The system loathes adjudication. As such, pretrial detention prior to a person even being able to make bond is designed specifically for the model of punishment before adjudication. Agreed! Conditions of pretrial release are often so onerous and filled with so many conditions that one truly feels they have already been convicted.
This is the goal of this model. Pretrial detention is designed to crush one’s spirit into acquiescence and despair. Plead guilty? Time served. Take it to trial as a right afforded the innocent before guilty? One can stay in detention for years while trying to pursue innocence. The machine constantly needs new souls to steal for its own survival, and we allow it to survive. But not for long.
In my own multi-year detention experience I too suffered under this yoke of institutionalize madness. But I chose to get smart, get strong, and focus on my freedom. I spent practically every waking moment focused sharply on my case, on my innocence and on going home.
I learned the difference between an “Inmate” and a “Pretrial Detainee” and refused to allow myself to be verbally classified as an Inmate by the guards. Why? Because as a person only charged with an offense, I was still afforded all of the rights and privileges under the Constitution of Innocence Before Guilt. By doing this and by taking this stance, I overcame presumption by guards and senior staff and they in turn stopped calling me “Inmate” and instead called me “Detainee.”
So many of us Americans know more about how to buy a charcoal grill, know more about sports teams, and know more about the Kardashians than we do about the justice system and law. But take that tumble down the “rabbit hole,” especially for the first time offender, and what’s at the bottom resembles a true alien world. We need to take personal ownership of this institutionalized madness and fight it with wisdom, strength and knowledge.
The very first two books I got while detained were “Black’s Law Dictionary” and “The Prisoners Self Help Litigation Manual.” I read these cover to cover every day and every week. I got sharp and got directly involved in assisting in my own defense sometimes working 20 hours a day reviewing my case and writing to my attorney. But I saw so many others give in to apathy, ignorance, rage and depression. For them, a plea of guilty and sentencing was relief from the insane world of pretrial detention. I chose to fight.
In the end it is clear that the entire bail system in this country is a broken ship that is sinking. As I was quoted in a recent article about me at Pacific Standard Magazine’s website:
“A person of little means, for instance on a $3,000 bond, who can’t make the 10 percent, is experiencing the exact same thing that a person is, who is perhaps of some means, on a $500,000 bond, who can’t make that either. A lot of the literature and the position statements that I’ve seen out there seem to say that this is only an issue related to those of a lower socioeconomic class. It’s not. It’s an issue regardless of class. If you can’t make the bond, you can’t make the bond. It’s just that simple.”
To that end, we are clearly in need of national reform. For in this country the rights of free men and innocent peoples have been abrogated in favor of the prison industrial complex which, as I mentioned before, is the true destroyer of the fabric of our culture.
Tony Lowenstein, President & Founder