Prisioner Rights

4/4/98 11:14 AM Eastern Daylight Time

<* They paid their debt, and yet...? No 4th Amendment rights for Parolees?:
The Supreme Court is being asked to deny parolees the right to a duly
executed warrant before their residences are searched by police. The
Pennsylvania attorney general argued before the court that parolees "should
not expect the same constitutional protections offered to law-abiding
citizens." Is a parolee actually under
"house arrest" once he leaves prison, and if so, for how long. Once one has
paid his debt to society, must one keep on paying with loss of crucial
rights, such as the right of privacy? What do you think?>

I think that this particular example of the denial of rights is probably
based on a misunderstanding. The technical vocabulary of "parolee,"
"releasee," "house arrest" etc. is so varied from state to state that I'm not
going to get into those issues. However, it is uniformly true that if you
have NOT been unconditionally released from prision that you have NOT "paid
[your] debt to society" - i.e., you are not yet a citizen.

Much better questions about similar issues are as follows:

(1) Why are ex-cons who have served their sentence and have been
unconditionally released still denied the rights to bear arms and cast
ballots [as well as numerous employment opportunities in government]?

(2) Why is the mere fact that you are imprisioned an excuse for denying one
access to law materials, various other reading material, fresh fruit, and an
incredibly extensive list of other items that the rest of the population
takes for granted [none of which are reasonably classified as dangerous to
either the prisioner or anyone around him] What do any of these restricts
have to do with either (a) keeping the rest of the population safe from the
prisioner or (b) "rehabilitating" the prisioner? Isn't, for instance, a
prisioner who learns something about the logic of the law more likely to know
how to behave and why it makes sense for him to behave lawfully, than one who
is kept deliberately ignorant of these things?

(3) Why isn't the government liable for the harm arising to prisioners whose
health and safety it endangers through its selection of "cellies," through
its seeming encouragement of jail gangs, through the incredible corruption of
its "detention officers" from who you can apparently buy anything for a
price, etc.? I, for one, am somewhat tired of hearing the government whine
about not having enough money to build safe and adequate prisions when most
of the present crowding is the result of a lunatic drug war on which it
spends tens of billions of dollars annually.

These are the sorts of questions that seem a bit more legitimate to me.



Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/4/98 6:09 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Presbyte
Message-id: <1998040422094001.RAA19058@ladder01.news.aol.com>

>>>These are the sorts of questions that seem a bit more legitimate to me.
<< -LAWECON

And good questions they are. But if my questions led you to post your
questions, and people actually think about the questions and the answers, how
are any of the questions more or less legitimate?

I say, any question that makes people think about a worthwhile topic is
legitimate. And I certainly think it is worthwhile to wonder why parolees
are seeing more and more of their rights being attacked. If someone is still
under house arrest after leaving the formal prison, then I can understand
some of that. But as you say, the status of convicted felons "at large" is
murky at best, and needs more attention from average people, imho.

-J




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/4/98 10:46 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: LAWECON
Message-id: <1998040502463900.VAA05347@ladder03.news.aol.com>

questions, and people actually think about the questions and the answers, how
are any of the questions more or less legitimate?

I say, any question that makes people think about a worthwhile topic is
legitimate.>>

We're getting a bit off the topic - a very important topic, but let me try to
clarify. I certainly agree with you that any question that makes people think
about an important topic is a good question IN THE SENSE THAT IT MAKES PEOPLE
THINK ABOUT AN IMPORTANT TOPIC. However, a question that is based on a false
premise [e.g., that parolees have "paid their debt to society" and,
therefore, should be restored to full rights] is less desirable [is the
word "desirable" more acceptable than the word "legitimate"?] than a question
that is based on a true premise. That is all I meant by using the term
"legitimate," i.e., "not legitimate" means "assumes something that is false
as one of its premises".




Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/5/98 2:06 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Presbyte
Message-id: <1998040518280601.OAA13344@ladder03.news.aol.com>

>>>
We're getting a bit off the topic - a very important topic, but let me try to
clarify. I certainly agree with you that any question that makes people think
about an important topic is a good question IN THE SENSE THAT IT MAKES PEOPLE
THINK ABOUT AN IMPORTANT TOPIC. However, a question that is based on a false
premise [e.g., that parolees have "paid their debt to society" and,
therefore, should be restored to full rights]
<< -LAWECON

I think one of the values of a board like this is to permit people to look
squarely at questions, identify and clarify questionable premises, and focus
on productive topics. The fact that such value is not exploited as
frequently as some among us might like, is regrettable, but does not diminish
the potential of the board.

You have claimed, but I don't think you have demonstrated, that the "false
premises" of the prisoner rights question posed earlier are indeed false. In
fact, you admitted that there is a great deal of ambiguity about what
constitutes "release" from prison. Clarifying this issue would go a long way
toward shedding light on the entire topic. I think that part of the problem
is precisely that people are unclear on the issue of crime and punishment,
and whether (and under what circumstances) a felon is finally said to have
"paid his debt" to society. Also, there is the longstanding legal notion of
punishment that fits the crime. Is it proper to abridge the right of a
counterfeiter to own a gun? How about the right of a mugger to petition the
government for redress of grievances? Should we assume that any felon uses
ALL rights except those the government deigns to restore? The creeping loss
of prisoner and parolee rights that some of us have detected is disturbing,
at least as much for its semblance of inappropriateness and overkill, as for
any other reason.

It would seem to me that a proper justice system would abridge the rights of
felons only to the extent that this was appropriate to the nature and
severity of the crime, and only as it were necessary to effect the proper
punishment or renumerative obligation established in the sentence. I am
thinking that current proposals, such as to deny fourth-amendment rights to
parolees living at home, go way beyond "necessary and proper," and serve only
to
empower a police state.

-J




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/5/98 5:23 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: LAWECON
Message-id: <1998040521231101.RAA07969@ladder01.news.aol.com>

I agree with most of your comments. My point was solely that someone "on
parole" is by definition [whatever the definition is in that jurisdiction]
still under court supervision and subject to the parole rules [whatever those
might be]. That is, you are not free if you are on parole, and you are
subject to being reimprisioned if you violate the rules of parole. Hence, I
don't find it particularly surprising that the Court authorizes surprise
searches without the requirement that a separate warrant be sought and
issued.


Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/5/98 7:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Skisail26
Message-id: <1998040523381800.TAA02032@ladder03.news.aol.com>

So let us think and does anyone have any thoughts on how Parole
and Probation
could be discontinued? Do we need an alternative? Is the sentence
sufficient. Could the money spent on P & P better be used for education
programs? Could a non profitable charity be established to supply
correspondence courses? Maybe used computers? Not all these guys are
loggerheads. Thanks for your comments.
robemmett




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/5/98 12:26 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: VCash29827
Message-id: <1998040504264901.XAA21589@ladder03.news.aol.com>

<(1) Why are ex-cons who have served their sentence and have been
unconditionally released still denied the rights to bear arms and cast
ballots [as well as numerous employment opportunities in government]? >>

But can't they have these rights reinstated? Isn't being penalized for a
crime supposed to "hurt"?

< Isn't, for instance, a prisioner who learns something about the logic of
the law more likely to know how to behave and why it makes sense for him to
behave lawfully, than one who is kept deliberately ignorant of these
things?>>

Don't forget about the "frivolous law suit" issue. I'm still pissed about
them getting cable TV, prison is not supposed to be fun.

health and safety it endangers through its selection of "cellies," through
its seeming encouragement of jail gangs, through the incredible corruption of
its "detention officers" from who you can apparently buy anything for a
price, etc.? >>

You make it sound like all "detention officers" are corrupt:-) So if we get
rid of the "war on drugs" and only incarcerate violent offenders, do you
really give a big hairy rat's heiney who their cellmates are?

So maybe my questions aren't all that legitimate, but they're mine:-)
Vicki




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/5/98 7:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Skisail26
Message-id: <1998040523184801.TAA28768@ladder03.news.aol.com>

As had been brought out each state seem to vary on the subject of
Parole and Probation. The state of FL DOC budgeted $ 200 million plus even
though parole has
basically been eliminated after Oct 1, 1983. In addition the inmates now
must serve a longer
period of their sentence and are then subject to probation. Someone said the
purpose of probation is to asist the inmate in his adjustment. This is
difficult to comprehend, they have the inmate for 5, 10, 15 years and now
probation? And I think I read that 60% are returned to prison while on
probation. A continuous source of inmates? Can anyone explain?
And while your at it how can the DOC get away with such unequal i.e
educational &
training facilities from on prison to another in the state? Thanks
robemmett




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/5/98 7:29 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Skisail26
Message-id: <1998040523294800.TAA27949@ladder01.news.aol.com>

To continue on you raise some good points but maybe you have to look at
the situation from the point that prisons are no longer in the business of
rehabilitation but the prisons are
for punishment, period. This in is itself it seems to me to present a big
problem. What if you were marooned on an island for 5, 10, 15 years how
would you be able to function, earn a living in our society. Computer last
three years, program less time. Could you work on a new car and so it goes.
What bewilderment! May I have your comments? Thanks,
robemmett




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/17/98 12:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: JLaigle
Message-id: <1998041704011000.AAA16677@ladder03.news.aol.com>


<* They paid their debt, and yet...? No 4th Amendment rights for Parolees?:
The Supreme Court is being asked to deny parolees the right to a duly
executed warrant before their residences are searched by police. The
Pennsylvania attorney general argued before the court that parolees "should
not expect the same constitutional protections offered to law-abiding
citizens." Is a parolee actually under
"house arrest" once he leaves prison, and if so, for how long. Once one has
paid his debt to society, must one keep on paying with loss of crucial
rights, such as the right of privacy? What do you think?>

I think that this particular example of the denial of rights is probably
based on a misunderstanding. The technical vocabulary of "parolee,"
"releasee," "house arrest" etc. is so varied from state to state that I'm not
going to get into those issues. However, it is uniformly true that if you
have NOT been unconditionally released from prision that you have NOT "paid
[your] debt to society" - i.e., you are not yet a citizen.

Much better questions about similar issues are as follows:

(1) Why are ex-cons who have served their sentence and have been
unconditionally released still denied the rights to bear arms and cast
ballots [as well as numerous employment opportunities in government]?

(2) Why is the mere fact that you are imprisioned an excuse for denying one
access to law materials, various other reading material, fresh fruit, and an
incredibly extensive list of other items that the rest of the population
takes for granted [none of which are reasonably classified as dangerous to
either the prisioner or anyone around him] What do any of these restricts
have to do with either (a) keeping the rest of the population safe from the
prisioner or (b) "rehabilitating" the prisioner? Isn't, for instance, a
prisioner who learns something about the logic of the law more likely to know
how to behave and why it makes sense for him to behave lawfully, than one who
is kept deliberately ignorant of these things?

(3) Why isn't the government liable for the harm arising to prisioners whose
health and safety it endangers through its selection of "cellies," through
its seeming encouragement of jail gangs, through the incredible corruption of
its "detention officers" from who you can apparently buy anything for a
price, etc.? I, for one, am somewhat tired of hearing the government whine
about not having enough money to build safe and adequate prisions when most
of the present crowding is the result of a lunatic drug war on which it
spends tens of billions of dollars annually.

These are the sorts of questions that seem a bit more legitimate to me.



Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer

I'm with you all the way on this.
In addition, I network with prisoners' groups, and one of the best-hidden of
all the issues in this area is the fact that, for example, due to rape shield
laws, an estimated 10,000 innocent men are wrongfully incarcerated every
year.




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/17/98 8:54 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: LAWECON
Message-id: <1998041712545300.IAA12302@ladder03.news.aol.com>

In addition, I network with prisoners' groups, and one of the best-hidden of
all the issues in this area is the fact that, for example, due to rape shield
laws, an estimated 10,000 innocent men are wrongfully incarcerated every
year.>>

I'd like to hear more about that issue. We have this "nifty" little "sex
offender notification" law in Arizona. The way it works is this: Someone is
convicted of a "sex crime". He serves his time and is unconditionally
released. He starts to try to live a normal life again, and rents an
apartment or buys a house in a residential neighborhood. The police are then
REQUIRED to leaflet his neighbors for blocks around with posters showing his
picture and
announcing that he is a convicted sex offender. Usually, of course, this
results in a "neighborhood meeting" [read lynch mob] to discuss the "problem"
of how to "deal with" this guy. There is no "statute of limitations" on this
law. You live a "clean" life for 20 years after getting out of prision, the
same thing happens to you.

As an example of what a "sex crime" can be: One of our new associates/new
graduates from law school was telling me that one of her respected male
classmates was, a few days before graduation, walking through a particular
area of town known for its "services" and was approached by a shapely young
thing who inquired if he "wanted a date". He was unwise enough to stay and
discuss the matter, and the next thing you know he and the young thing were
being
booked in by his local police. Apparently he has been convicted of sexual
corruption of a minor as the young thing was younger than she looked. As I
said to our associate: "Well, there goes three years of law school, and what
and interesting life he'll have both in prision and once he gets out."

Great world we live in. Great justice system.


Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/18/98 10:03 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: CheffJeff
Message-id: <1998041814035600.KAA11587@ladder03.news.aol.com>

Craig sites this example of horrible injustice:

graduates from law school was telling me that one of her respected male
classmates was, a few days before graduation, walking through a particular
area of town known for its "services" and was approached by a shapely young
thing who inquired if he "wanted a date". He was unwise enough to stay and
discuss the matter, and the next thing you know he
and the young thing were being booked in by his local police. Apparently he
has been convicted of sexual corruption of a minor as the young thing was
younger than she looked. As I said to our associate: "Well, there goes three
years of law school, and what and interesting life he'll have both in prision
and once he gets out."

Great world we live in. Great justice system.>>

And this can ONLY happen if DISHONEST individuals voluntarily participate in
this scam, with the 1930's Germany excuse, "I'm just doing my job." Each
lawmaker, cop, lawyer, judge, law clerk, etc. chooses to partake in this
fraud and destruction of justice. Only until each person carefully examines
what s/he is doing with her/his life will this type of insanity wane. This
has been my point: These things can't happen without individuals choosing to
make it so. Change for society must come from within individuals. There is
no other way.

So my questions is: Are YOU choosing to participate in dishonesty? Or the
famous 60's question: Are YOU part of the problem or part of the solution?
What good is complaining about "government" if YOU are the problem, yet
refuse to acknowledge and eliminate it?

Jeff, formerly part of the problem, Livingston

Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/18/98 4:51 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Presbyte
Message-id: <1998041820512300.QAA19708@ladder03.news.aol.com>

>>>
So my questions is: Are YOU choosing to participate in dishonesty? Or the
famous 60's question: Are YOU part of the problem or part of the solution?
What good is complaining about "government" if YOU are the problem, yet
refuse to acknowledge and eliminate it?
<< -cheffjeff

That's the question, isn't it? It's a variant of the same question I ask
people every election, whenever they tell me that they won't vote for an
independent or third-party candidate because he or she "can't win." If you
think there is something to be gained by tossing your vote to "a winning
side," then YOU are part of government corrpution, right along with the
crooked judge, the cop on the take, or the influence-peddling
congresscritter.

People who vote that way do indeed get the government they deserve. Sadly,
it is a government that will act to thwart the will of the people when,
occasionally, they DO vote their consciences and common sense (as with the
amazing federal and state government opposition to CA Prop 215 and AZ prop
200 -- decriminalization of marijuana and other Schedule I substances for
medical use).

-J


Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/18/98 7:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: LAWECON
Message-id: <1998041823385400.TAA06968@ladder03.news.aol.com>

As I have been saying over and over, I think it is a SERIOUS methodological
mistake to attribute our opponent's position to dishonesty. This dodges the
questions of what in fact are wrong with those positions, and leaves the
libertarian with a smug and mistaken feeling of moral superiority.

In this case, what is wrong is that the EXISTING LAWS ON THE BOOKS define
felonies such as "statutory rape," "contributing to the delinquency of a
minor," etc. which are, in effect, strictly liability crimes - that is, they
require no mens rea [evil mind], no proof of harm to another or to another's
property, but merely proof of a certain set of facts. Such crimes were an
exception in and were generally recognized as abhorent to the Anglo/American
common law. They should be abolished for when they are "honestly" enforced by
those who chant "but its the law" they result in situations such as the one
I've discribed.

There is no reason at all, on the facts that I have cited for anyone in the
process to have been lying or dishonest. It is simply that the law is evil
and should not be on the books.

I think that it is time that libertarians started to grow up about these
things. Prating slogans about noninitiation of force and condemning one's
opponents as dishonest liers simply won't cut it. It makes us all look
ridiculous and IT IS NOT A CORRECT ASSESSMENT OF THE SITUATION.
Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/19/98 8:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: CheffJeff
Message-id: <1998042000105000.UAA14525@ladder03.news.aol.com>

Craig said:

process to have been lying or dishonest. It is simply that the law is evil
and should not be on the books.>>

Ahh...I think I've got it. We've got a definition difference concerning
"honesty."

I never intended it to mean "liar." There is such a thing as an honest lie:
[Germany again] "No, Mr. Jackboot, there's no Jewish people living here."
It's a lie, but an honest one. Why? Context. The person protecting other
innocent humans from aggressors has a wider scope look/see which includes
concepts that, to funtion, require honesty. So even though no one was
"lying," (including your above statement, by the way, Craig) by knowingly
using
evil law to harm an innocent person, they are nevertheless being dishonest as
defined here.

So when I accuse those individuals in whatever situation (this being the LP
board, usually goverment) of being "dishonest," I mean honesty defined in the
widest context possible. And I've recently been emphasizing the personal
aspects of this wide scope integration. You also said:

<
I think that it is time that libertarians started to grow up about these
things. Prating slogans about noninitiation of force and condemning one's
opponents as dishonest liers simply won't cut it. It makes us all look
ridiculous and IT IS NOT A CORRECT ASSESSMENT OF THE SITUATION.>>

Personal responsibility is ALWAYS part of the correct assessment of any human
situation. Is this reality looks ridiculous, so be it.

Jeff









Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/20/98 10:25 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: LAWECON
Message-id: <1998042102255700.WAA04792@ladder03.news.aol.com>

Jeff, this is interesting, but it is much like the Objectivist use of the
term "selfish". [No, I'm not saying you're an Objectivist, but I am saying
that there is a great deal of this arbitrary redefinition of terms in
libertarian circles.] "Honesty" generally has to do with "telling the truth".
There are various senses of what "telling the truth" means - as I tried to
illustrate with my example of whether you have a moral duty to tell a
rare book dealer that he has underpriced a volume in his inventory. However,
I don't think that any of the various senses of "honesty" in COMMON USAGE
stretches to "honesty" = "personal responsibility" or "honesty" = "protecting
the innocent from the evil" or "honesty" = "libertarianism". "Honesty"
[truth telling] is an important moral virtue, but it is not necessarily the
only one - witness the terms "white lie," "saving someone's feelings, "etc. -
the point of which are that it is sometimes best not to be totally "honest".
[I have never heard of an "honest lie," however. Is that like "dry water" or
"cold fire"?]

But the issue of the importance of truth telling aside, it just confuses
people when you use terms differently than other people use them. The purpose
of language is to communicate, not to mystify or make one feel better. If I
say "2 plus 4 equals 7" people are justified in saying "no it doesn't." It
isn't a very effective retort to say, "Well, when I use the term "2" I mean
what you mean when you use the term "3"".




Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/22/98 8:42 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: Skisail26
Message-id: <1998042300424500.UAA25587@ladder01.news.aol.com>

I think you are correct. The court imposes as part of the
sentence, probation.. It's my understanding that parole and probation are
suppose to assist the inmate in adjusting
to civilian life. Question if you have an individial under your thumb for 5,
10 years etc. why hasn't he been taught? Also a high percentage of inmates
violate their parole or probation so they haven't been taught or learned a
thing. Or it could it be a way to keep those prisons full.
robemmett




Subject: Re: Prisioner Rights
Date: 4/23/98 7:44 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: LAWECON
Message-id: <1998042311444000.HAA13143@ladder03.news.aol.com>

Please understand, I am in NO WAY contending that the penal system
"rehabilitates" anyone [except as a mistake]. I am only contending that a
prisioner's rights are not even partially restored until he is
unconditionally released [rather than being released on parole, probation,
etc.] Until then you are, as you put it, "under the thumb" of "the
authorities".

In my view, this whole system is a bad joke. It does no one any good and does
considerable harm to both those inside and outside of the jails and prisions.
There is absolutely no reason to put those in jail who have not committed and
have no particular propensity to commit "violent crimes". They would serve
themselves and their victims better by being free and in some kind of
"marked" and "indentured" status until they had made restitution. No
victim, no crime.

As for those who are persistently violent, some sort of confinement or
expulsion other than conventional prision could easily be devised.
[Personally, I see no reason to protect those who are persistently violent
from violence - and I think that an Escape From New York scenerio is just
fine.]

The bottom line is that locking a person in a 7'X12' cell with a "cellie" and
bunk bed for much of the day, and incarcerating that person under the
conditions of barracks socialism for the rest of the day, for years on end,
is simply a waste of resources and is practically certain to deteriorate
rather than improve his character.


Craig Bolton

"The ultimate consequence of protecting men from the results of their own
follies is to fill the world with fools."
Herbert Spencer




 

 



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