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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ongoing Injustices, by Cornelius Harris.

Cornelius Harris is incarcerated at Ohio State Penitentiary. He participated in the May Day hunger strike, and then resumed the strike solo when it took too long for the warden to make good on their demands.

Ongoing Injustices,
By Cornelius Harris
March 20, 2009

Injustice is a cancer in the U.S. criminal justice system that seriously needs to be addressed and abolished with the same enthusiasm and commitment that was assembled to abolish slavery. These injustices start from the time of arrest and expand to conviction and imprisonment.

In today’s society, if you know the right person or have the right amount of money to retain competent counsel, your chances of being prosecuted to the fullest extent are slim to none. On the other hand, if you don't have the right connections or sufficient finance, your legal protections and rights are sabotaged. In a fictitious show of justice, the State provides each indigent defendant with counsel, i.e., a Public Pretender. These Public Pretenders are underpaid and too inexperience to understand the practicalities of the law, thus
they do as little as possible to defend their clients. In fact, most of their time and energy goes toward trying to persuade their clients to accept plea deals instead of representing them. As a result, most defendants are compelled to accept plea deals, not necessarily because they're guilty but because they know they will not receive a fair trial with such poor representation. Therefore, they plea guilty to cut their losses--that is, to reduce the amount of time they receive.

There are few exceptions, however, where it doesn't matter how much money you have or who you know, because if you are a target of the State, it will fabricate evidence against you and create the circumstances for you to be found guilty. While this is typical in death-penalty cases , it is not limited to them. Such injustice is found in almost all high-profile cases, where the victims are white and the defendants are poor.

Injustice does not stop at the conclusion of one's court proceedings, though, it continues throughout a prisoner 's incarceration and nothing is being done about it because society has become --through indoctrination, misinformation and propaganda-- detached and desensitized from prisoners' daily struggles. For example, instead of being provided meaningful rehabilitative programs that will help prisoners better themselves, prison staff are merely warehousing them and pocketing the money they annually receive for rehabilitative programs. By doing this the State creates worse criminals, and idle minds which are a devil' s workshop.

Just as there are rules and regulations for prisoners to follow, there are rules and regulations for correctional staff to follow, but they don't. There are routinely unreported cases of staff corruptions--from prisoner beatings to false conduct reports to having intimate relationships with prisoners. Officers beating prisoners is a common occurrence that society pays very little attention to. It only seems to matter when a prisoner is murdered or receives life-threatening injuries. And even then, it still doesn't matter because it was only an "inmate". However, when a prisoner harms an officer in self-defense or for justifiable reasons, the "inmate" is looking at a list of punishments.

My conclusion is: Instead of society basing their opinion of prisoners on what they read or see on TV, they should research the truth for themselves. Anyone can fabricate a story about defendants or prisoners to make them seem like monsters, but the truth is they are just ordinary people. While there are prisoners who do deserve some of the stereotypes society has placed on them, the majority are simply real people who made real mistakes. All prisoners have two things on their mind: surviving their incarceration, and making it back home to be with their family and friends. I'm hoping this article will be received well by those in society, for it should be a duty upon everyone to have some compassion and understanding for all human beings, especially those in prison .

Cornelius Harris, #525-945
Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, Ohio 44505

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