Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Costs are HUGE!

The Internet dialogues continued with my "team" but I was becoming more disillusioned as I began to really understand...there was no white knight in shining armor going to save me from this system and each day the Texas justice system took on a more oppressive and dark look.  My second attorney, Mark Perez, had just asked for an additional $50,000.  I was unable to pay so he withdrew and I was awaiting the court's decision on my indigent status and a court appointed attorney.  The dialogue went as follows:

ifonlythiswasover:  I wonder when all this is done...if my faith in anything will be restored???  Its hard for me right now to even TRUST.  So much of what I believed in is being challenged.

lionheartix:  I've noticed that. lol

ifonlythiswasover:  I believed in good wins out.  I believed that there was such a thing as justice.  I believed in the police.

lionheartix:  we all did....we grew up with those ideals.

ifonlythiswasover:  I didn't want to become a skeptic.  Now I am told truth doesn't matter to the people I believed upheld it?  Why aren't they honest with what they teach us in school?  What ever happened to authenticity?

lionheartix:  some people go through their whole lives without ever being challenged.  But, it is said, that the more one is challenged, the more character it builds.

ifonlythiswasover:  it seems like I might have enough already!  Maybe we could hit the media really hard with this case then they would be forced to move it out of Texas to a new venue.  I just don't trust Texas or the power these men have over the political/justice system.

lionheartix:  It just doesn't make sense for Perez to push you for $50 more grand for this.  Or...drop your case.

ifonlythiswasover:  he said he checked with other attorneys and that was "fair"...I would think he would set his own fair standards.  I'll tell you what is not being falsely accused....that I have to waste valuable time on this...

lionheartix:  you're right.

ifonlythiswasover:  about what?

lionheartix:  it being a waste of time.  You are all stressed out for all this time, and it is a waste.

ifonlythiswasover:  it is...for everybody involved...including the taxpayers money.

lionheartix:  I'm glad I don't live in Dallas County.  I don't pay into the peoples' paychecks of Dallas County.

ifonlythiswasover:  yeah...but this happens seems inherent in the legal system.  Perez was good, just when I start feeling seems as though I get hit again.

lionheartix:  that has been happening, for sure.

ifonlythiswasover:  I feel sad, scared, angry...all wrapped up into one ball.

lionheartix:  keep hanging in there.

ifonlythiswasover:  I will... the only happy moments I feel as though I have are mostly with Nate and Brandon [my sons]....even then the dark cloud seems to come around.

lionheartix:  OK...things are tough now.  It will pass.

ifonlythiswasover:  I know.....

This dialogue really brings out several important factors.  Of course the most obvious, is the emotional and mental toll it takes on the lives of people involved.  But, look at the costs!!!  Once falsely accused it became almost impossible to get a job....what with all my court appearances and attorney appointments.  Eventually someone hired me for the two years just prior to the trial and gave me the flexibility I needed.  I was being paid less than 25%  of what I was used to earning, but I was extremely grateful for that, so at least I could pay the rent and feed my family.

BUT....Dear Taxpayers!!  The cost of the system!  Unbelievable the amount of wasted tax dollars that go into the falsely accused and wrongly convicted cases....and to many others who probably could benefit from probation/out-patient rehab or those who should have much shorter sentences.  Most people don't fight the system....don't feel as though they can...and just plea.  The cost to take care of each prisoner is significant...somewhere in the range of $40 - $50,000 per year/person incarcerated (not including medical).  But for someone fighting their case....there are significantly more costs: attorney fees, forensics (or in my case - prosecution and civil attorneys fighting to keep the forensics out).  Look at the payrolls of the judges, the prosecutors, public defenders, all the other employees involved with the overcrowded court system. 

In Texas alone, the line item in the budget for prisons is $5 billion.  That doesn't include city or county jails or any of the court proceedings.  Do we really have that many outlaws?!?!  Or do we just have a runaway justice system?

Here are some statistics for you to think about.  The United States has the biggest prison population on earth and we have the highest incarceration rate of any nation.  Our incarceration rate is six times higher than China, a place we like to believe is far more oppressive than we are.  The USA is home to only 5% of the world's population, but one quarter of the world's prisoners.  The blog called "Grits for Breakfast" has an excellent short video on this very is a PBS segment you will not want to miss!  If you want to read further, there is a recent thirty three page study titled "Cost and Punishment: Reassessing Incarceration Costs and the Value of College-In-Prison Programs" by Gregory Knott.

I have seen estimates as high as 3,500 - 5,000 innocents sitting in the Texas prison system.  I don't know the actual number.  They say that is the cost of having an effective justice system, "errors will be made".  I don't think there was "error" in my case, as I've shared with you regarding the pretrial Hearings, my complaint letters and notifications and of course, the Motion in Limine filed 10 days before my trial.  I have heard similar stories over and over again....some while I was incarcerated and others since I have been out.  There is an enormous cost associated with wrongful convictions both in terms of wasted tax dollars and the effect it has on the ability of the wrongful convicted to ever live a fully productive life again.  Society pays the toll for this prison boom.

There are many ways to change what is happening.  The study linked above talks about college programs to prisoners so they might be employable when released thus reducing recidivism.  That is great, but in the job market of today, employers are not hiring people with criminal backgrounds...most especially in the professional world.  Once our ailing economy is healed there will still have to be an attitude shift of employers and recruiters.  It is important for our society to raise its awareness with regard to these issues and become much more educated as to how our tax dollars are being spent so that we are better equipped to make informed votes as well as speaking out for what is right.  Check with organizations like Project: Not Guilty and The Innocence Project of Texas to gather more information and see how you might help.

The immunity given the courts, prosecution and police needs to be closely monitored.  Immunity can be a set up for conspiracy thus allowing innocent people to be convicted.  Besides victims of conspiracy, people falsely accused and wrongly convicted all have something else in common...a clear violation of their Constitutional Rights.  We have seen or heard of it happening time and again.  Those who accuse or pursue innocent people and knowingly withhold evidence need to be held accountable.  In any other job in the world, those who are negligent or lie, lose their jobs.  I think we need to take a hard look at the checks and balances in our justice system.  It is up to us ...

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
                                                   ~Abraham Lincoln



  1. Audrey,
    I know exactly what you mean. When I was child, I thought ALL people in trusted positions (doctors, nurses, attorneys, police officers, teachers, etc) sought out to perform these jobs/services because they excelled in those areas and truly wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.

    How quickly I became disillusioned!

    It's sad how SOME are not meant to be given the trust that often times automatically comes with the title.
    It reminds me of the quote at the beginning of one of my favorite movies, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas".
    “Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.” -John Betjemen

    Excellent blog!

  2. Whoa. This is an important post.

    You say it so well.
    So very well.

    It's so sad you have to.

  3. Hey Audrey, we’ve been busy working as Innocence Project Partners and have just now found time to visit with our friends here at WUF.

    This ‘Post’ should be of great interest to the Taxpayers of Texas for which none of this could have possibly happened without their full support. Back in the day, when it was noticed that our taxation was without proper or adequate representation and was obviously designed to keep the public at large in check, a small group said, “enough is enough.” They were brave enough to make noise and went as far as to chunk tea into the bay as a symbolic measure of resentment and demanded fair taxation. We all know how hard the government tried to make them go away in an effort to resume business as usual.

    Today, gasoline (oil) & the court system is our tea but sadly the public at large has been trained to go with the flow. Since it costs too much to chunk it, you can buy it and be mobile or refuse to and be dead in the water. Regarding Texas’s kangaroo court system: We can simply refuse to participate in a crime by stating our reason(s) as to why we don’t trust a legal system that excludes favorable exculpatory evidence and enables rogue ADAs with the immunity you’ve pointed to. We can be chosen to participate despite our disgust and end up the lone holdout in a jury panel at great risk of being ganged up on by our peers who simply just want to go home and watch CSI.

    What happens if we don’t participate and refuse to allow ourselves to be impaneled in a process that stacks the deck while it protects the bad cops, rogue ADAs and the dishonorable judges that enable them? We retain our dignity and know that when we rest our heads at night that we are not guilty of participating in a conspiracy involving the wholesale and nationwide trend of willingly arresting and seeking charges of anyone caught in the net.

    In closing: Shame on the jurors in your Case and may they someday learn about WUF and recognize your name as the one that they knowingly and willingly conspired to convict while knowing good and well they smelled fish.

    Obtaining false arrests and seeking wrongful convictions in a group effort is organized crime but to learn about it and do nothing is equal to participation (guilty by association). With that said, we will continue to tell the world about your travesty and hopefully a small group of taxpayers will wake up and shout from the rooftops, “enough is enough!” Thanks.

    *We really appreciate the PNG mention above and the consideration to place a link in your Blog Roll.