I have an idea for a story and I am hoping you'll might be interested. I heard on talk radio that 70% of Phoenix, Maricopa County, or possibly AZ states budget (I'm not sure which) goes goes for the 3 "C's" (Cops, Courts, and Corrections). That seems a bit bloated considering we're looking at closing parks and some school districts have yet to hire back all the teachers previously laid off.
What I propose is a story called "Cookie Fed Cops" but it trickles down to the Prosecutors, jails, and prisons also. The gist is: If you have a record or specifically a number from prison in Maricopa County you need not commit a crime. If the police get a bead on you you can be charged with just about anything and must work your way through the court system because you've been a bad actor in the past. Your offered a plea agreement and basically must sign it because the alternative for not taking it is to go to trial.
This effectively circumvents the justice system in three ways 1) You have a prosecutor sentencing you. 2) The "historical priors" are coupled with the implied threat of "prior acts" that allows to introduction of every case you've been charged with including those never prosecuted. This often leads a jury to the assumption that the state "gave you a break by withdrawing charges". At the very least a jury has to question if 'where there's smoke there must be fire'. 3) Finally, it allows everyone from Joe Aripo to Andrew Thomas to make inaccurate claims as to their effectiveness because most felons arrested will take a year or two even if innocent because its a lot better then 5-12 they will get if they fight the case.
I am a 3 time loser (100177). I got out after going back to kill my number in 2006. I'm 45 missed half my sons youth from repeated (and deserved) incarcerations. In total I've given the state a little more than 9 of the last 15 years on and off. When I got out in 2006 I had a grandbaby. Understandably my son and daughter in law felt it would be better if I wasn't around the baby "for the time being". I had friends who cringed because they didn't need the bulls**t either. I figured I was getting to old for jail and I better give real life a try this time. I cleaned up my act. I got a job. I started college. I had an honest hardworking gentleman friend, my own apartment in the Arcadia district, a pristine driving record, 2 1/2 cars, insurance, and no police contact for 3 years.
All that changed officially 12/03/2008 when I was charged with Possession and Paraphernalia. The court appearances, TASC and Pretrial service appointments required each meant at least a half day missed work and I wasn't convicted or even tried yet.
As if that wasn't bad enough I was stopped no less then 6 times for "routine traffic stops" all by Phoenix Police (specifically Squaw Peak) from mid January to mid February alone even though I drive mostly in East and N.W Phoenix. Each of these stops required at least one court appearance to go along with the court ordered TASK, PreTrial Services, and Superior Court appearances required for the 12/03/2008 case mentioned previously. None were for moving violations or defective equipement. Many were in fact ridiculous. I received one ticket because my insurance agent printed my insurance card upside down--seriously. That one alone took two trips to court and a drivers license suspension while I waited for my agent to send 'official' documentation of my policy. I had/have a pristine driving record no accidents DWI/Drugs, or speeding tickets. Of the 8 charges I received only two stuck; a ticket for no license because I didn't physically have it in my possession and with me at the time of the stop, and one ticket for suspended plates which coincidentally was the smoking gun on officer veracity in the 12/03/2008 case.
Since I refuse to figuratively bend over and take it. I've read and googled and read and read till the case citations scrambled my brain but I ultimatly won the first time--sorta. Commissioner Budrows court "mistakenly" noted case events as 'Withdrawn by the State' instead of the reality which is I motioned to dismiss because of the cops repeated failed to appear after being ordered to do so by the court. Because of the mistake the state was allowed to refile. The refiling resulted in thier 'mistakenly' misspelled my name so the post office sent the notification of a second filing back and a bench warrant was issued. That cost me an overnight and a friends public humiliation when her house was surrounded even though I had called to reschedule the original court date after a friend gave me a heads up and there was a MINUTE ENTRY on file acknowledging same.
All tolled I've lost numerous friends, coworkers, school alumni and teachers hard earned respect. I've lost a gentleman friend in part because he was tired of the crap. I've lost a job. I've had my apartment burglarized. I ultimately lost the apartment, and yes went on to pay the default judgment which was reduced thanks to the kindness of both the Tony and Mr Finley who were witnessing my downfall. I've had two friends houses surrounded--one because of a $15 parking ticket. I've had police visit a third friends house touting charges never filed. I've spent one overnight (2 days) because of "clerical error". I had my car towed "mistakenly" because of "clerical error" only to be released after fighting for 2 days at no charge. I've spent 5 days in max with no working water and on lock down only to be released when the state failed to press charges--no surprise since 'the case' never happened. The kicker; I should have been released in 2 days (48 hours), not 5 days later and I get out only to find my tires and rims ($2000 Mazaties no less) had been looted and my car was sitting on blocks, my roommate was forced to ask me to move--and rightly so, because she cares for her elderly mother who doesn't need the 'excitement'. In short I've actually lost everything, I was eating at church soup kitchens (very good actually) and slept by the Tempe Town Lake because I had nowhere to go.
I am looking at turning my self in; yet again, for another 'clerical error': an FTA in the 12/03/2008 refiled case that resulted from the 5 days spent in MCSO custody over the case that was never filed. I have repeated tried to resolve this with Ms Badrow's court yelp she has my case again; however, I have been told repeatedly by her clerks I must self surrender. I will have the last $600 of the $1800 bond she's required me to post if I want my freedom while I fight the refiling of the 12/03/2008 case by 09/15/2009. I could go on and on but this letter is convoluted enough and I have to admit sounds far fetched. I swear I can offer documentation on every word I've written and the fact that the cop repeatedly failed to show should speak for itself. I realize I may be setting myself up for a conviction by going public but I also have a real problem with the McDonalds style fast food justice being handed down by commissioners masquerading as judges; prosecutors prescribing time; and cookie fed cops collecting salaries on my and my friends back. I hate the wasted potential of our youth that results from the lack of teachers and activities that results from the bloated budget required when a system needlessly sponges taxes better spent elsewhere. I hate the ease with which young adults are charged then chaperoned through EDC Drug Court by overworked Public Pretenders for lame cases that wouldn't even merit a ticket in another hardball state like TX much less a second look in a liberal state like CA.
I have friends with similar stories and the documentation. We don't want fame, money, or help with our cases. We just want Victor Voter to know why his kid couldn't go swimming full season this year.
In short Persecution masquerading as Prosecution benefits no one and hardly serves the ends of justice.
Thank you, I'll step off my soapbox now..smile
Natascha 'Tascha' Tournaytascha.firstname.lastname@example.org