Take It Off

I was 23 years old when I took my first job as a juvenile corrections officer. I’ve since worked with adults, males, females, low-security, high-security, and been on SRT (what some call SORT in other agencies, or Special [Operations] Response Team, sometimes referred to by inmates as “the ninjas”). I spent just enough time in it to become slightly jaded, and other life experiences have made me downright cynical. I learned a lot during my time there. Other corrections officers would know terms that the general public rarely, if ever, knows – duck, keistering, fish, hooch, cellie, dog, SHU, soldier, PC, shank, etc. Oh, I almost forgot every officer’s favorite – gassing! Ask your local CO what that one means. None of those words mean what you might think they do “on the outs”.

One of the most important things I learned was that you want to be very, very careful who gets in and what they bring with them.

Inmates have all day to come up with amazing ways to smuggle contraband into a facility. In the past year or so, it hit the news that even Charles Manson was able to get a cell phone and call a reporter. Cell phones are a huge no-no in prisons. No staff are ever allowed to bring cell phones into a facility. If an inmate gets his hands on one, he can do unbelievable damage. He can take pictures of weaknesses in security, run his black market deals, and stalk his victims. I’ll never forget being out on the perimeter in a truck with the 12-gauge at 0200 one VERY cold morning in 2007 when, all of a sudden, I slammed on the brakes at what I heard. I was listening to the only hard rock/heavy metal station in Southern Arizona when the DJ played a caller who said, “yeah, I’m an inmate at such-and-such facility in Florence…”

A cell phone will be kept hidden in pieces by several inmates, who will reassemble it and pass it around. Each inmate pays to use it – they trade whatever they have of value, sometimes commissary items (food), most often contraband or favors. If even one piece is discovered, the whole operation goes down and they have to find an inventive way to get another one. If a guy is actually caught using it and the phone itself is confiscated, everyone involved goes down for it, and the guy who gets caught – which, in this case, was a new guy looking to show off on his favorite radio station – will catch hell for a very long time. That morning, we shut down the facility, and another officer took the truck while I marched into the housing unit where the inmate who owned the familiar voice was housed. You wouldn’t believe the look on that inmate’s face when he refused to rat his accomplices out and Sarge announced to the entire block, “gentlemen, one of your neighbors has just gotten himself caught using a cell phone to call a radio station. Officer Maguire was good enough to listen to that station and catch the call tonight! Until that phone appears in my hand, you will ALL be locked down!”

And wouldn’t you know it? The very next thing we heard was, “hey, Maguire! You listen to the heavy shit! You’re alright!”

It took two days to find the few pieces that remained of the phone. One inmate admitted breaking his part into tiny pieces and flushing them. No evidence of who was contacted would ever be retrieved.

The Supreme Court finally ruled today on Florence v. Burlington. Albert Florence was arrested on a warrant during a traffic stop by a New Jersey state trooper in 2005. Back in 1998, he fled a traffic stop; by 2003, he fell behind on his payments and skipped a parole hearing. A warrant was issued for his arrest. Within days he appeared, paid the fines and worked everything out, but a clerical error left the warrant sitting open – two years later he was taken to jail. He didn’t have bail money. He was strip-searched twice – once at the initial holding facility, a second time at the transferring facility.

Florence sued, claiming his Fourth Amendment rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure had been violated. The National Constitution Center took on his case. Their entire argument revolved around the fact that he shouldn’t have been arrested, and once he was, jail officials had no reason to be suspicious of contraband – thus they were wrong, according to the suit, for strip-searching him.

I never liked doing strip searches, even on females (I simply cannot refer to inmates as “women” – it’s not a dehumanizing thing, it’s just my professional way of mentally separating inmates from people I might mingle with in my personal life). If you had to strip search an inmate who hadn’t showered or you could tell felt awkward, it was just an unpleasant experience, particularly if your subject actually did have something hidden in a body cavity. Women can hide some pretty unbelievable objects. You just kinda went robotic when you pulled that duty.

Officers don’t enjoy it, but we’d do it because it could have a serious impact on our own safety if we didn’t. Inmates considered low-risk have been caught with razor blades taped under their testicles and all manner of objects you wouldn’t believe stashed in a place that God never intended for that particular purpose. Every inmate, no matter what their risk, has to be searched. Thankfully, SCOTUS agreed on a vote of 5-4.

I find Florence’s argument patently ridiculous. He says, “I was no danger, they didn’t have any reasonable suspicion, so they had no right!” Five justices disagreed, thank God. Yes, it was wrong that Florence was arrested. He absolutely had a right to sue the court. To claim that he shouldn’t have been strip-searched is dangerous at best. Every inmate is treated the same, lest a mistake be made and the wrong person manage to smuggle a very deadly weapon into the facility and wreak havoc. For instance, low-risk inmates are allowed to work as “trustees” – they are loosely supervised workers who do various jobs throughout a facility, including collecting trash. Those trustees also collect trash from outside the gates, where visitors dispose of their garbage – and more frequently attempt to disguise dangerous contraband as trash for trustees to collect and deliver to high-risk inmates.

Yes, there’s a litany of very good reasons why every single inmate is strip-searched when entering any facility. Even seemingly innocuous items such as bobby pins, toothpicks, bubble gum, and ball-point pens (all of which are contraband) can pose a serious security and safety risk. I’ve seen nunchaku (lesser-educated people might spell it “num-chucks”) constructed of tightly rolled magazines, masking tape and less than one foot of bungee cord. I’ve seen inmates hollow out the soles of their shoes to sneak narcotics in with. Shredded sheets and t-shirts could be used to wrap the handles of carefully-sharpened pieces of glass and metal, making very impressive knives.

What I find humorous is the dissenting opinion – not surprisingly written by Justice Breyer and joined by Ginsburg, Kagan and Sotomayor, four of the most embarrasingly liberal justices to hold seats in the Court. The very first thing Breyer does is cry about strip searches being an invasion of privacy; the next thing he does is prattle about what constitutes a reasonable search. The entire dissenting opinion completely ignores the fact that we’re talking about jail and prison inmates. These are people who have broken the law. When you go to jail, quite a few liberties are taken away. Jails routinely restrict inmate access to newspapers and news programming on TV to avoid bragging rights among inmates when their case hits the news. Inmates are required to wear jail uniforms, adhere to wake-up and lights-out calls, follow strict meal times and court schedules, and keep their cells clean. Breyer wails that strip searching is degrading to inmates; if that’s going to be your argument, the next thing you’ll hear is, “they can’t search our cells! That’s our private property!”

And, really, if this is going to be their argument, then they’re setting the stage for convicted violent felons to sue for the right to own firearms once they’re freed from prison. Hey, if there’s no reason to be suspicious, why would anyone have a right to tell them they can’t have a weapon? Background checks are degrading! I should never have to disclose to anyone that I’ve been incarcerated!

Bottom line, the safety of officers and other inmates is vastly more important than the comfort of someone who is in jail for a reason. Police and corrections officers are not there to determine the legitimacy of a warrant; those are issued by judges, and it is the courts that have to answer for mistakes on warrants. I feel for Florence because he shouldn’t have had a warrant out for his arrest, and yes, the county and courts should have been sued for their error. If the liberal four really want a reason why they’re wrong, they can talk to the families of corrections officers who have been killed in the line of duty by inmates who managed to obtain or make weapons despite these searches.

You know what the hilarious part about this is? The same liberals who would side with Florence have no problem at all with TSA agents groping us in airports. That is a regular laugh riot, I tell you.

Supreme Court Backs Ashcroft!

I knew this was going to wind up happening and I also knew liberal heads would explode.  Now, tonight on CNN or MSNBC, I am sure we’ll hear that justice was not done because of Bush’s right-winged Supreme Court and the following will be completely ignored:

But even the justices who disagreed about the constitutional issue agreed that Ashcroft could not be personally sued for his role in al-Kidd’s arrest.

 

The Right to Self Defense

Self defense is a concept that shouldn’t be in question. Every creature on the planet understands the need to defend oneself. Animals will use all manner of defense mechanisms to protect themselves, their homes and their young from any threat, whether real or perceived. In this day and age, however, it seems that there are a growing number of people who react emotionally to the subject of self defense rather than thinking about it rationally. Of course, when the emotions are in, the logic is out.

Such emotional reactionism has resulted in strict bans on weapons in countries all over the world. Most stringent are laws in England, Japan and Australia. In Australia it’s gotten so bad that even knives are banned. Scottish sword dancers, popular with tourists in that country, are required to have permits for their blades and keep them locked in safes when not being used for a show. Why? Violent crime has skyrocketed in those countries, and criminals not using guns still use inferior weapons such as knives, bats, chains and other items to aid them in victimizing a now-disarmed populace. Here in the United States, several cities and a couple of states had done their level best to head in that direction with gun bans. In 2008 the ruling from the Supreme Court in DC v. Heller determined that the District of Columbia could not ban handguns. The ruling stated that the Second Amendment extends to DC and all people have the right to carry handguns in self defense.

Today, the Supreme Court has handed down its ruling in McDonald v. City of Chicago. The Second Amendment applies to every individual in America, and local and state authorities can no longer enact such bans in defiance of the Constitution.

James Feldman was the lawyer sent to represent Chicago before the Court. He argued – quite weakly, might I add – that, “The right it protects is not implicit in the concept of ordered liberty. States and local governments have been the primary locus of firearms regulation in this country for the last 220 years. Firearms unlike anything else that is the subject of a provision of the Bill of Rights are designed to injure and kill.”

Well, DUH!

Yes, Mr. Feldman, guns are designed to injure and kill. They have been used by hunters and soldiers for that very purpose since their inception. The problem with such technology is that once it’s created, it can’t be undone. The genie can’t be put back in the bottle. Guns are out there, and the bad guy will always do whatever they can to procure the tools they need to aid their quest to take whatever they can from whomever they find by whatever means necessary. That’s not paranoia, it’s mere reality. It happens every day. Far too many people in this world walk around believing that violent criminals can be reasoned with, much the same way they believe violent despots such as Saddam Hussein can be reasoned with. If we just give them a chance and sit down and talk they’ll see it our way, right? Well, I tell you what…you can try that all you want. I won’t have you forcing that to be MY only option.

What’s even more outrageous was what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. “If the notion is that these are principles that any free society would adopt, well, a lot of free societies have rejected the right to keep and bear arms,” came the dissenting opinion. That reeks more than John Kerry’s “global litmus test” remarks in 2004. I’m sorry, Justice Ginsburg, but you are NOT in the business of applying our laws as defined by other nations. You are not appointed to the bench to hold our laws up against those of other governments to determine whether they’ll be popular. Your job, as a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America, is to interpret OUR law. Period. There is no other method to hold them to but our own. I am tired of hearing from politicians and judges in this country who think that we need to measure ourselves against everyone else. How can you expect us to care what every other “free” society rejects when their archaic laws have resulted in extremely high crime rates?

Sorry, hon. My give-a-damn’s busted.

More than being expected to agree with soft sentences for hardened criminals, I am infuriated that the liberal element in this country would dare to reduce me to a whimpering, whining dolt, forced to beg for my life from some uneducated thug whose sole purpose is to provide for his own pleasure. I beg for nothing. I sure as hell won’t beg for my life. As long as I am alive, I will use any means within my rights to defend myself, my home, and those I love in this world. If that means at some point I may have to actually unholster my sidearm, take aim, squeeze that trigger and put a bullet between the eyes of my attacker…well, I have two words for you:

TAX BREAK.

Go Away, Judical Activists–No, Wait, Come Back!

I’m going to make our liberal readers’ heads spin around. They may even vomit split pea soup.

Last month, the US Supreme Court made a decision that took a large portion of the country completely by surprise. In a 5-4 decision, a decades-old set of rules governing campaign finance was stricken down. The majority decision was that these campaign finance laws flew in the face of the First Amendment by denying corporations or other groups their freedom to spend their money as they like. Here’s where I send the liberals into conniptions:

I agree with the ruling.

In light of the mass amounts of money being poured into Democrat coffers by trial lawyers, labor unions and other special interests groups, I’m not keen on the implications that this has. I don’t like the idea of special interests being able to put even more money into liberal or even socialist causes. It is not, however, about what I like or don’t like; it’s about what’s right, and according to our Constitution, laws putting strict caps on how people spend their money were wrong.

What’s more, the minority opinion wasn’t based on law necessarily. It was based more on the implications that I just discussed rather than anything else. What Obama and all of the liberals who blindly follow him don’t realize is that it is not the job of the judicial branch to legislate or decide what’s best for America. Their job is to interpret the law in the light of the Constitution.

What was that about activist judges…?

Then, in a first-ever move for a sitting President, Obama took his opportunity during the SOTU Address to take a very public, very catty swipe at the justices. And he did it with all nine of the justices sitting directly in front of him. Democrats, in keeping with the new liberal ideal, jumped to their feet. Those sitting behind the justices even leaned in to make sure they really heard their displeasure. It was a display of unbelievable disrespect the likes of which we have never seen. Every Democrat in office deserves to be censured for it.

It is one thing to challenge a judicial decision during Congressional sessions and hearings. It is another entirely to stand up during such a revered event and scold the judiciary in such wanton fashion. Our system of checks and balances isn’t perfect, but it has worked for more than 230 years. Trashing those judges to their faces in front of Congress and the entire nation was a shameful display not unlike a two-year-old screaming and kicking his mother in the shins for not buying him something at the store.

If the Democrats want to pitch a temper tantrum about not getting their way, fine–they can do it at home after we vote them out of office.

Obama versus Thomas

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfblJvKXiP0]

Wow – big surprise!

Obama disagrees with Thomas’s positions and also would not have nominated Scalia.

In my opinion, there are two types of black men.  The ones who celebrate and honor Martin Luther King’s work by using their equality to advance themselves independently without affirmative action, the ones who have too much pride to play the race card and to hang around pastors who believe everything is to be blamed on white America.

Then, there’s Obama.

The Pot Calling the Kettle “Inexperienced”

I feel like cussing because this is so f***ing ridiculous.

On CNN’s debate, Obama actually said that of all the Supreme Court Justices he would not appoint, it would be Clarence Thomas because he was too young and inexperienced.

Wow.

Hallelujah! Guns Are Legal!

I was a happy boy this morning.  The Supreme Court affirmed what conservatives knew all along – the Second Amendment to the Constitution affords American citizens the right to bear arms.  Go figure!

The 5-4 majority opinion was authored by Antoin Scalia and joined by Justices Thomas, Roberts, Alito and Kennedy.  Thank you Mister President for giving us Alito and Roberts.  What a relief.  Here is the decision in a nutshell.

Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said that an individual right to bear arms is supported by “the historical narrative” both before and after the Second Amendment was adopted.

The Constitution does not permit “the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home,” Scalia said. The court also struck down Washington’s requirement that firearms be equipped with trigger locks or kept disassembled, but left intact the licensing of guns.

Scalia noted that the handgun is Americans’ preferred weapon of self-defense in part because “it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police.”

Scalia’s opinion dealt almost exclusively with self-defense in the home, acknowledging only briefly in his lengthy historical analysis that early Americans also valued gun rights because of hunting.

The brevity of Scalia’s treatment of gun ownership for hunting and sports-shooting is explained by the case before the court. The Washington law at issue, like many gun control laws around the country, concerns heavily populated areas, not hunting grounds.

I will echo the sentiment of other conservative commentators in expressing my disbelief that 4 justices actually dissented.  The Second Amendment is clear.  And the writings of our forefathers clearly place this into proper context.

Nevertheless – here we go again.  This was a 5-4 decision.  Are you folks beginning to understand the stakes in November?  The person we elect as President will make nominations that will make a difference for a long time to come.  Conservatives have no room for error.

SCOTUS Overreaches Again

I know I’m a little late on this one, but I want to put it out there.  In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo detainees should be afforded the same legal rights as an American citizen. Andrew McBride sums up the decision in his WSJ opinion piece.  I’m not a legal expert, but McBride succintly spells out the ramifications of this sorry decision –

Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion confuses the civilian criminal justice system and the waging of war. The Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court places many roadblocks in the path of a conviction for a crime, and for the loss of liberty, or even life, that may follow. The guarantee of counsel, the right to subpoena witnesses and confront adverse witnesses in open court, and the suppression of evidence gathered in violation of law, all make sense in the context of domestic law enforcement. To protect liberty, we are willing to sacrifice some efficiency in our criminal justice system. Our motto remains: Let 100 guilty men go free before one innocent man is convicted.

The situation is entirely different when the nation faces an external threat. In fighting an enemy, there is no reason for the judicial branch to “check” the political branches. The idea of our judiciary protecting the “rights” of the Nazis or the Viet Cong from executive overreaching is every bit as absurd as it sounds. But had Boumediene been decided in 1940, more than 400,000 Axis troops held in more than 500 military facilities in this country during World War II would have had a right to challenge their detention in federal court.

As you might have guessed, this decision was made by the liberal wing of the Court joined by Anthony Kennedy (who authored the majority opinion).  I’ll keep posting this stuff to remind people about the stakes of the next election.  If Obama is elected, we can only expect more of these types of irrational, misguided decisions.