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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

The Dangers of Judicial Arrogance

Judges like to debate things like prisoner release programs and inmate segregation from an ivory tower point of view, and that can get people killed.

September 15, 2010  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

"The Constitution...is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may twist and shape into any form they please." --Thomas Jefferson

Every day California prisoners who have not committed capital crimes are being condemned to death by the judges who serve on the U.S. and the California Supreme Courts. The decisions by these judges that condemn the prisoners also threaten every California Department of Corrections Officer as well. And there is NO appeal process that can save them.

I don't often write an article as an advocate for California inmates. They are by most standards some of the most violent and dangerous criminals in the United States. But I feel very strongly about this issue.

Let's be clear, I'm not talking about non-violent, non-felony offenders because these aren't the kinds of people who get sent to California prisons. A few years ago California prisons were so overcrowded that the state instituted drug courts to give drug abusers options to serving time in prison. So California doesn't send just any felon to prison. Today about 70,000 of the state's approximately 170,000 prison inmates are validated members of gangs or other security threat groups, or are members of one of the four major prison gangs: Aryan Brotherhood, Black Guerrilla Family, Nuestra Familia, or the Mexican Mafia.

The lives and the safety of every California citizen are at risk because of bad decisions made by the California and the U.S. Supreme Courts. These decisions are predicated on idealistic and naïve desires spawned in the 1960's civil rights movement and in lofty academic constitutional arguments that are better suited to law school classrooms. We all admire lofty idealistic arguments, especially when they invoke the American Civil Rights Era. But sane men and women temper their wishful thinking with a dose of common sense and the safety and security of their fellow citizens in mind.

When someone is convicted of a felony and becomes a prison inmate, he or she loses many of the rights granted to all other American citizens, the first being their freedom. These rights are forfeited for the safety and security of the general public. In the most extreme circumstances an inmate, after a series of lengthy appeals, might even lose his or her right to life itself. However, our system was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and it's supposed to protect inmates from any unjustified harm while protecting the public. Unfortunately, recent decisions by the courts are making both of these tasks more difficult.

The California penal system is controlled by two forces: rule of law and American social norms and the criminal system and code of conduct of gangs and security threat groups. Only the most foolish would attempt to make important decisions without considering both forces.

Since the 1950s, California prison inmates have self-segregated by race and ethnic origins. This was not the work of the prison staff and had nothing in common with the old system of racial segregation practiced officially in the South and unofficially nationwide. From the beginning this was instituted and regulated by inmate power groups, often by minority inmates themselves for their own self protection.

Ethnic gangs are formed by members of that ethnic group. Traditional white, Hispanic, Asian, and African-American gangs are racist in nature. Sure there are occasionally exceptions when an Asian might be a member of a Hispanic gang, or a white guy a member of a black gang, but not often. These ethnic gangs fall under the control of the prison gangs in jails and prisons, and on the inside the enforcement of the criminal code of conduct becomes extreme. On the prison yard, race mixing is lethal. It provokes rioting, forcing many otherwise compliant inmates to attack other races and riot because of the prison criminal code.

As a result when the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation attempts to implement the Supreme Courts' naïve decisions and to force integration among the inmates in the prison system, violent riots have occurred, staff members have been injured, and inmates have been killed. This unnecessary bloodshed and destruction can be blamed on a few black robed men and women, and if it were possible each should be made to pay restitution to the damaged prisons and to the families of the injured and slain. In protecting the inmate's rights to de-segregated prisons, they sentenced some of them to death. I guess only the graveyards are properly integrated for the courts.

If you are a thinking person, you might ask why a prison was not forced to integrate by earlier courts. Common sense that's why. Because of the dangerous nature of the prison inmates housed there, prison safety and security has always been a priority over prisoner privileges and civil rights.

Common sense must prevail over "Kumbayah" idealistic thinking, when safety and security of the whole society is considered, instead of the nuisance filings of one individual jailhouse lawyer. Maybe judges should be made to spend some time with prison staff inside the walls to educate themselves in a practical way on the true realities of life in the prison system and the dire consequences of their rulings.

So the judges have made the prisons in California a lot more dangerous, and now they are looking to do the same to the streets. For more than a year now, the state has been saying that some 57,000 prison inmates may have to be released in order to comply with another stupid court decision from a federal three judge panel. These judges said that the move could be done without threatening public safety and might improve a public safety hazard.

The brilliant judicial thinking on this order is that the prisons are overcrowded, which makes prison living conditions difficult. So we should release 40 percent of the inmates. The Governor says only non-violent inmates will be released. Baloney! Non-violent inmates are a small minority in prison, and many dangerous and violent robbers, gang members, burglars, and rapists are routinely allowed to plead guilty to minor drug violations and other "non-violent" crimes. I'm sure that these same judges and prosecutors would scream bloody murder if one of these inmates became his or her neighbor.

So let's get this straight, California's citizen's are to be endangered by the release of thousands of dangerous inmates, which were properly tried convicted and imprisoned, so that other inmates may have better living conditions?

Some of the inmates who are to be released are members of gangs and security threat groups. All but one percent will return to their lives of crime upon release. People will die as result of these releases, as they did when California released hundreds of prisoners when the Indeterminate Sentencing Law was overturned in 1977. After that mass release, the Mexican Mafia prison Gang established its dominance outside the prison walls.

The California and U.S. Constitutions both provide for a check and balance system to correct a wayward judicial system. But the all too timid members of the Executive and Legislative branches that have sworn to uphold and defend those Constitutions and whose duties are to stop this type of legislating from the bench, have failed to put the Courts in check. It is up to us citizens, who actually work in the field and understand how laws are intended to work, to stop the crazy courts.

Remember how California threw out California Supreme Court Judge Rose Bird in 1987? Write your governor, senators, representatives, and president. Remind them that the Courts, as aloof as they might be, are still answerable to the people, and not to the ACLU, the Trial Lawyers, and Civil Rights Attorneys.

Tags: Prison Gangs, Court-Ordered Reform, Inmate Behavior


Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

wolfva @ 9/20/2010 7:22 PM

I'm beginning to think that many of our problems are caused by elevating 'intellectual elites' into positions of authority instead of regular, average, people who actually possess a modicum of common sense. One thing is for sure, I am glad I don't live in California.

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