A week ago a friend of mine was thrown into jail, charged with trespassing. He was innocent, but because his accuser complained loudly enough, he was tossed into jail, without an opportunity to meet with, let alone to be represented by counsel. Furthermore, he wasn’t scheduled for a bond hearing (his first opportunity to have legal representation) for nearly three weeks. Fortunately, his family was able to have his hearing moved up, and at his bond hearing six days after his incarceration began, he was released as there was not a shred of evidence against him.
In school, I was taught that part of what made America “the greatest country in the world” is that you’re always “presumed innocent until proven guilty.” At least in Virginia Beach, there’s a very good chance you’ll be judged guilty until proven innocent. My friend was actually rather lucky. Last night, I learned from a local community leader of the case of a teen-age boy who was incarcarated for six months before having a hearing.
The enormity of this problem goes unnoticed because this problem is invisible to most of us. But the fact is that 1 out of 50 American adults is in jail or prison as you read this. Not does America have the world’s largest prison population, but even our per capita rate of incarceration is the highest in the world?. Thats’ right. Not Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Not the Islamic Republic of Iran. Not the People’s Republic of China. But the Land of the Free.
So what do you do when your friend is in jail, a victim of false arrest? You try to visit him, and give him a book to cheer him and help pass the time. But if your friend is in the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility, it doesn’t work like that. This isn’t the friendly cell of Mayberry RFD. An inmate is only allowed vistors for a half-hour, once a week, through the glass. Books can not be delivered to prisoners by visitors. Books can not be shipped to prisoners from local bookstores. An inmate may only receive a book if it arrives directly from a publisher! (Too bad if it’s our of print, as many spiritual classics are.) But of course, since the jail is taking on the role of an unofficial prison, there must be a library, right? Wrong. Daily exercise, like in a state penitentiary? It’s weekly in Virginia Beach. Adequate facilities? Inmates sleep on the floor, 30 men to a 20 X 50-foot room.
Incarceration rates are soaring for minor offenses, when both violent crimes and property crimes are at their lowest rates ever recorded. That’s right. So why do you feel so afraid when the fact is you’ve never been safer from crime, at least not in the last thirty years? Start recognizing cultural lies and marketed fear around you. Open your eyes.
Children have no choice but to accept the stories they are told about the world. But part of adulthood means seeking the truth. Spiritual awakening is not really about seeking bliss. It’s about ending the deception which the mechanisms of our fears, desires, and conditioning feed us in the Matrix. Here are some of them:
The system works.
It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do.
If you didn’t deserve it, you wouldn’t be there.
We spend too much trying to rehabilitate people.
Sure we bombed them, but it was for their own good.
If we kill all the bad guys, all the bad guys will be gone.
It’s time to determine to discard lies and seek the truth. That’s Jedi life in the Real World.