By James Peratta
The wonder of this nation that separates us from the rest of the world is how we embrace freedom and what we stand for. In effect, we have become a symbol to the world of what a free and civilized society should be representing all that is good. It is not just to be envied but to inspire others to have the same opportunity to do what they find meaningful for the pursuit of happiness. As a result, it has become the cornerstone foundation to our democratic way of life.
While we celebrate this well-deserved liberty, our constitution instructs us of our achievements but also reminds us of the limitation of the past. Since it was created by people, it is subject to all frailties of memories that should caution us for the future, but because these documents do not change, it freezes these words for a moment in time to remind us of what we are capable of. This allowed us to cross over that bridge to discover how we got from there to here. Through more could have been done, equality and justice for all is a good place to start.
Unfortunately, all the sacrifices made seem to have been forgotten. Little did we know that the real issue was not how to achieve freedom but what to do with it. Corruption became the order of the day as freedom is held hostage by the same people who swore to protect it. Rather, than equal justice, social injustice is their gift for the less fortunate.
Stimulated by greed and power, corruption is a business like any other. Deprive our society of compassion while ethics being thrown out the window. What is worse is that they are blinded by the power given to them by the same people they oppress. After all, power corrupts…and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
It is disturbing to see people with money and power get away with murder while the rest of us get the shaft for minor infractions. They have managed to create this “invisible line” that acts as an “invisible control” over the less fortunate…separating their justice from yours. They create their own theories as if they are facts to feel good about themselves, but instead of overloading their conscience with guilt, they leave the decision-making to a jury, a jury whose decision will be based on who has a better lawyer than to seek for the truth.
What matters most is that the justice system has shifted from rehabilitative mode to a retributive mode. Instead of fairness in judgment, they are more concerned about technicalities such as process and procedures, but once the procedure ends, the penalty phase begins, and as long as the cruelty is routine, their civil responsibility towards the punished is over. A case in point…Mr. Black who just lost his case. He watched his lawyer, the prosecutor, and the judge congratulate each other as he was being taken away, as for them, it’s just another day and the office while they throw away the key and forget he ever existed. As a result, they are promoting the devastation of families…the very fabric of our society.
Now in solitude, Mr. Black is desperately trying to survive. Abandoned by family, scorned by society, he survives, but as days turn into years, he looked for moments between the tears. Treated like cattle, he still survives, but then he is stripped of his dignity…that’s when even trying to survive becomes a challenge.
This is what they call justice…heartless and calloused, as “mandatory sentencing” and “zero tolerance” policies are applied like business as usual…except for them. As a result, the business of prison is becoming for inmates area treated like “cattle” to fill up beds in prison. Even worse is in prison-like a revolving door…discriminating them for life.
It is ironic for a county known for its freedom and democracy has more people in prisons today than in slavery then ever before…any country for that matter. The idea of democracy is morally destroyed when the objective is to put more people in prisons longer, not to reduce crimes but for their own political and economic gains.
While the lady of justice stands there blindly corruption has clouded our justice system, as inmates are treated like a “commodity” while “private prisons” exacerbate the problem, Meanwhile “warehousing” of inmates do not build a better society, it is creating a hopeless society instead. Ultimately, it will be up to the people to make that change…for everyone is affected by it. Until then, hope is just a prayer away.
Iames Peratta is incarcerated at Mule Creek State Prison