Joe Biden is right:  No one should be in jail for a non-violent crime.

Legal and criminal justice reform are desperately needed in this nation to ensure that less citizens are jailed for non-violent crimes than ever.  No person should have violence done against them by the State (incarceration is violence against a citizen, you don't get to call it what you want in this one...)

We cannot continue on the path we are on when it comes to law and criminal justice.  The true causes of crime are not pointed out and are never addressed.  As an example, consider the guy who spent 148 nights in jail and was assessed a total of $3,690.50 worth in fines and court costs imposed for 10 counts of open lodging. "Instead of trying to address the root causes of homelessness, the city of Ocala is engaged in an unconstitutional effort to criminalize people for engaging in life-sustaining activities, such as sleeping."  I once heard it said, "There is nothing worse than action without insight."

Our present-day criminal justice system is patterned on a religious, Puritanical, and a nearly inclement system of justice. Commit a crime or anti-social act, you render yourself unpure with Scarlet Letter-like mark.  Doing something, and making it hurt...well, that's doing something about crime, right? And it won't cost me anything, right?

Our fellow American citizens, ex-felons, become effectively stripped of citizenship rights forever. Some feel that these citizens should be muzzled and that their input into political and social things is not welcomed. Some have been threatened with jail for speaking out on public issues. There goes the First Amendment.

Our fellow Americans, being that ex-felons are in perpetuity stripped of their rights to defend themselves, our Congress going so far as exceeding its Constitutional authority and passing 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), a law not intended to govern private sale and use of firearms, but the purchase of firearms from licensed dealers. This is another example of the twisting of the Interstate Commerce Clause to get more jurisdiction over more of our American lives. Second Amendment out the window for these people.


Why would we leave our fellow citizens without means of defending themselves or their families? Is this a war of attrition on ex-felons? Leave them without the means to protect themselves or their progeny, so they are at risk of being killed or permanently injured?  2nd and 14th Amendment (Equal Protection) violated.

They lose their right to vote or to participate meaningfully in public life. In Florida, a 5-year waiting period before which an ex-felon may again vote is being discussed. This 5-year period would not begin to commence until after the ex-felon is done proving himself through probation or parole.  [Update: The people of the State of Florida voted and by popular vote agreed to restore to ex-felons the right to vote once they have completed their sentences (including probation and parole).  The Florida Legislature enacted legislation and removed that just restored right in Senate Bill 7066.  14th Amendment out the window.

Let's admit the shameful truth, America: We have Class A and Class B citizens in our society. Class B citizens are usually poor minorities. I don't know if that's the cause or the effect of incarceration. But this Scarlet Letter must go.

REFORM

We propose the following:


1. A person becomes a felon the instant he forms the requisite criminal intent and then acts upon that intent. He remains a felon until his criminal intent and actions cease.  This can take years.  Sometimes he or she figures it out the first time.

2. A person is sentenced and incarcerated as a means of getting him to come to his senses about his criminal mentality and actions. Most of the protections of society are withdrawn in this environment as a means of getting him to see what a society without rules and bounds is like.

3. Once that person expresses his intent to reform, he should be offered in the prison system the protection of society once again. He should be protected from physical harm and isolated from those who continue in their criminal mindset and their criminal actions.

4. Prisoners must be offered self-development and self-improvement opportunities. A good start for society would be to work with Criminon and The Way to Happiness Foundation, which offers a ready-made curriculum which helps people to see their place in society and how to operate within it without harming one's own interests, and the interests of others.

5. You've got to keep the drugs out of the prisons.  Let's face it:  prisons are controlled environments.  It should not be so difficult to keep drugs out, keep the prisoners well fed with nutritious food, give them productive things to do,

6. Prisoners must be offered citizenship classes, to be taught about the blessings of this special kind of liberty, the nature of the government, and how to best participate in this great society without harming self or others.

7. Upon release, those who have taken the citizenship classes should be offered the right to vote immediately upon completion of the sentence (inclusive of probation and parole).

8. Criminal records must by operation of law be sealed and no longer public record after a period of seven years after the commission of the crime. There is no reason for a criminal record to follow and harm a person forever. We do this with credit reports. We can do it with criminal records. We are either a forgiving society, or we are not.


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