Finally, the first song of 2015. Also, the first song I’ve written since the move to Queens. No more studio monitors in the living room, no more foot thick stone walls and musician neighbors. Most of it was recorded after Nancy’s bedtime, so I had to whisper.
I got sick of trying to mix it, so I’m just posting it as is. On to the next one!
They Call It Justice
Whatever happened to Habeas Corpus?
Whatever happened to your day in court?
You’ll never get to see a jury
They’ve changed a natural right Into a last resort
The Fifth amendment lets you keep silent
The sixth amendment guarantees a trial
We’re not free,
We’ve got no rights
We plead them all away and we’re living in denial
They call it justice
They call it taking a plea.
They call it justice
But it seems like extortion to me
It seems like extortion to me
It seems like we’re not really free
It’s not a matter of protecting the guilty
It’s not about having a bleeding heart
Absolute power for prosecutors
Gives them the power to rip families apart
The innocent faced with years in prison
Have no chance to let a jury decide
Take a plea,
or risk your life
There’s a gun against their head they’re hands are tied
More than two million are locked in prison
Who never had a chance to stand and face their peers
Remember the name of Kalief Browder
Locked away in Rikers for over three years
Three years waiting to prove his innocence
It’s a shame that we should never permit
They offered pleas
to set him free
He wouldn’t confess to a crime he didn’t commit
I consider [the trial by jury] as the only anchor, ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of it’s constitution.
The result is that, of the 2.2 million Americans now in prison—an appalling number in its own right—well over two million are there as a result of plea bargains dictated by the government’s prosecutors, who effectively dictate the sentences as well.
Almost every year, more than 95% of those charged plead guilty and waive away their rights, with most defendants doing so through the process of plea bargaining. As some commentators have noted, “We now have not only an administrative criminal justice system, but one so dominant that trials take place in the shadow of guilty pleas.
The term “prosecutorial discretion” refers to the fact that under American law, government prosecuting attorneys have nearly absolute and unreviewable power to choose whether or not to bring criminal charges, and what charges to bring, in cases where the evidence would justify charges. This authority provides the essential underpinning to the prevailing practice of plea bargaining, and guarantees that American prosecutors are among the most powerful of public officials.
Kalief Browder RIP
He spent more than one thousand days on Rikers waiting for a trial that never happened. During that time, he endured about two years in solitary confinement.
It doesn’t seem like justice to me.