Friday, March 7, 2014

"A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed"

Editor's Note:

The letter (see below link) from Ray Jasper -- an inmate on death row scheduled to be executed on March 13th -- is one of the most scathing critiques of  our judicial system and how it impacts the lives of people of color.

"You can go to any penitentiary in this nation and you will see slavery."

The stark and dehumanizing similarities between the American penal system and the American plantation system is daunting in the most perverted manner. In fact, it is accurate to declare: "our prison system is the new system of slavery."

As Ellen Barry, founding director of Legal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), stated:

"The prison system in this country is essentially the new plantation," she said. "It is the new system of slavery that functions to ... make it impossible for people who are within that system to take a normalized, functional role in society once they leave the prison."

Restrictions on housing, obtaining licenses, employment and education are just some of the obstacles facing former prisoners.  source

I do not know the specifics of Ray Jasper's criminal past; and, agreed, death row inmates convicted of murder are not sympathetic figures: Yet in still, the cultural ramifications of his letter can not and should not be dismissed or ignored.

Please read: A letter from Ray Jasper.


  1. I'm not entirely sure how people expect prisons to run.

    As a libertarian-minded guy who believes that progress in this nation is held up completely by social conservatives stuck in the 1960s, and progressive liberals refusing to believe it's not the 1950s, I can't in good conscience not throw out there that many of the laws which shove people into cages like animals are completely nonsensical, backward and counterproductive.

    This is what a nation of big-government has: More laws, bigger prisons.

    Drug sentences are asinine, unless we're talking about kingpins. And, even then, people should be free in a "free" country to use drugs if they damn well please. Sentence inflation is also ridiculous. It's an admission that a system of rehabilitation isn't designed to rehabilitate but rather to incarcerate.

    That being said, though, as long as we're not talking about people who were wrongly convicted, and people whose brains function properly, then it's hard for me to feel sympathy for anyone there, despite how closely to slavery someone can liken it.

    Unless these people were captured off the streets and thrown in prison against their will having broken zero laws, I'm not losing sleep over how poorly criminals are treated. That's not to say that things shouldn't improve, starting with our laws. But prisoners truly aren't sympathetic figures. To wage this war, people are going to need to find those wrongly convicted or those who were given incredibly unfair sentences based on minor slights.

    As to ex-cons hard-pressed for work, it's a shame. But, as a business owner, I'm almost certain that I'm not hiring folks out of prison. "But people can change," and "Give them a chance" is what I hear screamed at me when I voice that opinion. "Okay," I reply. "Let a convicted sex offender babysit your kid, and I'll let a convicted armed robber work around my money."

    People may indeed change, but I'm under no obligation to believe it.

  2. My friend Josh:

    I agree with some of your logic, however I disagree with this premise:

    "This is what a nation of big-government has: More laws, bigger prisons."

    A great deal of the prison explosion occurred with the proliferation of Prison Corporate Industry. Prison for profit meant more bodies more money. To get more bodies meant elimination and dismantling of programs to help reduce recidivism.

    This meant less counseling, elimination of education opportunities and an overall decrease in rehabilitative programs structured to help ex-cons re-integrate back into society.

    One thing that bewilders me the most about libertarians: They have a paranoid fear regarding big government and almost no concern about how the corporate oligarchs are steady eroding the standard of living of many Americans.

    And, via neutered campaign finance laws, hi-jacked our political process.

    On another note: My company in Charlotte, NC heavily used labor from clients from the Charlotte Area Fund. This organization helped ex-offenders -- the most common offense was drug distribution or consumption -- with life skill classes, parenting support, GED test taking, resume and interview lessons, public transportation vouchers etc When I hired a CAF worker we received tax breaks, equipment and uniform stipend and they paid half of the wages for the first 8 weeks.

    To this day my guys and gals still reach out to me with nothing but love. It was a learning process and a labor of joy. My company, Pride Cleaners (we also provided turn key services for apartment complexes), was cited for provided the best service in the Charlotte for Camden Apartments (national company). My crew took so much pride (hence the name).

    On any day of the week, and twice on Sunday, I would use the labor of these folks over the self-entitled and lazy kids that want to be boss before paying any dues.

  3. I don't disagree at all with what you're saying up top about prisons for profits. However, private industry cannot arrest anyone. It also cannot create laws, tilt the playing field, stack courts with overzealous, unethical prosecutors, or force criminal behavior from the public.

    To answer your concerns about this "paranoia" you see in libertarians, I think it's rather simple. Government is control; it's force. You can take the greediest, most unethical corporation you can find on the planet, and they are wholly at the mercy of government. Government can step in and smack them around, take their money, rewrite the rules of conduct, etc., on a whim. Or, what's worse: For power and position using money.

    Seriously. What power does business have over anyone, anywhere, without government stacking the deck by creating unfair tax codes, ridiculous legislation, etc?

    Even in the spun, damn near mythical lines about "deregulated" and "unregulated" businesses wreaking havoc, the undeniable facts of the matter is that the regulation from government is massive and grossly and intentionally interfering with the marketplace. What people mean when they say "unregulated" and such is that the regulations imposed are not the regulations they personally want. Monumental difference.

    Government has long been using the market to win elections and to seize power. Government's actions dictate how the market reacts.

    If people are looking to point their finger at private industries as the cause of pain and dismay throughout the land, they should look a little deeper and see who's behind it.

    It's not Big Money pulling Big Government's strings. It's the government that created a system where their preferred industries win out, and the government gets covered as a mere observer.

    There's a serious oversight by most people viewing the business-government dichotomy.

    Money is not power. The ability to control money--and all that comes with money--is power.

    Government is power. There's nothing a business does that government doesn't have a hand in.

  4. @jOSH ....Let me first respond by quoting a wise man:

    "Politics without economics is like a symbol without substance"

    The true forces of power in this country are the behind the scenes -- non-elected -- king makers. Our government plays puppets to this puppeteers. Don't get it twisted, it is not the other way around.

    This force of power is divided (not always equally) among four entities:

    1. The Central Bank -- Andrew Jackson on the Central Bank:

    "Their power would be great whenever they might choose to exert it; but if this monopoly were regularly renewed every fifteen or twenty years, on terms proposed by themselves, they might seldom in peace put forth their strength to influence elections or control the affairs of the nation."

    "Controlling our currency, receiving our public moneys, and holding thousands of our citizens in dependence, it would be more formidable and dangerous than the naval and military power of the enemy…."

    The Central Bank has brought down kings, governments and destabilized economies. As President Woodrow Wilson stated:

    "[Our] great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men who, even if their action be honest and intended for the public interest, are necessarily concentrated upon the great undertakings in which their own money is involved and who necessarily, by very reason of their own limitations, chill and check and destroy genuine economic freedom.

    "We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world--no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men."

    2. Military Industrial Complex -- We spend more of defense than the rest of the world -- including China -- combined. Just read President Eisenhower's warning about this power base that operates in the shadows of our society.

    3. Big Oil -- We have gone to war and destabilized weaker governments in the imperial and economic interest of big oil. It is well documented that during Cheney/Bush, big oil wrote our energy policy on the floors of congress -- and the congress were told sign the legislation without question or public debate.

    4. Wall Street/Big Banks -- This power entity has its finger prints all over the following crisis that have cost the tax payers trillion upon trillions of dollars: Great Depression, 1987 Stock market crash, Savings and Loan scandal, Junk Bond fraud, Great Recession 2008 -- just to name a few...

    Furthermore, tyranny against the people has come in many forms over the ages:

    1. The Oligarchs usurped the peoples power with the fall of the Roman Empire.

    2. The Church during the middle ages: Via the Byzantine Empire Europe was so dominated by the church it plunged into the dark ages. Just google Pope Urban and his crusading terror that kings were scared to defy.

    3. Multi-national corporations --

    "Ten mega corporations control the output of almost everything you buy; from household products to pet food to jeans. It gets even more macro, too: 37 banks have merged to become just four — JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and CitiGroup in a little over two decades..."

    In conclusion: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely" If the past serves as prologue, all powerful institutions -- including government -- needs checks and balances, oversight and regulations. History has unequivocally proven that the absence of the above invites tyranny.

  5. You're making my arguments for me. I don't even need to type much.

    This man-behind-the-curtain thing is the boogeyman that was often dredged up to give cause for government takeovers of industry.

    What's really behind it all is government (and the church is man-god government, historically more powerful than any man-based government). Now, that's not to say that it's not "business"; in that sort of context, government and business are indistinguishable. But it's lawmakers who tax, shift, funnel, divert and converge the market through interference.

    Going after business means one thing and one thing only: Government must grow.

    Hope that suits you. Look at all the wonderful things government accomplishes. Particularly for the black community.

    Can't wait to see more wage interference, lower hiring parameters, and next 5,000+ pages of legislation set to come down the pike in '14. Woohoo! But, yeah, boo Walmart for not paying a "fair wage" and suchlike.

    Everything you name on that list can be taxed, regulated, shut down, locked up, killed or halted with the stroke of a pen. And it would be legal.

    That they don't and instead enjoy living high on the hog doesn't mean they can't. Government most certainly has that power.

  6. libertarian with a voiceMarch 14, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Harvey let me inform you, libertarians come in different shapes and sizes. Many of us to believe that government is controlled by mega corporations and not the other way around.

    Josh, even though I agree with 90% of what he says, is completely wrong (and naïve) when he writes:

    "This man-behind-the-curtain thing is the boogeyman that was often dredged up to give cause for government takeovers of industry."

    Many libertarians are fully cognizant that corporations often pull the strings. Libertarians like Alex Jones report on behind the scene organizations like the Bilderberg Group (1/3 government and 2/3 big business) that meet to promote public policy and agenda.

    Many libertarians, including Ron Paul, are well aware of behind the scene powers of the non-government Trilateral Commission created and funded by the Rockefellers.

    I read the following and tend to agree: "Ron Paul Thinks the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations Is Running the World"

    Succinctly speaking, libertarianism is not one size fits all. Big government does threaten individual liberty, but looking behind the curtain is not just an exercise of searching for boogeymen.

    I will conclude with provided a quote from a libertarian post:

    Corporations pull the strings

    "Corporations have top government officials on their payroll and the government policies are dictated by corporations. So even if we see government taking action, it is the corporations who ask the government to do so in the first place. Corporations do everything behind the scenes, be it lobbying for change of policies to benefit them or asking higher ranking officials to lobby with other country officials."


  7. "Corporations have top government officials on their payroll and the government policies are dictated by corporations."

    And that's my point. Government officials. Not mere "puppets," as I was trying to point out to healthysouls. That carries a sinister connotation and evokes that under-the-bed imagery. It paints a picture that corporations dominate politicians, as if politicians didn't create that system themselves to begin with.

    Government willingly participates in this game of power. It's a partnership.

    Hell, I'd buy a policy too if I could afford it. But if I throw my money on the table and Representative Joe Schmo accepts it, am I pulling his strings?

    Maybe it could appear that way. Though there's one end of the dichotomy that's exceedingly stronger than the other. Rep. Schmo can also create policies that bankrupt me, have me thrown in jail, or even murdered legally.

    As I've stated, that government doesn't don't mean they can't.

    Naive, stupid, or out-and-out brain-dead, I stand by my statement. The case is being presented as if the corporations are running roughshod over everyone, including government. Well, what enabled it in the first place? What keeps enabling it? And, most importantly, what has the power to stop it if it wasn't so self-interested?

    I'm not singing the praises of crooked corporations here. I just recognize which end of an ace is up in this relationship. Government is easily manipulated and bought. And though it's not something that would get much traction on this particular blog, public unions aren't far behind in influencing policy. (But you can't go there. Those poor teachers and kids and all that. lol) Even still, I don't put the blame on them. Government allows it to happen when it can so easily be stopped by getting government out of the way.

    Not only did government let the snake in the tent, but they have the tongs, snake-repellant, and could stomp on its head if it was so inclined.

    Fear of losing influence and being led around like a puppet are different things. A public-private partnership and a corporation are two different things.

  8. @Josh....I do not want semantics to distort that we agree on the damage to individual liberty that this partnership -- corporate controlled government -- but I when I read the quote my connotative understanding is different:

    "Corporations have top government officials on their payroll and the government policies are dictated by corporations."

    As a very small business owner, I understand the relationship very well: If you are on my payroll I am the boss and you are the underling -- period end of sentence. If you fail to do what I want, I will fire you and hire someone else.

    I am heartened to find that there are libertarians the understand this dynamics. I researched the posted figures by libertarian with a voice and I watched the following youtube video in which Ron Paul articulates that it is the big government is run by big corporations and not the other way around.

    Lastly, you did respond to libertarian with a voice's on the Trilateral Commission or the Bilderberg Group. Do you know about these non-government organizations and their behind the scene influence? or Do you think these powerful organizations are just "boogeyman" illusions?

  9. If your employees could turn around and legislate you out of business with the stroke of a pen, then I'd find the analogy a bit more apt.

    Let me try to be clearer here: You stated the puppeteers-puppets axiom. That's what I'm singularly disagreeing with -- that politicians are mere vessels for the will of corporations. That's what I find to be very bedtime-storyesque.

    It's a partnership. The puppeteer-puppet deal has one party literally pulling the strings, while the other party is powerless and wholly at the whim of the other. I do not buy that, and I don't care if Ron, Rand, Chris or Cliff Paul say otherwise. Grown-ass people can choose NOT to be corrupted. Choosing to play along makes them both masters. With the party supposedly being pulled on able to legislate. And, again, that they don't does not mean that they can't. That they refuse to use their legislative power and instead remain corrupted for money and influence doesn't necessarily make them the bottom.

    I don't disagree that if Joe Schmo doesn't do the bidding of some greedmonger in a business suit, Jane Schlub will. But when Jane lets a wolf in the house and it eats babies, why do we flip our shit over a wolf being a wolf? What's up with Jane letting the thing in willingly?

    For the sake of finding common ground instead of quibbling with one another over who wears the britches, because we do agree on right much here, let's forget all the things government has the power to do or whose pubes are pulled. Let's say--even though I do disagree--that the politicians are having their strings pulled and are just slaves to influence, not having the power to fight back.

    One thing every politician has the power to do: They can say NO.

    My only point from the start of this exchange, in which you seemingly sought to shove everything on the "business" side of the equation, is that government enables it. All the money in the world is meaningless without a system willing to give way to corruption.

    What? Big Money is threatening to have people killed or worse to get their way? Too Illuminati for me. CIA, DEA, FBI, ATF, HLS, Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, SS, and on and on -- and not to mention the slew of financial and regulatory committees and commissions. If government wanted out, folks are going to tell me they couldn't get out? I hope not.

    They want in on it, and that doesn't make them puppets in my estimation. They're the enablers allowing wolves to do what wolves do, when they're supposed to be the gatekeepers.

    We just have different understandings of the issue. And that's fine by me.