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How California Got to be a Bankrupt Gulag

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California has the highest number of prisoners per capita of anywhere in the world and our state budget is collapsing under the weight of the financial burden. Government here has chosen incarceration and the most draconian sentencing laws in the USA over education and public services. Almost 12% of the state budget is committed to the Department of Corrections alone. This is partly due to the insanity of allowing county DA's to rule the courts absolutely as their personal fiefdoms using stiff mandatory sentencing and three strikes law as a bludgeon, and the enormous power of the correctional officers lobby. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have absolute corruption in the California Criminal Justice System.

The following is an example of how criminal justice is administered in many California counties, especially to low income and minority citizens and those of average means who cannot afford top notch legal representation. This is why our prisons are so terribly overcrowded and why an increasing number of innocent citizens are convicted and sentenced to death or insanely long prison sentences.

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On September 25, 2007 the life of my disabled adult daughter was changed forever. She was visiting friends who had a legal medical marijuana garden growing in their backyard. It became very late and she decided to sleep on the sofa rather than driving home alone in the dark. Her friends also appreciated another set of ears, since a group of thugs had been stalking the house and had threatened to shoot them for their medical marijuana. Both of them were senior citizens and very nervous.

At 2:45 AM she heard cars pull up slowly and saw tail lights through the loose fence around the yard. Suddenly car doors slammed and the sound of several sets of sneakers pounding the pavement broke the quiet of the night. The whole neighborhood heard the noise and thought they were under attack. At least one man came out with a shotgun.

A gang of at least 8 males running and scattering appeared through the rickety fence slats. They fanned out and surrounded the house.

They're back! My daughter yelled to her sleeping friends. Get up get up! Call 911! Panic ensued and in fear and haste she grabbed the .22 rifle she had loaned to the roommate and ran to the window. Suddenly the sensor light in the side yard clicked on and three figures appeared, right hands up in a gun crouch position. Frightened and startled she accidentally pulled the trigger of the rifle, which was pointed at the eaves of the neighbor's garage, then ran to make a second call to 911.

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She saw no one but the three gangsters in the side yard. Shortly thereafter one of the gangsters was found in the neighbor's driveway at least 8 feet below and 25 feet to the left of the window where my daughter had stood with her rifle pointed in an upward trajectory.

From the Police Blog:

December 4, 2008, 7:00 a.m., 4524 13th Avenue: Shooting

Officers received a call of a male subject who had been shot and was laying in the alley near

14th Avenue and 45th Street
. Officers arrived and located Tyrone Clark who had been shot. The injuries appeared to have been non life-threatening. During a canvass, officers discovered the home owner who had shot him. The homeowner shot Clark as he was attempting to steal an air compressor from her back yard.

This second shooting was by a 34 year old woman. She was a white homeowner who apparently did not call 911, because she was discovered in a neighborhood canvass by police. The thief was a black parolee who was blinded for life by the shot.

These two apparent self-defense cases seem very similar. In fact, the first case seems far more a case of obvious self defense than the second. Both the men who were shot were found on the other side of the fence and both were in the act of stealing. In the first case there was no intent to shoot anyone; in the second case the aim was deliberate. Both women were fearful and felt threatened. Both men recovered with some disability. The first has some head trauma, the second is blind for life. That is sad, but they were in the act of committing a crime. This is what the average citizen would think and the average citizen could not be more wrong.

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In the first case, my daughter (who has no criminal past) was immediately judged to be guilty of attempted murder and the case was treated as a homicide on the spot. She was told she was going out to make a routine statement but instead was videotaped being frog marched out to a police car, even though she had not been arrested or read her rights. All this was broadcast several times on local and national news. With only a few minutes notice all the media in the city was present with their satellite dishes fully deployed. Also a press release immediately went out to the national news with her picture, saying she had shot a juvenile over "her" "pot garden", which was completely untrue. No investigation into the attacking gangsters was ever made. (They later came forward and admitted they planned the crime and also claimed their friend was not shot by my daughter) No other suspect was ever considered, although ballistics show it was almost impossible the shot came from her gun and it cannot be proven because the bullet is still in the gangster's head.

Police drove my daughter around for two hours, apparently with the dash camera off, (police would not produce the tape for discovery) questioned her and refused her rights to consult a lawyer for advice. They photographed her in her underwear and locked her up in the "Hall of Justice" without arresting her. She was terrified and had no idea of what was happening. Later she was interrogated then arrested when she again asked for a lawyer and refused to sign the inaccurate statement that the homicide detective wrote. They strip searched her, put her in a white suit and shackles and transported her barefoot to the county jail, where they strip searched her again.

She was charged with 2 felony strikes by the DA and has been fighting to prove her innocence ever since. The DA's office in fact is trying to put on even more charges. She is threatened with 23 years in prison and two strikes if she goes to trial, even though she has very serious health problems and is likely to die in prison. They say they may even try for a third and give her life. Even their plea bargains carry two felony strikes and at least a year in prison in this lawless court system. If the gangster had died she would be facing a capital murder charge.

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Recently retired activist with an MA in Public Policy from an Ivy League school. A born again believer who also believes in the separation of church and state and is outraged that the Word of the Lord has been highjacked to justify the actions of (more...)

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How California Got to be a Bankrupt Gulag