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Rethinking The Criminal Justice System

(Photo by Robin Holland)

Conversing with Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL this week, author John Grisham said:

“We still have two million people in prison in this country right now. Two million. Our prisons are choked, they’re so full. And most of them are non-violent. Most of them – and we’re spending between $40,000 and $80,000 somewhere to house them, every guy in prison. Now, somebody’s not doing the math here... Lock the bad ones away. But you gotta rethink everybody else. You gotta rethink the young kids who are in there because of crack cocaine. They need help. And if they serve five years they get out there and do the same thing over and over again. The system’s getting worse.”

What do you think?

  • Do you agree with John Grisham that our criminal justice system should be rethought?
  • Why do you think the system works the way it does?
  • What reforms to our criminal justice system would you recommend?


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    Comments

    I agree, there are too many people in prison and their sentences are too long. There needs to be a complete reform of sentencing and the laws altogether. This is not a free country from the witch hunts for sex offenders to the drug laws. Every good law has been mutated by passion and hysteria. There are too many issues to list in any given article.

    I am not happy with the fact that all these CEO,S,CFO,S etc.etc. are not in prison that have screwed us all and keep doing it.Would someone please explain to me how these people are any different then say any bank robber stealing our money! Look at BRITISH POLITICIANS whom got caught using money for pet projects and BROWN saying he is sorry and that is it.It is the same here with our politicians from rape,DUI,and fraud just to name a few.Prisoners should have to work for their keep like the chain gang days or like that jail in ARIZONA.Instead they have it easy because they have rights! What rights did there victims have! You do not have rights when you are proven quilty period! Well that is if you are in the middle class/poor(they are one of the same now a days).If you are a politician you get away with murder and stealing.And get away with it.Kind of like this new credit card rights bill.If you pay your bill off every month and are responsible you are now going to lose because you are.Mean while the people not responsible will not be held to it.

    We most definitly need to change the so called correctional Institutions that don't correct!I think the 13th amendment gives us a clue as to why it doesn't. It states that slavery hasbeen abolished EXEPT if you have been convicted of a crime!!! It's no coincidense that there are more whites that use drugs than blacks but more blacks locked up for it. If you have a young man or woman who can't get a descent job to feed thier children and they begin to sale drugs to survive why would you cage them like animals versus giving them the education (colledge) they obviously need to get a good job. I don't think it's wise to treat a human like an animal even though he doesn't act like one. Actually it makes the jailer and those that enforce incarceration the real animals and humans are more intelligent than animals. Unfortunately Human-like animals run this country...us humans have to teach them how to be civil hence "civil rights". Its quite difficult to have a civilization that doesn't know how to treat it's civilians civil.

    Douglas Field: Maybe you are not a real person, but if you really are sincere I suggest posting fresh, current and candid writings. This (maybe not intended) has become a dynamic forum of intense and vital discussion. To preserve this wonderful scarce resource and discourage more of the same, your stale and canned spam post will be mostly ignored.

    That is unfortunate because you may represent a good cause. Try integrating your point of view into other pages by discussing it in the context of public discourse, the economy, economic structure, covert elite agendas and other lines of thought represented here. At present everyone is worried and scared by the financial meltdown. If we rise to storm "the Bastille" your issue is solved. Forget your mercenary pursuit of money, Doug, and join the common struggle.

    I am looking for a program with Moyer and the Arizona Dept. of Corrections to be aired in Sept. Can't find out about it. Please advise.

    I found the interview with Grisham to be very enjoyable. I was interested to find out the real life influences and personal experiences behind his many novels. In Grisham’s current book, The Appeal, he writes about how power is the major influence in Supreme Court rulings in Mississippi and adjoining states. I agree with Grisham’s stance on injustice and find it to be unfair. It does not matter whether you are rich or poor; the rich and powerful more often then not come out on top.
    In being strongly against the death penalty, I also agree with Grisham’s view on death row in the novel The Innocent Man. I believe that the hard criminals should be locked away in maximum security, but since there are so many people who are convicted of crimes that are innocent or wrongfully accused, the death penalty can be ineffective and not necessarily serve justice. Some may argue that the death penalty is the only way to serve justice to the criminals that committed crimes such as rape or murder. However, I believe that locking them away in maximum security so that they can never be paroled, can serve justice as well.
    In conclusion, I found it informative to see Grisham’s view on politics and different subject matters such as the death penalty, and Supreme Court injustice in the south. I also enjoyed learning that his experiences in being a lawyer and growing up in the south have had an impact on his novels. In being a Christian myself, I admire how Grisham’s faith influences his writing. He writes compelling and intriguing novels that everyone can enjoy reading without the language and unnecessary violence. To me, that classifies a great writer. Mr. Moyer, I enjoyed this conversation. I found it to very insightful and interesting.

    My book would be The Next One Hundred Years, Shaping the Fate Of Our Living Earth by Jonathan Weiner.

    Its a great beginner/expert book on GloBal Warming & Climate Change. Follow him up with Ross Gelbspan.

    I would like our next President to bring " The Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein.

    From Robert G's Post below - "The first reform to the criminal justice system is to make it a system where those who run it are not there for reasons of profit." -

    Those who would resist the decriminalization of recreational drugs include most of the criminal justice system and drug interdiction programs. There is a symbiotic relationship between the drug cartels and those who are trying to eliminate them by force.

    After fifty years of throwing good money after bad, haven't we learned anything about this futility? The paternalistic approach to the problem has the cart before the horse. Unfortunately, most think that to correct that situation, we have to shoot the horse and rebuild the cart.

    I say again, nationalize the illegal drug industry and make all "recreational" drugs FREE to the consumer.

    In addition to removing the profit motive from crime syndication, the government could then; regulate the manufacture and distribution of these drugs; regulate consumption; and administer the rehabilitation process.

    It would eliminate almost all of drug related crime overnight. It would be cost effective by a ratio of better than 100 to 1


    Think about it...

    Seriously!

    We always treat the symptom and never the cause. The system needs to create rehabilitation with the teaching of job skills and stop this modeling of the military industrial complex. I don't want military law in America anymore. We have seen the futility of force (in Iraq -- and that is the result such evil will always get). (The intelligent know 911 was Orchestrated and Scientists agree). People don't want more idle policemen scheming up ways to make money and gain glory. Security is sterility. All men are brothers and equals at birth and at death. Over 99% of all our problems come from crooked Lawyers and Judges. Why? Because Lawyers make the Laws and the Judges are on the take along with them and do what the Lawyers say. Instead of justice we have mobs of fearful people who are easily manipulated. The entire system is flawed and needs to be rethought. Materialism is not the highest and best, obviously!

    Also with role models like Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld and that oafish idiot Rove (still on the air along with Fox news) it is no wonder people turn to drugs. The real change of couse starts within each one of us. But the so called leaders at the top at least ought to be role models. Moyers seems to be one of the last vestiges of sanity on Earth.

    A greed/fear based system can never truely address the needs of the majority.

    All those currently running are part of that system. So we need a nice new start with a debate between Gravel, Kucinch and Paul to start! Now.

    We need all citizens to be independent thinkers in America regardless of race or religion. We need to know the media is corporately owned and you won't get any truth at all from it.

    The first reform to the criminal justice system is to make it a system where those who run it are not there for reasons of profit. And every participant are well compensated to help the inmates to rehabilitate themselves; they the workers need to be completely professional and not resort to violence but only gentle responsiveness.

    Right now there are Black Judges making bad decisions because of the abuse they have experienced at the hands of our system. People manipulate the system. Let's figure out how to stop that to start. Locally they are trying to get 135 more police of the street...I think the people should vote for that if they want it. If not then not. Let our vote count as to who the Judge will be. With videos available as to how they operate. They need maximum ability to judge people and render fair penalties. But it must be applied across the board in real fairness.

    I agree with John Grisham.

    I think that the single most urgent and most useful change would be to end the war on drugs.

    Handle marijuana just as we do our two legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco: legal, taxed, and regulated. (It boggles the mind that, of these three substances, the least harmful is the one that's outlawed.)

    Treat the hard drugs as a medical problem, not a criminal problem.

    The book recommended for the new president to take to the White House by Florida Veterans for Common Sense is Thomas Paine and the Promise of American by Professor Harvey Kaye, the Ben and Joyce Rosenberg Professor of Social Change and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

    Bill Moyers said about the book, "The story of Thomas Paine-then and now, for the man and his ideas are very much alive today-stirs the heart, moves the mind, and routs the demons of despair."

    Paine's thinking helped bring to public consciousness the American idea and Revolution. Paine's words still resonate today and the new president can use Paine's ideas to re-claim our progress toward a better democracy, which has been subverted by the present dministration.

    Hi Bill --

    MOBY DICK isn't called The Great American Novel without reason. I have written a monograph that introduces people to the real value of MOBY DICK. My monograph is entitled WHAT IT IS or HOW I LEARNED TO LOVE THE WHALE. My foreword in the monograph explains why I think that MOBY DICK is a good candidate for the book for a president to read:


    Preparer’s Foreword

    Call me Amazed. Amazed that such a magnificent book as Moby Dick was ever written. Amazed that a self-educated person, albeit a genius, could and did create this unique and most precious work of art. Amazed that so much wisdom and such a cogent exposition of real-life philosophy could and did flow from the mind and pen of a writer only a score and ten years of age.

    Sadly, my own introduction to Moby Dick occurred only after I had already traipsed a full half-century of my existence away. I can only surmise how an earlier exposure to The Whale might have enhanced my life. Doubtless, anyone with an open mind and a thirst for the undiluted zing of the bittersweet nectar of plain reality will benefit greatly by reading, savoring, consuming, and treasuring the wisdom and life philosophy of Maestro Herman Melville, as expounded in this The Great American Novel.

    It was a dark and stormy night when I determined to prepare this volume. Like a latter-day Snoopy, I sat before my writing machine pondering the sad fact that most of that small percentage of human beings that have even heard of Moby Dick think that it is just a story – a story about a big bad whale. It isn’t. It is, rather, simply Herman Melville’s great book (as contrasted, for example, with this volume which is merely your preparer’s solus opus minimus – written as a labor of love for the benefit of your preparer’s grandsons, Henri and Emile, who know your preparer simply as “Pap”).

    One must discover for oneself what Moby Dick is. No one can tell you what it is for you. Moby Dick is the quintessence of art, in that it is interpretable for a reader only with the aid of that reader’s own life’s lens. Your glass is neither the same color as mine, nor does it have the same distortions. So how can I tell you what you see? No one can! I can only tell you that Moby Dick has unalterably affected my own understanding of life and death and the human condition – and I am surely better off because of it.

    My motivation for compiling and commenting on the many excerpts from Moby Dick contained herein is to provide to my dear grandchildren, and to any others who might seek a sampling of the unparalleled artistry of Herman Melville, an introduction to just some of the mind-expanding and thought-provoking concepts and issues with which Melville dared to grapple. Inherent in this process is my sincerest desire to encourage you, Dear Reader, – and yes, to inspire you – to read Moby Dick in its entirety, and for you to thus become a fellow Melvillian.

    Such is my plan, quixotic as it may seem to some, to promote the spread of enlightened Melvillianism – that very personal philosophy and overall outlook on what it really is to be that most special of all wonders, a live human being on Planet Earth.


    Bill, I would very much like to send you a copy of my monograph. If you will please send me your snail mail address, I will send along your copy promptly.

    With kindest regards,

    Jim Dautremont

    If I could only take one book with me to the Whitehouse: It was a hard decision between "Team of Rivals", "John Adams" and "Not So Wild a Dream", but I would take "Not So Wild a Dream", perhaps just to be different. But also, because of its title, its theme and who wrote the book and his contributions to real journalism: Eric Savereid.(Hope I spelled it correctly, I've loaned mine to another reader).

    How Government Has Affected American Society
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The study on the morals of todays young people done among high school students in California suggests that they are readily willing to lie ,cheat, or steal to get ahead. They were asked things like 'would you cheat on a test','would you download term papers for pleageristic purposes','have you stolen from a store' To be to the point, they failed the most basic tests of moral fibre.
    Just a few months ago watched my boys leave and go back home to become men. They were four inner city kids who stayed with my family for some time. The common thread and way of meeting among the four was Japanese style fencing and Ninjitsu. We came in contact with them through a chatroom, and learning they had no place to live or to go,invited them to live with us until circumstances improved. One was a Puerto Rican kid from Brooklyn, another from Raleigh-Durham North Carolina. Two brothers were from Lousiana. I learned more in a short time than I cared to about the product of a concrete jungle. My wife once commented when we were leaving the movie theatre with them, "Nobody got stabbed. Nobody got punched. It's been a good night!", It was meant as a joke and it was funny, but these boys were ROUGH. I taught them to build things from lumber and of steel.I instilled in these boys a solid work ethic and pride of accomplishment. I separated this from a solid moral ethic. They got turned off quickly at the daily 'don't' list. They never crossed the 'don't ever' list simply out of the respect they gained for themselves. After getting to know them and, I think, getting a handle on their psyche after a year, I here humbly submit my limited take on what they look at and how they feel about things;
    They do not worry about the future as a whole, this generation. They feel that they have none. They see the world perhaps through some very realistic eyes. Education is an unattainable dream. The government can only be counted on in the fact that it can't be counted on. They have seen that their parents have had no voice in the laws of the land and no control of self-destiny. They knew to 'watch for the cops' when toddlers. This lead to the development of another society, separating our people from our government's workings a generation ago now, reenforcing an "us against the world" mentality.
    When I was a youngster, all of the kids used to wave at the cops and say hello. We knew a police officer was our friend and protector. Those days are sadly gone for today's youth and police. Instead of 'protect and serve', they get,'to harrass and intimidate'. Young officers should be aware of this to avoid being overzealous.
    Our young hear EVERYTHING WE SAY TO THEM. When I say 'we' I mean adults in general. They feel there exist unjust and immoral laws, in their eyes giving them the right to be immoral and unjust as well. They feel they too will be slaves to the system. They don't believe in the government or politicians or much else. This needs healing.
    I blame the MADD organization for this social decay.
    Now ,hold on, Mothers Against Drunk Driving is an honorable organization. Their intentions were all good in the beginning. The problem is the bastardization of the law and the suffering rendered on this country's citizens as a result of their noble efforts.
    The sterile hold these government departments have on the laws and the people is against everything I was taught as a youngster growing up in the Viet Nam Era. This branch of the government leaves growing boys with no fathers and poor moms working two jobs unable to cope. Young people stealing because they are too hungry not to, their lives destroyed before they are more than mere tadpoles. This must be less acceptable than a person possessing marijuana or having a couple of beers on the way home from working outside all day.
    There is too much determination of this government to control every facet of our lives. This is the catalyst driving the common desention of Americans with government control. I don't drink or do drugs. Having done so, I can tell you that alcohol is the most dibilitating. It is a drug uncontrolled in it's ability to destroy. No doubt. Yeah and people get killed by drunks. We hear casualty reports about drunk drivers and drug busts all the time, but we never hear casualty reports about the kids. How they are now failing in school. How poor he or she is now. How overlooked they feel. How the other kids make fun of their clothes. Or how angry all this makes them. Don't underestimate this anger, it carries weight. They feel disenfranchised with adults and the government in general. I am talking about a lot of kids.Millions.........millions.They see problems they have as oriented in the legal system. They hate the law and the government as it has been the sole entity responsible for their suffering. 'Dad got caught with some pot','mom had two or three beers....', I have heard many many sad, woeful stories following lines like these. The boys said to me they never expected financial success nor the American dream. They never expected anything from anyone. Is this not sad? Would it not be considered heartless or immoral for a man to put these children in this set of circumstances? Why then ,is it acceptable to serve a government that thrives on this? There is a lot of money made at the courthouse, everybody knows this. By the time 'fees' and fines are paid, somebody could buy a new car. Where does that money go? Do you suppose those lawyers and judges need it worse than those kids? Do you think the legal system has more need of that father than any of these kids? Does Daddy need 300 hundred dollars worth of ADP this month Or should he buy groceries and shoes for those kids? Hell, lock him up!
    This generation also feels the government is standing idly by with the door open while the Mexicans invade and take the birthright intended for young Americans just starting out. Would it be too much to ask this government to simply do its' job and protect it's people from invasion, instead of all this energy being spent on persecuting them? How about giving the average person a chance to earn a living? THe Constitution made a provision for this:
    Article IV Section 4.
    "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence."

    Listen, I know I will catch a lot of flack for this ,but here goes;
    I think that there should be no illegal drugs. NO ILLEGAL DRUGS.
    Hear me out before you start cussin and throwing things.
    IF ALL DRUGS WERE LEGAL, IT WOULD KILL THE PROFIT MARGIN AND DESTROY THE MARKET. Dealers would have to get real jobs. Government would shrink and the legal system could concentrate on things this country and our children actually NEED. Sure there would be casualties there never was a war without casualties, but, this IS the way to win a fifty year old war on drugs.
    My father who was from southern Kentucky, rest his soul, once told me, "Hell, every moonshiner in the county always voted 'Dry Vote'. They wouldn't be making any money if it weren't a dry county."
    The government makes so much money from prosecuting it's citizens, it is a mortal sin. So much pain and suffering has been doled out, the children when grown will never suppport a government such as this. Never before in history has one generation been persecuted and denied by another as this one has. One of the boys said,"That generation sucked all of the money and fun out of everthing." Out of the mouths of babes.
    I fear they will one day rise.......out of necessity of survival.


    Alton Haycraft
    New Middletown

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The excellent and well intended comments by Mssrs. Moyers and Grisham are but chips off the ugly iceburg that is American Jurisprudence, as I can assure you from my past 42 years as a litigator advocating for justice, to reform the corrupt legal system and to purge those corrupt members who maintain and profit from its corrupt condition. Unfortunately, the level of reform necessary to reform the legal system is unachievable because its controlling factions that are empowed by and profit from the status quo cannot be disenfranchised. Again, I know from experience having continued to expose the corruption and the proponents and affecting the prosecution, conviction, disbarment, imprisonment of those wealthy and powerful factions - lawyers, judges, politicians, etc.
    Our repugnant, corrupt legal system simply reflects one ugly aspect of our American system and the reality that we are not a Democracy but rather a Capitalistocracy where the wealthy and powerful control We the People by controlling the laws - and all to their own, individual and collective, greedy and ruthless interests.
    We are currently completing a very powerful documentary that exposes the sordid reality of the iceburg as has never been done before; THE SNAKE HANDLER should be published in 08, with the first publication done in a foreign country - for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, one must appreciate such well intentioned efforts such as those of Mssrs. Moyers and Grisham although, unfortunately, they really know so little about what they do as they chip away their tiny flakes.

    In our attempts to make things better and to ensure “what’s right” is enforced we conjure ever more complex definitions of right and wrong only to soon witness how they also fail us in some way. There will always be a situation that a rule cannot handle appropriately. Laws and rules are narrow rigid static creations, and our world is in motion. Predetermined rights and wrongs just cannot keep pace with the ever changing and complex environment of Reality.

    Some suggest we have made things more complex than they need to be and what we need to do is reacquaint ourselves with the more effective and simple rules. Possibly they don’t see even supposed simple stalwarts like “Thou shall not lie” fail us as well. Would it not be appropriate to lie if it kept an infant from certain death? The conundrum is not determining right and wrong. They are self-evident to those that are not bound by preconceptions. The conundrum is Reality will not cooperate and mesh with our predetermined prepackaged beliefs and ideas. Our confidence in our ideas can keep us from knowing the truth. Instead our confidence should be demonstrated by our desire and willingness to understand. Possibly then we will see the true situation, true intent, what to do, and right and wrong.

    I am not suggesting that having and making laws and rules is futile. In fact they are a fundamental part of what makes society possible. Still our institutions and we need to keep from being locked into rigid ways of thinking and reacting. Notice right and wrong are self-evident and that our preconceptions can keep us from seeing them. Recognize how society’s institutions implement and defend preconceived rights and wrongs instead of striving to know right and wrong. Society needs to be extra careful not to create barriers so an individual has the freedom to do what is right and not be forced to suffer the failings of a preconceived belief of what is right. The world, society, our institutions, each individual needs to find the confidence and courage to learn and embrace the art of understanding so Reality can be seen and right and wrong can be known.

    Yesterday All Things Considered reported that there are far more overdose deaths from prescription drugs (mainly painkillers, Oh pain KILLERS)than from illegal (street) drugs. Let's pause a moment to consider what this means. 1)medicine is more dangerous than heroin (I guess) 2.Pharmaceutical execs never serve time even when they VIOX a herd 3.Our money is going to cage entrepreneurs who provide the means of self-medication to keep us from killing one another in this screwed up sadistic society Conclusion: (AS a socialist I never thought I'd admit this, but) The free trading(impossible to effectively regulate) recreational drug market serves human need about as well as the lab scienced pharmaceutical industrial complex.
    I realize FDA approved stuff is strong on the street too, and that confounds my hypothesis, but certainly questions have arisen about the way big medicine medicates us, and how we treat their upstart competition.
    Legalizing and regulating recreational substances? Might as well! Those planes coming back from the wars in Columbia and Afganistan would be much lighter without the coke and opium, and that would save fuel. Still the Arabian marble and the used Kuaiti luxury cars would still be on there. That's a problem for another day.

    Clarance Darrow said that our nations criminal justice sytem was built on the odium and cruely of revenge--and that the poor suffer most from that fact. The system should be revolutionalized and managed by the most intelligent, humane, and kindly dispositioned "Brubaker's" on the planet--who are also nobody's fool.

    Justice and equity are essential elements of the social contract. Civilization is based on working together for the benefit of all.
    People need to understand the advantage of cooperative behavior. Nature is based on survival of the fittest while civilization is based on survival through intelligent behavior. It is not intelligent to create hateful conditions through poverty and injustice. We need to punish those who willfully cause others harm. Otherwise, we need to financially impact those who abuse the system of supply and demand. There needs to be positive reinforcement for good behavior and negative reinforcement to prevent bad behavior. There needs to be a system of justice that is just and equitable. We are aware of cause and effect and need to apply it to good government and enlightened people. Hate and discontent precede death and destruction.

    The quality of mercy is never strained... except in CA. For it is estimated that by 2022, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will incarcerate about 30,000 elderly inmates. Due to health-related expenses, the annual cost of imprisoning an older person, even at a conservative estimate, is at least $70,000, twice that of a younger prisoner. Study after study questions the wisdom of committing such vast economic resources for the continued punishment of older prisoners, the group with the lowest recidivism rate of any segment of the prison population.

    Many of these "grannies in the prison yard" have already served long portions of their sentences... as non-violent and non-drug related offenders, they should be given special consideration vis-a-vis the Governor's early release initiative that will be announced soon.

    The extension of mercy to these women is the right thing to do... since it appears that an over-zealous testosterone-laden judiciary demonstrated a bias toward them in rendering exaggerated sentences (via their male counterparts) just because they were/are single parents induced by economic pressures to "embezzle" funds.

    With no threat of recidivism... these "grannies" could better make restitutions on the outside.

    Yet, the CA Assembly continues their "hang 'em high" legal construct. Lead by conservative Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, the Assembly opposes any move for early release and has ignored the plight of the "grannies" by not including them in dissenting discussions that focus on their drug-related offender counterparts.

    Morally and ethically CA should be held accountable for its lack of compassion when it comes to single parent elderly women incarcerated for excessively long sentences for simple economic crimes.

    Without an advocate, the "Grannies in the Prison Yard" receive no mercy from CA legislators and remain underneath the political radar.

    "People living poor and voting rich !"

    This is a concept that is difficult to grasp in 21st century America. Yet, I do understand Mr. Grisham's comment in relation to many Americans who live in the Deep South. I've never lived there but I have traveled and worked there many times over the years. Wonderful people who seem to exist with the belief that their circumstances of Life are predetermined and all that one can do is avoid confrontation with the established power structure. Can we be surprised that our great experiment in Democracy has reached this low point when even religious leaders have failed to give people a vision for the future !

    Baptists (and other self-deceivers): About 6,000 years ago Jehovah let the first murderer go (killed his brother), just ran him out of town, according to your texts(Genesis Chapter 4). Maybe it was because the Nephillim (Bigmen) were running things back then, taking all the best sheep and goats and pretty women. Now I see why Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney are so arrogant, but continue to embrace God. They and the big execs. are Nephillim. Hey, didn't we exterminate those buggers one time before? Leave it to the Christians: Rev. Mike Huchabee says he's sill looking for WMDs in Iraq (Miami debate). Now ain't that something! The Nephillim should be buried there too: Messopotamia Forever!

    More than half of all persons incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails are there on drug related charges. Some have argued that more than 75% of all crime in this country is in some way drug related.

    There is a huge profit to be made from the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs. Larger than the profit margins of the legitimate drug industry!

    The cost of the illegal drug industry to the taxpayer, in terms of law enforcement, judicial process and incarceration, loss of employment and useful productive lives, the additional burden on entitlement programs, health care and education, dwarfs the profits made by the drug lords.

    I suggest that some serious thought be given to the idea of nationalizing the illegal drug industry and make all "recreational" drugs free to the consumer.

    In addition to removing the profit motive from crime syndication, the government could then; regulate the manufacture and distribution of these drugs; regulate consumption; and administer the rehabilitation process.

    It would eliminate almost all of drug related crime overnight. It would be cost effective by a ratio of better than 100 to 1

    Think about it...

    Seriously!

    Soon heads will roll: See Africa? See Pakistan? See Bolivia?
    President Bush, vindictive judges who serve wealth, state's attorney's looking to further your political careers. You are on the verge of pre-emptive action when you override our constitutional rights by surveillance, covert arrest and rendition without due process or an attorney. When the corporate system takes away my job and all I own, and I cannot find gainful employment in your world economy; and there is no safety net or retraining for me it is inevitable that I'm soon going to run afoul of your heartless and unreasonable laws. Hell, you might as well come on and get me right now, to torture and imprison (for profit), because you've left me no opportunity and no venue for dissent. You know where I am. But wait: How many millions are joining my helpless and resentful condition. At some point we will roll out our own guillotine. (And you were the dumbasses who wanted to keep assault weapons legal: You'll never be my latex salesmen!)

    Wonderful program last night and last week, too. To Mr. Foley's point, not only did the Republican Party con Christians into helping them gain the power to protect their monied interests, they did the same with the Roman Catholics. The communication consultant to former Cardinal Bevilacqua, Brian Tierney spearheaded the con. By the time I lost my job with the Archdiocese, he was making $1 mil a year on a retainer (he replaced a priest with a Ph.D. making $8,000/yr), while the archdiocese closed schools and parishes in urban areas. He ruined the reputation of the Religion reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer and would try and sometimes succeed to do the same to anyone else who sought the truth about what was really going on within the Archdiocese; the registering of voters in Churches; the election of Rick Santorum, among other things. A few years ago, he turned around and bought the newspaper he had tried to ruin and last year he tried to buy the Dow Jones - thank God that failed! You can look up Tierney on Wikipedia, but don't believe the line "Former Republican Activist" line. In my own personal experiences with him, he followed the teaching of the Karl Rove School of Dirty Tricks Politics with more reverence and devotion than he ever followed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. And just like the saying goes, "a tiger never changes its stripes".

    I think that all people must be held accountable for their actions under the law. Everyone must be treated the same under International Law, National Laws, and Local Laws, NO EXCEPTIONS!

    I support the National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D.US).

    The Citizen Amendments will go a long way toward solving the problems with the current system.

    I am a 100% Citizen of the United States of America

    I will now add John Grisham's name to my list of favorite Americans. I agree with everything the man said in substance. The only thought that kept bombarding my mind was, "If he can see it so clearly and articulate it so eloquently, why do so many others miss it?" Is it a lack of intelligence of pure indifference? Or is it wickedness?

    A)Too much money spent on prisons.

    B) Too much cruely meted out to the "alledged" guilty...

    C)The discrepancy of electing judges; for whom do they dispence "justice"? The cruelty and cost of capital punishment...

    D)Poor and ordinary folks voting against their own interests...

    E)The lies the government tells and how the citizens buy into the lies that should be easy for rational people to perceive.

    F)The cost of an illegal war and how the innocent are blamed and called savages when they react to defend themselves.

    G)What is the meaning of "Christianity" when Christians just don't get the message of the Good Book?

    I could go on and on and on... Thank God for great Americans like Bill Moyers and John Grisham and of course, Jimmy Carter.

    I have a method or way that would take us back to what I felt like, at time, was "Yankee Ingenuity".

    How painful was this interview to watch? There is little so pathetic as watching two limousine liberals pontificating about the evils of Republicans, insurance companies and the criminal justice system, while ignoring the reality that is systemic insurance fraud by so-called victims, or extortion by state attorney generals (see Jim Hood) and greedy class action thugs (see Dickie Scruggs) attorney, etc. Phonies, both of 'em.

    I agree that our country needs prison reforms. I think that Ron Paul has the best idea on this subject. He has said exactly what they talked about on the show. He wants to work to get nonviolent prisoners out so that we can keep the violent ones in. LISTEN TO THIS: http://youtube.com/watch?v=sn3xQVHAzu8

    John Grisham seems to be a hero for America. He still could look to the source of HIV where retrovirus research was done. I think prisoners should not have to get their water from the never cleaned toilet.

    I confess I have never made it very far into a Grisham novel, I guess because I know what he describes too well, but, I fear the last chapter of the sad story of Iraq is yet to be written, because I think, just as in Vietnam, they are just waiting us out.

    Yes I do think the prison system and punishment needs to be re-thought.

    I am very much against all the money we are spending on housing prisoners.

    We need to just administer a quick and short punishment like a good lashing and public humiliation. Maybe every evening on the news we could we could show a painful punishment for crimes with the offender being tied to a wipping post then beaten. Afterward he could then go home humiliated to heal and reflect on the shame of it all. Maybe then a sociologiest could evaluate the offender and if repentance is sincere then they could then be offered rehibilative help.

    This plan would save money plus hopefully shame the offender into seeking help.

    Mr. Moyers, I watch your program every Friday evening, last time I watched you address, as a direct onlooker, how LBJ did so much for civil rights. I do not argue with that. Tonight you begin your program with how the lies the Bush Administration used to get us into the current situation. I do not argue with that either, I knew there were lies going in. But neither of us were direct spectators. But since you were so involved in the Johnson Administration you are perhaps the ablest to explain the process of "The Gulf of Tonkin Resolutions." Any of your personal memories are certain to enlighten we the people of just how things happen.
    I do admit, I know something of Presidents' sometimes, well I can't come up with the appropriate wording. But the fact is, we are in Iraq. I personally wrote Letters to the Editors of my local paper arguing that there were parallels between the ongoing and the Tonkin incident.
    Please enlighten us.
    Herschel D. Ducker

    I am a southerner--Baptist,but was not conned by the Republican strategy of using people of faith.I have given much thought to how southern people can be fooled over and over again by Bible thumping Republicans who have demonstrated repeatedly that the only thing they care about is protecting the monied interests they represent!I believe it is time for a Revival of Common Sense among Southern Christians.perhaps a Revelation that shows them how naive they have been to be used by these people.

    Remove retribution from the purposes of punishment. Focus on rehabilitation. Help educate people convicted of crimes as well as those at risk of committing crimes how to solve problems, meet their needs, work through emotions such as anger, etc.
    The "feel good" (for some folks) emotion of retribution is too expensive. It's what gives us the death penalty, long prison sentences, crappy conditions in prison that are not conducive to rehab, and creates anger in inmates.
    Time to move beyond retribution.

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