Thursday, July 14, 2011

July 10, 2011

Dear Sis~
   I received the latest Florida Law Weekly last week and read that the Florida Supreme Court just reduced old Roy's death sentence to life imprisonment.  This was not unexpected; in fact I've been assuring him for the last 18 months that, at a minimum, he would end up with a life sentence.  But we were both hoping he'd get a new trial.  He had good, solid issues which, had he prevailed, would have gotten him a new trial (and then possibly an acquittal by his jury), but the Supreme Court gave him a thumbs down on that one.  Roy is now 70 years old, in failing health, on many medications and afflicted with onsetting dimentia, and is now doomed to dodder around in some distant, uncaring prison compound for what remains of his life...
   Well, on Thursday, a guy upstairs got careless and got busted with an ounce of reefer during a routine, single-cell shakedown.  He got caught slipping and as soon as I heard that I knew there would be repercussions.  Sure enough, the next day the whole shakedown team arrived on the wing, bright and early (the tip off is always when your sink and toilet water is shut off just before they hit) and stormed through the wing, tearing up all our cells.  I spent 30 minutes cuffed and shackled, locked in the shower while they rampaged through my cell.  As usual, it looked like a tornado hit my cell when I got back, all my property thrown across the floor scattered in the wind.  So, I spent the rest of that day putting all my stuff away, then scrubbing my floor.  I didn't lose much stuff, just the miscellaneous things that go toward making life more bearable, from extra salt to scotch tape to Tupperware bowls to extra towels and sheets.  Nothing to get in trouble over.  The guards in  my cell did steal two packs of sunflower seeds (it's common for them to eat your canteen snacks while they tear up your cell and you're locked in the shower) but that's just par for the course; it comes with the territory.  At least they were not overly destructive; some guards will deliberately smash your glasses, or radio, or even your TV, or flush your family photos down the toilet, if they have reason to dislike you, or if they're just malicious by nature...
   Here are a few interesting facts about America's growing plutocracy and the ever-widening gulf between the super-rich and everyone else (many more statistics, even more impressive and forceful are easily available online but with no Internet access I'm stuck with the scraps I pick up in newspapers and magazines): Between 2002 and 2007, 65% of all income growth in the US went to the richest 1% of the population.  Today, half of all the national income goes to the richest 10%.  In 2007, the top 1% controlled just 26.9%.  And, if you go back 80 years and look at the statistics you see that the curve - the gap between the very wealthiest and everyone else - is growing inexorably.  The problem is getting worse, not better.  The income inequality is intuitively known by most Americans (if not the details of the magnitude) and eventually, I believe, the people will wake up (politically) and do something about it.  But it may take a total meltdown in the financial industry (like what almost happened 2 1/2 years ago) to bring it about.  We are on a very precarious footing in America right now and we can easily see a repeat of the most recent meltdown, except worse. The systemic problems have not been fixed, not even close, and in fact are worse than ever.  This income inequality is just a symptom of the disease...
That's it for now from the big house!

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