The Prison Project, A Quest for Justice

In “Quest for Justice”, Steve McCain pens a compelling call to action for anyone in opposition to tyranny, the carceral justice system of the U.S.A, and the privatized state – elements of an elitist society which values profits over human lives and well-being. His essay criticizes the fact that many laws are for the purpose of maintaining power rather than upholding justice for those who have experienced harm– in his words, “legislation that preys on and entraps citizens rather than striving to protect them.” He specifically calls out legislation which makes a fair and impartial trial impossible, placing the burden on the shoulders of the accused to prove that they are innocent. Prisons and the prison system are built on such laws, which focus on punishment and government institutionalization rather than systems of rehabilitation.

“There was a time in my life when I was naive, when I believed in the integrity of our Justice system, and of those holding authority over us. That time has long since passed. I am no longer that person. How about you?”

With the voice of an orator and the resolve of a true activist, McCain challenges readers to join him in whatever capacity they can on his Quest for Justice. McCain spends much of his time writing essays and letters of political or religious nature.

Topaz, Prison Project coordinator

Quest for Justice

By Steve McCain

I address you today on behalf of the citizenry of the United States, for our democracy appears grievously ill, and the public community in dire straits. I fear for the civic welfare of our populace and our posterity. I am neither demagogue nor politico, though methinks that I must assume the persona of both to achieve my purpose. I seek neither fame, fortune, nor the esteem of men. My only goal, the only gain I seek, is justice, justice for all. But justice in these United States, or at least in the state of Texas, is a rare and precious commodity.

I appeal to you today because I myself was ensnared by injustices within the criminal justice system, entrapped by corrupt legislation designed to make the person accused of committing a crime untenable while making the accuser infallible. These legislations undermine the constitution by voiding the protection of a fair and impartial trial. I desire to prevent others from falling into the snares that so thoroughly victimized me, and I believe that raising public awareness is paramount in achieving this objective.

I approach you today to implore your assistance, to beseech your involvement, and to call you to action, for we all must act to reverse these inequities before it is too late to affect requisite change.

I serve you a stew that some might say is hard to swallow, and perhaps there is some truth in this sentiment. I would not, however, have you partake of it while ignorant of its contents. I do not expect, nor would I even want, you to join with me in this cause without raising questions, for every cognitive individual has the right, and even an obligation, to raise questions of the people and powers seeking to influence them. Questions demand answers, and understanding those answers leads to greater awareness of the world we live in. Questions are the cure for ignorance and a recipe for enlightenment.

My quest for justice, for requisite change, necessitates the pursuit of the following objectives:

  • To unite the people in raising a resonant voice against the rise of tyranny in the state of Texas and throughout the United States, for my voice alone would never be heard.
  • To revoke laws that destroy lives; not all laws, mind, for I am no anarchist, but those laws that prey on the people and undermine the protections provided by the constitution of the United States.
  • To repeal laws that have been enacted not to provide for the public welfare, but to capture coinage for the coffers of the State.
  • To expunge laws that deny justice to the people by making a fair and impartial trial impossible to achieve.
  • To abrogate legislation that relieves the State of the obligation of burden of proof, and places this burden, instead, on the shoulders of the accused, thus effectively declaring him or her guilty until, and unless, he or she can prove –irrefutably– their innocence. Recall, if you will, that justice is supposed to work the other way around: The accused is supposed to be regarded as innocent until, and unless the State can prove –beyond a reasonable doubt– his or her guilt. Notice also the distinct difference in obligation when this burden is shifted to the accused: irrefutable proof versus proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • To impugn the State’s right, and the legitimacy thereof, to convict a citizen of a crime when not only can their guilt not be proven, but, in many cases, it cannot even be established to any degree of certainty that the alleged crime was committed at all.

As there are tangible rewards for our success so are there consequences for our failures, and if we fail these objectives we may very well be bidding requiscat in pace to our democracy, our way of life, and our freedom. Think this over and ask yourself, ‘Is failure worth its cost?’

It is for these objectives that I plead my case before you. I ask now, do you find fault in these objectives? If you were put on trial would you like to believe that the proceedings would be fair, just, and impartial? Would you want the law to require the State to present evidence (beyond the mere accusation against you) and corroborating witnesses to substantiate the charges against you, or would you prefer these requirements be waived? Would you prefer to be assumed innocent, or guilty, at the onset of your trial? Which do you believe would better serve justice? These are all rhetorical questions, but there may come a time when your very life depends on how you answer them. There was a time in my life when I was naive, when I believed in the integrity of our Justice system, and of those holding authority over us. That time has long since passed. I am no longer that person. How about you?

I am in need of partners (like-minded individuals and organizations) who are both willing and able to publish, promote, and proliferate information across a broad range of social media websites, and perhaps special interests blogs, to reach far and wide as many people as possible. Our task is one that is utterly dependent on numbers. The greater our numbers the greater our chances of success. I also need partners who will send correspondence to various media and advocacy organizations, because their support will lend credence to our cause and volume to our voice. And, last but not least, I need partners who will send correspondence to government officials (congresspersons, senators, etc.) advocating legislative reform. Again, we are fighting a war of numbers. The government is not likely to address concerns voiced by only a few, but the concerns become harder to ignore as the voices are multiplied. There is also an outstanding need for writers and researchers. I am happy to write, but my ability to research is severely inhibited, so I would gladly welcome the assistance of both.

I need your voice, we all do, all of us who are consigned to prison, and all of those who are not. Our country needs you, now more than ever. A democracy’s greatest enemy is the inertia of her own citizens. We can no longer afford to be inactive, uninformed, and uninvolved. We cannot continue going about our lives accepting things without thought simply because they are familiar. We can no longer close our eyes to the percolating problems set in motion behind the closed doors of the State legislature. We cannot, as we have done in the past, turn our heads away and ignore these problems, hoping they will go away; they will not! As members of the public community we are free to evade the effort of thinking, and to reject reason, but we are not free to avoid the penalty of the abyss that we refuse to see. We must begin questioning the right and wrong of what our legislators are doing. We must question –not ignore– the moral sense of their protestations, carefully weighing the right and wrong, the good and bad, and the benefits and detriments of their actions. We must carefully consider the intended effect versus potential effect, or actual effect, if after the fact. If we continue to overlook the moral wrongness of their actions, regardless of our justification for doing so, our rights, freedoms, and liberty are doomed to be forfeit by our own hand and of our own volition. And regrettably, if this is our choice we do not deserve to be a free people in the first place, for freedom is not granted without cost; no, quite the contrary! Freedom is earned, and many times with our very own blood, sweat, and tears. Freedom and liberty, like knowledge, courage, and honor, takes a special sort of person to understand and enjoy. Freedom means responsibility. The time has come in our country for the citizens to be responsible with their freedom, to seize the day, to make well informed decisions about our governance, and to take decisive action against legislative enactments designed to impinge upon the rights of the citizens.

In the words of Wiley B. Rutledge:

It is from petty tyrannies that larger ones take roots and grow. This fact can be no more plain than when they are imposed on the most basic rights of all. Seedlings planted in the soil grow great, and, in growing, break down the foundations of liberty.

Thomas v. Collins, 325 u.s 516; 65 S. Ct. 315 (1944)

I ask for your voice, not your money, for you as much as me, to save our country, to save our homes, and to save the lives of our families and friends. If your answer is yes please contact me at the address provided. Please, also, feel free to publish this discourse far and wide. We are all counting on you. Tomorrow depends on the actions we take today!

Steve McCain

The Insurgent would like to take a moment to thank our incarcerated comrades for your correspondence and contributions to our paper. We are continuously trying to expand this project and provide mutual aid to those imprisoned by the carceral state, if you have any feedback as to how we can better support you, our readers, please reach out to us at our mailing address listed in our contact us box at the back of every issue.

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