnt bond out and get on with their lives, they have already been in a jail a month or longer. The majority of these midemeanor offenders have already served most of their plea bargain sentence. They take the deal and walk or they go back back in jail and wait a month or however long it will take to go to trial. This makes it extremely hard for anyone in this position to pass up that deal. Its a risk vs reward system your rewarded for not risking the delay of your freedom. Especially if they are doing things like reducing felonies to lesser chargers. Often times these people violate their probation in some way and conditions of the plea bargain is their charges are reversed and go straight to felony.

Of course for the person with means they can bond out the next day, and hire the representation they choose that will work for them.

For example the drug dealer selling pounds of drugs is going to have the money to bail out and the money to hire the best defense in town that will get their case either dismissed on some technicality or get the charges and or sentences greatly reduced.

The habitual drug user in the system with petty crime and drug charges will end up serving far more time in jail than the big time drug dealer.

It sounds right to say these people deserve to be locked up for their long list of crimes. The thing is they might not have all those charges like the time their baby momma caught them cheating and called the cops and they were arrested for domestic violence even though she stole his phone and slapped him in the face. Or the time they left their bong in the backseat and got a drug charge, parafanailia charge, and obstruction of justice charge for not immediately telling the officer. All of these charges they were out of jail by the time they made it to court if they just take the plea. Instead of facing two years for the maximum on them going to trial.
Then they are on probation and mess up staying out past curfew missing a payment, or visit, failing a drug test, or doing something really dumb like stealing a jacket. Now they are felons.Their chances of getting a good job and building a stable life have gone down the tube.




top topics



 
6

log in

join