To: Mathew Mari, New York Attorney, The Mathew Mari Show, WVOX
Callista Gingrich, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican
Lewis J. Borsellino, Principle, DefendEdge Chicago, (SOC)
Jared Kushner, Advisor to the President of the United States
WHY I AM ASKING YOU TO HELP
As introduction, I am a writer, mainly on judicial reform and the Constitution, but each of you has either read or received one of my books. Mrs. Gingrich read “Justice Denied: the United States v. The People” back in 2012 while at the N.R.A. Convention with her husband; Mr. Borsellino also read that book and knows me personally for almost twenty years. I was Mr. Mari’s guest last week in New York regarding my latest book, “Restoring America: by returning to its Constitution” and Mr. Kushner, as well as his father, Charles (my old landlord years ago when I had offices in Manhattan) received, “Justice Restored: 10 steps to end mass incarceration in America” back in 2016, as has each member of Mr. Kushner’s White House Committee on judicial reform.
You are the people that can make this plan come to pass and end one of the most violent chapters in American history. We have a confluence of events that can work together to solve several problems at once, while rebuilding failing institutions and the public’s trust in them:
What this team could accomplish
I know you all to be deeply religious people but also pragmatists. Mr. Mari has championed the wrongfully convicted for 42 years as a defense attorney as well as hosting one of the most respected religiously-informed radio shows in New York City. Ms. Gingrich understands the problems of over-incarceration better than any politician, and now serves as Ambassador to the Vatican. Mr. Borsellino was top-trader in the S&P pits for years, as well as being the most successful problem solver I know— a lifelong resident of Chicago. Mr. Kushner—a champion in his own right for judicial reform—has the ear of the gentleman with the courage and means to make this happen, and the personal life experience to know this plan would work if followed.
We have what is arguably the most powerful, richest religious institution in mankind’s history, losing its way over scandals, lack of purpose, and loss of trust. This is not the first time the church has overcome similar situations, so history gives us a guide of how to cure it now. We do not need to re-invent. Most are familiar with Don Bosco of Italy (St. John Bosco) who addressed a similar time in post-Napoleonic/industrial revolution times in Italy. He was a great follower of the philosophy of Francis de Sales. The Society of Salesians that he founded ultimately established 250 homes for young men and women, saving 130,000 children from lives of poverty, crime, futility, and lack of meaning. Instead, 6000 of them became the next generation of priests and founder of convents, and three were canonised.
American prisons today are largely populated by people who do not belong there. The guilty snitch goes free in a deal to convict others, and the guys who had little or no part in a crime, go to prison. I know this, because I lived with them. I spent 7 years being moved all over America—29 moves between jails and prisons, to prevent my getting assistance—yet never convicted of any crime in or by any court of jurisdiction. A thorough review of 5,760 capital cases over a 23 year period—by the courts themselves—revealed that our criminal justice system gets it wrong 82% of the time, even when death is the outcome. https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/summary-columbia-university-study-prof-james-s-liebman.
After personally assisting convicted citizens seeking relief in over 400 non-capital criminal cases over the past 12 years, I can tell you the error rate is even higher when the court is putting their targets away for a few decades rather than killing them.
By offering a form of specific work-probation to those who are not a risk to society—including a stimulus package of what would have been their cost of incarceration for the coming year—approximately $36,000 each, there will be little recidivism. We give them this money upfront upon release—making this contingent upon also accepting a job of helping restore Catholic properties (and religious-based institutions—that hold a positive view of our way of life)—or for training by local police and perhaps Military Police units to patrol their own former neighborhoods like the beat cops of old. Leaving prison with $40 and a bus ticket—and no hope or opportunity—is what causes recidivism. We change that formula, and we change the outcome completely.
First, we’ve created a small economic boom in the very worst neighborhoods. Small businesses will spring up (addressed in next section) apartments and empty stores will be rented by the former prisoners with cash in their pockets, and small homes will be purchased in the places that were recently the scenes of what is statistically worse violence than the war zones of Afghanistan.
For those who contend there would be a spike in violence, that is untrue. The State of Kentucky released 600,000 violent and non-violent prisoners back into the community in 2004 alone for budgetary and other reasons—and many tens of thousands since—with no spike in crime. In fact, crime rates went down, following recent releases. New York similarly released 17,000 inmates in 2105, and crime went down. No one can tell a kid on the street better than a former prisoner, why he or she never wants to go there.
The Church would once again make itself relevant to the community, automatically drawing support from it, as not only the parishioners but all people would see its positive impact. No more young boys and girls need to be on the streets at night for lack of a stable home environment. They’ve got a bed, food, with structure, hope, a future—and a message if they want to hear it. Many of these young people would choose to become part of the church, just as they did in the 1800s when they saw the huge potential offered by true faith. Many would choose to serve the church or synagogue—just as they did before. Another problem solved—shortage of young people willing to dedicate themselves to our religious institutions, that hold society together.
And just as John Bosco did the the 1800s, we offer the residents apprenticeship opportunities to learn a trade under safe circumstances and rules, so they are not taken advantage of, but have a skill that can support them in a normal life. As the community thrives once more from its new-found economic freedom and vibrancy, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, brick masons, and all manner of trades will be in high demand.
And the former local tough-guys released from prison, who know the community and its people, will be walking their own neighborhood streets, two-by-two, day-and-night, with billy-clubs and badges which would instantly make a world of difference. No precinct time after training, just check in with a police-issued cell phone and log into Four-Square or some other tracking program that allows supervisors to monitor their beats and movements. Regular pay for regular work—and safe streets. If there is any problem, the local residents will have a place to report it.
If these former felons successfully complete the police training program and ‘beat duty’, they would be offered an official pardon, and an opportunity to join the police department as an officer, with all that implies. Another problem—shortage of police recruits—solved.
The Economic Piece
There is no place on earth that does not or has not responded to economic freedom. British pirates and opium dealers dumped on a rock known as Hong Kong, created what is still today one of the economic miracles of the world. Hong Kong remains in the top twenty in terms of GDP. The Portuguese accomplished similar success in Macau with similarly unwanted members of their own societies.
The secrets to economic success are few but immutable. The stability of a safe local environment under local control with as few regulations as possible, and freedom to associate wherever and however is feasible—will create this miracle, even on the empty, violent streets of Southside. And it will happen fast.
Jane Jacobs, Author of The Death and Life of American Cities, once wrote, “Urban planners in New York and ‘development’ seemed to end community life on the streets.” It was because of Jane Jacobs and her relentless attacks on the unelected city planners—who wanted to criss-cross Lower Manhattan with a series of major highways that would have destroyed Little Italy, Greenwich Village, and other vibrant communities—that New York is as liveable as it is today.
Jacobs told Robert Moses—the unelected czar of New York urban planning—that he and his people must learn “to respect—in the deepest sense—strips of chaos that have a weird wisdom of their own not yet encompassed in our concept of urban order.”
Our initiative would need to include these ‘strips of chaos. “Peace on the Streets” zones, where stifling ‘licensing requirements’, red-tape, creativity destroying regulations are suspended would thrive. Street vendors who can’t afford to rent the stores can sell their wares or services on the street just like in booming economies and vibrant cities the world over. In that chaos lies order—because it is having people on the street rather than hiding in their homes, that makes them safe. It is the empty streets in which all manner of evil and dark deeds hold sway.
The so-called ‘food deserts’ of Southside, will become thriving markets overnight. Local people selling fruits and vegetables in street stalls and markets will turn those neighborhood into food oases. Stands selling grandma’s homemade jam and fresh bread from an oven on the block will pop up like mushrooms after a rain. Small trucking firms will spring up to deliver the goods necessary for this new economy—many of them funded by the huge influx of money from their own citizens returning home from the gulag with money in their pocket.
What the president has done for our nation is no different from what can happen in Southside. Put some money back in the pockets of the people, give them back their freedom by slashing stifling red-tape and regulations—and leave them the hell alone. Learn to respect—in the deepest sense—that these ‘strips of chaos’ have their own wisdom. Trust the people, while re-establishing the true purpose of our religious institutions—to help one another, while living in peace with our neighbor.
By creating these ‘strips of chaos’ there will be activity—and eyes—on the street day and night. Children will once more be safe playing there, and neighbor will look out for neighbor—rather than killing them—because it makes good business sense. They will be watching your back and children, just as you watch theirs. Families would be re-united. A healing would begin.
Communities will begin to beg City Hall to set them free and let them become ‘Peace on the Streets’ zones—and it won’t be long before tax-paying businesses come back to the neighborhood to stay. They will not want to be left out of the economic boom there.
COST of this plan? ZERO. BENEFITS of this plan? ENORMOUS.
Howell W. Woltz, firstname.lastname@example.org, The International Centre for Justice, Warsaw, Poland.
Born in North Carolina and educated at the University of Virginia, Wake Forest University and Caledonian University in Scotland, Howell now lives in Warsaw, Poland with his wife, Dr. Magdalena Iwaniec-Woltz. Howell is the European Correspondent for The Richardson Post and Chairman of The International Centre for Justice.