Atlanta “ends” Cash Bail requirements

(Activists celebrate the passing of a new law that exempts bail requirements on certain misdemeanor offenses.)

 

On Tuesday, February 6th, 2017, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, signed an ordinance Tuesday that eliminates the Municipal Court’s cash bond requirement for certain low-level offenders who otherwise would be forced to sit in jail due to being unable to afford a bond.

The Atlanta Mayor stated, “…It makes no fiscal sense to hold someone in jail over a $500 bond”.

According to the many reports, after six hours of public comment and debate Monday afternoon, the City Council approved the ordinance 13-0. The bail bond industry itself appeared to be the main opponent of this law during public comments. However, citizens largely supported this effort. Sure, the bail-bonds industry may lose a little money, alas, families will be safe from the racketeering system that our legal system has become!

Like in all matters of the law, we have to strike a balance between liberty and security; Protecting the logical rights of men and their properties, while not creating monopolies that only the wealthy and the governments themselves can understand or afford to participate in. That’s the problem with our current legal system. The legal system is a glorified socialized “gun” that we use to point at one another in a “civilized” courtroom. However, it doesn’t make society any fairer or safer when that shared use of force can only be afforded by certain groups of people. Namely, the extremely poor who can claim to be “indigent” , or the extremely rich who can afford the best lawyers or to pay off judges. It is the middle-class who has no remedy. They don’t qualify for low-income exceptions, and they cannot afford a legal team of their own. Where do they go?

The legal industry and the for profit prison system, nicknamed the “Prison Industrial Complex”by many, benefits the state departments, judges, prison investors, bail bondsmen, lawyers, and police officers looking to keep their quota numbers up. However, this sort of “for profit” legal system creates another hurdle for the poor looking to get a leg-up.

Public urination, driving on a suspended license, an unpaid traffic ticket, simple possession of marijuana, — these are not charges synonymous with dangerous criminals who may flee the country or state, they are merely “infractional” petty offenders. To hold these people on a bond, who probably can’t afford the bail money, will sit in jail over such infractions whereas they are likely to lose their jobs and further slip into the cycle of legal penalties which facilitates poverty and loss of family ties.

The system doesn’t seem to care. As long as they are pulling in revenue for the system, lawmakers appear oblivious to long-term impacts on low-income families looking to escape poverty. According to statisticbrain.comthe average police officer in the USA pulls in about $300,000 per year in revenue from citations. That’s about $6,232,000,000 per year nationally! That’s a lot of revenue for infractions that could largely be forgiven, warned, or overlooked.  If I receive a seat-belt ticket, and am forced to pay the state $50, how does that solve any problems? If I cannot afford the ticket, my license will be suspended, taking away my ability to get to and from work, further forcing my family into the bellows of poverty. If I get caught driving on a suspended license, I go jail.

Holding a prisoner isn’t cheap either. It costs taxpayers about $31,000 per year to feed, clothe, and house an inmate.  That’s about $85 per day, much more than the cost of your average citation. But, the prison investors, bail bondsmen, law makers, government workers and attorneys who make money mitigating these issues don’t care about tax-payers or at risk families. They care about profit margins and expanding department budgets!

Some may say, “Just follow the law and it won’t be a problem!”.  We must ask ourselves, why does the United States have the largest prison population in the world? Over 70% of our inmates are non-violent! It’s a money scheme! It costs $500 to legally operate a lemonade stand in America! The average American commits three misdemeanors and a felony per day without even realizing it! Literally every inch of American life has a statute or code attached to it! If the legal system can’t get you for running a red-light, maybe they can get you for being a “public nuisance” or for the bumper on your car being one inch lower than what statute allows. The more laws we create, the more criminals we create by default! It is an inadvertent consequence stemming from good intentions; or perhaps it is all designed purposely to be this way? Or perhaps, the truth is somewhere in the middle?

Regardless, this reform effort that the city of Atlanta has made, thanks to so many passionate advocates and leaders like Atlanta based attorney Gerald A. Griggs, who championed this effort, is a welcomed change! It is so rare for attorneys and politicians to come together on behalf of the poor. When these instances happen, they deserve all of our applause and credit.! I salute Mayor Lance-Bottoms and all of those who fought for the repealment of such archaic bail practices.

Sure, if a man is wanted for malicious battery,murder, rape, robbery, or grand theft auto, it makes sense to put a bail requirement on him/her. Alas, those who are subject to a bail requirement for petty offenses are merely pieces of evidence proving what a corrupt system we have. This new change in the law is an excellent move and I pray that all cities follow suit!  This may seem like a small victory, but in reality, it can potentially turn into a huge wave of momentum in terms of criminal law reform.

Please send your special thanks to:

Gerald A. Griggs,

https://www.geraldagriggs.com/

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms

https://www.atlantaga.gov/government/mayor-s-office/meet-the-mayor

 

—And all other activists who assisted in this effort!

 

-Randell Stroud

Nalini-Global

2018

 

Where is the International Day of The Boy?

Today the United Nations declared that October 11th, would now be considered “International Day of The Girl”, bringing awareness to the fact that 1 in 4 girls world-wide will become married before the age of 14.  Girls are also more likely to end up as sex trafficking slaves than boys are. Girls are also subject to genital mutilation in developing countries like Sudan, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia.

As these girls turn into women, 1 in 4 of them will end up in an abusive relationship.  Being a girl/woman, in human society is rife with challenges that should never be ignored or marginalized. However, as a gender studies enthusiast, I noticed that there is no international day of the “boy”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to studies, “Fathers Day” generates 1/4 of the income from sales as compared to “Mothers Day”.  If Fathers are being ignored in their importance, then why not their sons too? Makes sense….

We must recognize that boys/men face unique challenges that girls/women do not. For example,  According to “Child-soldier.org”,  in the last 10 years, over two million child soldiers ranging from the ages of 4-15 years old, have been killed in combat. In places where child soldiers are used, more than 95% of the time, the soldiers will be boys. In fact, the military draft, including the United States, only targets men. In most countries, women are not required to sign up for conscription.

As far as genital mutilation is concerned, over 70% of newborn male babies are circumcised. A process that is not medically necessary and causes extreme pain and disfigurement to the male reproductive organs.  The foreskin that is removed contains thousands of nerve-endings, once removed, many pleasure sensing nerves and self-cleaning organisms are removed in the process. After the operation is complete, the hospitals keep the foreskins and use them for other medical procedures. Essentially, they are harvesting free organs, mainly because this sort of mutilation is socially acceptable. However, when we discuss “Female Circumcisions”, then suddenly it becomes a human rights issue.

Boys who will later turn in men are subject to many shocking statistics. Men live up to 3-5 years less than women. Men are 3 times more likely to commit suicide. Twice as likely to file for Bankruptcy due to societies demands on them to be “bread-winners”, and 1 in 7 men will end up in a relationship with an abusive woman. While many governments sponsor domestic violence shelters for women, none exist for the male counter-parts.

Men who fight for legal custody of their children will only win 7% of the time, and only after spending upwards to $30K on lawyer fees. Men are often alienated from their children in family law courts. While the courts have created agencies that enforce child-support and tend to favor custody towards women, the struggles of fathers and having enforced access to their children and/or receiving financial assistance from the government is almost unheard of; hence why there is a Child Support Enforcement Agency but there is no Child Visitation Enforcement Agency. This alienation not only causes severe depression in fathers who are alienated from their sons, but also for the children being alienated. Men are almost always the targets in cases where one parent is alienating the child from the other parent because custody is rarely granted to men to begin with. Boys who grow up with fathers are much more likely to end up as criminals,sexual deviants, and/or less successful in their jobs.

Men’s contributions are also ignored in the professional field.

Men are also more likely to take on higher-paying but also higher-risk jobs such as demolitions, military, law enforcement, construction, high-rise window cleaners, public sanitation, and oil-rig operators. Jobs that come with many health-risks. While women do exist in these fields, their numbers are very low.

Girls face unique challenges, especially in sexually charged situations. Girls also face workplace discrimination because employers fear that once they become mothers, they will not devote time to their work, thus they sometimes avoid hiring them. Is this fair? Absolutely not! In no way, shape, or form am I marginalizing the struggles that girls and women face. They are real!

But, have we gotten so focused on developing the rights of girls and women that boys and men have been chopped down in the process? This is why Nalini-Global prefers the term of “Universal Human Rights” instead of women’s rights, men’s rights, immigrants rights, ect…

The bottom line is, “HUMANS” have rights! If we are only capable of fighting for the rights of those people who look and feel as we do, then we inadvertently become discriminatory ourselves. For the misogynists who claims that “women should get back in the kitchen”, and for the misandry Feminists who calm that “Men are nothing more than sperm donors to us.” , are both proponents of extremism.

Instead of having a Women’s Rights March or a “Men’s Rights March”, why not have a “Gender Equality” march that addresses the grievances of both men and women? Because there is a bias! It is easy to fight for the rights of those who look like us. But, if we truly believe in equality, we must also ask that our sisters support their brothers, and our brothers support their sisters.

Should we celebrate mothers, girls, and women in general for the contributions that they give to our society and to our homes? Absolutely!

Should we celebrate fathers, boys, and men in general for the contributions that they give to our society and to our homes? Absolutely!

I don’t want to live in a gender neutral society. There are differences between men and women. We are not biologically equal. Both sexes contain physical and mental advantages and disadvantages. Let us start by celebrating the things that make women and men unique, and start talking about the things that negatively impact women and men.  We may be separate in our biology, but in our spirits, and our claim to human rights, we are absolutely equal!

So to our boys who will someday become men…

Thank you for being strong, masculine, and determined. We celebrate your masculinity and we fathers will also love and support you. We will help you become strong leaders, loyal husbands, hard workers, and diligent advocates for social change. Keep up the good work.

Nalini-Global

2017

-Randell D Stroud

Dedicated to Eli Ross Sayson.

My time with Edward Snowden’s Attorney, Ben Wizner

(Wizner, Randell Stroud (Founder of Nalini-Global)

It was October of 2015, I got the call from an old colleague  that Ben Wizner was in town  at the Nashville Public Library giving a lecture on cyber-security and how it relates to civil liberties concerns. Mr. Wizner boasts an impressive resume consisting of visits to Guantanamo Bay, handling a plethora of civil rights cases , and most recently the handling of Edward Snowden’s seditious charges of leaking classified information during his tenure working for the National Security Administration which showed that the government was monitoring its citizens’ cell phone conversations and internet usage among other things.  Snowden  currently resides in Russia under assylum status and is still wanted by the US government to stand trial for his actions.

Recent polls show that most Americans have mixed feelings towards him. Alongside his leak of  the NSA’s deemed “Spy Program”,  also known as “PRISM”, document leaks also showed a black budget of $52 million dollars and  revealed the United Kingdom’s similar spy program code-named “Tempora”. Information regarding covert operations  overseas were also revealed.

Because of this, some Americans argue that his actions endangered our nation from a foreign policy military perspective and could have negative blowback consequences towards our national security. On the other hand, civil rights leaders praise him for exposing what is seen as “overarching government intrusion”.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the facts gathered from the leak to pose many interesting questions.  Should Snowden have alerted his superiors and complained through a proper investigative agency? Is the government going too far? Should we have privacy concerns? How should we treat whistleblowers? Should we create more agencies to oversee these programs so that whistleblowers are not needed? What can we do to protect ourselves online from cyber-attacks? Should people really be put on watchlists for visiting a controversial website even by accident?

After the event was over, I pulled Ben aside and decided to pick his brain a bit and engage in a more in-depth conversation.  We both agreed that more oversight into cyber-intelligence gathering and the practice of placing people arbitrarily on “Government watchlists” needs definite reform. The most important take away from our conversation could be made in two points.

  1. How do we balance security and liberty? How can we protect our countrymen while still respecting our people’s right to privacy and their ability to speak freely without fear?
  2. If something appears unconstitutional or inhumane, we as a society need to gather and have discussions about it, especially on the local political levels.

Mr. Wizner believes that our leaders in Washington are making too many decisions on a “whim”, whereas more consideration, transparency, and a shift in our culture of detachment needs to change. My meeting with Mr. Wizner was very thought provoking and certainly does open Pandora’s box.

Is the NSA violating the 4th Amendment? Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, engaged in a nearly two day long filibuster to explain why he thinks they are, whereas others like Governor Mitt Romney and Lindsey Graham, believe that the program is a necessity in the modern cyber age in order to keep us protected from terrorism.

Obi-Wan Kenobi from the Star Wars series once said, ” Everyone is right, from a certain point of view. ” Just as in foreign policy, those who participate in war never see themselves as the enemy, but always as the liberator, but perhaps both sides have some sins to share.

Regardless of where you stand on this issue, I think we can all agree that its time we come together as a nation for a “house meeting” at the roundtable, and start becoming more politically active and engaging in conversation.  Its a good start to an age old argument..

Is it possible to have security while respecting liberty? Does one weaken the other?

Let us know what you think!

Nalini-Global 

2017

Latinos Protest Record-Breaking Obama Deportations

 

Last Friday, approximately 15-25 Immigrants and sympathizers, marched alongside the “Tennessee Immigration and Refugee Rights Coalition” to speak out against the practice of deportation. Under the Obama administration, deportations have reached record numbers, almost twice as many than that under President Bush.

Mexican Americans and latinos have began to rescind their support for President Obama.  After the U.S. backed gun smuggling scandal coined, “Operation Fast And Furious”, which lead to many Mexican deaths, and now record numbers of deportations being made against latinos, the tone has changed from support to fear in regards to this administration.

Our team approached respectfully and courteously holding our “Fight 4 World Peace” signature sign, and was met with smiles,high-fives, and was invited to walk alongside them. Police carefully monitored the event, yet the protesters were respectful and paid no mind. After the event was over, everyone peacefully dispersed, including the police, without incident.

Watch the video above as one of the organizers who went by the name of “Veronica”, came to the logical conclusion that humans are not “Aliens from another planet”, but “Human beings who have the right to move and travel. I believe that President Obama can stop this.”   As the birds move to more fertile grounds without violence or regulation during the change of seasons, we must ask ourselves….

Have humans de-humanized themselves? What separates us? Before the invention of maps, borders, countries, citizenry, and other artificial constructs, what did it mean to be “human” and were early humans even conscious of their humanity? Perhaps their unconsciousness was a blessing in disguise as their lack of perception made it difficult to distinguish. Now, with our supposed superior intellect, we distinguish from one another with such harshness and disregard to a human’s will and necessity to not only survive, but thrive.

Tennessee has become a popular immigration destination in recent years to Egyptian, Nepali, and Latino sub-groups.  Put yourself in their shoes. What if the conditions here become what is there? What would you do? When we strip away language, nationality, and religion, what are we left with? Humans who are seeking food, clothing, shelter and most importantly……social bonding with other loving and welcoming humans.

If  we are to live in such a regulated society, can we not atleast make the transition from one place to another more practical, humanizing, and streamlined?

The only thing that separates us from the animals is the belief that we are separate. We think of being as a separate species makes us superior, but in what ways?….in what ways? One reason can no longer be enough. We can do better than this…

 

-Nalini Global

2016