READ THE TRANSCRIPT

BILL MOYERS: The next time you say the Pledge of Allegiance – “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all” – remember: it’s a lie. A whopper of a lie.

We coax it from the mouths of babes for the same reason our politicians wear those flag pins in their lapels – it makes the hypocrisy go down easier, the way aspirin helps a headache go away.

"Justice for all” is a mouthwash for the morning after governor Bill Clinton took time off from his presidential campaign to fly back to Arkansas to oversee execution of a fellow who was mentally deficient. "

“Justice for all” is a breath mint Governor George W. Bush popped into his mouth after that poor Bible-believing Christian pleaded vainly for mercy before they strapped her down to die in that anteroom of Heaven known as the Huntsville State Prison.

“Justice for all” is a line item in the budget – sequestered now by the Paul Ryans of Congress and the Fix the Debt gang of plutocratic CEOs who, with a wink-wink from our president, claim, “Oh, we can’t afford that!”

Of the $100 billion spent annually on criminal justice in this country, only two to three percent goes to defend the poor. Of 97 countries, we rank 68th in access to and affordability of civil legal service.

No, we can’t afford it, but just a decade ago we started shelling out $2.2 trillion for a war in Iraq born of fraud.

We can’t afford it, while Dick Cheney’s old outfit Halliburton raked in $40 billion worth of contracts because of that war.

We can’t afford it, while the State Department doles out three billion dollars over five years in private security contracts to protect its gargantuan new embassy in Baghdad.

We can’t afford it, in this golden age of corporate profits when companies pay below zero in taxes while hauling in tax breaks from Congress worth millions upon millions of dollars -- and, while, as we speak, the powerful business roundtable ratchets up a costly advertising campaign to cut corporate taxes even more.

We can’t afford to defend the poor.

Oh, Gideon -- fifty years ago your trumpet was a clear, piercing cry for justice, and we’ve turned a deaf ear.

Bill Moyers Essay: The Hypocrisy of ‘Justice for All’

March 29, 2013

Bill reports on the hypocrisy of “justice for all” in a society where billions are squandered for a war born in fraud while the poor are pushed aside. Turns out true justice — not just the word we recite from the Pledge of Allegiance — is still unaffordable for those who need it most. Bill says we’ve “turned a deaf ear” to the hopeful legacy of Gideon vs. Wainwright, the 50-year-old Supreme ruling that established the constitutional right of criminal defendants to legal representation, even if they can’t pay for it.

Watch Bill’s conversations with civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson and journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien for more insight and context on Gideon, as well as in-depth exploration of current inequalities in America’s criminal justice system.

Producer: Julia Conley. Editor: Rob Kuhns.

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  • tgf
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Elizabeth-Wiley-Ma-Jd/702978195 Elizabeth Wiley Ma Jd

    The reason justice (LOL)is the way it is is because no one wants to teach, or learn about Franklin and his warnings to not let government get too big, or too corrupt. There is not ONE single word in the Constitution that implies that lawyers are the ones to do anything. I have a feeling that was because the Founding Fathers had had enough of the “law givers” and wanted a free nation run by the People. BUT, the People keep on electing lawyers, and letting lawyers write 2700 pages of drivel even THEY cannot comprehend. Some talk show had two on who had written some big pharmacy or medical bill………..one refused to come, the other two could not even discuss their own writing sensibly.

    When WE the People figure it out, and recreate OUR country, as the Founding Fathers told us to do (I think Franklin said probably every 20 years) we will stop having San Francisco bureaucrats who make more than the President of the United States, and more paperwork to open a dog washing business than there was for Obamacare, and maybe we will learn to spend more money educating doctors and dentists, and teachers, give them a plaque to hang and go out and be like any other business person…….not whipped pups who in many states are not ALLOWED to talk about changing healthcare, they will lose their license! AND certainly their job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.d.ferris Sean D Ferris

    and this is what the question is?

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.d.ferris Sean D Ferris

    The justice systems is a complete fraud. The systems is set up to exclude evidence and not to find truth. Both sides try to hide any evidence that is contrary to the outcome its wishes. The picture that is presented is nothing like circumstances in which the participants find themselves.

  • Anonymous

    Its close enough. And makes some great points.

  • http://twitter.com/TsalagiOK Debbie Kerchee

    It is justice for some! Welcome to reality…. http://sequichie-justiceformelvin.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.steven.1610 Steve Steven

    The Founding Fathers. You mean the slave owners who wanted to be free?

  • k

    Not just criminal defendants go unserved, to all of our detriment. Thinking of the mortgage and fraudclosure mess. The DOJ has been worse than useless. State AGs settled rather than prosecuted. But what about the individual homeowners? We know the bank papers are fraudulent and the MERS database unreliable. Chain of title is broken. Yet the courts for the most part accept the banks artwork, and individuals can’t get the legal help they need. TARP excluded any of its funds from going to legal aid. It seems we are meant to be helpless.

    - – - – -
    From a Mandelman Matters interview of Neil Barofsky:

    MARTIN ANDELMAN: Well, and where are the trial attorneys? Where are the lawyers that are there to fight for the underdog against big banking? You know, where are the trial lawyers? Well, if there’s a private right of action and there’s a provision for attorneys’ fees, maybe we’ll see them, you know, enter the game.

    NEIL BAROFSKY: Instead you have very underfunded legal aid lawyers who do remarkable work and are just the true, you know, the true unsung heroes of this foreclosure crisis, who, you know, who fight these sort of hopeless battles relentlessly day after day and it’s sort of with a courage and – you know, any of these guys or women could easily jump to a law firm and make 15 times their salary the next day. So they’re there, but the problem is that there’s just not enough of them.

    You know, one of the things, as state budgets continue to get slashed in this sort of misguided drive towards austerity, you know legal aid is always one of the things to get cut. They’re underfunded, overworked, and you know it’s one of those things. And you know it was really one of those dark moments in HAMP, when, or in the mortgage modification program, when Geithner and company blocked TARP money to be going to legal aid.

    MARTIN ANDELMAN: For legal aid, right.

    NEIL BAROFSKY: And that sort of – again, if you think of it as a program that’s designed to help four million homeowners, that doesn’t make sense, but if you think of it as a program that’s really about foaming the runway for the banks, then of course they’re going to block funding for anything that could potentially throw any roadblocks for the banks in their relentless pursuit of profit.

    MARTIN ANDELMAN: Yeah, I wrote about that at the time of course and said, you know, that it seems that legal aid is the only thing that TARP funds can’t be used for. I mean, the banks can do whatever else they want with them but, no, we can’t use them for legal
    aid, there’s some rule about that. I mean, just another craziness thing. Like, you would expect millions of people to scream at the same time, “What?!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/artnotartist Gene Lattanzi

    I love this guy! Thank GOD for people who speak truth in public!

  • http://twitter.com/MetroIssuesLou Metro Issues :: Lou

    If Steve was parroting anything, it was facts. That doesn’t necessarily diminish the accomplishments of our nation’s Founding Fathers though.

  • Anonymous

    At least 35 of the Founders had legal training or practiced law, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Donna-Cotter/100000584914277 Donna Cotter

    Thank you Elizabeth Wiley! Truly! When did investing in Public Education ~ Competency in The Basic “R’s” ~ become so “foreign”? My Dear 80 Y.O. WWII Vet of a Dad, used to say “Everybody wants something for nothing!” It just doesn’t work that way! Instead of siphoning off taxpayer dollars to benefit The Common Good, BushCo/Koch Bros “corporately” installed Republican Governators have been ROBBING US BLIND! It’s time for Americans to wake up, and stop taking this bullying so lying down! It’s time to stand up and fight for the rights to Life, Liberty & Yes ~ Justice for All ~ The Founders & Our Grandparents & Parents bequeathed to US! It’s time to Revive The Dream!

  • qbawb

    As Joni Mitchell so aptly put it, is it “justice” or “just ice?”

  • Mark Henry

    Thank you Bill Moyers and staff. If the problems are exposed there is still hope. I remain an optomist

  • Warren in NC

    Justice is based on class and money. It was true back in the 1700s, and it’s true today. Our society, I believe, only sees the dollar spent and not the value of the life helped. And if we do happen to glimpse the inequities, we are numbed by marketers who tell us things are better than they seem.
    Move along. Nothing to see here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kirin.nielsen Kirin Nielsen

    I had a little Facebook conversation with a dear friend who is as liberal as I am (pretty liberal), and who is as dismayed and upset and even angry with President Obama’s record. While I thought he would be much better than another candidate (perhaps so), we got: drone warfare; fracking; keystone pipeline + oil spills increasing; adios to habeas corpus; adios to social security and other social protection plans as we know them; increased war funding (to wit–Africa and now likely Korean spheres); adios to public education as we know it; no action on closing Guantanemo; endless war (continuing Bush’s wars), no legal pursuit of those who sanctioned and committed torture; very little actual protection of the environment; protection of Monsanto, banks, the carbon-fuel industries, and the war machine; capitulation to the GOP on all sorts of matters that would be in the best interest of the public… the list “drones” on and on………..And I feel powerless to do anything, because I don’t have money. Big money. All of this has an impact on or is affected by the failed justice system.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Larry-Malone/1825172635 Larry Malone

    And this Haliburton (sp?) mention, to the latest incident with the line malfunction, someone should be investigating this company.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bill.rayburn.3 Bill Rayburn

    I claim to know not the answers to our deep problems, but I do know our system, and not just the CJS, is in shambles, with less representation than in many recent decades; our politicos utterly capitulating to the ideology of big business and it’s dollars-including the prescient notion of Eisenhower knowing the destructive power of capitulating to the Military-Industrial-Complex; an exponentially widening gap between rich and poor-the second gilded age is upon us-driving an ever increasing population to poverty, or to at least a search for ever decreasing public relief services; Facsist leaning attacks on labor where organized labor is fast becoming an oxymoron; an ever increasing population numb to each other as technology takes the place of our neighbors; a disappearing serious and trusted media-once symbiotically imperative with the common man, and any progressive I know feeling powerless to do anything about it. It’s hard to fathom a time in our country when our politicos actually practiced diplomacy and statesmanship rather than Facsism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cathy.paulino.9 Cathy Paulino

    It is not just criminal law, it is also family law. People who have custody issues, who can’t see their kids but can’t afford an attorney, or if they do pay a lawyer, they can’t pay their bills. Oh well…who needs to see their kids, anyway? The kids will get over it….
    This IS criminal.

  • Anonymous

    Government’s true intent is defined by its budget/ what is right or wrong, matters of ethics, what is illegal or matters of Justice are thereby made irrelevant. This is because politics is the language and method of government; and money is the life’s blood of politics. So politics is all about (and only about) money:

    –Money to get someone who is sympathetic to one’s own issues elected;

    –Money to lobby that elected official to prioritize one’s issues;

    –Money to recruit other elected officials to one’s sympathies;

    –Money to get one’s elected officials re-elected;

    –Money the general electorate ultimately pays to make oneself richer at the expense of those with less influence.

    –Money to get someone sympathetic to one’s own issues elected;

    –Money to lobby that elected official to prioritize one’s issues;

    –Money to recruit other elected officials to one’s sympathies;

    –Money to get one’s elected officials re-elected;

    –Money the general electorate ultimately pays to make oneself richer at the expense of those with less influence.

  • Jen

    I’m upset with Obama as well. But I still do not believe we would have been better served by a GOP president.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.rooney.397 Tom Rooney

    The two examples he gives (a Christian woman and mentally deficient man) are not very convincing. Tell the WHOLE truth, Mr. Moyers and you will gain credibility. At least say something about the murders for which they were convicted. The families of the victims deserve justice also. Justice does not just mean fighting for the rights of suspects, but includes the victims and all those affected by the taking of those victims’ lives.

  • Reddoor2

    Daily, we demonstrate the importance of the values we hold dear by the resources and effort we invest in them. The government, that body which is tasked to uphold the laws agreed upon by the nation, has been starved for funding for more than thirty years.

    Some have said we don’t deserve it because we don’t want to pay for it. We want free education, free justice, free security because we don’t want to be taxed to pay for any of these things. Closer to the truth, is that we have agreed to pay for these things, but local, state, and federal representatives have found ways to spend the money elsewhere, then come back to us for more money.

    Justice will only prevail when we can hold our government accountable to us, for the money we spend in taxes to purchase the honest services we agreed upon. Without accountability to the people, government can be given NO authority over the lives of a free people.

    It is time for ALL Americans, the underserved by justice, by education, by local, state, and federal governments to recognize that government is no longer accountable to the people because corporations pay better wages, and those better wages are being used to disenfrancise the infrastructure that both supports the middle-class and is paid for by the middle class.

  • http://www.facebook.com/IManifest1 Marla Timmins

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the poor go to jail way more than the rich do. All you have to do is watch the news and see how many stars go to jail for their indiscretions. It also doesn’t prevent them from obtaining a job afterwards!

  • Reddoor2

    Some of them were, yes. But not all of them and Metro points out that indeed, it does not diminish their accomplishments. We are all imperfect people shaped by the times in which we live, and though we may want to create a better future, we cannot snap our fingers and make it so, and it will never be better if we refuse to learn from the past. We have to work together, agree on our values and priorities, and work to become the nation our founders had hoped we could be. The imperfections of our founding fathers do not mean we have an excuse, or a reason not to try. They are not admired for having achieved a superior “standard of perfection.” They are remembered up as the “people who did their best” and sacrificed, and studied and led and thought enough of us, to TRY to make the world a better place for all of us.

  • Dwight Haskins

    I am a federal government whistleblower who lost his job for blowing the whistle at the FDIC to protect the public. I have been trying to get my story told by the media but so far have been ignored.

    Here is my book just published, to inform the public how justice has been denied in my situation to protection the White House administration.

    http://www.amazon.com/American-Betrayal-ebook/dp/B00BKZ02UM

  • SDL

    Tried a bunch of cases, have you?
    Prosecuted? Done criminal defense work?

    It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and carp. If you’ve got better ideas, we’d all love to hear them.

  • Linda B

    The Supreme Court said Yes to Brown vs Board in May 17, 1954 after two years of wrangling about this: “The plaintiffs in Brown asserted that this system of racial separation, while masquerading as providing separate but equal treatment of both white and black Americans, instead perpetuated inferior accommodations, services, and treatment for black Americans.” Substitute “marriage equality” for racial separation, and “gay Americans” for black Americans.” Haven’t Proposition 8 and DOMA already been decided?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dshain1 Dennis Shain

    Bill, you are a true American hero, thank God for your wisdom and courage!

  • Act Well Your Part….

    Mr. Moyers:
    Why don’t you as a wealthy and concerned citizens form a School of Law to graduate and pay devoted and well trained lawyers to defend the poor in courts of law instead of relying on the public to do so? Wouldn’t that be that be something. Put your money where your mouth is.

  • Anonymous

    True, just like we are a Christian nation as well. Jesus is nothing like what is preached by our politicians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/reta.richardson Reta Richardson

    Bill Moyers is our most precious national treasure.

  • Emma Nation

    There are no family values, or professional values, in family court. This is the real war zone that breeds all other war zones.

  • Russ Evenhouse

    BillMoyers has been my favorite American journalist for over 20 years now. He’s just about the last one standing that is not afraid to tell the truth to the American people. In earlier times in our country’s history, he would have been considered a PATRIOT of the first degree. (I believe
    he is a patriot.)Today he’s considered somewhat of a nuisance by the establishment that would have us believe FOX news is reality. Thank you Bill Moyers, and I’ll remain a loyal follower of you until your death,
    or until you sell out, which I don’t believe you will ever do!!!

  • crabbyAmerican

    What a daft thing to say! He’s a journalist, why are you suggesting that he form a law school. Wow! is the truth that painful?

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.pallesen.9 Steven Pallesen

    Freewill is the cornerstone of the LAW. Humanity is both independent (self-governing and sovereign) and inter-dependent. My freewill goes only to the boundaries of your freewill. To cross that boundary is to trespass. As a self-governing, freewill, sovereign being it is my responsibility to HONOR the self-governing, freewill, sovereignty of all other beings.

  • Guest

    This is why I refuse to stand for or say the Pledge of Allegiance.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steven.pallesen.9 Steven Pallesen

    A story given to me that sheds some light on where we are as human beings.

    The LAW of GOD is MERCY and TRUTH. This is the LAW that is written upon the hearts and in the minds of humanity. The fact that this law is written upon our hearts and in our minds suggests that each human being is a law unto oneself, self-governing and sovereign. This is the narrow road leading to HEAVEN.

    The courts are set up by GOD, established in MERCY and sat upon in TRUTH, as spoken by Isaiah. The role of the courts is to teach the people the art of self-government honoring the sovereignty of each being, no punishment. This is accomplished by EXAMPLE and in WORD. You see, “to judge” is “to teach” thus a judge is a teacher in the LAW of GOD. So now you see the Day of Judgment is the day of teaching. Punishment and wrath are not of GOD.

    So what has happened to GOD’s courts? Well, having been COMMISSIONED to teach GOD’s LAW, instead these have sought dominion over the earth and all its inhabitants, including humanity. The rule of law is the adversarial system and for those who wish to know the secrets of darkness as written in Isaiah, to know for yourself the makeup of the one referred to as the ADVERSARY, then go to the system of the ADVERSARY, the adversarial system. Isaiah 14 speaks of the ADVERSARY setting above the throne of GOD. This speaks of the ADVERSARY ruling over GOD and the people. Well, GOD has returned with a freewill offering of GRACE and SALVATION, to return to that COMMISSION and teach GOD’s LAW of MERCY and TRUTH. Namaste :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1817647670 Alex Mendazo

    While I understand that if you do not have a better idea to replace what we currently have then there isn’t much we can do and I get that, but, I strongly believe that there is no justification for not helping the ones who are been hurt by the strong and abusive ones. Negligence is negligence and it’s unacceptable and this is something we can see right thought with out the need to replace what is already established.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lucky.crumpler Lucky Crumpler

    Yeah, I’ve tried a couple of thousand, as a defense lawyer, prosecutor, and finally judge. The system isn’t a fraud, but it doesn’t work as it should, either.

  • Andre Chimene

    I love and respect you Bill..but could you please explain to me about Ms. Tucker from Texas and what she did?

    Wikipedia…

    During the burglary, Tucker and Garrett entered Dean’s bedroom, where Tucker sat on him. In an effort to protect himself, Dean grabbed Tucker above the elbows, whereupon Garrett intervened. Garrett struck Dean numerous times in the back of the head with a hammer he found on the floor. After hitting Dean, Garrett left the room to carry motorcycle parts out of the apartment. Tucker remained in the bedroom.[citation needed]

    The blows Garrett had dealt Dean caused his head to become unhinged from his neck and his breathing passages to fill with fluid. He began making a “gurgling” sound characteristic of this type of injury. Tucker wanted to “stop him from making that noise” and attacked him with a pickaxe. Garrett then re-entered the room and dealt Dean a final blow in the chest.[citation needed]

    Garrett left the bedroom again so as to continue loading Dean’s motorcycle parts into his Ranchero. Tucker was once again left in the room and only then noticed a woman who had hidden under the bed covers against the wall. The woman, Deborah Thornton, had met Dean at a party earlier that afternoon. Upon discovering Thornton, Tucker grazed her shoulder with the pickaxe. Thornton and Tucker began to struggle, but Garrett returned and separated them. Tucker proceeded to hit Thornton repeatedly with the pickaxe and then embedded the axe in her heart. Tucker would later tell friends and testify that she experienced intense multiple orgasms with each blow of the pickaxe.[3][4]

    The next morning, a co-worker of Dean’s who had been waiting for a ride entered the apartment and discovered the victims’ bodies. Investigation led to the arrests of Tucker and Garrett….

    How was she not given justice?

  • Anonymous

    I went to a fundraiser in
    2009 for an organization called Centurion Ministries, which, despite the name,
    has no religious affiliation. What it does is seek to free people who
    were falsely imprisoned. They use a variety of methods including DNA
    evidence. At the fundraiser were 51 men who had spent an aggregate total
    of over 400 years in prison for crimes they had not committed. Forty-nine
    of them were black, the other two Hispanic, which tells you something about our
    justice system.

  • Amtak

    It all starts in law school. Most schools teach he techniques of “winning” without regard to morality or justice; so we get many lawyers who focus on large salaries as rewards for clever trickery and in many cases outright dishonesty (yes, I have met many of this ilk), and many of them eventually become judges without shedding their hypocracy. (I can name three like this on the Maryland court right now.) Years ago Derek Bok (former president of Harvard and before that Dean of its law school) wrote an article for Harvard Magazine on the need and ways to reform law school education. It made little impact, especially among other law schools that prefer to enjoy outrageously high tuitions in return for churning out second-rate graduates who continue to practice law as a money machine.

  • jutland

    Excellent comment Reddoor2.. And one should note that it was Jefferson, not Franklin, who made the “every twenty years” point. I’d also note that if you want a less cynical view of lawyers, check out Alexix de Tocqueville’s still-wonderful;Democracy in America. If the aristocrats in Europe served as a check on the power of the Crown, it’s the lawyers here who continue to check the power of a potentially abusive government. We hate ‘em, but we still need ‘em.

  • jon

    There is an implicit understanding

    Lawyers protect each other

    They have oversight boards made up of their own peers, whether it’s disciplinary or fee arbitration.

    Judges protect each other with their own boards.

    They dismiss most complaints or hand down slaps on the wrist

    Judges protect lawyers
    Lawyers protect judges

    If you’re not a bar member or able to pay for the best connected member, you’re wasting your time and money

  • Ted Hodge

    Isn’t that the definition of fraud in this case? Something that is purportedly set up to do one thing but does another? Something that doesn’t operate according to its purported purpose or design?

    Why should we not be disgusted with the present-day operations of our justice system simply because some “founders” designed a good system? Is it not right to say this is a fraud since it doesn’t live up to its intended purpose?

  • Hermit

    And Jim Hightower is another. And how about Bernie Sanders?

  • rozmataz75

    Well said. Couldn’t agree more!

  • rozmataz75

    and an ordained Baptist minister.

  • rozmataz75

    We are not a “Christian” nation. Some of our founding fathers were atheists. Thos Jefferson trimmed up his copy of the Bible to contain only those statements he believed. Our founders were concerned about a national religion. They knew that could get us in a lot of trouble, just as it had in Europe. Christians, in many cases, have given Christianity a bad name. They claim to be Christians but are too fond of quoting the Torah – the Old Testament – to back up their “beliefs.” As to Jesus not being what our politicians are preaching, that is the BIG problem our forefathers foresaw. Separation of church and state is needed more than ever in this country.

  • Mike

    This guy is a millionaire!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/SBfor-Justice/100000477329226 SBfor Justice

    He is right the poor have less rights than anyone in America.

  • Jan

    “We can’t afford it.” THANK YOU Bill Moyers.

  • Jordan Wilfong

    I just want to chime in here and thank you for all you have done during your career in journalism. I’m a social worker and I’ve been working as a therapist in disenfranchised communities for my entire career. My work can be difficult and I’ve always appreciated how you speak from the heart about the importance of our country becoming more decent and fair. I know you grew up in a family that benefitted from decent paying jobs for those who did not grow up in comfort. Thank you for your unyielding quest to speak up for those who are vulnerable but don’t have a say in public policy. I’ll keep on working to help people who have grown up in struggle, because like you, I know that when communities rally around each other, we all can succeed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ronmarcus Ron Marcus

    Bill- You are brilliant and a godsend!

  • tom ato

    As economy flails, debtors’ prisons thrive

    “If you don’t have resources for an attorney or can’t afford other fees
    associated with court, you get a different brand of justice,” said Mike
    Brickner, director of communications and public policy at the ACLU of
    Ohio, noting that such practices are “rampant” in the state. “And with
    the economic downturn over the last 10 years, we’ve seen an increase and
    resurgence in debtors’ prisons.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505143_162-57577994/as-economy-flails-debtors-prisons-thrive/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pam-Kulig/819980243 Pam Kulig

    Prison is for the poor. A lawyer I trust and respect has said the public defender system is broken. This is a common example of the absurdity in sentencing that I’ve encountered: three teenagers hold up the local barber shop, one stays in the car, one stands outside the shop and one holds up the place. They net $50. Now they can buy some weed. They get caught. Eventually all three take pleas. All three have no prior criminal record. Their court-appointed attorneys assure them they will get a couple of years and encourages the plea. However the judge has other ideas. The judge in his sentencing order declares this a “horrible crime” deserving of a “severe sentence”. He gives the guy who stood outside the shop and the one who stayed in the car a few years short of life using the “life expectancy tables” sending both away for 35 mandatory years (no parole eligibility). The stick-up guy, who pleads first, gets 10. See, the way it works is, a jury could’ve sentenced them to life but a judge had to give them less than life; so an obvious incentive to plea The judge did not take any mitigating factors into consideration such as age, lack of criminal history, small damages, and no injuries. At his whim and prejudice, the judge buried them until they are well into their 50′s without any chance for early release regardless of their young age at the time of the offense. The result is a total of 80 years combined at a cost of about $40,000 per year per inmate. So the big barber shop heist of $50 is going to cost the taxpayers around $3,000,000. What kind of deal is this? Plus it doesn’t include 3 separate inmate appeals which can go on for 10 years a piece at taxpayer expense. What justifies this sort of thing? Not to mention the human toll, priceless.
    Well, we know who benefits don’t we? That’s 80 years of free labor for X-corporations and 80 years of a full bed for Management and Training Corporation which took over the GEO contracts in MS after they fled town after the Walnut Grove debacle. What justifies this? Judges should be held accountable by the voters, one way to hold them accountable, is to be informed and to vote. But it is little comfort.
    I’m not for robbing barber shops, but I’m surely not for the utter destruction of people’s lives either.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pam-Kulig/819980243 Pam Kulig

    Yes, winning is everything, the truth be damned.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pam-Kulig/819980243 Pam Kulig

    Agreed, I took a family law class and discovered that restraining orders are the new weapon given out like confetti in domestic disputes. But very dangerous and destructive weapons.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Pam-Kulig/819980243 Pam Kulig

    The internships at our judicial center were all in helping people fill out restraining orders. Lots of people doing that. I asked myself why? What’s up with this? Well, it’s a great tool but not always honestly sought.

  • http://www.chadridings.com/blog/ Chad Ridings

    Corporatism is rampart, and so is it’s accompanying apathy. It’s good to know that someone with an audience is speaking like a rational human being. Keep up the good work Bill Moyer!

  • KAREN iRVING
  • Anonymous

    Yes. Most millionaires don’t care about injustice. Bill is one that does care. That might be partly because he wasn’t BORN one.

  • JNWesner

    It’s also a lie where it says “one nation, under God,indivisible,” It can be either, but not both. Either it’s exclusively under God, or it’s indivisible. Requiring religion is divisive.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t say the allegiance pledge. It is brainwashing. Better to recite John Lennon’s Imagine or the Declaration of Principles in Babylon 5. Those last two mean something. The pledge doesn’t. This country is full of hypocrities, and is now dysfunctional.

  • DBrashier

    I want to tie in the insanity of the bail bond racket. Judges know that inmates have to come up with 10%, so they raise the bail to 10 times what it should be. And those who are in the business get to keep a lot more of the inmate’s money (or, often, the family of the inmate).

  • Joan Harris

    Believing the poor are innocent and the rich are not, it is good to know that there is some protection under the law. Break the law and you are innocent until proven guilty. When law abiding citizens are victimized, justice takes a long time and lots of money and then it still may not be served.

  • The_Truthiness

    I attend local town board meetings and when we all rise to recite the pledge, I leave much of it out. I just can not in good conscious say many of the words

  • Jason Merrell

    It’s an ideal we must continue to strive for.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Bill for being a lone media voice for conscience and principle.

  • Wanda Jean Lord

    …maybe if we dealt squarely and honestly and directly to right the current wrongs being done against tribes… and sought to right them – then just maybe – the lessons learned and the wounds healed there – might translate into best practices for all the other injustices that have occurred on and because of that foundational schism on which this country is built…

  • PatinVT

    When you realize that a.) the pledge was written to sell flags; and b.) first appeared in a socialist youth magazine you will realize how the joke is on all of us! Fact from Wikipedia: The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy (1855–1931), who was a Baptist minister, a Christian socialist,[3] and the cousin of socialist utopian novelist Edward Bellamy (1850–1898). The original “Pledge of Allegiance” was published in the September 8 issue of the popular children’s magazine The Youth’s Companion as part of the National Public-School Celebration of Columbus Day, a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. The event was conceived and promoted by James B. Upham, a marketer for the magazine, as a campaign to instill the idea of American nationalism by selling flags to public schools and magazines to students.

  • Richard Damon Aldrich

    can you describe “freewill” in English without interjecting religion. ‘freewill” is meaningless. it is used to defend hypocrisy

  • Spinner

    This is even more striking in the wake of the American Express v. Italian Colors decision recently handed down by the supreme court. Now large corporations can contractually protect themselves from judicial action, even if they are breaking the law! Horrible decision that leaves consumers in the dust.

  • SuzanneA

    The ‘socialism’ of 1892 is not the same socialism as we know it today with it’s negative connotations. Early socialism actually worked for equal rights for all and to offer benefits and rights to the hardest workers and children who helped a nation prosper under the first and second industrial revolution, but did not reap the benefits. Early US nationalism’s goal was to strengthen the national identity of the country so that those who lived there saw the benefit of helping each other to accomplish goals such as strengthening our infrastructure and improving life for all citizens, not just the wealthy This comment takes those facts quoted way out of context.

  • Anonymous

    You are spot-on. And nobody is paying attention to the implications of that decision. If you mentioned it to people on the street, they’d yawn. Citizens United. Shelby Co., Ala. American Express. The damage done to the fabric of American society by just these three decisions is incalculable.

  • SUZ.

    that is claptrap, not theology.

  • Anonymous

    And why Under God when there is supposed to be a separation of religion and government.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mrallnightjohnson Stuart Johnson

    What would a follower of a “blind faith” religion know about “freewill”? Imprisoned by superstition, which limits thought, it is precisely the opposite of “freewill” that your religion teaches.

  • Guest

    The basis of the inequalities you describe – begin here as described in this movie – as we address the root of injustice – we can then address the resulting fruits:

  • Wanda Jean Lord
  • RAVEENDRAN NARAYANAN

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=450957394999575&set=a.441504409278207.1073741828.441468485948466&type=1&theater http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=372131026206081&set=o.166212683426526&type=3&theater ” FREEDOM FOR ANAND JON, IF NOT NOW, WHEN? ” We, THE PEOPLE OF ASIAN INDIAN AMERICANS BELIEVE, that MANY HUMAN RIGHTS, AMERICAN CONVENTIONS & AMERICAN DECLARATION VIOLATED. All accusers diminished and inconclusive physical evidence MUST BE PROVIDED BY PROSECUTION. ALL ACCUSERS MUST BE PASSED COMPULSORY LIE DETECTION TESTS OTHER WISE ANAND JON RAPE, ASSAULT & DRUG CHARGES MUST DROPPED AND HE SHOULD BE RELEASE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

  • Kymberlee della Luce

    That part wasn’t part of the original text. It was added around 1950.

  • Anonymous

    1957 to be exact. I was in the ninth grade when Ike added it to the pledge.

  • Anonymous

    It seems that you have never read the Treaty of Tripoli. Thomas Jefferson Bill for Establishing religious freedom, James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments.

    If you’re not too weak in faith to have your religious opinions challenged, then read them all – they are all important records. But if you can’t stand the heat, then at least read Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli.

    Not saying that this nation wasn’t full of Christian followers, but there were also Jews and Muslims here, and as some of the narrow minded complained during the debates at the ratifying conventions, the Constitution if ratified would prohibit Religious Tests, which meant that non-Christians could be elected to office.

    In a constitutional or legal sense Christians were not favored over the people of any other religion or belief. In a practical or operable sense, Christians of course being the majority, frequently used government to oppress the peoples of other religions or beliefs, or as a pretext to further their own selfish interests. Right wing politicians are examples of the latter, which Jefferson expressly called criminals for taking the bait of Christian Zealots

  • Teydam Khunt

    That was a very inspirational message. Thank you – I think I need to go write an essay about something now.

  • Anonymous

    We (the collective we) always cut from everything but the military and law enforcement. How can we have a fair and equal society when we spend so much of our time, energy and money on the section of government that deals in brute force.

  • hummingbird

    You are in the wrong forum for your message.

  • hummingbird

    Why don’t you go to law school and do it yourself?

    Wouldn’t that be something?

  • George Davies

    The hypocrisy is two fold in that 90% {if not more} of us would pay the price of dismissal of charges if we could afford it. Constantly watching the rich and famous buy their way out of obviously illegal actions only serves to re-enforce “And Justice for All” { If you Can Afford It}. Money {And Lack of It } seem to corrupt equally as the nation continues to widen it”s divide and the legal system has taken full advantage of our fear of losing our freedom or the shortcut to riches by suing everyone and every product or business we have ever come in contact with! Legal fees and payoffs insure a win-win for the legal participants regardless of what happens to us, the Defendants. Where else could you be rewarded for Losing
    I just concluded my Opening Statement. Lots of Discoverys to follow!