by George Gordon
In trying to appraise this issue of law enforcement, much has been written and much more will be written. One point that everyone seems to agree on is that crime is out of control, and something must be done about it.
We call America the land of the free, and refer to the Soviet Union as a police state. But the facts tell us another story: they show that this country holds more people per capita in jail than any other country, including the Soviet Union and South Africa.
In reality, most people in America live in a police state, and are completely unaware of it. There is little difference between tyranny in governments, no matter where it may be. For example, the people of Poland:
There must be a simple solution; one which will free us from this morass of crime and punishment. Any solution must conform to our Constitution (if we wish to avoid armed revolution), refrain from punishing the innocent, and punish those who are guilty. The current system does nothing but spawn an endless circle of recidivism and contempt for law in general. Our prisons, rather than being rehabilitative, are merely schools, which teach further crime.
If a victim loses their property, the criminals lose their freedom, but never make restitution to the damaged party. And the taxpayers are fleeced out of their money to fund these human warehouses. The beneficiaries of this system are not the victims -- they are the public defenders, lawyers, judges, jailers, prison guards, policemen and political administrations,, and they quite literally thrive off the system.
Crime does pay, and quite handsomely. What is worse is that the victim not only loses by having his original property stolen, but by a continual drain of his resources to provide food and shelter for the thief.
Solutions to the crime problem must provide restitution for the victim, punish the criminal, decrease the prison population, eliminate over- crowding of prisons which cannot be emptied, eliminate capital punishment, and make the entire criminal justice system self-supporting by paying for itself in productive accomplishment.
How many broken homes, welfare payments, divorces, fines, jail terms and shattered lives must there be in the name of law and order, merely for the benefit of the law enforcement growth industry? How many people derive their livelihood from this industry? How many agencies are created by legislatures, city councils and Congress?
In the state of Idaho, it would probably be conservative to estimate that there are over 2,500 persons employed in this industry. That sounds like a lot, but consider the following:
It seems as though it is the purpose of government to build a system so big that everyone will either be employed by it or imprisoned by it.
This industry is nothing more than a business and customer relationship. Like any business, this industry needs more and more customers to continue to grow and prosper, in order to justify its existence and size to the people, in order to obtain more funds to further that growth. The cycle goes something like this:
Headlines do not exist stating, "Idaho's Prison Population Declines For Fifth Consecutive Year," or "Sheriff Submits Third Successive Budget With 5% Reduction In Requests." We have been spending more every year on the criminal justice system. And we are getting exactly what we have paid for: MORE CRIME.
As an example, let's look at a city, X. City X has one hundred policemen. The crime rate is up 5% over last year, so the media is told that the reason these one hundred policemen could not hold crime to the same level as last year is that they are understaffed and underbudgeted. Oh yes, and there were some defects in the existing statutes. So we need more money, and more laws.
City X gets five new policemen, 5% more money and another 7% to compensate for inflation (another government-created industry), and a few new laws to enforce. The product the industry sells is crime; our product line has been expanded by a few more laws, and our sales staff has increased by 5%. Our operating budget has been expanded to cover the additional overhead. Our police chief, the sales manager, now has a larger sales staff and additional responsibility, and needs a raise. Supervisors have a similar gain, and also obtain raises.
Now we must prepare for the coming year's expansion. We must justify our expanded budget, size and new products to the board of directors (the legislature). The sales staff is therefore sent into the street to ticket more violators, arrest more drunks, catch or entrap more prostitutes and drug pushers, etc. With proper management, and a little luck, we increase our business by 5%.
Now, we must make sure the media is aware of the growing crime rate. The public must be made aware that there is more crime because we are understaffed and overbudgeted, and besides, there are several loopholes in the laws that need filling. To illustrate the seriousness of the problem, the chief of police will recount some of the more horrendous crimes of the past year. Just like insurance salesmen sell insurance by using fear of death to motivate the prospective customer, the law enforcement growth industry uses fear of crime.
So another year comes and goes, and now we have 110 police, at least a 10% increase over our budget of two years ago, and a few more laws. Now our increased sales staff can get back out on the street to find and entrap more violators. This increases the population of the jail, and causes the sheriff to go to the city commissioners to request more funds to feed, house and guard the increasing load of criminals (making sure the media is made aware of his difficulties).
A proportion of the new increase in sales (arrests and jailings) bleeds over into felonies, and these criminals must be housed in the state prison. The warden, of course, must now go to the legislature and request his own budget increase, and maybe a new prison. Of course, all this business creates activity in numerous support areas; more food is needed to feed the criminals, more buildings are needed to house them, more judges are needed to handle the case loads, and more public defenders and lawyers are needed to defend the customers (citizens). The cycle is more or less complete at this point, and begins all over again.
The customer of this industry is the average citizen. It is the citizen who pays the bills; it is the citizen who is persecuted in the name of crime prevention; it is the citizen who is entrapped into committing violations of statutes by law enforcement personnel, who are simply justifying their existence by ensuring that crime exists.
The following is an actual conversation between a prisoner, "Joe," and another citizen. Joe is a bright college student, low on funds.
Citizen: What happened to cause you to be put in prison?This conversation can be repeated in hundreds of ways, hundreds of times. This shows how a real crime happens: There was a real criminal, and a real victim. Let's see how much this crime actually cost the taxpayers to apprehend, try, convict, incarcerate and then parole back into productive society.
Joe (matter of factly): I stole $350.
Citizen: So you are guilty of the crime, and deserve to be punished?
Citizen: Tell me exactly what happened.
Joe: Okay, I was in the B.S.U. auditorium, broke and didn't know how to make ends meet, and I saw this lady's open purse on a chair. It had money in it, so I took it. Apparently, someone saw me take it and called the police. They told the police who I was, and the police came to my apartment and arrested me. That's all there is to it. The law in Idaho is that any theft over $150 is grand larceny. I was convicted of grand larceny and sentenced to indeterminate five years. That means I can spend anywhere from eighteen months to five years in prison.
Citizen: Did you plead guilty to the charge?
Joe: No, I pled not guilty. My public defender advised me to take it to trial.
Citizen: How long was the trial?
Joe: One and a half days.
Citizen: How much time have you served so far?
Joe: Eleven months.
Citizen: Did the lady get her purse and money back?
Joe: No, I spent the money to pay bills and I threw the purse away.
It costs at least $2,000 to try, defend and incarcerate Joe. He will spend an absolute minimum of eighteen months in prison. It costs $15,000 per year to feed and house Joe in the prison. Assuming Joe will be paroled for the remaining three and a half years, at $13.86 per day, his parole will cost another $27,771.50. And the lady didn't even get her $350 back -- making a grand total cost for Joe's crime of $67,271.50.
Who is paying this bill? The victim, and the rest of the community. But what about Joe? Joe plays cards, consumes food, needs clothes and shelter, and produces nothing. In addition, he provides employment for everyone involved in trying, convicting and incarcerating him. Multiply this example by hundreds, even thousands, and we can readily see how billions of dollars are wasted each year in the name of law and order. The lady who had her purse stolen would have been ahead if she had not reported the theft of her purse. The victim sentenced herself to a fine by taxation. She lost her purse and the money in it, and on top of that, was taxed to support Joe and the law enforcement growth industry for the next five years. She would have been better off if she had simply bought Joe an airplane ticket to California.
Joe is also a loser, and once again, the winner is the industry. Just how is Joe a loser? This is a story in itself.
The law in Idaho which declares $150.00 as the amount which indicates grand larceny was passed in 1949. Because of inflation, his crime should now be a misdemeanor. But he is branded a felon for life. It is his first offense. Now he is in a school which teaches crime, and he has learned from his mistakes. When he comes out of prison, he will have a degree in crime. Society will be biased against him beacuse of this mistake, and it is quite likely that he will turn to further crime to make a living. Crime pays, because most crimes are never reported, and of the few that are reported, most are not solved. Joe will be occasionally caught, and he will be a regular customer of the industry for the rest of his life. When he is caught, he will be institutionalized, and forced to live in an unnatural, zoo-like environment.
Whether we like it or not, Joe is going to be out on the street again, and everyone will be faced with another problem. At some point, we will again have to deal with Joe. For the past forty-plus years, we have been dealing with all of these Joes, and what we have been doing has not only not worked, it has failed disastrously. It is time to admit that the criminal justice system needs drastic reformation.
We know there is a problem, but what can we do about it? There is another fact to examine: Where did prisons and dungeons as a form of punishment come from? The answer is lost in antiquity. In the Bible, there are numerous accounts of individuals being imprisoned, such as Joseph, Daniel and Peter. Many nations used prisons and dungeons to punish criminals and political prisoners.
The only exception is found in the time of Moses. When the Isrealites crossed the Jordan River, they had a different kind of law: a substantive law, based upon substance and labor. The common law, and our Rights at law which our Constitution and Bill of Rights guarantee to each and every one of us, is likewise based upon substance. The connection is seen in the axiom, "If there is a remedy at law, equity may not prevail."
Our common law came from England, but its roots are at Mount Sinai. Moses brought the law down from the Mount, and it is recorded in Exodus 20. The next five chapters of Exodus contain the criminal codes. They are short and precise. There were no prisons or dungeons. The Israelites borrowed the prison system from the Romans, Egyptians and Babylonians, and we have that system in use today.
The act of punishing the victim of a crime by taxing him to house, feed and guard the criminal is adding crime upon crime, and in addition, it is unusually cruel to lock a man up like an animal.
Let's examine Joe's case again. Joe stole $350 cash, but he also threw the woman's purse away, so the victim has suffered a further loss of time to replace such things as pictures, credit cards, etc. Let's set a value upon the crime. It's a common law crime, since it involves the loss of life, liberty or property. The common law is designed to restore property and to remedy damages. Let's value Joe's crime at $50,000, which is a bit excessive, but it's a starting point for the sake of discussion. So Joe gets five years or a fine of $50,000, whichever he prefers. However, Joe is poor, which was the reason for the theft, so we are going to enforce the option of five years. Since Joe has an obligation -- let's have him work it off!
Let's put Joe in a productive capacity. Joe is not dangerous. Let's teach him the dignity of work, and of making restitution for the cost of his crime. Convict labor is not a new idea; it has been used before in many places, such as California. Joe can be placed at the Atlanta, Idaho Prison Camp to work on forest projects, such as helping fight fires, replanting trees, cutting down diseased trees and firewood. He will be paid an hourly wage -- let's say $5. If Joe works ten hours per day, six days per week, for three years, he earns his freedom -- with no parole or other strings attached. He is a free man. And the victim receives her loss in tax credits or direct payments from sales resulting from his labor.
Unions and the law enforcement growth industry will resist change, as they have done in the past. But the State is losing more with our present system. No one is hurt by setting convicts to work, and there is an unending supply of work. Numerous prisoners, when interviewed, have stated that they would welcome a chance to work off their sentences.
If the Scriptural examples cited earlier are repulsive to you, then leave God out of the equation. Ignore God, and rely only upon your own self-interest. Simple logic will tell you that it is in the best interest of everyone to change our prison system approach to crime and punishment. As a victim, which would you prefer -- restitution for the loss, or taxation to pay for the incarceration of the thief?
Some years ago, a car was stolen, and when it was recovered by the police, they issued the owner a ticket for leaving the keys in the ignition. In other words, for every crime that is committed, there may be another manufactured by the legislature. Maybe they will pass a law making it a crime to leave your house unlocked -- then when something is stolen from your house, you will be guilty for failing to secure your property. Why should the citizen even report the theft if he is going to be hassled by the police? Oh, the insurance company needs the report. In this class of "crimes," the real party of interest is the insurance company. They are the ones that want you to remove your keys from the car, and lock your house. They are the ones who stand to lose profits from your failure to perform these actions, and therefore, they want you punished when you fail to perform. Such legislation is using the police powers of the state to enforce private interests (decreasing claims and increasing profits of insurance companies).
The traffic courts provide a further example of government protecting private interests. Who cares if a person "speeds," especially if that person is in the only vehicle on the road? If we are at home and asleep, do we really care? But statistics show that "speed kills," and therefore, increasing claims at the insurance window; these cause an increase in operating costs, and therefore, a decrease in profits.
The "Law of Merchants" has crept in upon us and attempted to deny us our inalienable rights. Unfortunately, most citizens have passively, and sometimes even voluntarily, accepted this system.
Let's look at the traffic code to illustrate how we have enveloped ourselves in tyranny.
We begin at the time when there were no traffic laws, for traffic on roads, trails and highways preceded traffic codes. Whether on foot, in wagons, on horseback, carriage or stagecoach, there was traffic. In all human endeavor, there are bound to be mishaps. When our common law was in everyday use, affixing fault without any statutory law was done by litigation to determine liability and assess damages to the injured party.
With the advent of the "horseless carriage," we began to see a proliferation of traffic laws. As their number increased, the average person shifted his status, sometimes knowingly, but more often unknowingly, from "at law" to "equity" by entering into a quasi-contract through the use of the "driver's license."
Through the use of licenses and permits, the age-old rivalry of the equity courts and the common law courts took a decided turn to equity by status, and the death of the common law began. Eighty years later, we find the common law in use only in major crimes, and the grand jury, for all practical purposes, has been abolished. If our Constitution is based upon the common law, and the grand jury is a fixed right pursuant to the Bill of Rights, government cannot eliminate it, for as the Supreme Court said:
"Where rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule-making or legislation which would abrogate them." Miranda v Arizona, 384 U.S. 436,491.How, then, can any state abrogate the entire common law by statute? Simply by coercing everyone to waive their common law rights by getting them to volunteer into equity jurisdiction by the use of contracts. The state simply licenses everyone, inducing them to accept a privilege in place of rights.
No foreign power, by force of arms or ideology, has enslaved us. Our lack of understanding of our common law heritage, and ignorance of, or unwillingness to obey, natural law, has enslaved us to this Civil jurisdiction.
The police state imposed upon the Polish people by force in 1945 is no different than that which we Americans have imposed upon ourselves today, except in one area: We paid to have our rights subjugated to contract. The Poles, at least, saved some money.
We still have our Constitution, and we can reject limited liability, perpetual slavery and debt whenever we want to accept responsibility for our actions and debts.
The Poles cannot.
There are not many people who want to trade their slavery for the rigors of the life of a freeman. But for those few men and women who want to be free, the choice is theirs. Every person who wants to be free can free themselves, but no other person can free them.
Redress of greivances comes on the courtroom floor. Not in a political rally. Not in a union meeting. Not in a letter to the editor. The courts are open, and are manned by knowledgeable jurists who will listen to, and rule in favor of, a person's natural inalienable rights, if only they know how to claim them. And they will just as quickly slam the door on a slave, and leave him in his security. There is no security in freedom -- only boundless opportunity.
There are thousands of freemen in America, not millions. The masses prefer security, welfare, limited liability, and the satisfaction of having others control their lives. To claim your rights, you must be compelled to defend them on the courtroom floor.
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