Hung Nam Tran
1111 North Road
P.O. Box 800
Mauston, WI 53948
(608)847-4438 Ext 2021
June 11, 2012
Between the Bars
P.O. Box 435103
Cambridge, MA 02142
RE: Allied Media: Nation Inside (AMC2012)
NATION INSIDE: COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES AGAINST MASS INCARCERATION
Many grassroots organizations working to alleviate incarceration and condition of confinement often succumb to general stereotype of prisoners propagandized by those who see crime and punishment as the problem and solution. What most failed to understand or address ia the other side of the equation. In order to commit crimes, individuals have to violate conditions imposed by society or institution. If those conditions are modified in some ways then crimes would substantially reduce. For example, sex crimes which are one of the most profligate problems of our time, yet its definition and views vary from state to state. As a result, a particular act is only a crime if one set of particular legislature deems so. In the instant where two teenagers who had consensual sex in a committed relationship would be considered normal activities in one state while the other states considered a criminal act punishable up to life in prison and lifetime sexual registration. Such disparity in the law and proscribed punishment is one of the leading factors in high incarceration rate. In another instance, laws created by the legislature prohibiting possession or the use of narcotics can result in community treatment in one while some other states imposed draconian measures designed to incapacitate those users and in the process scarring those unfortunate young adults for life. Laws are one of the many techniques which breed crimes. The implementation of the law is another major factor which increases incarceration. These systematic problems start from police vigilantism, prosecution of a wide range of discretions, stringent rules of evidence and judicial activism tipped the scale in the creation of convictions and thus mass incarceration. The third and final major factor that increases incarceration is the degrading condition of confinement which prisoners have to endure. Over time, it conditions the incarcerated to act out due to frustration from years of social isolation, physical abuse, mental degradation and family disintegration within the confine of prison walls and after release.
Clearly, crimes committed by individuals are not the only reason the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Systematic creation of laws by gung-ho politicians and its application by harsh bureaucrats who like to provoke confrontation to bring out the dark side of humans, which also dramatically increase in longer term in prison through the use of disciplinary procedure. It is the latter that urgently needs to be addressed because it is the elephant in the room which politicians and activists alike seem to ignore. Few politicians and activists really understand the impact of prisoners who suffer from psychological warfare while incarcerated. Prison officials, criminologists, state agents and court officials often claim they know this first-hand since they work constantly with prisoners. But they present only a view on how prison affects them through observations and relate only their experiences from the other side of the fence. They cannot fathom the pain and anguish they had subjected prisoners to from daily legal violence and abuses either though prison officials themselves or at the hands of other prisoners.
First and foremost, we need to confront these urgent issues because prisoners have little power to fight the entire system on their own even if they wanted to. Second, advocacy groups must actively engage with prisoners to address social injustice by changing its ineffective method of simply speaking out to legislatures. Third, prisoners' advocates need to form a central clearing house with the mission of attacking unjust laws and root out abuses with a concise directive and one voice. Fourth, advocacy groups must use the media as a mean to find support, wage campaigns and target barriers that contribute to prison mass incarcerations and effectively acquire control. Fifth, media social networks must be made accessible to prisoners as a mean for them to communicate with the outside world and devise methods to confront prison bureaucrats who stand in the way. Finally, elevate conditions of confinement through actively seeking legal solutions through conflict resolution and electing judicial officials who are sympathetic to prisoners' causes. These ideas might seem to be difficult but here are a few practical techniques we can achieve that will assist prisoners, general public, victims and families:
1. Get a referendum through the use of social media networks or get a petition drive in every state and propose term limits against every elected and nonelected government official. This method would effectively infuse new blood into a government who should be acting as public servants rather than its master for the good of society and take out the old guards in the ivory tower who have no concept of human frailty. Electors would be allowed to serve two 4 year terms while other government officials are limited to his duties no longer than 10 years. No officials would be permitted to serve in the same department more than 8 years.
2. Create an advocacy super PAC under IRS sec. 501(a) to help elect politicians, judges and legislatures who are sympathetic to prison causes.
3. Reform the criminal codes and the rule of evidence which heavily favor the prosecution, police and judges against the interest of society. As Justice Anthony Kennedy recognized, we have a system of "plea" and not "trial" and 97% of cases resulted in convictions. Prosecutors often overcharged the accused and bargain down to the very penalty a person exposed in the first place while police are given unlimited power of investigation and assisting in obtaining information often through psychological coercion and perjured testimony. And then the court uses PSI and other state agents to seek past bad character of misconduct of individuals as a mean to justify an increased penalty. Limiting police, prosecutor and court discretion in the area of charging and sentence in individuals would make a substantial impact in mass incarceration. Police should not be allowed to use confession or hearsays as a mean to obtain convictions. Nor should they be allowed to testify at all. Only those involved in criminal incidents or eyewitnesses should be the ones who relate the incident to the jury. Prosecutors should be prohibited from choosing which charge to file. Nor should the prosecution be permitted to charge multiple offenses arising out of a single incident. Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932), must be judicially overruled by legislative or amendment to the constitution. Rather, a citizen review board should have broad discretion to determine as a matter of fact which charge would be proper and how many. They should also be empowered to investigate and remove any type of officials' misconduct when complaints are filed by citizens. Restorative justice methodology including mediation between victims and offenders should be allowed to take place prior to trial.
4. Eliminate parole or parole agents' power who are the leading cause of re-incarceration. Institute tighter controls on these individuals and require stricter qualification for these types of jobs.
5. Institute merit pay policies in all government positions and hold the success or failure of such programs and government officials to be accountable. If the incarceration rate or a high recidivism rate increases, their pay will decrease correlated to particular success or failure.
6. Prisons are environments where high stress often takes place due to violent episodes, mismanagement and a callous disregard for human life. However, some facilities have higher rates of institutional suicide among young population between the ages of 16-25 than any other age groups. High structure or secure environment including tough management against these young adults are the leading cause of hopelessness, destitute and despair. As a result, suicide among this age group is high because immature young people have low tolerance for high stress. Allied media needs to use its network to bring immediate attention of the public not about suicide but the cause of it so such situations can be alleviated. One method is creating separate institutions for young offenders where staff should be trained to assist these youngsters to adjust to difficult environments rather than imposing tough sanctions against them and causing hardship.
7. One of the legislative priority, Allied Media should be concentrated on is the concept of equality. All efforts should be pulling out to pass the EQUALITY IN SENTENCING ACT. The idea is simple. Any person who had been found to be guilty and convicted of a particular offense should receive exactly the same sentence as any other person who had been charged and convicted for the exact same offense. NO EXCEPTION! To address legislative concern pertaining to career criminals from those unwittingly in committing such offenses, a progress system of punishment can be used. A sentence can be enhanced if a person has committed other felonies in the past and the frequency of such crimes. Such provision would be mandatory to distinguish between habitual offenders and those exhibited signs of immaturity. On the other end of the specturm, young adults or those mentally ill should not be sentenced to no more than 20 years of imprisonment.
8. Abolishing juvenile justice system. No children should be sugjected to be locked up like cage animals and the juvenile system often are stepping stones to imprisonment. There is a large correlation between recidivism and exposure to the criminal justice system. If the public do not trust public officials with their money, the same concept should be applied to children. Government officials are poor models to children and extremely reckless in children's welfare and well being. No one should trust their children with a bunch of bureaucrats. For the majority of offenses, a children's court should be established where a particular child allowed being judged by its own peer and not adults. This is also a good method to implement into a juvenile justice system as well.
9. Allied Media needs to support a political system which lowers taxes to deprive government of its budget to increase prisons. In addition, all agencies rules should be reviewed and approved by the office of governor prior to its implementation. This is one of the largest impacts in prisoners' lives because many bureaucrats tend to create "policies, rules, regulations, code, or memos" restricted prisoner rights on a daily basis without just cause. Many of these rules are so nuance and oppressive which are designed specifically to degrade or humiliate prisoners. Eliminating its proliferation or prevent it to take effect only when necessary would solve many prison conditions of confinement without expensive litigations for its reduce the power of government officals and impose supervision over its uncheck authority.
10. Allied Media could lobby prison officials or legisature to allow prisoners to have direct connection with the outside world including creating a website to solicitate those who are interested in having a friendship or relationship with prisoners. A number of prisoners like Washington States permitted its prisoners to exchange emails to others through the use of private vendors for family and social connections. Many of those behind bars are lonely, abandoned and need psychological stimulations. This would assist those behind bars to maintain and develop social, emotional and mental health.
11. Create and fund an organization specifically designed to enforce, litigate and combat prisoners' abuse on a systematic level. This nonprofit organization similar to the ACLU but specifically target those who like to abuse prisoners. It needs to advocate for change in the law requiring convicted prison officials responsible for their misconducts to be accountable for their own actions. One way of achieving this is when such officials found to be violating the law, he or she should be forced to pay the penalty out of his/her own pocket and should not be picked up by the taxpayer. It also needs to educate the public about this law where government officials who are found liable due to violating the law, yet it is the public who had to pay the expense. The burden should be shifted to them instead. Furthermore, victims of crimes including prisoners should be allowed to prosecute any government officials in criminal court for physical, mental, emotional or sexual abuses without the need for approval first from the district attorney or the court.
12. Advocate for the "privatization" of government services to the private sectors and let the public sector compete for these jobs. This will bring awareness to prison issues and competing entities to do a better job for prisoners. Being in prison should be punishment for their crimes and not punishment while in prison. Allowing privatization certainly will put such issue directly on the front burners.
13. Coordinate, inject and target election of judges from circuit levels to the federal nomination process. This process is very internal and selective from within. Often, judges' elections are local and rarely being contested. We need to use the media to campaign and introduce our own candidate at every election and at every level in order to lessen the power of the "federalist society" and its conservative influences. We need to infiltrate into the governmental committee to influence the judge selection process and impeach those activist judges who ignore or reduce individual liberties. We need to educate the public about specific constitutional rights and myths created by judicial prostitutes. There are no such things as "state rights." States do not have rights, only people do. The constitution is designed to protect people against state power. We need to zoom in to these judges who spew these poisons and expose them to the public about all of their obstructionism.
14. Actively and aggressively seek to abolish and repeal all laws which are clearly unconstitutional or oppressive to the human spirit and principle of democracy. For example, civil commitment statutes for sexually violent persons in 14 of the 50 states which prison officials claimed for the purpose of treatment even after a person had fully served their prison sentences is a fraud. Its creation is not for the purpose of treatment but incarceration of human beings for future crimes. This idea was first implemented by the Nazis then the Fascist and finally the Communists. In the past, they called them "concentration camp," "labor camp" or "education camp." Today, they called it "treatment." Same garbage different names. This is the most shameful in the history of mankind and now it is happening again in America, right under the American noses. A movie called, "Minority Report" which warned about this type of overreaching government power is finally here. I know for I am the victim of this brutality. Please join me and expose this shameful chapter of our history and expose this American Nazis for their crimes against humanity. Lets bring them to justice and let the Nuremberg II begin.
Please contact me at the above address or my wesite if you have any questions or comments. I hope these few urgent matters can be addressed by this group. When the power to be diminished then can we get together again to advocate for meaningful reforms both on policy and individual responsibility. Lets confront these challenges for a better tomorrow.
2012 dec 9
2011 may 12
2010 dec 16
2010 nov 15