democracy in inactionConservative America has a long history of keeping Liberals from the polls.

Only five percent of the word’s population lives in the United States, but 25 percent of all the world’s imprisoned people are held in the United States. It appears that we have become the world's largest penal colony. Not only are racial inequities apparent (12-13 percent of Americans are African American, but make up 40 percent of prison population according to 2009 U.S. Department of Justice statistics).

The American Criminal Justice System needs a name change. The word Criminal “Justice” needs to be replaced with the words “Extortion, Distortion, and Disenfranchisement”. Every day, guilty pleas are extorted from confused, fearful, and ill-educated defendants who don’t understand the system, don’t understand their rights, and usually don’t understand that their right to a fair trial is a right not a bargaining chip for the prosecution to use to extort a plea. They do understand that probation and spending as little time as possible in custody is much better than spending a long time in one of our many overcrowded incarceration centers.

Here is a typical example: Couple living together argues over money. He decides to leave and he heads for the front door. She manages to get there first, blocks his way, and hepushes her aside. She falls and bruises her shoulder. A neighbor calls the police, and he is arrested and charged with a felony carrying up to four years in prison.

Now, I’m not saying couples don’t get into arguments where someone is seriously injured. But after handling thousands of these cases, I can say serious injuries are happen in a minority of them, but those cases are the ones we hear about in the media whose motto seems to be “If it bleeds it leads”.

But when it comes to crime and punishment that doesn’t matter. What will happen is this: The deputy district attorney will charge everything possible, including adding enhancements for serious bodily injuries, but then make a much better offer to settle, such as a stay-away order and a felony conviction but no prison time if the defendant pleads guilty or no contest. The defendant will have to attend a 52-week batterers treatment class but will be released from jail right away. This offer must be transmitted to the defendant along with the amount of prison time he could serve if he rejects the offer, goes to trial, and is convicted. Judges have a tendency to “jamb” (harshly sentence) people who go to trial and lose. Statistically, if a defendant goes to trial for a felony he most likely will go to prison.

I can say from my professional experience that a White male is more likely to be offered a misdemeanor over a felony. In fact, I’ve read studies conducted by both USA Today and the Wall Street Journal concluding that minorities are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged with a felonies, and more likely to be incarcerated. They also are more likely to be Liberal. Political poll after poll shows minorities lean to the political left.

In America, being White could keep you out of jail. But regardless of color, the accused still have choices to make.

To plead or not to plead? Aye, there’s the rub. The client will not be able to see his partner for up to a year, and the batterers treatment program costs money, and he will pay for it. Sure, the statute mandating this says the fee must be on a sliding scale based on the ability to pay. But judges seldom enforce this, and because a private nonprofit organization provides the treatment, there is doubt if the judge even has the power to do so.

I have never seen research showing these programs work. There is no evidence they reduce domestic violence. What they do, however, is allow a judge to say she did something to prevent domestic violence without sending anyone to our overcrowded prisons. It also can create a felon who is unable to vote. Since our prisons are packed with minorities, primarily Hispanic and African American, and since minorities usually vote for Liberal candidates and causes, it is a good way to disenfranchise Liberal voters.

However, it probably isn’t as effective as requiring a government picture identification before one can vote. The most common government identification is a drivers’ license, which costs money. Even if someone can cough up the cash for a driver’s license, they often lose the license because they can’t afford outrageously high fees for minor infractions.

My research shows the fancier one’s car is and the richer one is the more likely one is to commit traffic infractions. A $300 speeding ticket is nothing to someone making $2,000 a week, but it is a truckload of cash for someone making $700 a week and it will likely to go unpaid resulting in a drivers license being jerked. Not only then does one lose the right to drive but also the right to vote if a picture identification is required, which often means one less Liberal voter.

If someone can’t produce the picture identification and can’t register to vote, he will probably never sit on a jury. Felons are automatically disqualified, and because jury lists are chosen from voting rolls and DMV records, getting a representative jury is nearly impossible. What you end up with is White, middle class, conservative juries, and they tend to convict the poor or minority.

Declaring one a felon and requiring identification are subtle ways of disenfranchising large segments of voters. Before the Civil War only White male property owners could vote. Eventually, the property ownership requirement was dropped in most states. And after the Civil War African Americans technically could vote. But most Southern states were able to disenfranchise them by onerous literacy tests and high poll taxes. It is doubtful most Southern Whites could pass these tests but they were “grandfathered in” because if one of their direct ancestors could vote before 1860 the descendant didn’t have to take the test.

Until August 26,1920, half the United States population couldn’t vote simply because they had XX chromosomes instead of XY. Since most polls show women tend to vote Liberal, it is often argued that without women’s suffrage it is doubtful FDR would have been elected and the New Deal wouldn’t have existed, resulting in very different world today.

Indeed, it seems much of the Conservative agenda has been a particularly forceful effort to keep Liberals from voting. Our overloaded prison system, requiring voter identification, slavery, and preventing women from voting are just some of the many methods Conservative America has historically used to keep certain people out of the polls.

Mike Bowler

Mike Bowler

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