Kinetik Justice, a prison strike organizer and co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement, spoke with Democracy Now! from solitary confinement at Holman Correctional Facility: “These strikes are our methods of challenging mass incarceration, as we understand the prison system is a continuation of the slave system.”
The vast majority of people that are charged with a crime have no knowledge of the law or the court procedures, therefore they are appointed an attorney- paid for by the same people seeking to convict you. In most instances, these court appointed attorneys are given a flat rate payment, have a case load of paying clients and no incentive to fight for their court appointed clients. In fact they persuade most clients to plead guilty regardless of the evidence.
However, that is not the worst part, as once a person is convicted and sent to prison, they have absolutely no counsel. You become your own attorney and you are expected to know the law, court procedures, time limitations and the protocol for writing legal documents.
It is documented that a person’s lack of knowledge and skills in Court Proceedings is no excuse.
It’s odd that these people really expect a common person to know and understand the law when it takes lawyers, judges, district attorneys, and etc. 6 to 8 years of school to learn the basics of the law. As, even after they complete school many still don’t know enough to be successful in their practice- it takes experience in the court room to actually be competent enough to be labeled successful at it.
So how in the Hell can it logically be expected of everyday Men, Women and Children – many without a high school education – know what it takes to win in a court room?
By the time he/she learns enough to defend themself and understand the level of comprehension it takes to be successful in most cases, it’s too late due to deadlines to file a proper petition.
A lawyer is supposedly appointed to represent you in order to defend or protect your rights but really they are appointed to keep you in the blind to the evil plot the judicial system is laying out against you and your life. I speak from first hand observations and experience, as I’m a living witness to how it works.
The actions or lack of proper actions by my -and thousands of others- Court Appointed Attorney contributed to my Wrongful Conviction. Then continued improper actions lead to myself-and thousands of others- being Procedurally Barred from adequate Appellate Reviews.
This is a sad and tragic reality for far to many people- Tricked into a Slave System then expected to know how to correct it, in a set limit of time.
It’s a Set-up …by design and scheme. …
We can sit back and allow it to continue or We can Organize then create OUTREACH STREET LAW / LIFE SKILLS PROGRAMS in our Communities. With an Educational Curriculum that teaches Our Children the laws and procedures before they come into contact with the Legal System-As statistics verify that millions of them will in their lifetime.
A Curriculum that informs and teaches about:
1. History of the US Constitution
2. What is the Law?
a. United State Code Service
b. Code of 1975
c. Procedural Law
3. Rules of Court:
a. Criminal Procedures
c. Appellate Procedure
d. Post Conviction Procedure
e. Civil Procedures
4. Habeas Corpus/ 2254 U.S.C.S Petition
5. Certificate of Appealability (COA )
6. Writ of Certiorari/ US SUPREME COURT
This is just a suggested curriculum, based on HALIFAX COUNTY (Where I learned and observed the results). If you choose to accept or follow this curriculum or not– we NEED Men and Women, in our Community, with the knowledge and skills to create some kind of programs that counter the IGNORANCE OF THE LAW Set Up.
KNOWLEDGE is the only remedy to this Systems IGNORANCE OF THE LAW. .IS NO EXCUSE sickness.
By KINETIK JUSTICE
In theory, the 13th Amendment put an end to and forever abolished slavery, at least that is what we’ve been taught in schools. However, in actual practice, the 13th Amendment merely changed the name, method and rationale for keeping African Americans in a state of perpetual servitude. As the 13th Amendment explicitly permits ” Involuntary Servitude”– an euphemism for Slavery– as punishment for “duly convicted criminals.”
WHO DEFINES CRIME & WHO IS THE CRIMINAL?
In direct response to this Constitutional mandate, every southern state created an array of “stay in your place” laws. Which, by design, methodically criminalized every aspect if African American life. History has well documented that Alabama took this mandate to heart. As from its inception, the Alabama Judicial System was structured to keep white land owners in a position of power and Africans in their place– Servitude.
In fact, the State of Alabama used the 13the Amendment as their foundation in drafting the ALABAMA CONSTITUTION OF 1901. As the Alabama Legislature used their authority to set up court systems, appointed only white people as Judges and District Attorneys, pre arranged elections for those positions that had to be voted on, then expanded the criminal code as its effective means of carrying out their objective. By their own admission, the State of Alabama’s sole purpose in drafting the Constitution of 1901 was to establish “White Supremacy”- by law. As the delegates to the all-white Constitutional Convention, were not secretive about their purpose and aims. In the opening address, President of the Convention, John B. Knox stated:
“And what is it that we want to do? Why is it within the limits imposed by the federal constitution to establish white supremacy in this state.” … “but if we would have white supremacy, we must establish it by law…”
In keeping with the sentiments of John B. Knox, the State of Alabama has used the Constitution of 1901 to construct a solid foundation, in which to discriminate from.
The history books are replete with examples of Alabama’s blatant racially motivated enactment of laws targeting young Africans males. Even to this day, Alabama openly applies its laws discrimately, first –based upon race, then upon financial status. Alabama’s “good old boy”-style of justice is maintained and perpetuated by police officers “overreaching”, district attorneys” overcharging” and judges “over sentencing.”
All of this is made possible by the Alabama Constitution of 1901 and the Alabama Legislature, as it is the Alabama Legislature that enact these laws that specifically target young African-American males, particularly and African-Americans in general. One glaring example, is the racially motivated amending of the Capital Murder statute to include Section 16, 17 and 18- or commonly called the “drive-by shooting laws”. Though not discriminatory on their face nor in literal wording, but let’s examine the Legislatures motive and the District Attorneys statewide application—
According to the Alabama Legislature, in the early 1990’s there was a massive public outcry against “gangs”, so in 1992 the Legislature passed Act 92-601; which made a murder committed by the use of a deadly weapon fired from or into a vehicle, a Capital Offense–punishable by death or life without parole.
Act 92-601 became codified in Title 13A-5-40(a)(16),(17) and (18). From a plain reading of the statute, in order to be charged and found guilty of the Capital Offense, all that’s required is that the shooter or victim be in a vehicle or house at the time of the murder. Prior to this amendment, all Capital Offenses required an aggravating circumstance in order to elevate the murder to a death penalty offense. However, the “drive-by shooting laws” are simply based upon location of the shooter or victim.
As stated earlier, the statute doesn’t appear to be discriminatory from a literal reading. – “They have long learned how to change the language of oppression without changing the conditions. It’s the Art of Rhetoric.”
LETS LOOK AT ITS APPLICATION
In February of 1994, Oeatha Archie III was alleged to have been sitting in a vehicle, when he fatally shot someone that was outside the vehicle. Oeatha was charged with Capital Murder, then sentenced to Life Without Parole.
In September of 1994, Tony Knight was alleged to have been standing outside a vehicle, when he fatally shot someone that fell into a vehicle. Tony was charged with Capital Murder, then sentenced to Life Without Parole.
In October of 1994, Brian Smith was alleged to have been sitting in his vehicle, when he fatally shot someone that was outside the vehicle. Brian was charged with Capital Murder, then sentenced to Life Without Parole.
In October of 1996, Dennis McGriff was alleged to have been sitting inside a vehicle, when he fatally shot someone outside the vehicle. Dennis was charged with Capital Murder, then sentenced to Death by Electrocution.
All 4 were young black males when they were arrested. And there are several other young black males, languishing away with Life Without Parole, in the Alabama prison system, with identical situations.
In November of 1999, Shirley Henson was alleged to have been sitting in a vehicle, when she fatally shot someone outside the vehicle. From the very beginning, the District Attorney and the Media labeled this a case of “Road Rage”. Capital Murder was never mentioned nor considered, as Henson was charged and convicted of a much lesser charge of “heat of passion” manslaughter, then sentenced to 13 years. Shirley Henson just happened to be a middle class white lady.
So the question becomes, WHAT MADE SHIRLEY HENSON DIFFERENT FROM OEATHA ARCHIE, TONY KNIGHT, BRIAN SMITH AND DENNIS McGRIFF???
It’s obvious that race matters when Prosecutors decide who to charge with Capital Murder. However, the Prosecutors in Calhoun County didn’t get the memo for how the statute was to be applied.
As in March of 2003, Phillip Fondren, a white male, was charged with Capital Murder, for shooting from a vehicle when the victim was outside the vehicle. Fondren was even sentenced to Life Without Parole.
HOLD UP, WAIT A MINUTE!!!
Due to Phillip Fondren’s case, the Alabama Legislature stepped in and sought to clarify the intent of the “drive-by shooting laws.”
In March if 2006, Representatives Marcel Black and John Robinson authored a Bill and presented it to the House of Representatives, which addressed the application of subdivisions 16, 17 and 18 of Title 13A-5-40, I.e., the Capital Murder statute. In session it was stated:
“Whereas, the legislature is aware of the case of State of Alabama v. Fondren (Calhoun County CC 02-600) in which Fondren was convicted of Capital Murder for violating Section 14A-5-40(a)(18)…”
On March 28, 2006, this Bill was adopted by the House of Representatives. On April 17, 2006, this Bill was adopted and signed by the Senate. Upon both Houses adopting this Bill, it became House Joint Resolution 575. In accordance with the procedure for passing a Bill into a Law, the House Joint Resolution was delivered to the Governor. On April 27, 2006 at 1:09 p.m. Governor Bob Riley signed the Bill. It became Act No. 2006-642, which stated in pertinent part:
” …in passing Act 92-601, it was the intent of the legislature in adding sub division (18) to address “drive-by shooting”, that is murder committed through the use of a deadly weapon …used within or from a vehicle which murders were gang related or intended to incite public terror or alarm.”
In HJR 575 (Act No. 2006-642) the legislature recognized that Section 13A-5-40(a)(17),(18) has been misinterpreted by prosecutors and courts to apply to any murder committed by or through the use of a deadly weapon, fired or otherwise used within or from a vehicle, even if it was not gang related. Being that this interpretation was contrary to the legislatures intent, the Legislature urged the Attorney General and District Attorneys to charge only those individuals who commit murder by or through the use of a deadly weapon fired or otherwise within or from a vehicle, when the vehicle was involved in the shooting or that the shooting was gang related.
This clarification by the legislature should have changed the sentences for countless individuals serving Life Without Parole behind the prosecutors and judges misapplication of the law. But it didn’t, in fact the Attorney General has refused to respect the legislatures resolution. In a Declaratory Judgment filed by Brian Smith – asking the Court to declare the application of the ” drive-by shooting” statute as unconstitutional, the Attorney General argued that 13A-5-40(18) did not itself state that it applied only to gang related murder and the resolution was just the legislatures opinion. However, all judges are not so disrespectful to the intentions and clarification of the law makers of this State. As former Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb has urged the legislature to go one step further, and amend the “drive-by shooting” statutes, so that the plain language of the statute will effectuate the legislatures intent ad expressed in House Joint Resolution 575(Act No. 2006-642).
There are also a few Circuit Court Judges that have given effect to the legislatures Resolution. In Huntsville, Alabama, Madison County Circuit Judge Loyd H. Little reduced Walter Lamont Perry’s Capital Murder charge to regular murder. Assistant D.A. Bill Starnes stated the reason for the charge being reduced as: “The law on shooting into an occupied vehicle has changed because the Alabama Legislature recently indicated that the intent of the law was to address “drive-by shootings” and because the vehicle was stationary when the fatal shooting occurred, the death penalty charge no longer applied.” Based upon the foregoing and the House Joint Resolution as well as the urging of former Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb, FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT is campaigning to make the Legislature amend the Capital Murder statute to reflect their true intentions, as stated in the House Joint Resolution 575.
The recent events taking place across America today are a clear example of what the Criminal Justice System is really about. But the mentality that produces this behavior isn’t new. The War against Young Black Males is ingrained in the foundation of this System. Over the years, the methods have altered yet the objective is the same. A Tree, The Gallows, Life Sentences, Shooting us down in the streets, the end game doesn’t change.
How long will we sit back silently watching this System murder away the life and future of our Children? Those hanged and shot down can’t be brought back, but there are thousands of them unjustly trapped inside the bowels of this System that we must fight for.
Economics is the Foundation of this White Supremacist system of Mass Incarceration. If Money is what really Matters to them, then it’s on us to make it understood that #BLACK_LIVES_MATTER!!!
By Kinetik Justice Amun
By Kinetik Justice Amun
When you proclaim to be or you’re striving to be RIGHTEOUS and you see something thats not RIGHT & EXACT you have 2 options- You either do something about it or You support those that are doing something about it. If you see something wrong and choose neither one of those options- you’re plastic and when the FLAME gets turned up, you’ll melt and puddle like snow. FREE THE FAM 3! UHURU AU KIFO
By Kinetik Justice Amun
The willful denial and intentional deprivation of the Human & Civil Rights of one person is WRONG. The systematic denial and institualized deprivation of over 52,OOO peoples Human & Civil Rights is PURE EVIL. To Stand Up to and Challenge such a System is to commit yourself to a Righteous Cause. FREE ALABAMA FREE MISSISSIPPI UNITED – THE MOVEMENT IS A RIGHTEOUS CAUSE. So link up and join us as we fight for the FREEDOM JUSTICE & HUMANE TREATMENT OF OVER 52,OOO HUMAN BEINGS.
…of Governor Bentley’s and Sen. Cam Ward’s Prison Reform Task Force and The Council of State Governments: Cites National Report that Debunks CSG and their Justice Reinvestment Initiative program
On June 10, 2014, Governor Robert Bentley, surrounded by Sen. Cam Ward, Commissioner Kim Thomas, Chief Justice Roy Moore and others, announced the formation of Alabama’s 25-member Prison Reform Task Force and a partnership with the Council of State Governments (CSG), to address longstanding and nationally publicized issues that affect Alabama’s prison system.
According to Gov. Bentley, the solution to Alabama’s prison woes, which include a nation-leading 200% occupancy rate that has led to extreme overcrowding, excessive violence including 4 murders in 2014 already at St. Clair prison, least-in-the-nation investments in education, rehabilitation and corrections, high recidivism, widespread diseases like Staph, TB, STD’S, Hepatitis, scabies, and others, over-targeting of Black men (Black men make up only 14% of Alabama’s total population, but 62% of the prison population) and understaffing, among other issues, can be found in the CSG’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).
According to FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT Founder and Spokesperson Melvin Ray, the recipe being offered by Gov. Bentley and lead by Sen. Cam Ward in the JRI is nothing more than bloated political speak and, so far as solutions are concerned, is D.O.A. Mr. Ray says that anyone thinking that the JRI program can solve Alabama’s historic mess need only read the report issued by a national group of researchers, analysts and advocates titled, “Ending Mass Incarceration: Charting a New Justice Reinvestment.”
This National Report highlights some of the very issues that are already plaguing Governor Bentley and Sen. Ward from the start: misdirected focus on “costs” as opposed to corrections, lack of racial and demographic diversity from the communities and leaders most affected by mass incarceration, and failing to acknowledge the racial equation that is so evident in Alabama’s (and the Nation’s) criminal justice system.
Ray says that “throughout Governor Bentley’s speech, not once do we hear the words Education, Rehabilitation or Re-Entry Preparedness. It is these structural deficiencies that are driving mass-incarceration in the first place, along with poverty and unemployment. But, we can’t expect to have that discussion when the PRFT and the CSG board more so resemble a Ku Klux Klan rally than it does the racial balance of the State, or the communities that fuel mass incarceration. The people most affected by mass incarceration — the African American community — needs a seat at the table also.
When race has so obviously been at the forefront of the drive behind mass incarceration and prison slavery, the African American community cannot expect a group made up almost exclusively of white men to address issues that they created in the first place. There is a real “human cost” at stake here with so many black men being in prison, but Governor Bentley’s committee doesn’t even pay lip service to that issue. Their plan under the JRI of building satellite prisons in our communities and calling it community corrections just won’t do. African American communities are already devalued. Building satellite prisons in them will only exacerbate that equation even lower.”
FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT CO-FOUNDER Robert Earl Council said that the legislation that will address these concerns has already been written in their “FREEDOM BILL.” Mr. Council says that without a focus on education and rehabilitation that includes re-entry programs, the African American community can stay prepared for more of the same.
The ACLU/SENTENCING PROJECT Report (which can be found on their websites) echoes these complaints. According to the Report, “The Justice Reinvestment Initiative, as it has come to operate, runs the danger of institutionalizing mass incarceration at current levels.”
The Report goes on to say that, while the JRI was originally intended to reduce prison populations and pass those savings on to affected communities “to make them safer, stronger, more prosperous and equitable,” the savings have not been realized, and “as it turns out, without significantly reducing corrections populations.”
Despite the fact that the JRI has been implemented in over 28 states, Sen. Ward can only point to Texas as a State that he says the JRI has improved.
Yet, the Report belies Sen. Wart’s comments, and show that Texas’ “prison population went from 171,790 in 2007 up to 173,648 in 2010, then down slightly to 172,224 in 2011.” (p. 6) In the last several years, Texas’s prison population has risen from 171,790 at the end of 2007 to 172,224 at the end of 2011, and is projected to increase further. The JRI trumpets Texas’s “success,” and the Texas reforms were a success in one sense: Texas is one of our toughest-on-crime states, so any progress on criminal justice reform is an accomplishment. However, if the metric is reduced to corrections populations and costs, the Texas JRI program must be viewed as a failure.
Another area of concern for FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT expressed by Mr. Council is “the total lack of representation by a single African American male on either the Governor’s PRFT or the Board of the CSG.”
The 25-member PRTF has 20 white men, 3 white women, 2 African American women, and 0 African American men.
African American men only make up 13% of Alabama’s total population, there are 16,861 African American men in Alabama prisons, who constitute 63% of the total prison population. Based on these statistics alone, Mr. Ray says that the total exclusion of African American men from the PRTF is totally unacceptable, indefensible, and indicative of the systemic racial barriers and white supremacist ideology that continues to exist in Alabama. When Sen. Ward was confronted with this lack of racial inclusion, despite the enacting law (SJR 20 calling for racial inclusion, Sen. Ward said that he is more concerned with diversity of thought than diverse representation.
But as F.A.M. supporter Ms. Barbara Wine states, diverse thought can hardly come from such a homogeneous group:
“A group of white men will always come up with a white man’s idea. Ideas and solutions drawn from a diverse team representative of the population affected, can draw from a range of life experiences, cultural awareness and social knowledge, which will yield better results. White men (especially in the South) did not want to let slavery end, so they kept it alive in the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and enforced it in the prisons. It is a disgrace upon this country that in the Land of the Free we still has a provision in our U. S. Constitution in 2014 that authorizes slavery.”
The National Report supports the need for racial and community inclusion “especially from minority leaders and elected representatives of high incarceration communities (and grass roots organizations, grass-top leaders, among others), WHO ARE OFTEN MARKEDLY MISSING.” (emphasis added)
Rep Barbara Boyd, D Anniston, AL
Rep. Barbara Boyd D-Anniston, who is one of the two female African American’s on the PRTF along with Sen. Vivian Figures, D, Mobile, stated in a discussion with F.A.M. on July 15, 2014, (FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT has over 200 supporters from Rep. Boyd’s district), Alabama already had a prison reform task force that was spearheaded by Rep. John Rogers D- Jefferson (an African American and long-time proponent of prison reform in Alabama) and didn’t need another one. Instead, according to Rep. Boyd, what Rep. Rogers needed, but couldn’t get, was support, funding and a commitment from the power establishment and Alabama Legislature to implement suggested reforms.
Ms. Antonia Brooks (mother of F.A.M. Founder Melvin Ray) says that “the families, friends and loved ones of those incarcerated must be afforded a seat at the table of this debate” and that “Sen. Vivian Figures and Rep. Barbara Boyd owe more to the Black community than to accept a token appointment to a committee that is so obviously promoting a white supremacist agenda and deliberately excluding the group of people most impacted by mass-incarceration – Black people.”
Ms. Brooks stated that F.A.M. has a March planned on the State Capitol next month (August 2014) and that she looks forward to an opportunity to one day sit down with Sen. Figures and Rep. Boyd to hear from them on their appointments and to present them with the “FREEDOM BILL” that is being pushed by FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT.
With over 1.4 million black men in America’s prisons and, as stated by noted author Michelle Alexander, with more Black men under the control of the CJS in 2014 than were enslaved BEFORE the Civil War, Prison Reform in Alabama must address specific issues – – including racism – – that have contributed to mass incarceration, crime, and punishment.
Mandatory GED completion and graduation from a technical school are things that F.A.M. says must be made mandatory in sentencing for anyone serving a split sentence, earning good time, or who hopes to earn an early parole or be placed in an honor camp or work release program (Requirements that are currently lacking in Alabama). Mentoring programs, community volunteer work in sports, arts, and music, and developing Tutoring programs, Gang Intervention and Leadership Programs, and volunteer assistance to elderly, like mowing lawns, etc., which would start at community “Honor camps,” are programs being pushed by the Freedom Bills that F.A.M. says must be included in any Prison Reform if the ills of mass-incarceration are to be seriously addressed.
Under the current model of governance in Alabama, where the community is not made a part of the discussion and white men dominate the debate, we can’t expect enlightenment and diverse, outside-the-box ideas to enter the room
For daring to stand up as men and leading a Movement that declares all 30,000 plus of Alabama’s prisoners-male & female- deserve to be treated with Human dignity and respect; James Pleasant (El Anim), Melvin Ray (Ray-Sun) and Robert Earl Council (Kinetik Justice) have been targeted and placed in Solitary Confinement with indeterminate sentences.
In their 10th month of isolation these brothas remain adamant in their stand against Alabama’s criminal injustice system. Learn more about the struggle of these brothas and the FREE ALABAMA MOVEMENT by visiting our website Freealabamamovement.com.