The election of Donald Trump has ended any realistic near-term hope of movement toward the goal of criminal justice reform widely discussed before and during the recently concluded 2016 Presidential campaign. In fact, Trump’s resurrection of the classic republican chant, “Law & Order”, which brought us “profiling” instead of evidence, unconstitutionally practiced “stop and frisk”, a world leading prison population of victimless, non-violent offenders, among other goodies, and his Justice Department nominee, Senator Jeff Sessions, does not bode well for reform being talked about or accomplished.
Help is NOT on the way from the new president, the Justice Department, or the Republican led congress. So, from where will our needed salvation come? It will come from ourselves, if we learn and put into practice what is advocated in “A Toast to Silence”, the absolute right to remain silent when we meet the police. A police encounter is not a friendly exchange of pleasantries, as the police are trained to make it appear, to get you to talk. Everything done and said by you to a cop is them collecting evidence from you, to use against you, in court, skillfully disguising the lie that talking to them will help you avoid arrest; evidence the Fifth Amendment says you don’t have to give. You cannot be compelled to talk, or take any tests. The cops’ code word for doing otherwise than to remain silent, and not take tests sounds nice, but is pure poison. That code word is “cooperation”. Not a day goes by for the past 50 years, non-stop, that I do not witness in court what happens to people who “cooperate” with the police. They get arrested, lose, and are convicted by their own mouths, and the words and cooperation that come out of it when they first meet the cop, before the Miranda warning. Cooperate only with the Fifth Amendment; not the cop.
It is sickening to hear and see how often seemingly intelligent folks continue to get it wrong when it comes to their rights when they meet the police. Ten year olds know about First Amendment free speech, but countless numbers of college graduates I’ve met and represented haven’t a clue about the Fifth Amendment, when and how to use it, and who think they have to prove their innocence. Cops use our popular culture to promote such nonsense, get away with it, and fool millions of Americans constantly! They’re trained that way.
Put down for three hours your cell phone, Ipad or whatever gadget you use and pick up a copy of the Bill or Rights and a copy of “A Toast to Silence”. That’s all the criminal justice reform you will need and that’s all you’re going to get for the next four years. The “Law & Order” our new president has promised to deliver, which is his code for increased power to and by the police, is only effective against the uninformed. The Fifth Amendment right to silence and knowing how to use it brings “Law & Order”, and police deception to a dead stop, and puts you in charge of your own destiny in the legal system. Start to learn and use it or continue to lose it. Simple!