Camp Lone Star – Cruel and Unusual Punishments – Before Conviction
Outpost of Freedom
November 14, 2014
On Monday, November 10, 2014, K. C. Massey was released from the “Correctional Institution Willacy County”, “a contracted correctional institution, operated by a private corporation”, after 14 days of incarceration.
Massey’s bail had been set at $30,000, and his wife had raised the $3,000.00 necessary for the bond (not to be returned) through a bail bond agency. Fortunately, Ronald G. Morgan, U. S. Magistrate Judge, Southern District of Texas (Brownsville), saw that Massey had led an exemplary life, with contributions to community and even law enforcement, saw fit to release him on an “unsecured bond of $30,000”, which means that the bondsman will not make his $3,000 and that the Massey’s will not have to pay that penalty for him to remain on the streets until trial. However, the freedom that you and I enjoy is not to be his to enjoy.
Though Magistrate Morgan chose not to impose the secured bond, the conditions of Massey’s release are far from being able to live his life in a normal manner. Instead, they have placed conditions, which would be considered by most, to be just a prison door away from incarceration.
The Grand Jury indicted Massey on four counts (subject of a future article), so he is, in accordance with the Constitution, accused, based upon “probable cause”, possibly guilty of the crimes alleged. The final determination as to innocence or guilt is, however, subject only to the determination of a jury of his peers. It is not the determination of the U. S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case, or the Magistrate. Therefore, he is “innocent until proven guilty”. This is, or was, the unequivocal foundation for the judicial system that our nation once so proudly hailed.
The release from detention was based upon a document styled “Appearance Bond” (includes all documents discussed herein). That would imply that it was to assure his appearance in court, when called to do so. This would be consistent with the concept of “innocent until proven guilty”, and would allow him to continue his life, as he had before, without impediment by conditions that take away his freedom. Appearance for that determination of innocence or guilt, not for punishment prior to conviction.
So, let’s look at what has been imposed on Massey that most of us would consider “cruel and unusual punishments” (Eighth Amendment).
The “Appearance Bond, on its first page, says:
“This appearance bond may be forfeited if the defendant does not comply with the above agreement. The court may immediately order the amount of the bond surrendered to the United States, including the security for the bond, if the defendant does not comply with the agreement. At the request of the United States, the court may order a judgment of forfeiture against the defendant and each surety for the entire amount of the bond, including interest and costs.”
So, let’s look closely at what is above that written statement of forfeiture. The only items checked, or otherwise indicated, are:
(X) to appear for court proceedings;
(X) if convicted, to surrender to serve a sentence that the court may impose; or
(X) to comply with all conditions set forth in the Order Setting Conditions of Release.
(√) (2) This is an unsecured bond of $30,000.00
That, in itself, is sufficient to assure his appearance. If he fails to appear are otherwise comply with the three conditions, that is it, the court will take the $30,000.
So, now we will look at what is below the statement quoted above. First is a statement regarding the property used to secure the bond. Then, it has an:
Acceptance. I, the defendant — and each surety — have read this appearance bond and have either read all the conditions of release set by the court or had them explained to me. I agree to this Appearance Bond.
Interesting that the previously set condition on the first page, then the append those conditions to include “conditions of release” on the second (final) page of the “Appearance Bond”. And, now we will look at those conditions of release that have nothing, at all, to do with Massey’s agreement to appear in court, etc.
The “Order Setting Conditions of Release”, being a part of the “requirement” that goes beyond simply assuring appearance, begins to eat away at Massey’s freedoms, which we, not the court, must determine if they are consistent with the intent of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The pertinent parts of the Conditions (indented) and my comments thereto:
(1) The defendant must not violate federal, state, or local law while on release.
(2) The defendant must cooperate in the collection of a DNA sample if it is authorized by 42 U.S.C. § 14135a.
(3) The defendant must advise the court or the pretrial services office or supervising officer in writing before making any change of residence or telephone number.
(4) The defendant must appear in court as required and, if convicted, must surrender as directed to serve a sentence that the court may impose.
Nothing wrong with these, because they have to stay in touch with you, and you shouldn’t go committing crimes, even if you don’t know that they are crimes (Camp Lone Star – Massey & The Clash of Laws) — EXCEPT — they want DNA samples, even if you are arrested or facing charges (42 U.S.C. § 14135). Neither of these are convictions, so what gives? They want a database, so all they have to do is charge you with a crime, get the DNA sample, and then let you go. Neat trick! At the same time, people are fighting, and winning, cases against unjustified collection of DNA samples.
Next, we will go to the “Additional Conditions of Release” (included in the linked “Appearance Bond”). This will include all of the applicable ones, but there are some that stand out and might be considered “cruel and unusual”, at least in the original concept of the phrase. So, as we go through them put, yourself in the mindset of those who committed those sacred words to the Constitution, and consider, also, the concerns that led to the Declaration of Independence. The indented portions are from the document, my comments after those that warrant such comment. Bolded portions are typed into a standard form.
(x) (7) The defendant must (checked items only):
(x) (a) submit to supervision by and report for supervision to the U.S. Pretrial Services Agency telephone number 956-548-2667 , no later than [date left blank]
(x) (b) continue or actively seek employment and provide proof to Pretrial Services.
(x) (e) not obtain a passport or other international travel document.
(x) (f) abide by the following restrictions on personal association, residence, or travel: Travel is restricted to the Northern District of Texas with permission to travel to Brownsville, Texas for court appearances and attorney visits only. No travel into Mexico.
“(f)” imposes travel restrictions within the Northern District of Texas. It also includes permission to travel to Brownsville, this being to attend court, as required. The implication, then, is that he is free to travel within the prescribed area. We will address this, later on, in this section, and once, more, later on.
(x) (g) avoid all contact, directly or indirectly, with any person who is or may be a victim or witness in the investigation or prosecution, including: co-defendants and any member of “Rusty’s Rangers”, an armed citizen militia group.
“(k)” imposes a restriction on the right to speech, the right to peaceably assemble, and, perhaps the right to petition government (First Amendment). It also sets the prima facie representation of Rusty’s Rangers, a private group of concerned citizens, well within the laws of Texas, as “an armed citizen militia group”, regardless of the fact that both state and federal constitutions provide for who is militia, under their respective constitutions and statutes (See Liberty or Laws? Government Enforces Their Laws – Who Shall Enforce the Constitution?).
(x) (k) not possess a firearm, destructive device, or other weapon; remove all weapons/firearms from residence prior to release and provide proof to Pretrial Services.
(x) (1) not use alcohol (x) at all ( ) excessively.
If alcohol was not a part of the alleged crime, why would they deny that freedom — to imbibe? And, they didn’t even give him the benefit of the qualifier “excessively”.
(x) (m) not use or unlawfully possess a narcotic drug or other controlled substances defined in 21 U.S.C. § 802, unless prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner.
They had already said that the “defendant must not violate federal, state, or local law while on release”, so, well, perhaps the one hand has no idea what the other hand is doing, or, there is an extreme deficiency in the intelligence of those who write these documents. It will also seem to suggest their inability to comprehend the Constitution.
(x) (p) participate in one of the following location restriction programs and comply with its requirements as directed.
(x) (ii) Home Detention. You are restricted to your residence at all times except for employment; education; religious services; medical, substance abuse, or mental health treatment; attorney visits; court appearances; court-ordered obligations; or other activities approved in advance by the pretrial services office or supervising officer;
Back to the use of grammar in documents. The wording and punctuation here suggests that prior approval only applies to “other activities”. Suggesting that the intent was a degree of freedom, however, Massey has been instructed that if he leaves the house, not the yard, that it will set off an alarm and he would be in violation, as you will see, later.
(x) (q) submit to location monitoring as directed by the pretrial services office or supervising officer and comply with all of the program requirements and instructions provided.
(x) You must pay all or part of the cost of the program based on your ability to pay as determined by the pretrial services office or supervising officer.
So, the federal government, with all of the money that they waste, decides that someone under these constraints must also pay for what constitutes his imprisonment.
(x) (r) report as soon as possible, to the pretrial services office or supervising officer, every contact with law enforcement personnel, including arrests, questioning, or traffic stops.
The final page of this document explains the penalties for violation of the conditions given.
First, he has to contact the United States Pretrial Service Officer, Eric Zarate, in Dallas. Then, he has to submit to random “visits” to his home to assure that there are “No Firearms, Destructive Devices, or Dangerous Weapons” in the home. Darn, he has to agree to suspend the requirement for a warrant to search his home. Scratch the Fourth Amendment, but then we have already addressed that in “Camp Lone Star – Search Warrant or Fishing license?“. This simply broadens the government’s ability to remove rights that were protected by the Constitution, and supported, as explained in the linked article, by the fact that when Massey’s wife said, “no, you can’t search without a warrant”, they had no way to look inside of the Massey home.
Then, it states that Massey is to give “FIVE days notice… for approval of travel outside the restricted area.” Now, this implies that he is free to roam in the “Northern District of Texas”, but we will soon see that additional document will erode, further, the rights that were supposed to be protected, absent a conviction. A map of the “Northern District of Texas” is included in the documentation provided to Massey.
The final document dealing with Massey’s release is the “Home Confinement Program Participant Agreement”. (Indent is from the pertinent parts, comments are mine):
1. I, [K. Massey], have been Placed in the Home Confinement Program. I agree to comply with all program rules set forth in this agreement and the instructions of my probation or pretrial services Failure to comply with this agreement or the instructions of my officer will be considered a violation of my supervision and may result in an adverse action. I agree to call my officer immediately if I have any questions about these rules or if I experience any problems with the monitoring equipment.
3. I will remain at my approved residence at all times, except for activities approved in advance by my probation or pretrial services officer. Regularly occurring activities will be provided for in a written weekly schedule which will remain in effect until modified by my officer. I must obtain my officer’s advance permission for any absences away from home that are not included in my written schedule.
Does this remind you of being “grounded”, when you were a kid? Except that violation could land Massey in prison.
- I understand that my officer will use telephone calls and personal visits to monitor my compliance. When I am at home, I agree to promptly answer my telephone or door. If I fail to answer my telephone or door when I should be at home, my officer will conclude that I am absent and in violation of my home confinement restrictions.
So, guilt (conclude) without trial. It wouldn’t take much for a pissed off officer to “violate” him and send him back to prison.
- I understand that my officer must be able to locate me at all times when I am away from home. If I do not have a job with a fixed location, my officer must be able to locate me by calling my employer. I also understand that jobs that do not meet these requirements are not permitted while I am in the Home Confinement Program. I understand that all job changes require advance approval from my officer.
- I will not deviate from my approved schedule except in an emergency. I first will try to get the permission of my officer. If this is not possible, I will call my officer as soon as I am able to do so. If I call during non-business hours, I will leave a message, including my name, the date, the time, a brief description of the emergency, and my location or destination. I agree to provide proof of the emergency as requested by my officer.
- While in the Home Confinement Program, I agree to wear a non-removable transmitter that my officer will attach either to my wrist or ankle.
These transmitter cuffs were, at once only used for those convicted of crimes. I guess the manufacturer of them has convinced the government to buy more. Not much different than the ankle shackles of the past, except you only need one ankle, not two.
10. I understand that I will be held responsible for damage, other than normal wear, to the assigned equipment. I also understand that if I do not return the equipment, or do not return it in good condition, I may be charged for replacement or the repair of the equipment, and I agree to pay these costs.
13. I agree not to move, disconnect or tamper with the monitoring unit or place any objects on top of it.
14. I agree not to remove or tamper with the transmitter device except in a life-threatening emergency or with the prior permission of my officer.
15. I agree to allow authorized personnel to inspect and maintain the transmitter device and monitoring unit.
16. I agree to notify my officer immediately, or as directed, if I: a) lose electrical power at my residence for more than 24 continuous hours, b) remove the transmitter device from my wrist or ankle because of an emergency, or c) experience any problems with the monitoring equipment. During non-business hours, I agree to call my officer and leave a message that includes my name, the date, the time, and the nature of my problem. If there is a power problem, I agree that I will call and leave another message when the power is restored. I also agree to notify my officer of any problems with my telephone service as soon as I am able to do so.
If the monitor goes out in the middle of the night, and you don’t realize it because you are sleeping, you are in violation. If it comes on while you are still sleeping, well, another violation.
17. I understand and agree that all telephone calls from the monitoring center to my residence will be recorded by the monitoring center. I will follow all directives from monitoring personnel when they call.
So, you can see how they began with a fairly innocuous agreement, simply a return for trial, etc., and you are free to go. Next, they step it up a notch, increasing restrictions and limiting travel to the “Northern District of Texas”. Then, they remove nearly a third of Texas and reduce the “free to roam” space to the size of the house. The first, the Appearance Bond”, seems to satisfy a reasonable approach to assuring that an honest man will appear when required, even to the point of turning himself in to serve time. And, since the Court determined that it was an unsecured bond, there can be little doubt that the character of K. C. Massey warranted such a status. Then, piecemeal, they begin to inflict what could be considered no less than unusual punishment by hanging the threat of returning to prison for as little as failing to make a phone call, under the conditions described. This is a practice that used to be reserved for convicted criminals, either on parole or probation. That which might be considered leniency to the convict can be considered nothing less than punishment to a man who is simply charged with a crime and still assumed innocent. That would meet the standard of cruel as well as unusual.
This is also an education for those who might face charges, even if they have done nothing in violation of state laws, of what to expect if the government decides to charge you with a crime.
This, once again, leads us to question:
Do the people are to serve the Government, or, Does the government to serve the People?