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Jury Reaches the Verdict: We are the Guilty!

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Dear Defendant:


We have deliberated carefully and discussed the issue with all its aspects and ramifications, and we have concluded that it is not you who is guilty, it is we, the society, guilty for putting you behind the bars for 6 months and we are even more guilty for trying to keep you there for years, as we have to millions of others.


We did not care much about you when you were hungry. We did not care much about you when you were cold on the street. We did not care when you were sick. In fact, your presence in our streets and parks has bothered us. We wished that you and millions like you would just disappeared into oblivion. But, now we have caught you poisoning yourself with drugs, with a pea-size crack. Now we care about you. If we are convinced by the police report and the prosecutor, the law instructs us to make you really invisible by putting you behind bars for years. When you come out you will be older, more corrupt, angrier and unemployable. We know that you will most likely spend the rest of your life in jails and prisons. At the same time, we will be creating more jobs for lawyers, judges, police officers, crime scene specialists, detectives, expert witnesses, guards, and the multi-billion dollar prison industrial complex.


You may not know, but in 2008 alone, 1.5 million Americans were arrested for drug related offenses and half a million of them were imprisoned. That creates a lot of jobs and generates big money for the few. This will transfer the working people's tax money to the crime-profiteers. This has been annual multi -billion dollar business. Though it is smaller than the budget of the military industrial complex that generates more wars and enemies that turns the children of poor people into invisible "heroes" in other countries killing the children of other poor people, it is still good for business. Those who have declared the so-called "war on drugs" hit three eagles with one stone. They turn underclass into criminals and make you really invisible as permanent underclass. They hide the byproduct and shame of capitalism with impunity. They make billions of dollars out of this business of criminalization, adjudication and incarceration.


Every intelligent person, including the judge, the prosecutor, the defense and even the police and the experts on drugs, know that War on Drugs is a racket. A racket that not only does it make many people rich, it also provides pretext for our corporate-ruled government, the USA-Inc, to interfere with other country's affairs. The government of corporations, by corporations and of corporations, uses drugs as an excuse to invade other countries, support contra guerillas and terrorists to topple popular governments that do not yield to the demands of multi-national corporations.


Yes, we are guilty. Forty of us were gathered here yesterday morning at 7:30 am in the name of justice. Some of us drove more than twenty miles to fulfill our citizenship duty.   Yesterday, the scene in the courtroom was worse than a Roman Coliseum. Forty citizens who left their jobs and homes plus ten other citizens who were paid by the government were trying to judge a homeless man who harmed none, allegedly except himself.   The judge, the law clerk, the bailiff, the clerks, the court reporter, the prosecutor, the paralegal, the defense attorney, the two police officers, the crime scene specialist, the forensic expert, and other witnesses...   I am not even counting those who run the jury reporting room downstairs, the janitor and other staff who support this theater behind the scenes.


Yesterday, about 50 people, some well educated and well respected member of the society, who repeat the mantra of "innocent until proven guilty" gathered merrily and self-righteously to try you, their victim. We will all get paid, more or less, for our services. I learned that I will even get paid for serving on the jury.   We are all making money just because of you. Yes, you who have nothing in your name. You have lost your only possession when you were arrested six moths ago, the old bicycle. Some may doubt about your degree of freedom outside compared to prison. But, we know that you have pled not guilty and prefer to get out.


When I saw you among fifty of us, supposedly defended by a single defense attorney, I looked around and searched for your peers. Where were they? I did not see a single black person in the room. Worse, I did not see a single homeless person. Of course, you know that you do not have home and you do not get mail for jury duty. Of course, you know well that if you had home like us you could smoke your poison in your private room not in public bathroom after the park was closed. You would get away not with a pea-size crack, you would get away with a coconut size! Well, we all know that the real criminals are out there enjoying their golf, villas and private jets.

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EDIP YUKSEL, J.D. is a progressive American-Turkish-Kurdish author/philosopher/lawyer/activist (too many hyphens and slashes, I know). His recent English books "Quran: a Reformist Translation", "Manifesto for Islamic Reform", and "NINETEEN: God's (more...)
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