FREE PRISONER CALLS
This petition had 175 supporters
September 1, 2014 11:41 PM
It is the duty of Congress to preserve, protect
and defend the Constitution of the United States,
including the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth
and Fourteenth Amendments and the Constitutional
prohibitions against ex post facto laws and
bills of attainder;
America should be a free country for all the people
in it, regardless of status, as much as possible;
Conflicts of interest at lower levels of Government
are anathema to the Constitution and the rule of law
in the USA;
A good society is a caring society wherein people
who are less fortunate will not be deprived of the
reasonable expectation of being able to be cared for
by those who are more fortunate;
BE IT RESOLVED
That all prisoners under the jurisdiction of the
United States of America, regardless of their
status, and absent any compelling and
particular reason contrary to this right;
have the right to free and unlimited phonecalls,
without charge, and without unwarranted or
blanket surveillance by prison wardens (that is,
without warrantless intrusion or surveillance)
to any individual within the jurisdiction of the
United States, for any lawful purpose and
within reasonable hours; including compatibility
with the schedule
of the person being called by the prisoner.
"When one door closes, anothe door opens;
but we so often look so long and regretfully
upon the closed door, that we do not see the
ones which open for us."
- Alexander Graham Bell
(the inventor of the telephone;
simultaneous with Elisha Gray).
Consider the following:
A) All phonecalls to and from prisoners are essentially
legal matters. In a country without freedom, maybe that
means that these phonecalls should always be spied on
at random. However, in the United States of America,
the Sixth Amendment which guarantees "the right...
to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses..."
and "Assistance of Counsel", is the Law of the Land;
and the only way to uphold the Law of the Land
in this instance, in a practical sense, is through
the Resolution above, in this Petition for redress of
B) Prisoners who are wrongfully convicted or otherwise
falsely imprisoned are custodians of State's evidence
against officials who have acted oppressively under color.
Phonecall surveillance and limitation against prisoners
creates conflicts of interest wherein wardens can
advocate for corrupt judges and police officers and
malicious prosecutors, rather than standing out of the way
and allowing the writ of the Constitution to prevail.
In short, such surveillance and phonecall limitation
obstructs justice on a routine and industrial-level basis.
C) The safety of prisoners may depend upon relaying
concerns to family members and other loved ones
as well as advocates and Assistance of Counsel
- and the PRESS - on a timely and dignified basis.
The same is absolutely true of the safety, health,
peace of mind and general well-being of the
family members, loved ones, advocates and
legal counsel of prisoners as well.
D) Even if spying upon prisoners' phone conversations were
justified, there is no justification for prison warden surveillance
of the other person in any prisoner-related conversation.
The law does not give any prison warden the power to
punish someone who has not been sentenced according
to due process of law.
E) The civil rights of prisoners are not automatically curtailed
unless by the specific and justifiable order of a judge.
If and when the removal of free phone priviliges is
ever called for, any judge can always order this
and any warden can always put such an order
F) If prisoners know that wardens have the power to call
a judge, and to request a court order to limit
free and unlimited phonecalls, based on prisoner misbehavior,
then it logically follows that all prisoners who have
behavior issues will be better behaved.
G) The psychological well-being of prisoners is best
protected by the right to contact family, loved ones,
advocates and Assistance of Counsel. That is a
matter of no small importance to society in general.
H) There is no additional cost incurred by taxpayers
in permitting free and unlimited phone service to
all prisoners who are well-behaved. In fact, taxpayer
and prison administration costs will enjoy a
net reduction; as any costs increased by the operation
of a non-profit or State-operated and owned phone
system, as well as the maintenance and repair
thereof, will be offset by the savings incurred as
blanket surveillance of phone conversations ends.
I) There is no substantial possibility of enabling prisoner
harassment of people on the outside of the prison;
most prison phone systems are already equipped to
prevent that. Time-zone differentials can be linked
with computer flags to prevent a prisoner calling from
Hawaii, for example, at 9:30 PM local time, from
dialing a number in New York at 2:52 AM there.
J) Prison riots would be prevented by such a proposal
as this - and prisons would be much quieter generally,
thereby precluding the possibility of any riots.
K) Excessive isolation is a form of torture. This
proposal would prevent almost every form of torture
in American prison environments. Guards and
wardens would no longer be assured of impunity
in perpetrating acts of torture against inmates.
L) Certain exceptions could be made for military
prisons; however military detention facilities of all types
would still be required to abide by this proposal if
and when it becomes Federal law - but not past the
point that military personnel are generally restricted
from outside contact.
M) NSA spies are perfectly capable of monitoring all
these prison conversations anyway. In fact, if and
when the NSA is stopped from its blanket surveillance
(its spying on everyone) by a President or Supreme Court
who FINALLY stands up for the Third Amendment and
the rest of the Constitution, (we're waiting....waiting...hello?)
and straightens out the foreign relations issues stemming
from this joyride of technology running roughshod over
the Constitution, then the NSA should concentrate and
focus its activities on prison phonecalls made by or to
the most dangerous prisoners - those who are genuine
security risks to the United States or criminals with a
consistently violent record. The NSA is not as likely to
have or entertain conflicts of interest with local prosecutors,
arresting officers, judges or politicians, as is the warden
of the prison where the inmate is residing.
N) Inmates who are chronic criminals have few legitimate business
interests or deadlines outside of prison; they have no
timely need to make phonecalls to take care of certain
important matters. The generalized restriction on
phonecalls, and the high expense thereof, punishes
those who are relatively or actually innocent much more
than those who are more or less dangerous criminals.
Of course, State legislators should be made aware of
this fact; therefore anyone signing this petition should
also contact your State or Territorial legislators in your
district of residence. This proposal, although addressed
to Congress, can also be passed into law on a
State-by-State or Territorial basis.
O) Collect calls from prison are an unfair imposition on
those who are constrained to receive them.
P) Recidivism, or circumstantial re-incarceration, will
be much less likely if this proposal becomes Federal law.
Q) The rate of foreclosures and homelessness will be
reduced if this proposal is passed into law.
R) The rate of prison suicides and homicides will decline
if and when this proposal becomes law.
S) People who want to end relationships with prisoners
in a cordial and dignified manner are prevented from
doing so, due to current prison policies regarding
phonecalls, as well as due to guilt factors. This
proposal would enable the relationships of prisoners
to be formulated and ended in a more dignified
manner; and by enabling the prisoner to know what is
actually happening in terms of his or her relationships,
counseling would be more efficatious and to the point.
T) Many prisoner phone conversations are related to
medical conditions. These are private matters which
are not the proper subject of surveillance.
U) The cost and time limitations on prisoner phonecalls
create a situation of panic or desperation in many
instances, and these situations are not in the best
interest of society.
V) Prisons are - by American custom and law - originally
designed to be PENETENTIARIES. This means "places
where prisoners repent of their crimes", if indeed they
are actually guilty. The process of severe restriction of
phonecalls by time and cost, is a process which
restrains the process of penitence (or penance).
Prisoners should be free to contact chaplains and
other religious counselors. This is a First Amendment
and Sixth Amendment right. The free exercise of
this right will save costly State appeal processes
which might be prevented if prisoners who are actually
guilty decide to confess their sins; and this admission
of guilt in this kind of way could eventually be an
exculpatory factor which will work well for the prisoner
and for society in general.
W) The proposed law would be a good example for
other countries as well. It is time the United States
of America shall become a country worth emulating
and worth looking up to again, as it was during the
days when Alexis de Tocqueville came to America
(in 1830) to study the prison system. This proposed
law would also be a good way for America to reduce
its embarrassingly high, totalitarian-level prison
X) Parents who are imprisoned over child-related
issues or other issues may be the focus of judicial
punishment - but that is no reason why their
children should also be punished. A person who
is not always a good citizen may be the best parent
a child will ever have; and the State should not
exceed the range of judicially decreed punishment
of the offender, by punishing his or her child too -
which is a Bill of Attainder ban issue.
Y) Prisoners should be permitted, to some extent,
and under certain situations, to retain their private
cellphones on a probationary basis within prisons,
if the phones will work. After all, in most cases
they have already paid for the time alloted, and
they are entitled to fair use of a service which they
have already paid for.
Z) There are other reasons - perhaps too many to
list here - but right now, "the jail administration has
disconnected this phonecall!" So anyone can propose their
own reasons in addition to the above - but remember
Change Dot Org has its hand out for a $10 fee to
support this petition; so kindly deposit the money
into the account....
Committee of 37 Peace Initiative
PO Box 877
Edgmont, PA 19028-0877
Dedicated to a socially conscious good friend
who I met on the bus in Philadelphia many years ago,
and later interviewed -
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