From the December 2006 Idaho Observer:
Who isn’t financing America’s thriving prison industry?
For years we (a wholly unorganized bunch of legally astute law-abiders) have been trying to prove that a "bond scam" is the engine driving our nation’s thriving prison industry by making people more valuable as prisoners behind bars than as working, producing, taxpayers raising families. If there was such a "bond scam," I am certain that (we) would have proved it by now. But the problem is worse—much worse. It’s not a corrupt club of individuals that is turning human misery for a profit to themselves that can be identified and indicted for securities fraud; it is a nation that is collectively financing whatever industry might promise future returns in an effort to stave off utter financial collapse that is feeding off the misery of our incarcerated countrymen
This article has a curious title. It’s kind of like the question, "Who didn’t kill JFK?" In both cases, the list of "who didn’t" and "who isn’t" is much shorter than "who did" and "who is." As the production-based economy that made this country prosperous is replaced by a service economy leveraged by speculators, this nation’s investors will underwrite whatever industries may promise future payoffs. Keeping in mind that nearly 70 percent of publicly traded stocks are now owned by government interests, it is not difficult to predict that government-growth industries will be emphasized in the future because the future is now.
As a result of a meeting that will be described henceforth, I believe the prison growth industry is a problem that cannot be fixed without a shift in consciousness among those at the root—namely all of us. My main focus now is to promote the widespread use of a lawful remedy that will force the system, and America, to answer the questions, "By whose authority are our people being destroyed for profit and who (what) is underwriting our destruction?"
by Don Harkins
Quo Warranto: A hearing to determine by what
authority someone has an office, franchise or liberty
There are no shortages of emergencies requiring the attention and selfless action of remnant Americans—those capable of recognizing the emergencies for what they are.
One of the emergencies is, at this time, reaching crisis proportions: The unchecked zeal with which government takes Americans into custody and then prosecutes, convicts, sentences and tortures them in prison.
Regardless of whether or not real crimes have been committed; regardless of whether any real evidence exists to prove guilt, millions of Americans currently languish in prison. The system that put them there has, over time, effectively removed the mechanisms whereby relief may be realistically obtained.
Worse yet, participating government agents and agencies are encouraged to engage in progressively worse abuses of their presumed authority because the agents are routinely promoted and their agencies granted bigger budgets as a direct result of their abusive actions.
This issue is hugely personal to me because I receive an average of four "prisoner letters" a day. I am reminded daily of the epidemic injustice of wrongful convictions and heavy sentences for non-crimes that has gripped the former "land of the free." Every day (except Sundays) I am apprised of the psychological torture to which our friends and countrymen are being subjected and; the institutionalized process of how they are intentionally malnourished, denied clean water and relegated to nonstop suffering from acute illnesses that become chronic symptoms through policies of medical neglect that inevitably result in permanently damaged or amputated body parts.
This should be considered an important issue for all dissident types because, in case you haven’t noticed, a rather large percentage of us end up doing time in government cages for "crimes" associated with our insistence that government obey the constitutional precepts upon which its agents and agencies claim to derive their authority.
We are now at a time in our history where this emergency requires our waging a campaign to end the emergency—before the emergency ends us.
Out of an overwhelming concern for my imprisoned friends, I have been exploring the depths and breadths of the justice juggernaut. This area of exploration has revealed the penal juggernaut; both the justice and penal industries now function as entities accountable only unto themselves.
The continued juggernaughtiness of these industries is guaranteed by predictable frailties found in human nature—fear and avoidance: People bow in fear to courts capable of sending them to prison and prefer to avoid thinking about places as horrible as prison.
Though I cannot produce the entire paper trail and have lost the desire to do so, there is no doubt in my mind that the justice and penal industries are underwritten by entities that are selling their "investments" (defendants and prisoners) at a discount on the open market in the form of bonds. This arrangement, the procurement of profit based upon the revenue to be generated from imprisoned humans, is not as weird as it sounds. In our world of modern "investment strategies," contracts containing an intent to pay—future commodities purchases and mortgages, for instance—can be turned into securities to be traded on the open market.
It follows that, upon sentencing, the state has established an "intent to pay" the cost of warehousing the convict for the term prescribed by the court.
Due to added revenue streams such as private prison ownership/operation and prison industries where commercial products are manufactured for private companies with low-cost prison labor, the profit potential per prisoner increases.
Commodities, loans, humans: In business there is no difference. If there was a difference between profiting off commodities and loans versus profiting off human misery, it would be found in the arena of ethics. Unfortunately, the highest modern business ethic is profit and other considerations are secondary.
To prove the ethics observation above, consider the following:
The difficulty in proving the paper trail of the "bonding-humans-in-bondage" industry is because these securities are bundled and traded throughout the entire investment industry. If you have a stockbroker managing your investment portfolio, chances are you have interests in mutual funds. Mutual funds can be investments in just about anything and the broker may or may not know what they are. The likelihood is that some of the money invested in this manner is an investment in bondage bonding.
Q: Is that enough to make you pull your money or at least investigate what your money is supporting? Or will you avoid finding out so long as dividend checks keep arriving?
A: Though a few investors may feel motivated to make sure they are not profiting from bondage-related stocks or bonds, the vast majority of investors do not care because profit from investment is more important than the human misery such investments may be perpetuating.
Unresolved 2006 resolution
For those who remember, last year (Dec., 2005) in my editor’s desk column I resolved that, "2006 will be the year that our people awaken to the realization that their government has decided people are worth more imprisoned as slave laborers than outside working, producing and raising families;
that 2006 will be the year that public outrage forces a new chapter in the annals of American jurisprudence to open and the innocent will be set free;
that 2006 will be the year Americans begin holding the courts and their officers in contempt of truth, justice and the American way."
Despite my desire and intent, my resolutions did not come true for 2006. Recent developments, which I will describe in brief, has prompted me to find a mechanism that can begin producing results that will snap the public to attention. I must state again that the biggest impediment to the realization of my 2006 resolution is the fact that people prefer to think about almost anything so long as it does not involve thinking about prison or prisoners.
This is exactly the condition that has allowed this emergency to reach the crisis stage where 2.2 million Americans are being warehoused in state and federal institutions and another five million are in local jails. I have it on good authority (from the hundreds of prisoners with whom I have been corresponding for over a decade) that fully half of those behind bars do not deserve imprisonment and about 10 percent are absolutely (and provably) innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted.
Several months ago I began corresponding with a man being held by the Michigan Department of Corrections and a group of guys inside with whom he has been working. Due to the sensitivity of what is happening now, I will not reveal the identities of the men involved or the institution holding them at this time.
These men are attempting to secure their immediate release through a "NOTICE AND DEMAND" that describes the bond scam, the chattel status government has ascribed to Americans and the myriad violations of due process and constitutional authority behind the state’s lawless incarceration and torture of provably innocent Americans. The NOTICE AND DEMAND has been sent to various public officials from the governor on down—and me.
Hundreds of pages of correspondence have been copied to me. My feeling is that the NOTICE AND DEMAND and the intensely novel allegations contained therein, caused the receiving functionaries to take notice and, perhaps, experience some fear. But, upon realizing that nothing was happening (that no heads including their own were rolling), the fear has dissipated. It has been my experience that, when petty tyrants survive a period of fear, it is quickly replaced with a sadistic desire to exact bureaucratic vengeance upon those who caused them to feel fearful.
I now have deep and justifiable concern for these principled and innocent men who are locked away from us in the company of cruelly-abusive professionals who chose to warehouse humans as a career.
Absent an expeditious remedy, or a miracle, we can expect the petty tyrants holding them will allow their sadistic imaginations to be the only limits to how these men will be punished for their efforts.
Remember Abu Ghraib? Remember One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Do not underestimate the imaginations of spiteful petty tyrants who are confident that the state will tolerate whatever "punishments" they design.
For several weeks I have been discussing the situation described above and the general "bond scam" issue with Augustus Blackstone. "Uncle Gus" is in agreement with the logic my imprisoned friends advanced in support of their claims that the state views the people as chattel whose misery is sold as securities for investors seeking profits. He advises, however, that a different strategy be employed to prove the logic. "The government can ignore a demand. Then what?" Uncle Gus asked.
Augustus is the only true sovereign I have ever known. He is also the only writer I have ever met who requires zero editing. That is because he is absolutely precise in the thoughts he conveys, the words he uses to convey those thoughts and he punctuates impeccably. While Uncle Gus is a fun person to be around and has a great sense of humor, he is deadly serious when honor is at stake.
We were finally able to meet in person and discuss the issues of the prison bond scam and the dire circumstances of my incarcerated friends. It was apparent that he had given a lot of thought to my concerns and my insistence that we meet to discuss these issues prompted him to put action to research he and his contemporaries had been themselves conducting for years (the monetary mechanisms in place to facilitate the political intent to lock people up and otherwise keep them in bondage).
With his characteristic precision and the solemn seriousness that comes with questions of honor, Uncle Gus instructed me to take dictation: "I believe your solution lies in (with or without outside help) filing a motion in the nature of quo warranto for cruel and unusual punishment consisting of… [descriptions of the cruel and unusual punishments]."
The term "quo warranto" is a Medieval Latin term meaning "by what warrant?" A more modern translation would be "By whose authority?" The writ requires the person to whom it is directed to show what authority he has for exercising some right or power (or "franchise") he claims to hold. Quo warranto is one of the prerogative writs alongside habeas corpus and mandamus that courts cannot simply ignore.
The moving party could effectively "reopen" his case by filing the writ in the court that convicted and sentenced him to serve "time." The question(s) to be posed in the writ could be, "By what authority am I being cruelly and unusually punished?" "By what authority does someone have the ‘right’ to violate my basic human rights?"
Upon being sentenced to serve "time" in the custody of the "state," the state has assumed the responsibility of keeping a man’s body healthy because he has no ability to maintain his own health as a prisoner of the state. The state, therefore, cannot claim to have the authority to feed prisoners chemically-adulterated food devoid of nutrients, force them to drink chemically-contaminated water and deny them proper medical attention in real cases of illness or injury. If the institution is owned and/or operated under contract with a private corrections company, that private company, being subservient to the contracting state, cannot logically or contractually claim the authority to cruelly and unusually punish prisoners. So, under whose authority are these abuses being carried out?
Who is being cruel and unusual—the state or a contractor? If it’s the former, then let’s find out which government official’s bond is on the line and seek remedy accordingly. If it’s the latter, then let’s see the contract and identify the person attached to the signature on the contract. Is the signer bonded (and, of course he must because all government contractors are bonded)?
At this point we can demand to see a copy of the bond and the demand would be granted. The next question then becomes, "Who is underwriting the bond that is allowing this man to commit crimes against me?"
Note: I expect those with legal acumen to approach this concept with every fiber of their being attuned to its real possibilities, within the frame work of history, case law and their own experience and understanding of today’s "justice" system. This idea should be strategically-considered as a means and mechanism to gain popular attention.
Should the courts actually cooperate, creative and coordinated means to "tell the world" ought to be part of preplanning; should the courts’ answers be something to the effect of "we don’t need no stinking authority" then the same plans to inform the public ought to be in place.
It should also be noted that anyone who sees merit in the quo warranto process must approach the concept with tremendous care to make a record from which others after you can benefit, rather than be frustrated—or denied.
Who (is) underwriting these bonds?
So, from whom is the prison system borrowing money?
Think about it: Ford and Chevy stocks have recently achieved junk bond status. Why? The auto industry utilized borrowed capital to expand to the point of saturation and is no longer able to attract investment capital. It’s logical to assume that the same investment entities that financed the auto industry (and the many other now-defunct American industries) are currently underwriting the (still growing) prison industry.
The reason years of research has never completely revealed the paper trail proving the prison "bond scam" is because it is just one component of a financial marketplace that is top heavy with speculative instruments such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, mortgages and futures—all of which are ways for people to make money without producing anything.
Because we have a national obsession with getting something for nothing, our entire economic prognosis is riding on how well investors can predict what will pay future dividends. Ford and Chevy are out; prisons are in.
The point of the exercise
Of the 2.2 million people doing "time" in state and federal prisons, over a million non-violent, consensual or victimless criminals should be released and; about half of the five million people doing "time" in local jails are non-violent "offenders" who should also be released. Those who remain should be fed wholesome food, clean water and not be subjected to medical neglect; those willing to work toward rehabilitation should be provided that opportunity.
Those goals would be best for society but would not be good for "business." The current system is locking people up as fast as they can be processed into prison. From there, the imprisoned can be put to work as slave-wage laborers and be subjected to intentional mental, physical, spiritual and social debilitation processes—all of which advance the profit and expansion potential of business and government.
Over time I have earned the right to say that due process requires that the system provide remedies to hear the claims of those it injures; of legal necessity, those who operate this corrupted system are compelled to deny almost every one of those claims. Rather than alleviate prison overpopulation by reviewing cases and releasing those who deserve it, the system builds more prisons. Nothing personal. It’s just the only major industry in America that still has future growth and profit potential.
Therein lies our remedy: It’s just business. If Ford and Chevy can go down, so can Corrections Corporation of America, the Geo Group (formerly Wackenhut), the Cornell Companies and UNICOR. If the profit incentive is removed from the incarceration equation, those who are financing it will put their money elsewhere—it’s just business.
I believe that Uncle Gus is correct: Reopening cases with motions for writs of quo warranto is the best way to find out, in a public way, "by whose authority is our nation’s people being destroyed and who is financing this sinister operation?"
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