After I learned that almost 70% of the convictions that Bonnie Dumanis boasts are plea bargains I had to ask the question….
Is the intimidation machine that grinds people into plea bargains simply systematic of our profit motivated criminal justice system, or is it intentionally implemented and organized – is there training they go through to learn to become so ruthless?
Time and time again we hear of victims being railroaded into pleas. This is my story. My 13 month old daughter was used as leverage to get my plea bargain in 2004. While still breastfeeding, she was ripped from the family. Was she immediately placed with my in-laws, an established and well-known family in the community?Â Did the fact that my father-in-law was a teacher for over 30 years and already had a background check on file with the FBI (a teaching requirement) help my daughter get back with her family?
The lies we were told were so numerous and surreal that I cannot remember them all but these are the glaring examples. . .
We would never be able to have Lily return to our home because cannabis â€œgot in the wallsâ€. We would have to move before â€œreunification.â€
The drug test on Lily, a 3 page document, loudly proclaimed on the first page, repeatedly, PRESUMED POSITIVE.Â Buried in the middle of a paragraph on the next page is â€œdrug screening results were negative.â€Â Yet, every mention from the DA and CPS went on and on about presumed positive. If they read the report, then they are lying, if not, then they are incompetent. Flip a coin.
My plea was on the condition I could continue to provide for my family (I worked 60+ hours a week legitimately). But Probation made sure I was not able to continue working by putting ridiculous restrictions on my ability to do my job. Even though my supervisor and manager were supportive, once the issue was handed over to HR the fate of my career was sealed. I lost my job and my ability to participate in a work release program, so I was remanded to George Bailey Jail for a week long criminal justice lesson while waiting for new terms of my plea allowing me to continue to work.Â One month later, Probation was at our door for a compliance visit. This consisted of 5 minutes of looking around and 20+ minutes of â€œwe know you are going through a rough time right now and we pay really well for information. . .â€
The police are not only soliciting informants, they are creating them, nurturing them (perverted use of the word, I know), and harvesting them.
I go to â€œMarijuana Anonymousâ€ and my wife goes to â€œdrug classesâ€. The classes are citing the rhesus monkey study and other studies that are bogus, arenâ€™t accepted in courts of law, andÂ that have been stricken from medical journals but are still used to continue the propaganda of prohibition in our court mandated and county funded drug treatment programs. While there, I am bombarded with messages that I am powerless, I need to be helped, and I am out of control. But I have to be there, I am fighting for my daughter. I jumped in with both feet and became involved with the program. It is what I needed to do for Lily. Period.
We made it out of that nightmare, family intact, for one reason. We had support. The support of my in-laws was and is crucial to our family now. But if I had the support of the community or had known it was there then, we would have fought the charges instead of pled. We were isolated and alone because of our belief that cannabis is medicine and the social stigma that belief still harbors.
But today we can make a difference.
Keep appraised of the court dates and show your support for the poor souls caught in the system. We NEED to show up to as many dates as we can. Fill the courtroom, fill the hallways. These actions make a difference.