Critical crossroads for overhauling the police state, supporting good policing and speaking out against police abuse
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The United States is an overgrown police state, which of necessity comes with our overgrown criminal justice system that incarcerates nearly one quarter of the world’s prison population and has the highest prison population rate per capita, even far surpassing China, that bastion of human rights abuses.
The United States can at once shrink its police state, improve the quality of everyone working in the criminal justice system on the government payroll, better protect civil liberties, better balance overgrown government budgets, and significantly reduce taxes by legalizing marijuana, gambling and prostitution; decriminalizing drugs; eliminating mandatory minimum sentencing; eliminating the death penalty; and eliminating per se guilty rules for drinking and driving cases.
The United States is at a critical crossroads for overhauling the police state, supporting good policing and speaking out over wrong policing, in the face of widespread police abuse, with some of the starker recent examples being the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the recent police tackling of athlete James Blake as the wrong suspect for a non-violent crime. The violence against police and rioting in response of course is unjustified, and invites many police to dig in their heels all the more in an us-versus-them approach to policing, when police are actually a necessary evil that exist to serve the public, and not the other way around, and certainly not for the public to be fearful of and kowtowing to the police.
Everyone has their role to reverse police abuse.
First, fewer police would be needed if our criminal laws were not as over-criminalized as detailed above. Second, fewer police would be needed if fewer crimes were committed, which would be the case after reducing our over-criminalized laws, by people breaking laws less frequently, and by people being more supportive of each other so that fewer people feel so isolated, uncared for, and marginalized that they will commit crimes.
For civilians, police and government, we should heed the good sense of Ram Dass of the need to eliminate the us-versus-them polarities in dealing with police, police suspects and everyone else. We all live together on this small planet and must come together in a real and effective way to make this planet a better place.
Police need to know and remember that power can corrupt, and they must learn how not to abuse nor exceed their power, and to treat people the way the police want to be treated, even when an angry or distraught suspect is not doing the same in dealing with the police.
Civilians need to acknowledge the tension and even fear that many police feel after the flashpoint that Ferguson served for a substantially increased and wide-ranging population of people to speak out against police abuse in the United States, and Ferguson’s flashpoint for more violence against police and public mistrust of police.
Police need to realize that peaceful and effective public outcries against police abuse are essential. Honorable people, whether police or others, want honorable people in their ranks. After Ferguson, we saw some police stand up very publicly against police abuse; more should join those voices.
Police also need to realize that they not only are obligated to follow the Bill of Rights — including its provisions about the right of suspects to remain silence and about limits on police searches and seizures — but that they never should have contempt for the Bill of Rights, nor for the criminal defense and civil lawyers who fight for those rights.
Government needs to realize that too many police are like matches that create forest fires. It is easier to avoid lighting the match in the first place than to try to stop the forest fire.
My above blueprint will only work if enough people accept it and work hard at it. I am in.