Guilty Before Proven Innocent: A look behind America’s Iron Curtain

More than one-third of America’s citizens are under some kind of correctional control – jail, prison, probation, or parole.

What is the Iron Curtain?  When Russia was called the Soviet Union and under Communist rule, communism was called the “iron curtain.”

In America we claim freedom, but too many of our citizens are trapped behind the iron bars of justice.

You’ve probably heard it on the news or seen it on the internet:  2.3 Americans are in prison and 11 to 12 million churns through jails every year.  Nearly two thirds of those in jail are technically innocent.  They have been charged, but not proven, of a crime.

Since most people in jail live in poverty anyway, they cannot afford to pay the bondsman, and so they sit.  More and more women are being arrested and incarcerated – for low level crimes.  Mothers are losing their children, not for abuse, but because their sentence term is long enough for the courts take the children away.

The majority of people in the system are parents.  Mothers and fathers with young children lose their jobs because of a three-day stay in jail.  The consequences of a conviction, whether felony or misdemeanor, is lost chances.

Lost chances at renting a decent place to live and having a well-paying job.  Policies of landowners and employers are geared toward not hiring, or renting to, those with a criminal record.

The three largest groups of the homeless:

1. Those incarcerated more than once
2. Those incarcerated who are recently released
3. People of color

Once the legal system has you, say goodbye not only to your freedom, but to your life – which will not be the same once your legal problems are over.  They will follow you the rest of your life, and if you happen to be involved in a crime down the road, you will be one of the first to be suspected.

Suicide does not know income boundaries, those with the highest income and the lowest income commit suicide – but there is an inordinate number of suicides among the mentally ill in prisons and jails.

Suicide is the leading cause of death in correctional facilities. An estimated half of all inmate-suicides are committed by those with a mental illness.

Vera Institute of Justice

There is no psychiatric facility in the United States that holds more people with mental illness than jails!  The conditions of jail just make things worse:

    1. The lights are on 24/7. Day in, day out, there is halogen and/or fluorescent lighting in the day room, the sleeping rooms, and the exercise yard. This is light torture. The body needs dark to process melatonin for sleep. The mind and body need a restful nights’ sleep to function properly.
    2. The food is meant to tempt empty bellies, and not intended to be wildly nutritious or balanced. A poor diet contributes to mental-health problems as much as lack of sleep.
    3. Hygiene. Shared toilet facilities, improper sanitation, less-than-clean conditions, all of these contribute to the rampant spread of disease.
    4. Lack of sunshine or exercise. You can be sure the jailers do not pass out vitamin D pills! Without sunshine, depression sets in. Jails do not promote much activity, and we know what lack of activity does to our bodies.

It is true, people are in jail to be punished, but why does punishment take away basic human needs? If proper food, exercise, sunshine and adequate hygiene were provided, jail would not be such a hellhole.

Did you know the states that rank the lowest in healthcare rank the highest IN BOTH suicide deaths and incarceration?

These states are clustered in the mountain states, including Alaska.  The states with the heaviest gun control laws have the lowest rates of suicide.  Barriers, such as gun locks, take away the impulsiveness of the moment, and gives the person a chance to think twice.



America incarcerates more of our citizens than any other country in the world, but 25 U.S. states incarcerate more of their citizens than America.

Unknown numbers are in the correctional system who are innocent of the crime.  As high as 230,000 people, or one-tenth of the prison population, may be innocent.  Not innocent waiting for trial, but innocent. As in "I didn't do it."

How can so many people be so wrongly accused?  The end of the book has a shining example of how this happens.

I hope you like history, because Part 4 takes you back 120 years to when Wyoming was starting out as a state.  From 1869 to 1920, Wyoming was the only political entity in the world that gave women the right to vote.  It turns out the Equality State, as it was named because of women voting and owning property, is not as equal as we may think.

A man wrongly convicted

Tricked into the deputy’s lair with a false promise of a job, a drunken confession was rung out of Tom Horn, and he never saw the light of day again.  For twenty-two months he sat in the Laramie County jail, first waiting his trial and then waiting his conviction.

Tom Horn making a horsehair lariat.

Through twists and turns, and smoke and mirrors, the prosecuting attorney wove a convincing story of Tom’s guilt, but the sad part, none of it was true.  He clouded the waters by bringing witnesses that convoluted any evidence brought up by the the defense.  By the end of the trial, after threats from the public if they let Tom Horn go, the jury found him guilty, thinking that he could appeal their decision to the supreme court and the governor.

Justice did not work so well for Tom Horn.  He testified in court that he trusted cattle more than courts.  Perhaps we should be as suspicious.

The story is complete with a woman that came forth with knowledge of the real killer, but yellow jounalism tagged her as a prostitute, the prosecutor threw her in jail for perjury, and the governor said she was making up “theories.”

If you think the justice system is just, then this book is for you.  If you are in the system, then you know what I’m talking about.  My book is meant to open eyes to see the profound impact mass incarceration is having on America’s families.  If you support the death penalty, maybe the truth about Tom Horn will change your mind.

No wonder our society has so many problems, when you consider incarceration and poverty have risen together, in tandem, over the last thirty years.

And this, my friends, is what this book is about.  The only one like it.

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Buy it today.  Hot off the Press.  Read it, enjoy it, pass it on.  Please give my book a boost and place your review on Amazon or leave your comments below.

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