Tag Archive: jail

What It Takes To Be a Jailhouse Lawyer

Mass-Incarceration-JLH-Photo

‘For $12 of Commissary, He Got 10 Years Off His Sentence.’

 

From The Marshall Project / By Beth Schwartzapfel

In 1980, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals vacated Jerry Hartfield’s murder conviction and ordered a new trial. But the trial never happened. Twenty-six years later, Hartfield crafted a handwritten petition arguing, essentially, he was serving time for a crime he was no longer convicted of. The person who helped him craft the petition? His cellmate, a jailhouse lawyer. It took almost ten years, but it worked: Hartfield’s new trial started this week.

“Jailhouse lawyer” is an informal term for a prisoner who helps other inmates with legal filings. And in most places, the help is just that: informal. Though the term is occasionally used synonymously with “hack” (“a lawyer who throws out any and all arguments, even blatantly wrong ones,” according to Urban Dictionary), jailhouse lawyers have been at the heart of several key legal victories: the right to an attorney, the right to be protected from abuse by other prisoners and by guards, and the right to free exercise of religion. In his book Jailhouse Lawyers, Mumia Abu-Jamal, perhaps America’s most well-known jailhouse lawyer, described the practice as “law written with stubs of pencils…law learned in a stew of bitterness, under the constant threat of violence, in places where millions of people live, but millions of others wish to ignore or forget.” (more…)

The Ecology of a Police State

Or, why hating cops may be the most environmentally sustainable decision you can make in your life

by Panagioti / Earth First! Newswire

The police state in effect at 2013 RNC in Tampa

The police state in effect at 2013 RNC in Tampa.[source][/source]

Imagine being an environmental activist in a world where police can get away with killing young people for vandalizing a fast food joint; where a government’s local law enforcers are collaborating with giant energy corporations to stifle opposition; where a sheriff demands funding for a program urging neighbors to snitch on anyone who says they hate said government.

Sadly it doesn’t take much imagination, does it? In case you weren’t inspired to click the embedded links above, they reference recent stories of these things occurring in the US.

In light of this reality, it’s crystal clear that global ecology will never be stabilized as long as the police have anything to do with it.

That’s right. Stopping the tar sands’ atmospheric climate bomb, keeping GMOs out of our food, and defending wolves’ ability to restore biodiversity depends on getting rid of the fuzz. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new movement initiative that aims to reduce the CO2 parts per million (ppm) by simultaneously slashing the cpms (cops per million). Cops are not only the industrial empire’s first line of defense against, well, us. They are also massive usurpers of the public financial resources that might otherwise be put towards restoring the Earth.

Where the Earth First! movement was once known for its epic wilderness corridor proposals in the ‘80s which became a basic foundation for the future of conservation biology, I think this plan too will shape the face of the ecology to come. (more…)