By Bill Simpich, Reader Supported News | 25 February 16
ernie Sanders keeps driving it home. “We have a broken criminal justice system.” Sanders thunders that the focus is on incarceration, not rehabilitation. The above photo is introduced as Exhibit A.
Sirhan Sirhan, the accused killer of Robert F. Kennedy, was denied parole for the 15th time on Wednesday, February 10. After 48 years in prison, he has done everything he could to change his life. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has called not only for his release but for a new investigation of his father’s death.
One of the men Sirhan shot, UAW organizer Paul Schrade, testified on Sirhan’s behalf at the hearing. Schrade, 91, expressed his confidence that a second gunman shot Bobby. Sparks flew when Schrade turned to Sirhan and said, “Sirhan, I forgive you.” The parole board told Schrade he had no right to speak to the prisoner.
Schrade is one of the victims of Sirhan’s bullets. Schrade has spent more than 40 years mastering the evidence in the RFK murder. Under California law, a victim can speak at the parole hearing for as much time as he or she wants. How dare these people say that Schrade cannot look into a man’s eyes and speak to him?
Because the people who run the criminal justice system are powerful, well-connected, and above the law. The RFK murder was figured out a long time ago. There was a second gunman, but the California criminal justice system has no interest in looking for the killer.
The cover-up in the RFK case is well-documented. Review the evidence at sirhanbsirhan.org or at any number of competent websites. We live in a society that has lost its way. We need a mighty burst of outrage to turn things around.
Sirhan has determined attorneys, but they have little power in the face of a determined law enforcement machine that is unaccountable to its citizens.
Bernie Sanders puts his finger right on it when he talks about the outrageous number of people of color facing criminal charges while the fraud artists on Wall Street walk free. A steadily increasing percentage of prisons are now run for profit by the private sector – Sanders says this also must end.
The political battle must be waged – justice cannot depend on dollars.
Ever try to research the funding sources of the criminal justice system? Good luck. You will find a series of opaque sources.
The district attorneys are an incredibly conservative bunch with seemingly unlimited budgets. The public defender’s office is traditionally stretched like a tightrope with an inherently unmanageable caseload.
Want a private lawyer? Good luck. Most people facing criminal charges cannot afford counsel except in the simplest of cases.
A look at the police department is like a look at the DA’s office. In most cities, police budgets are considered sacrosanct. Police associations run roughshod over citizens’ review boards that attempt to actually discipline officers.
In this bleak landscape, how did Black Lives Matter get traction? Great organizers, yes. And cell phones. Videos showing people of color being lynched broke out across the Internet and into the evening news. People fighting back on this front is reason to rejoice.
But go to the courthouse some morning for a wake-up call when they announce the criminal calendar.
The attack on people of color and the poor is a never-ending campaign. The latest wrinkle is that now the Feds seem to have found the perfect tool to harass the political dissidents.
Last June, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling in Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project. The court decided that nonviolent First Amendment speech and advocacy “coordinated with” or “under the direction of” a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as “terrorist” was a crime.
In this case, human rights workers wanted to teach members of the Kurdistan PKK, which seeks an independent Kurdish state, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which sought an independent state in Sri Lanka, how to use humanitarian and international law to peacefully resolve disputes.
Despite the nonviolent, peace-making goal of this speech and training, the Supreme Court interpreted the law to make such conduct a crime.
The Court held that any “material support,” even if it involves nonviolent efforts toward peace, is illegal under the law since it “frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends,” and also helps lend “legitimacy” to foreign terrorist groups.
This means Obama could have been prosecuted for supporting Nelson Mandela. Jimmy Carter could be facing charges for monitoring Lebanese elections. But this is not going to happen to the rich and powerful – which includes people like Obama and Carter.
Here’s what is happening, as reported by Michael Deutsch of the People’s Law Office in Chicago:
“In late September the FBI carried out a series of raids of homes and anti-war offices of public activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Following the raids the Obama Justice Department subpoenaed 14 activists to a grand jury in Chicago and also subpoenaed the files of several anti-war and community organizations …
“Federal prosecutors are intent on accusing public non-violent political organizers, many affiliated with Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), of providing ‘material support,’ through their public advocacy, for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
“The Secretary of State has determined that both the PLFP and the FARC ‘threaten US national security, foreign policy or economic interests,’ a finding not reviewable by the Courts.”
It’s a whole new exception to the First Amendment.
Do you need any more evidence that we have a broken criminal justice system? It’s astounding that we have a presidential candidate who gets this right. Most of the members of Congress don’t have a clue. We have to stand up in large numbers and wade into the fight.