Friday, June 13, 2014

The Injustice System is at it Again

Frustration has kept me from this blog for quite some time; I need to realize of course that my writing will do little if anything to provoke change where it is needed or to "inform" those who just don't get it, like with understanding the reality of an amorphous but no less real "Pragmatic Party" that dominates the center of American politics and draws the left and right to come to "it" rather than "it" moving left or right. But every once in a while I read a story or hear a newscast- in this case on the Colbert Report- that leaves me so flabbergasted I would otherwise explode if I didn't write something.

Such is the case with the story that almost 25% of the people in state and (mostly) local prisons are there simply because they could not afford to pay the court costs associated with a case that was litigated in their name. So yes folks, we have people in jail for the crime of being too poor.

You would think that in a society where there are payment programs for just about every debt imaginable, that our court system could not do the same. When you also consider that we also have people in jail because they are too poor to post bail, then you add in the number of people incarcerated for victimless drug possession arrests, it is becoming all too clear that our justice system is captive to an industry that profits from building and maintaining prisons rather than a system guided by principles of fairness, equity, and just plain decency.

The havoc that this type of incarceration is no doubt doing to poor families is unimaginable and unforgivable. The problem is that this problem is of no consequence to our political leaders, who have so many other supposedly vital interests to pursue. But, seriously, what could be more vital than a further degradation of a system supposedly guided and driven by the principle of justice.

As I learn more about this I will share what I find, but let us not lose sight of the fact that we are a country with a dysfunctional political system, a heavily manipulated financial system, and an economic system that pays little more than lip service to notions of opportunity and mobility. If we add to this a justice system defined by injustice, is there much left for us to tout to the rest of the world as a "shining city on a hill." The shine has oxidized. We are a mess, and, given the complete disconnect between our elected officials- especially but not only at the Federal level- and our citizenry, how can we be at all confident that our government is truly representative of the People. When we incarcerate people simply because they are too far, we really have sunk to a new low. Debtor prisons were the stain of a past century; it is said to see that we really never went away.

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