Jail and Prison Ministry – Facets Open for Volunteer Service

There are many facets open for volunteer service in prison ministry. A quick inventory of your interests, concerns, and spiritual gifts will help to determine how you can best serve.

o With the prisoner.

1. Go to the Prisoner: Visitation. One on one contact with prisoners opens the door for the life-changing message of Christ.

2. Chapel Services and Sunday Worship Services provide ministry team opportunities.

3. Bible studies, evangelism and discipleship training provide opportunities for teaching and mentoring.

4. Through Correspondence

Pen Pals and Correspondence Bible Studies

o Prisoners are usually separated by age and sex

1. Youth Offenders (Juvenile)

Delinquents are thought of as children who have gone astray and need gentle correction to get them back on tract to becoming productive adult citizens.

Youthful offenders may be criminals but they still posses that spark of innocence that through the gospel can be molded into the image of God.

2. Women Offenders
Approximately one fourth of the women entering prison are pregnant or have recently given birth. One of the main priorities in the rehabilitation of women inmates is to help them overcome the effects of their battered pasts. Develop ministries for battered wives.

3. Men Offenders

The largest group of inmates populating our prisons today is adult men. Offences may vary from drug related arrests, misdemeanors, violent crimes and other felonies. The prisoner may be a first offender or a hardened criminal.

The greatest challenge for the prison volunteer who works in the federal prison system is to help the inmate discover hope in a situation where a person will grow old and die behind bars.

Gospel ministry behind prison walls provides an opportunity for communicating the message of Christ and hope to the inmate. It is usually best to try to minister to those of your own gender, women with women and youth and men with men and youth.

o With the family of prisoners. (Spouse, Children, Parents).

The majority of inmates who fail when they return to the street and re-enter a life of crime are those who lack family support. Speak up for the accused (in court etc). Establish a prayer ministry for the inmate and the families of offenders and ex-offenders.

o Become involved in After Care Programs. (Half way houses for ex-offenders and those on parole). You may feel led to work in one of the many aftercare ministries for ex offenders.

Local, state and federal facilities have many excellent programs designed to heal the physical and emotional hurts of family members. The church or you as a mentor can come alongside the released prisoner to help them overcome the many obstacles they face. In order to be more effective in ministering to the prison community we should expand our understanding of the correctional process.

o Prison Reform. The Criminal Justice System is a victim of misconceived ideals and shortsighted policies. Possibly the greatest hazard to people working with criminals is rapid burnout of enthusiasm, commitment, and interest. Become an advocate for change.

1. Goals for prison reform (vs. new prisons)

Explore Alternatives to incarceration

Break the cycle of incarceration

Reduce racial disparity

Identify behaviors being defined as criminal

2. Help released prisoners overcome:

Barriers to employment

Barriers to housing

Family reunification

Treatment for substance abuse

Treatment for mental illness and other medical problems

o The history of prisons in the United States reflects change and frequent paradigm shifts. Public opinion is a strong element in our country’s approach to corrections. Current budget limitations are creating a hard and serious look at the consequences of recent legislation.

o Restorative Justice.

Look into programs designed to address the concerns and rights of the victims of crime. (Note: local need for help in the district attorney’s office).

o Promote Alternatives to Incarceration:

Half way houses

Community Service Crews

Day Reporting Centers

Home Confinement

Work Camps

o Community Awareness. Spread the Vision for Prison Ministry.
(Through the church and other agencies).

o Drug Education. Drugs deaden the criminal’s consciences, give them courage, and help them avoid worry about the consequences of their crimes. Drug education programs provide help to youth and adults. Their emphasis is on avoiding enslavement to drugs and in recovering from the bondage of addiction. Offer plans for proactive prevention and positive restoration.

o Giving (Financially to support Prison ministries, and give of your time in service and in developing relationships).

The Criminal Justice System

In order to be more effective in ministering to the prison community we should expand our understanding of the correctional process. The Criminal Justice System operates at three levels:

Federal, State, and local: The system is made up of three divisions: law enforcement, courts, and corrections.

The process of the Criminal Justice System includes: arrest, booking, arraignment, and a preliminary hearing.

In large population areas you may find several classifications of correctional facilities.

o City jail.

o County jails.

o Juvenile facilities.

o State Prisons.

o Federal Prisons.

Each of these facilities is operated by different government agencies and serves a different and unique roll in the field of corrections.

o Security

The warden’s greatest worry is that volunteers will compromise security. For this reason it is important that we have an understanding of the laws and policies relating to association with inmates. Each facility will have policies that volunteer staff will be expected to follow. These suggestions will help you meet these expectations:

1. Do not give anything to an inmate and do not take anything from an inmate.

2. Learn to say “No”.

3. Dress and conduct yourself in an appropriate manner.

4. Obey the instructions and orders given by the staff. The correctional staff is often suspicious of volunteers. They may see you as a “do-gooder”. Many correctional institutions have seen a history of on again, off again religious programs. Be ready to ask informational questions.

5. For scheduled Chapel Services or Bible Classes, arrive early, start and end on time.

6. Be patient and courteous.

7. Do not give personal information to the inmates.

8. Avoid personal contact with inmate’s families unless given permission to do so by the staff.

9. Do not take anything into the institution that you do not need.

Alimony, Spousal Support, Divorce & Family Law

Alimony is payments that one spouse may be ordered to pay another spouse for support as a result of a divorce. In Rhode Island Divorce, some spouses qualify for alimony from the other spouse. Alimony is also known as Spousal Support or Spousal Maintenance.

R.I.G.L 15-5-16 delineates the factors that the Rhode Island Family Court Judge should use in determining whether a Husband or Wife Qualifies for Alimony payment from the other spouse.

The Rhode Island Supreme Court Stated “Alimony is a rehabilitative tool intended to provide temporary support until a spouse is self-sufficient, and is based purely on need.” Berard v. Berard The Rhode Island Alimony statute is set forth below. You should contact a Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer to get legal advice concerning your case.

Generally, Alimony is awarded for a specific period of time, in increments which are usually weekly or monthly. Alimony could be awarded as a result of a Divorce settlement. If a party requests alimony or is unwilling to waive alimony and the parties cannot agree to an alimony award, then alimony may be awarded at the divorce trial.

Temporary Alimony may be awarded by the Rhode Island Family Court towards the beginning of the RI divorce. This temporary Alimony award will stay in effect until the final decision by the Rhode Island Family Court Judge at the RI Divorce Trial.

The intent of alimony is rehabilitative in nature. “alimony should be ‘payable for a short, but specific and terminable period of time, which will cease when the recipient is, in the exerciseof reasonable efforts, in a position of self-support.'” Thompson v. Thompson

Alimony is usually awarded on a temporary basis but can be awarded on an indefinite and (perhaps what turns out to be permanent) basis if the facts justify indefinite alimony. The Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that “Alimony may be awarded even for an indefinite period as long as the trial justice considers all the statutory factors.”

Indefinite alimony may be ordered in a case where a party is seriously disabled or as a result of old age is unable to work. Indefinite alimony could also be awarded in a plethora of different factual circumstances.

The Court must look at “The health, age, station, occupation, amount and source of income, vocational skills, and employability of the parties” in making an alimony determination.

Ability to pay is a crucial factor in determining the amount of alimony and whether or not alimony should be awarded. There are many cases in which a spouse is in desperate need of alimony but the other spouse does not have the ability to pay sufficient alimony. In some cases, the spouse does not have an ability to pay because of a child support obligation to the other spouse or child support owed for other children.

Furthermore, according to The Rhode Island Supreme Court, “Section 15-5-16 does not explicitly prohibit one lump-sum award.” However, lump sum award alimony appears to be disfavored under RI Law.

The best candidate for alimony is a spouse who put aside his or her career ambitions for many years to be a homemaker and care for the children. As a result of the role of nurturing the children and establishing and maintaining a home, the other spouse was able to advance his or her career in order to be able to afford to pay alimony.

In some cases, the family made a decision that one parent would put aside his or her career aspirations to raise a child or minor children. As a result, the homemaker’s skill set is so outmoded that he or she is unable to obtain suitable employment. This is usually because the homemaker’s job skills, employment history, licenses, training, skills, experience or degrees became outmoded or irrelevant. Perhaps the person does not have enough of an employment history to be able to be self supporting and self sufficient without receiving alimony. In some cases the spouse is unable to work because the spouse currently has a physical custody and placement of a young child.

For this type of person, the intent of an award of Rehabilitative Alimony would be to allow a person to build a work history, advance his or her education, employment training, licenses etc. so that the person can be self supporting and self sufficient in the future.

Another type of person who is an excellent candidate for alimony is a person who is temporarily disabled or permanently disabled especially if the marriage has been a long marriage. Another good candidate for alimony is a spouse who has severely disabled children which renders it difficult or impossible for the person to seek employment.

“The assignment of property must precede any determination of alimony because the needs ofeach party will be affected by the equitable distribution of the marital estate.”

Rhode Island Child Custody and Placement plays a role in an alimony determination. If the parties have children, the Court must also make an award of Rhode Island Child Support before the Court determines an alimony award. The Child Support award plays a large role in determining the resources of the parent with physical custody of the minor child. A child support order also may severely affect a n individuals ability to afford alimony in the future.

The needs and expenses of both parties is crucial in determining alimony. Needs and expenses are intertwined with the standard of living of the parties. The Court may look at the following types of expenses and needs: rent, mortgage, taxes, insurance, food, health insurance, uninsured medical expenses, prescription expenses, dental expenses, cable, internet, utilities, heat, gas, vehicle expenses etc.

Although conduct is a factor in alimony determinations per the RI Alimony Statute, it is not a significant factor since alimony is basically need based. Conduct such as an affair, drug or alcohol addiction, gambling problem, domestic violence plays more of a role in equitable division of assets then in an Alimony determination.

An award of alimony has Federal Income Tax consequences. Alimony is taxable to the spouse who receives the alimony and is deductible by the spouse who pays alimony. In order to qualify as alimony,
Alimony must terminate on the death of the payee spouse and upon the remarriage of the payee spouse. Payment of alimony is a taxable event to the payee spouse.

This is very different from payment of child support. Payment of child support is a non taxable event. The parent who pays child support is not entitled to a deduction for payment and the receiving spouse does not include the payment as income. Therefore it is tax free money to the parent who receives the child support.26 U.S.C.A. 71.

The IRS has rules and regulations concerning what types of payments constitute alimony. The IRS has rules and regulations concerning when a parent tries to mask child support payments as alimony. Please consult with a Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law Attorney concerning the tax implications and rules concerning Alimony. A detailed explanation of tax rules, laws and regulations as they pertain to Alimony is beyond the scope of this article.

The designation of payments as alimony rather than property distribution has consequences in Bankruptcy Proceedings. An alimony award is generally not dischargeable in Bankruptcy. The interrelation between Family Law, Alimony and Bankruptcy is also beyond the scope of this article. Please consult with a Rhode Island Bankruptcy Lawyer/ Attorney.

Another important issue, perhaps crucial issue, is whether or not the parties enter into a property settlement agreement in the divorce. In order for the alimony to be completely non modifiable, the alimony must be agreed to in a Property settlement agreement. The Court has no power to modify a property settlement agreement. A Court can only enforce or interpret a property settlement agreement. In the event of impossibility of payment, the Court could award equitable relief, equitably reforming the contract between the parties. Please contact a Rhode Island Divorce Attorney concerning whether or not it is advisable to draft a Property Settlement agreement in your case.

Proper drafting of a Property Settlement Agreement and Alimony provisions in a Property Settlement Agreement is beyond the scope of this article.

The length of the marriage is a very important factor that the RI Family Court Judge looks at in determining Alimony. The Court also needs to hear testimony concerning the party requesting alimony plan to become self supporting and self sufficient.

The Court can also look at the relative ability of both spouses to earn income and or acquire assets and property in the future.

If a person is ordered to pay alimony and does not pay alimony, the other person can file a contempt motion. If a person is found in willful contempt of a Court order they could be jailed until they purge themselves of the contempt. Rhode Island Family Court judges take failure to comply with their alimony orders very seriously. If the Alimony award is modifiable, either party could file a motion to modify the alimony based on a substantial change in circumstances.

Rhode Island legal Notice per the Rhode Island Rules of Professional Responsibility:

The Rhode Island Supreme Court licenses all Lawyers / Attorneys in the general practice of law, but does not license or certify any lawyer as an expert or specialist in any field of practice.

NC DWI Laws and Administrative Codes

Here are various laws and codes relating to North Carolina Driving While Impaired (DWI) Law:

N.C.G.S. 20-138.1 is the Impaired Driving statute that makes it a crime to “drive” (which means, operates) any vehicle upon any highway, any street, or any public vehicular area within North Carolina:

While under the influence of an impairing substance; or [appreciable impairment by alcohol or any other substance]

After having consumed sufficient alcohol that he has, at any relevant time after the driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. The results of a chemical analysis shall be deemed sufficient evidence to prove a person’s alcohol concentration; or With any amount of a Schedule I controlled substance, as listed in G.S. 90-89, or its metabolites in his blood or urine. [opiates, whether prescribed or not]

N.C.G.S. 20-138.2 is the Commercial Driving Impaired Driving statute. Instead of a.08, it merely requires a showing of.04 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) while operating a commercial vehicle.

N.C.G.S. 20-138.3 is the Provisional Impaired Driving Statute for people under the age of 21 at the time of the offense. A person may be charged with both a standard DWI and a Provisional DWI. Odor is insufficient unless the driver was provided the opportunity to blow into a machine and failed to do so. North Carolina has a zero-tolerance rule, which means that any amount of alcohol can result in a Driving After Consuming conviction.

N.C.G.S. 20-138.4 effectively makes it difficult, if not impossible, to have a DWI charge reduced in most places in North Carolina. That’s because this provision requires the prosecutor who reduces the charge to make a comprehensive report to his boss – the elected District Attorney – the court system in the court shuck and to the Administrative Office of the Courts.

N.C.G.S. 20-179 governs sentencing under 20-138.1, 20-138.2 or a second or subsequent conviction under 20-138.2A or 20-138.2B (North Carolina’s zero tolerance rules for Bus or Commercial Vehicle Operation). As described elsewhere in on this site, this section sets out the Aggravating, Grossly Aggravating, and Mitigating factors that can be used in sentencing, as well as the six levels of punishment, and the various fees, fines, and jail times that can be imposed.

N.C.G.S. 20-139.1 establishes the procedures by which a chemical analysis may be taken under North Carolina’s implied consent laws. An implied consent chemical analysis requires, among other things, that the person be informed of his or her rights (and be provided with a written list of rights, and be allowed a waiting period prior to the breath or blood analysis. North Carolina uses two types of analysis – breath and blood, although there is a provision for urine analysis that I’ve never seen used. The section also deals with the admissibility of the results (or refusal to take the test) at trial, and provides time limits for the defense to object after having been provided notice at prior to trial.

N.C.G.S. 20-16.2 is usually read along with N.C.G.S. 20-139.1 to establish North Carolina’s implied consent provisions. This section deals with the driver’s obligation to produce a sample in the event of an implied consent criminal charge, the person’s rights to a Refusal Hearing if the officer has deemed the person to have refused and the limited right to a hearing in Superior Court if the DMV Refusal Hearing Officer decides against the driver and revokes his or her license for one-year for refusing to submit a sample.

N.C.G.S. 20-19 is a general statute granting the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend or revoke licenses, including for implied consent offenses and including for refusal to submit to a breathalyzer or chemical analysis at the time of an implied consent offense. In addition, this section instructs the DMV to place restrictions on the license once it is restored so that the person may not have.04 or more BAC for a period of time after having his driving privileges restored following a DWI conviction.

N.C.G.S. 20-141.4 creates a felony (Felony Death by Vehicle) in cases where the person unintentionally cases the death of another person, while engaging in impaired driving, and where the DWI was a proximate cause of the death. The section also creates additional felonies where serious injury results from a DWI offense.

N.C.G.S. 20-138.5 creates a felony where the person has been convicted of three or more impaired driving offenses (DWIs) in the preceding 10 years of the date of the current offense.

N.C.G.S. 20-17.6 governs how DMV will restore a license after a conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) or driving while less than 21 years old after consuming drugs or alcohol. Essentially, the Division of Motor Vehicles must receive a certificate of completion for alcohol treatment.

N.C.G.S. 20-17.8 governs the imposition of an Interlock Device (where the BAC was a.15 or higher) and the restoration of driving privileges after a DWI with an Interlock Device.

N.C.G.S. 20-16.3 permits an officer to request a Preliminary or Portable Breath Test (PBT) prior to arrest, but after the car has been stopped and there are reasonable grounds to believe that the driver has consumed alcohol. If the driver refuses to submit to this handheld breath test, the driver’s refusal may be used against him in court (although his license will not be suspended for refusal to submit to the PBT).

N.C.G.S. 20-28.2 and N.C.G.S. 20-28.3 allow the State to confiscate a person’s vehicle (through a civil forfeiture process) where the driver had previously been convicted of a DWI and had his license suspended or where the person was driving on a suspended/revoked or without a license and had no insurance at the time of the DWI even if it was the first DWI. This section describes the process for forfeiture, as well as defenses available to “innocent owners” who may be people who also have a property interest in the vehicle (such as a parent, or spouse) and were unaware of the fact that driver was in violation of the law.

N.C.G.S. 20-16.3A permits North Carolina police agencies to establish roadblocks pursuant to “a written policy that provides guidelines for the pattern, which need not be in writing” (whatever the heck that means!).

N.C.G.S. 20-28.9 grants the Department of Public Instruction the authority to tow, store, and sell vehicles seized as part of a DWI offense.

N.C.G.S. 20-16.5 creates a Civil Revocation in the event of an implied consent offense where the person’s BAC was high enough, or where the person refused. The Civil Revocation is usually 30 days, although may be longer. This section also establishes the guidelines by which someone can request Limited Driving Privileges during the Civil Revocation period.

N.C.G.S. 20-23.2 says that North Carolina will recognize the conviction of a DWI or impaired driving offense in a federal court the same as if the offense had resulted in a conviction in a State court.

N.C.G.S. 20-179.3 permits Limited Driving Privileges in certain DWI cases, either with an interlock device (if the BAC was a.15 or higher) or without and for certain purposes only.

N.C.G.S. 20-17.3 revokes a person’s license for purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol beverages for underage persons.

N.C.G.S. 20-36 places a ten year limit on how long the DMV may consider prior convictions or implied-consent refusals (except in cases involving holders of commercial vehicle licenses).

N.C.G.S. 122C?142.1 establishes the requirements for Substance Abuse Assessment agencies, including the requirements for various levels of treatment. For instance, if a person has no prior DWIs, did not blow a.15 or above, and does not have a substance abuse disability, the treatment facility must impose ADETS, the lowest level of treatment.

10A NCAC 41B are regulations established by the Department of Health and Human Services in North Carolina regarding the proper maintenance of the Intox EC/IR II (and other intoximeters devices) as well as the screening devices (PBTs) used by officers on the roadside.

N.C.G.S. 17C-10 requires that all “criminal justice officers” (Law Enforcement Officers) abide by certain basic law enforcement training (BLET) in order to be certified as law enforcement officers in North Carolina. The BLET is issued by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education And Training Standards Commission, and includes within it the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests as established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Sometimes judges in North Carolina will say that NHTSA is not the law. That’s only partially true. Since the BLET adopts the SFSTs from NHTSA in their virtual entirety, NHTSA’s SFSTs are effectively the law in North Carolina.

N.C.G.S. 15A-534.2 is a pre-trial release statute that permits a magistrate to order a defendant held if he is too impaired to be released, and there is no sober person available to release him to.

Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr – What We Must Never Forget About the Man and His Resounding Message

Author’s program note. Only one song would do for this of all articles, the iconic anthem of the American Civil Rights Movement, “We Shall Overcome.”

It was not so much a song as a declaration of purpose and profound resolve, one that did not merely state and celebrate the destination… but constituted a collective pledge, renewed with each singing, that adherents were united in mind, body and purpose; for they would need all that, and more, as they moved towards the inspiring goal of equality, where people who were divided by tradition, at last forged unity from divisiveness.

“We Shall Overcome” is a protest song. The lyrics are derived from the refrain of a gospel song by Charles Albert Tindley. It was first published in the People’s Song Bulletin, a publication of People’s Songs, an organization of which Pete Seeger was the director. The song became associated with the Civil Rights Movement from 1959, when Guy Carawan launched it as the most famous, motivating, and ultimately elegiac song of the movement; their soaring battle hymn. It was what the oppressed people, their adherents and their resolute opponents heard when fire hoses were turned on them, dogs ordered to snarl and bite, and truncheons beat down upon the pilgrims sore beset.

There were many heroes in those days, but not yet a Hero who would rise above the others and become the very heartbeat of the movement, its public face and voice to the world.

That man had not yet emerged, but his first important moment was about to take place… in Birmingham, Alabama, where from a prison cell he was about to instruct his followers, his opponents, and a world oppressed by a panoply of civil rights abuses in what a man who believes in justice must do.

Consider this man now, on the threshold of history. He is mortal, frail, fragile, with profound doubts, hesitations and an acute consciousness of his inadequacies. He, like so many Heroes hoped that he would not have to be what he was in process of becoming; he hoped others would shoulder a substantial part of the burden. But History is infallible. It saw, as the individual did not, that this man could rise above his own demons and limitations… to become what the movement must have to succeed: a moral compass, a higher purpose, a complete humanity, and the ability to be beaten down, bitten, spat on, bruised, and beaten again – and yet love his tormentors, direct the anger of his people towards benign purpose, and always get up… showing that violence, any violence, could not stop him… and so would not stop the movement either. This was sublime! This was what the man was on this planet to do… though he did not entirely know this yet.

And so he went to the most bigoted city in America, likely the most segregated, the least hospitable to its black inhabitants, the city that taught the nation how to insult, condescend, intimidate, and, all too often, to kill people of color for being born and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was the capital of every finely turned, exquisite form of segregation and haters of every kind looked first to Birmingham as the citadel of their embittered beliefs, the fortress for immemorial hate that every black citizen knew only too well.

And so Martin Luther King, Jr. went to Birmingham as he went to so many fateful destinations… because it was necessary, because it was the right thing to do, because the people needed succor and relief and he had that to give and to spare.

The Birmingham event was a planned non-violent protest conducted by the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights and King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference against racial segregation by Birmingham’s city government and downtown retailers. He was among the first arrested… the first taken harshly, insistently to his “suite” in Birmingham City Jail. It had to be a shock, jolting, demeaning, insulting, humiliating for this man who so loved life and life’s pleasures, more accustomed to the Word of God than the execration of man.

But he had something to say, something which he had clearly thought about for some time, because he wrote without hesitation its profound message of import to all the world and its downtrodden.

King responds to eight white Alabama clergyman who opposed his visit to Birmingham.

On that spring day eight local clergymen offered Dr. King the benefit of their erudition and desire to defuse the anxious situation and rescue the imperiled status quo. These leaders of the church did what so many such have done over the ages. Bereft of courage, with cloudy vision, and a desire to safeguard their own positions and pulpits, they wrote Dr. King to leave… to let things take their course… to stop the violence and be patient… it would be, they were quite clear, so much better so. They didn’t have to say it would be better for them…

Dr. King was bruised in body and spirit as he arrived at the city jail. He must have wondered how he came there and whether against so much hatred he could achieve his goal. He must have wondered, too, at how many people already relied upon him… and of the terrible sacrifices he might ask them to make, even unto death itself. At such a time, a man, any man, might so wonder and reflect.

But then he read the sentiments of these local clergymen about his mission to Birmingham, criticizing it as “unwise and untimely”. He read these words, and he knew at once what he must do… and so the words of high portent and unmistakable conviction came swiftly.

He started his response in the way any disagreeing minister might have addressed a colleague, professionally, directly, pointedly. But this was not destined to be such a letter between Christian clergy of differing views. He had a higher purpose, and it was soon apparent. He meant to remind (if they knew), to teach (if they didn’t) his fellow clerics a fundamental precept of their ministries. He aimed to show them, once, for all, clearly, that justice was their business, the very heart of their business and he meant his message to be stern, unequivocal, a bell summoning all to recognition of their profound duties.

First he reminded these clergymen of the South, with their regional blindness, that the issue was not Southern, but American – “Anyone who lives in the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds”. In short, what was happening in Birmingham and what made the demonstration necessary was not merely a Birmingham problem or a Southern problem… it was an American problem (not to mention by quick extension a universal problem of long suffering humanity.)

And so he built his case for action now point by irrefutable point, making the considered advice of the local clergy seem like what it was, a self-serving argument keeping the blacks in their place, patient in the face of intimidation, outrage, and a white wrath ready to explode into legally sanctioned outrages against black citizens at any time.

Thus did King find the voice of moral certainty, the voice which freed so many and which resulted in time in the sacrifice of his very life, taken by those who came to know him as the dreaded prophet of black deliverance, and so necessary to destroy.

“Injustice,” he trumpeted, “anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The haters, the entrenched segregationists, the racial purists, the purveyors of inequitable laws and legal terrorism and abuse, for all that they wrote volumes in support of their unsustainable opinions never uttered a phrase so powerful as this… a phrase that showed just where right and a better future lay. He signed his soon-to-be-world- famous “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”, “Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood” and had it smuggled out in a toothpaste tube to avoid the jail’s guards.

Now this man has morphed into mythology with a grandiose civic temple for his observances. The architect Chinese artist Lei Yixin has been criticized for his work. No matter. Any architect’s work and vision would have found censure in the eyes of the jealous others who were not selected. But the truth is, this monument will soon be amongst the most popular, for all that the great monuments to Jefferson, Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are near at hand.

“Now,” borrowing Edward Stanton’s words on Lincoln, King “belongs to the ages.” Here his greatest challenge will be in so inspiring those who follow in his footsteps, that his timeless message remains timely and is not forgotten by all those so beholden to the man who is now enshrined among the worthies of the Great Republic his life’s work so enhanced.

Genocide – Yesterday, Today And Tomorrow

Hitler was accused of this, even Saddam Hussein was hanged for the same, and this made Lemkin to combine two words from two different languages to evolve a new terminology. What is it, that when uttered turns the gooseflesh of an individual? Is this term worth so much effort and innovation that it has gobbled the minds of the globe’s most efficient organizations?

In the Age of Extremes, in a period when the World Wars were witnessed and there were a series of State sponsored murders; the mid-century scholars were groping for a new word to describe the gruesome events. In the meantime Lemkin evolved a new terminology “GENOCIDE” replacing the older one “Acts of Barbarity” by combining ‘genos’, (a Greek term used for family, tribe, race ) and ‘cide’ (from a Latin term occide which meant to massacre).

Genocide is one of the worst crimes a government can commit against its citizens. Genocide was a new terminology but the act wasn’t new. Ben Kierman, A Yale Scholar labeled the destruction of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War (149-146 B.C) as the “First Genocide”. This signifies that the barbaric acts have been a part of the society since ages. The most recent massacre is the Burma-Myanmar incident in the 21st century. But there is one common aspect in both the above incidents, i.e. Greed. It’s quite strange that in an era when the whole world is striving for brotherhood, some groups are on a mission to end the civilization.

In the wake of the Holocaust, Lemkin successfully campaigned for the universal acceptance of international laws defining and forbidding genocide. This was achieved in 1948, with the promulgation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG).

The CPPCG was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9th December 1948 and came into effect on 12th January 1951 [Resolution 260 (III)]. It contains an internationally-recognized definition of genocide which was incorporated into the national criminal legislation of many countries, and was also adopted by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Convention (in Article II) defines genocide as:

“…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

But despite having an International Treaty since sixty long years, we are still facing the problem of genocide which is getting worse with the passage of time. Thus leaving a trail of questions in our mind like if we have a Genocide Convention, why genocide still exists? What can individuals and nations do to prevent genocide?

ROOTS OF THE MAYHEM

At times brains gobble pertaining to the origin of the bloody form of holocaust, which is GENOCIDE. But have we ever tried to analyze within our so-called intelligent brains that where from this word genocide crept into our society? Is this a result of day to day increasing greed for power and position of some mischievous brains or it popped up suddenly on one fine day out of no where? Very much obvious the later reason can be completely gain said. If we recapitulate the past we can surely get our answers that how this form of mayhem actually evolved. There has been considerable research on why a perpetrator would want to destroy a group or, if not destroy the group as such, murder people because of their group membership. Motives are often complex and intertwined, but one can usually pull out among the mix a major motive

Genocide has been there in society since times immemorial. There are numerous incidents which knock the memory from time to time like the Nuremberg Trials, the Bosnian Genocide, Rwanda and the Darfur massacres. Even the Old Testaments have references of it in the genocide of Amelekites and Midianites.
But have we ever tried to analyze why genocide occurs? The answer is straight, only a few intellectual minds on the globe analyzed the reasons. Some intellectual brains have evolved by the very meaning of genocide i.e. killing based on race, group or nationality, that one of the main causes of genocide is the RACIAL PREJUDICE. The U.S.A has witnessed the fiery Holocaust in the early nineties. Holocaust expert David Cesarani argued that the government and policies of U.S.A against certain indigenous people constituted Genocide in the Western Hemisphere. Even the Jews were subjected to Hitler’s barbaric acts, the Kurds of Iraq faced the same from the then Dictator.

The racial prejudice is much influenced by the legalized racial segregation in the past. Racial segregation used to be characterized by separation of different races in daily life, such as eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a rest room, attending school, going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home. Segregation may be mandated by law or exist through social norms. Segregation may be maintained by means ranging from discrimination in hiring and in the rental and sale of housing to certain races to vigilante violence such as lynching; a situation that arises when members of different races mutually prefer to associate and do business with members of their own race would usually be described as separation or de facto separation of the races rather than segregation. Legal segregation in both South Africa and the U.S. was required and came with “anti-miscegenation laws” (prohibitions against interracial marriage) and laws against hiring people of the race that is the object of discrimination in any but menial positions.

Segregation in hiring practices contributes to economic imbalance between the races. Segregation, however, often allowed close contact in hierarchical situations, such as allowing a person of one race to work as a servant for a member of another race. Segregation can involve spatial separation of the races, and/or mandatory use of different institutions, such as schools and hospitals by people of different races.

Another main cause of the mayhem is the Use of propaganda and mass media. With the technological advances in communication in 21st century unprecedented levels of education have become possible. However, rather than pursuing cooperative and egalitarian world views, ethnic nationalism has continually plagued the societies. I believe that the horrid level of violence in our world is perpetuated because ethnic nationalism has been used by the elite to incite racist violent malice. I believe that this division of humanity through equating specific historical events caused by the ruling elite with the decisions or personal responsibility of vast groups of people to be the primary vehicle governments has used to justify violence. The violence that occurred in 21st century has coincided with governmental use of propaganda. In every atrocity committed by large populations we have seen unilateral control of media used to dehumanize the persecuted and disenfranchised through appeals to ethnic nationalism.

Being a part of 21st century, when there have been several laws incorporated in various domestic laws against every kind of discrimination and racial attacks, is it feasible to consider the racial prejudice the only cause of genocide? The answer would a blunt “NO”.

In the era where there have been governments with strong laws enforced by the States all over the globe, how can racist group commit such a heinous act? The answer is quite relative; that no clan can commit such an act fearlessly unless it is state sponsored or rather say state approved. The infamous Darfur incident is more or less state sponsored. The humanitarian situation is worse than is still generally appreciated, due to ongoing state sponsored violence, layer of aid obstruction, lack of overall humanitarian strategic plan and weakened sate of displaced Sudanese.

The consistent denial of Indonesian Government of any genocidal activity despite missing of about 4 million West Papuans signifies the State sponsored mayhem. These acts, where the state plays a role quite gives an evidence that Genocide denial is normally conducted by those either committing or profiting from the genocide like that of Indonesia and its business partners. The Holocaust is the object of large-scale denial efforts (think about all the publications and money poured into the productions of the negationists). The Holocaust has become a near-universal cultural code for evil in the world, in the last half-century. This has made its denial attractive to a variety of groups who have no historical connection to the events.

Another incident of the state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, whose epicenter is Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad’s Iran, where the toxic advocacy of the most horrific of crimes is embedded in the most virulent of hatreds, the 1970 parliamentary elections in Pakistan that showed the political power of East Pakistan and threatened the control over it by West Pakistan, and the power of the military government. They thus militarily seized East Pakistan and murdered over a million Bengali leaders, intellectuals, professionals, and any Hindus that the military were able to capture, the strong resistance of the Ukrainian farmer to Stalin’s program of collectivization in 1931-32 coupled with the threat of Ukrainian nationalism to communist control. So, when what would have been a mild famine hit the region in 1932, Stalin magnified the famine many fold by seizing their food and its sources (livestock, pets, seed grain, shooting birds in the trees, etc.) and boycotting the import of food to Ukraine. Even visitors to Ukraine were searched and food taken away from them before they entered the Soviet Republic. About 5 million Ukrainians were starved to death.

And the case, when the Rwandan Hutu majority government undertook to murder all Tutsi within their reach at the time when there was turmoil resulting from a major 1991 incursion of the Tutsi expatriate Rwandan Patriotic Front in the northern part of the country, thus providing substantial explanation where it can be said that the major cause of genocide in the 21st century is the state itself motive being, to destroy a group that is perceived as a threat to the ruling power. Genocide is a word that stirs up the deepest emotion, an uncanny chill that makes one realize how inhumane humanity can sometimes be.

LEGALITY PERTAINING TO GENOCIDE

Mass slaughter of human beings by other human beings has been a recurrent phenomenon over the centuries. But until recently neither governments nor international legal specialists had sought to devise formal rules and institutions that could help prevent, or if necessary punish, the perpetrators of large-scale atrocities. The legal application of the term genocide first occurred in the indictment of the Nazi war criminals in the 1945-1946 Nuremberg Tribunal. They were indicted for “War Crimes” (Count Three), which included the “deliberate and systematic genocide; viz., the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian population of certain occupied territories in order to destroy particular races and classes of people, and national, racial, or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles, and Gypsies.” Following the UN resolution of genocide, the question of an international genocide convention was referred to the UN Economic and Social Council. Their debate and deliberation ended in the 1948 UNCG, which came into force in 1951, and since then has been ratified by 133 states.

From the commencement of World War-I till 1938 common mass weren’t much aware of the new form of holocaust except those who actually experienced it i.e., the Armenians. Reason being they had little influence on the international legal arena. The League of Nations was formed but failed being a mere puppet at the hands of the Allied powers. Few other like Hague Agreement to confine aerial bombing to military targets, Geneva Protocols against use of poisonous gas, initiative to prosecute Heads of State (Germany, Turkey) for war crimes, etc were formed as well though majority of them failed to suffice the need of the hour.

But during the World War-II the world became cognizant of the deadly term “GENOCIDE.” As a result of which War Crimes Tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo, Nuremberg Charter recognized as customary international law; Genocide Convention, etc were established.

In December 1946 the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution denouncing genocide as “the denial of the right of existence of entire human groups” and describing it as, “contrary to moral law and to the spirit and aims of the United Nations.” The resolution also set up a committee to draft an international treaty that would formally outlaw genocide. The result, after protracted and often arduous negotiations, was the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was approved by the UN General Assembly on a 55-to-0 vote in December 1948. The Genocide Convention was slated to enter into force after twenty of the fifty-five UN member-states that voted in favor of it submitted their formal instruments of ratification. Although some signatories of the convention, notably the United States, took many years before they ratified it, ratification by the twentieth country was completed in October 1950, allowing the convention to take effect in January 1951. Since then the Genocide Convention is considered as the most applicable instrument to fight the future Holocausts.
From the time Lemkin’s book appeared, the term genocide has stirred controversy both in the public arena and among scholars. Lawyers, scholars, and political leaders have differed over the scope and nature of the crimes involved. Some, like Lemkin, have sought as broad a definition as possible, not limiting it to large-scale killing. Others, including many prominent historians and political scientists, have advocated a more restrictive definition, focusing on clear-cut cases of mass slaughter and attempts at systematic extermination. Still others have questioned whether genocide necessarily requires the targeting of a specific cultural, ethnic, racial, or linguistic group.

By excluding many of the worst abuses and crimes of the twentieth century, the requirement of a targeted cultural or ethnic group has arguably been the most controversial aspect of the concept of genocide. The very definition of the Genocide provided in Article 2 of the Convention has been subject to much discussion by the international legal personnels. The phrase “in whole or in part” has been subject to much discussion by scholars of international humanitarian law.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found in Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstic – Trial Chamber I – Judgment – IT-98-33 (2001) ICTY8 (2 August 2001) that Genocide had been committed. In Prosecutor v. Radislav Krstic – Appeals Chamber – Judgment – IT-98-33 (2004) ICTY 7 (19 April 2004) paragraphs 8, 9, 10, and 11 addressed the issue of in part and found that “the part must be a substantial part of that group. The aim of the Genocide Convention is to prevent the intentional destruction of entire human groups, and the part targeted must be significant enough to have an impact on the group as a whole.” The Appeals Chamber goes into details of other cases and the opinions of respected commentators on the Genocide Convention to explain how they came to this conclusion.

GENOCIDE CONVENTION- THE PRESENT STAND

The barbaric acts in the past, forced the authorities to come up with a neutral legislation which would empower the law enforcers to curb the mayhem i.e. Genocide. After much efforts the eminent authorities came up with the Genocide Convention which was enforced post World War II in 1951. The convention was the first modern human rights treaty, adopted only a day earlier than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which set the common standards of achievement for human civilization. But the main question is, whether the convention has been able to suffice the motive?

Since the treaty has been enforced there have been numerous genocidal incidents like the massacre of the Cambodians, the mayhem on Bosnian Muslims, the Holocaust on the Tutsis in Rwanda, the infamous Bangladesh war, most lately the Burma-Myanmar incident and many other unnoticed incidents. So how would we rate the efficiency of the treaty enforcers?

Definitions of the crime of Genocide, such as those found within the body of international law or as interpreted within the pages of law journals, tend to emphasize a legal framework of mind.
Therefore have unique aims that other members of the academic community would not necessarily prioritize.

The main purpose of such a law, as in all other laws, was to present a practical tool for punishing those that have transgressed a codified set of rules, which in turn is based on a moral imperative agreed upon by members of a society. But such laws also need to be applied fairly. In consequence, a legal definition of Genocide must abide by the spirit of the moral law it purports to represent, but must also be necessarily restrictive in such a fashion that its implementation satisfies the basic requirements of fairness and justice.

The Genocide Convention then aims to present a set of non-negotiable rules by which a strict threshold of guilt must be met in order to punish the accused. And this dichotomy results in a closed and restricted definition of Genocide. This scientific approach has a purpose of creating a regulatory and formal environment for judging guilt.

It so happens that most member states of the United Nations are signatories of the Genocide Convention, more precisely named the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. By signing and ratifying the Genocide Convention, these governments have assumed a legal obligation (not just some vague moral obligation) both to prevent genocide and to punish perpetrators of genocide. The convention continues to fail is in its task of preventing genocide on a large scale. Although the duty is set out in the convention, opinions differ about just how far it may extend. Put bluntly, are states required, as a legal obligation, to take action up to and including military intervention in order to prevent the crime from occurring?

The outrage over Iran’s hosting of a Holocaust denial conference has tended to overshadow what should be a greater outrage: Iran’s state-sanctioned incitement to commit genocide. Simply put, the denial of genocide became a media event, but incitement to genocide in violation of the prohibition against the “direct and public incitement to commit genocide” in the Genocide Convention, the “never again” convention, was greeted with a yawn.

Is this what we would call the stand of the Genocide Convention even after sixty years of its establishment? The convention though neutrally framed for the world yet has turned into a pet of selected few. The humanitarian situation is worse than is still generally appreciated. In practice, the Genocide Convention has been pretty much a dead letter (as the world’s current response to Darfur illustrates all too well). There have been few occasions when outside intervention interrupted large-scale mass murder while it was still happening. But in virtually all those cases, and in all the cases that involved serious military conflict, this was a side-effect of military interventions carried out for other strategic or political purposes.

Furthermore, the record of the so-called “international community” in bringing mass murderers to justice has not been very inspiring. Sometimes real politics plays a role here. In the case of Cambodia, even after the Khmer Rouge were dislodged from most of Cambodia by the Vietnamese they continued to get recognition and support for years from the US and China, as well as sanctuary across the border in Thailand. They were also allowed to keep control of Cambodia’s UN seat until 1993. All of which were unforgivable, but not astonishing. Within Cambodia, the new rulers installed by the Vietnamese, who are still running the country, were ex-Khmer Rouge themselves, and this may partly explain why they have showed little enthusiasm for trials that would revisit old times. Apart from that the holocaust in Burma-Myanmar has been barely subjected to any kind of trial. Decades after the Cambodian bloodbath, the mass murderers are still at loose. The assassination of Saddam Hussein and the U.S.A army taking over Iraq seemed more or less a part of a longing profitable business.

Indian Perspective

There have been similar incidents in India too where no international community has taken a firm step against it. The infamous Nandigram, India incident in short has just been left stranded to be a ball in the media’s court. The long discussion regarding the Kashmir issue has been a mere issue which is only used for hype and publicity. Geneva Convention is not at all respected in the Kashmir Valley. There are umpteen numbers of human rights violation cases recorded. Muslims killing Kashmiri Pundits is one aspect. Indian Security Forces have scant regard for humanitarian law. The do not stick to the norms laid down by the Geneva Convention in dealing with the prisoners of war. Only in Doda in the year 1994 two hundred women were raped. Rape continues to be a major instrument of Indian repression against the Kashmiri people while the majority of casualties in Kashmir are civilians. A total of 72,077, representing nearly 98 per cent of the Pundit population, were driven out of Kashmir due to ethnic cleansing. 9,309 homes have been burned down along with 1,659 small businesses. The sad part is that the Kashmir issue gets so wrapped up in global concerns on one side and obfuscated by massive state-sponsored propaganda on the other that so few people know about the tragic state of Kashmiri Pundits.

What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising; it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims. The Godhra, Gujarat massacre in India has been just news and a mere matter to express the grief of the so-called “international community” leaving thousands of Indian Muslims dead and helpless. Aren’t these the acts of Genocide? Where is the Genocide Convention playing a role to achieve its goal of curbing the heinous act of genocide worldwide?

The crime of genocide in domestic law and the domestic prosecution of persons committing genocide are subjects of international significance. Correspondingly, the failure of nations to enact laws against genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are matters of international concern. For example, in April 1999, a Swiss court threw out the charge of genocide in the trial of Rwandan mayor, Fulgence Niyonteze, because the crime of genocide was not at that time a part of Swiss law. Many countries have more effective laws for air piracy (hijacking) than for genocide.
The failure of countries to prosecute or extradite perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes has become a matter of tremendous international interest since the October 1998 arrest of former Chilean dictator Pinochet in the United Kingdom on Spanish charges of torture and genocide. Pinochet was released in March 2000 and allowed to return to Chile, but his case has become a crucial turning point in the effort to bring an end to impunity for torture, genocide and other international crimes.

The Security Council is entitled to intervene, or to authorize intervention in order to prevent persecution of ethnic minorities. Since the end of the Cold War, the Security Council cannot be seriously questioned regarding the same. Here we can somewhat say that the starting point was Resolution 688, authorizing the use of force against Iraq in order to protect the Kurdish minority from atrocities. Though late but there have been attempts to save the Burma-Myanmar Genocide victims. But the issue is not whether the international community may intervene but rather whether it must intervene when a group protected by the Genocide Convention is threatened with extermination.

Its better late then never, the anguish within the international community as the reaction to the genocide victims and its deliberate and honest efforts implies that there will be prompt action to prevent a future genocide.

CONCLUSION

The failure to prevent past genocides caused UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lament as follows on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in 2004: “We must never forget our collective failure to protect at least 800,000 defenseless men, women and children who perished in Rwanda 10 years ago. Such crimes cannot be reversed. Such failures cannot be repaired. The dead cannot be brought back to life. So, what can we do?”

The answer is for the international community to pay heed to the early warnings of genocide – and incitement has been demonstrated to be a predictor of the genocide to come – and to act now, as mandated under the Genocide Convention, to prevent this clear and present danger, not only to Israel and the Jewish people, but to international peace and security.

The international community needs to review on few matters regarding the weakened application of the Genocide Convention. There should be serious amendments in the meaning of genocide stated under Article II of the convention in order to broaden its scope. With the passage of time the technology is racing in full throttle so is the criminal minds. The holocaust is not at all restricted but growing along with technology which has given rise to new terminology such as democide, populicide, politicide, etc.

The law and politics of genocide stagnated for several decades following the adoption of the convention in 1948. The thinking and writing about its scope since 1948 have been meager and sometimes superficial, with a few notable exceptions. When the horrors of ethnic conflict became the scourge of the last decade of the millennium, the convention was, so to speak, hauled off the shelf and dusted off. Unlike other human rights treaties, there has been no “treaty body” or committee charged with ensuring the Genocide Convention’s implementation and helping to define its content.

Despite being a member of the treaty, the member states treat the Convention like a dead- letter. What is really required is a formal recognition of the duty to intervene to prevent genocide. That would require serious amendments of the Genocide Convention through the UN and a serious enforcement of the same in the state laws individually. Whatever the means is, if the message is clear it will be taken as authoritative interpretation of the convention’s obligation to prevent genocide. Political scientist R. J. Rummel described the concept of Democide not with an intention that the world would be cognizant of the term but to alert the international community of the fast growth and broadening ambit of the Holocaust.

Genocide have tended to wholly equate it with the murder and only the murder by government of people due to their national, ethnical, racial or religious (or, what is called indelible) group membership. This way of viewing genocide has become so ingrained that it seems utterly false to say. The crime leaders have invented new ways to suffice their lust for hue and cry.
A human being is complete when he has his body and soul together, if one of them dies the existence of a human is completely worthless. The presence of soul and conscience makes a person different from an animal. Isn’t the continuous growth of rape victims, compelling the downtrodden to commit suicide (the increasing rate of rapes through out the world, the suicide of Indian farmers) by the corrupt officials and the government burying their heads in the sand instead of solving the problem, commit mass-murder impliedly? The convention needs to be more focused on the new genre of mayhem with the appointment of innovative monitoring staff to keep a prompt eye on occurrence world wide. In an era of globalization, the United States alone cannot exert effective pressure on the government of a despotic nation without multilateral cooperation. The international effort to combat tyranny worldwide lies solely in words, not actions, as evidenced by the refusal of rest of the world nations to take a strong stand against the Government indulged in genocidal activities. From classification to organization, preparation through extermination, genocide is something that the whole world has witnessed. Stopping genocide during its first six stages is more logical than attempting to stop it during its seventh stage, extermination. As a global community it is our job to learn these steps, so when the phases of genocide begin we can prevent them from progressing and save millions of lives.

Genocide is first and foremost a crime (and only secondarily a historical event or sociological process). Therefore a judgment as to whether a specific act is an act of genocide should eventually be made by a court having jurisdiction over the crime. When a crime is ongoing (or when the perpetrators are likely to repeat the offense) of special urgency is the duty of governmental authorities to enforce the law by acting to halt or suppress the crime. In such cases enforcing the law means protecting potential victims and apprehending suspected perpetrators.

War isn’t this century’s biggest killer. It’s the human being themselves who are the killers as turning there heads away from their responsibility to stand as one against the crime of genocide. Once the common mass starts raising their voice against the crime no body would dare to commit such heinous crime in future.