“With Liberty and Justice for All”
“With Liberty and justice for all.” Those are mighty powerful words, filled with deep meaning, filled with great promise. They promise that all men, created equal in God's sight, would receive equal justice in man's sight. Was that ever true? It certainly does not appear to be true today.
- A Brief History of The Pledge of Allegiance
- The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
- Corrections for profit.
- Cases in point.
- Liberty and Justice for all.
A Brief History of The Pledge of Allegiance
The original Pledge of Allegiance, written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist Baptist minister, in 1892 read, “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” the Pledge remains the same today except that In 1923 and 1924 the National Flag Conference, under the 'leadership of the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution, changed the Pledge's words, 'my Flag,' to 'the Flag of the United States of America.' Then in1954, Congress after a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, added the words, 'under God,' to the Pledge. The Pledge was now both a patriotic oath and a public prayer. The pledge that we recite today reads, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
The 5th Amendment reads: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation.” Permit me to draw your attention to the words “ nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” I draw your attention to those words because they do not seem to apply to the people of Alabama today. The violator of the constitution is none other than the Judicial Correctional Services based in Georgia. Today there are 36 such companies operating in Georgia.
Corrections for profit.
It is all about the mushrooming of fines and fees levied by money-starved towns across the country and the for-profit businesses that administer the system. Companies like the Judicial Correctional Services are nothing more than bill collectors, but they are bill collector with a twist they have the power to put people in jail if they do not pay their fines and fees for the company's services without having their day in court, even though the Supreme Court has made clear that it is unconstitutional to jail people just because they cannot pay a fine.
Cases in point.
Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.
When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed — charged an additional fee for each day behind bars.
For that driving offense, Ms. Ray has been locked up three times for a total of 40 days and owes $3,170, much of it to the probation company. Her story is no unique.
Richard Garrett has spent a total of 24 months in jail and owes $10,000, all for traffic and license violations that began a decade ago. A onetime employee of United States Steel, Mr. Garrett is suffering from health difficulties and is without work. William M. Dawson, a Birmingham lawyer and Democratic Party activist, has filed a lawsuit for Mr. Garrett and others against the local authorities and the probation company, Judicial Correction Services.
A few more examples are Randy Miller, 39, an Iraq war veteran who had lost his job, was jailed after failing to make child support payments of $860 a month. In another case, Hills McGee, with a monthly income of $243 in veterans benefits, was charged with public drunkenness, assessed $270 by a court and put on probation through a private company. The company added a $15 enrollment fee and $39 in monthly fees. That put his total for a year above $700, which Mr. McGee, 53, struggled to meet before being jailed for failing to pay it all.
Liberty and Justice for all.
Well maybe unless you are poor, living in the deep south, and unable to pay your traffic fines. These companies sound an awful lot like the debtors prisons of early Europe to me.