Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Delaware's war on poverty is a war on poor people!?

With today's WNJ story about the fact that Delaware flunks any reasonable standard of effective Public Defenders for our poorer citizens, we come full circle to discover the Democrats' and Republicans' plan for eliminating poverty in Delaware . . .

. . . which is to convict and incarcerate poor people.

Remember 2001, when Delaware was criticized by the ACLU for cutting the budget of the Delaware Parole Board?  More than likely you don't, because I can't find evidence that any news organization in the State picked up the story.

Remember "bail reform" last year?  It's really important to note exactly who the State bragged about as the support for this bill:
Reform efforts led by Attorney General, Rep. Keeley, Senator Henry [and] . . . the Wilmington Mayor’s Office, the Wilmington City Council, Wilmington PD, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Delaware Police Chiefs Council.
I'm sure you saw this hailed as a major "anti-violent crime" measure, but probably did not see the Delaware Center for Justice's report regarding our State's horrible record when it comes to pre-trial confinement, which is--unsurprisingly--heavily weighted toward the poor:
Pretrial detainees comprise nearly 25% of the inmates at the Howard Young Correctional Institution (also known as Gander Hill) and 40% of the inmates at the Baylor’s Women’s Correctional Institution. 
Let's not forget which groups oppose death penalty repeal in Delaware:  the Delaware Attorney General and the Delaware Police Chiefs Council.

This is followed, this year, by the adoption of a new "lax standard" by Delaware Courts regarding the use of social media as evidence in both criminal and civil trials because prosecutors whined that
This is a difficult standard because it requires much more time, effort and money ...
In all of these cases, ironically, we find that the Delaware General Assembly and the Governor have simply brushed aside the objections and reservations of the Delaware Public Defenders' Office, the Delaware ACLU, the Delaware Center for Justice, and the Delaware Death Penalty Repeal Project.

Sensing a pattern yet?

Today we discover that not only is the Public Defender's office lacking independence and unable to mount successful defenses for poor and indigent defendants, but that the Delaware Attorney General's Office routinely takes advantage of this weakness to gain convictions and incarcerations: 
The report found that though defendants are advised of their right to an attorney at their initial appearance, they often do not get to talk to an attorney unless they are incarcerated before trial.
As a result, many misdemeanor criminal defendants often appear at court proceedings without an attorney.
"There they face subtle, and often overt, pressure to discuss potential plea arrangements with the prosecution or to waive due process rights," wrote the report's authors.
The report also cited a similar failure to have adequate representation for children in delinquency proceedings in Family Court, leaving children and their parents to fare for themselves early in the process. 
What do all of these measures and deficiencies have in common (and keep this in mind as the shooting and death toll in Wilmington proves the basic inability of our law enforcement agencies to deal with violent crime)?

These are measures that are implicitly designed to increase the conviction, incarceration, and (inevitably) execution rates of Delaware's poorest citizens at the behest of the "law and order" lobby controlling not just the state government but most of the news coverage.

Individually you might be drawn into believing that the State is simply trying to keep order, but viewed collectively (along with burgeoning budgets for law enforcement and increasing surveillance of EVERYONE) you discover a pattern:

Delaware's strategy for eliminating poverty appears to hinge on eliminating them from our streets and housing them in Gander Hill.

Time to rethink this, except, uh, gee, how's that going to happen if you keep electing the same people?


Anonymous said...

For the price of gander hill one could hire them to walk our rivers and pick up trash. One could teach them how to do water samples, and trace chemicals up to their source. One could teach them to become stewards of the planet.

In holistic rationality, the two places that until the 2000's that least suffered the ravages of man, were Africa and central Australia, quite possibly suggesting they would become rather good at being our earth's stewards...

I know some may be put off by the extremism of my example, but I do it to show that there are always solutions, ways of thinking outside the box, that take care of problems in ways our current methods fail to live up to their promise.

The difference is the person in whose lap responsiblity falls. He can either say, "Crap, now I've got to do something to fix it..." or he can say...."Damn, how can I make sure this problem is someone else's and won't stick to me?

There are always solutions.

Hube said...

I know some may be put off by the extremism of my example, but I do it to show that there are always solutions, ways of thinking outside the box, that take care of problems in ways our current methods fail to live up to their promise.

Yeah, "thinking outside the box" like "rolling conservatives in hot tar until they scream, and then cooling them off in chicken feathers ..."?

You're insane.

Manoj Kusshwaha said...

in war poor has to bear very things very right