The ex-felons in this nation have fully paid their debt to society by serving prison time in some of this nations roughest prisons. To further penalize them by depriving them of the ability to support their children, and forcing them to be a burden on their friends, family and community, is simply unjust.
When I pointed out to PNC Bank that if only one other person was directly affected by the disabilities placed on ex-felons, it raised the number to 20% of the U.S. Population, they looked like a deer in headlights. The disabilities placed on ex-felons has become a major drain on the entire U.S. economy. These are not individually tailored to fit the person or their crime, but are blanket disabilities applied to all 30 million ex-felons. As an example, I pointed out to PNC executives that it makes no sense to allow a man to train to be a Barber in prison, yet deny him a Barber's License when he is released because he is a felon, as they do in Ohio. In Ohio alone there are 905 Civil Disabilities placed on ex-felons. 905 careers or licenses they cannot pursue. That's organized insanity. Article III intends to hire Lobbying Firms in Washington and in each State Capitol to lobby for the repeal of blanket disabilities prohibiting ex-felons from pursuing careers in fields where they are not a threat to anyone.
Our initial goal is to cause systemic change in the Court system. The average time between an innocent U.S. citizen being tried, convicted and imprisoned, and their exoneration and release from imprisonment, is 9 and 1/2 years. During that time their entire life is destroyed. They sit in prison, missing their children growing up, and watch as their parents grow old. while their appeals for justice lay on some judges desk for years, gathering dust. This happens because it is common for judges to have caseloads of 800+ cases on their docket.
The framers of the Constitution failed to take the population increase into account when designing the court system. To compensate, rooms full of inexperienced law school graduates are reviewing your cases and providing a "Proposed Order" for over-worked judges to sign. This must stop. You are entitled for the Judge you either elected to that Office, in most State courts, or who was appointed by the President, and vetted at hearings by the U.S. Senate, in Federal Courts, to review your case. Wherefore Article III intends to hire Lobbying Firms to advocate the enactment of laws proportioning the number of judges in each jurisdiction to the census, in both Federal and State Courts. Additionally, as suggested by judicial scholars as early as the 1970's, an additional level of review in the Federal Court system should be created just below the U.S. Supreme Court, purposed to single out cases requiring special attention by the higher court and marking them for an intense review.
Further, the Rules of Court were initially implemented to ensure an orderly set of procedures to be used to dispense substantive justice to an ever-increasing number of litigants before the courts. Those same rules are now being used to deny substantive justice to criminal defendants through the Procedural Default Doctrine in Federal Petitions for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. This last and final review of all criminal convictions, commonly called the "Great Writ," is fundamental in any Anglo-Saxon Judicial System. It was originally created in June of 1215 AD by the Magna Carta, and is where the concept of "Due Process" itself evolved. A procedural default in a State Court should not result in the loss of your Federal Constitutional rights through the unjust application of the Procedural Default Doctrine in a Federal Court, as it now does. The Doctrine of Comity, as now applied in criminal appeals to federal courts, is simply wrong. A prisoner forced to litigate his own case should not lose his federal rights as a U.S. citizens because he forgot to place something as minor as a trial court case number on a court paper below the appeals court number, as happened in one case in Ohio to a man named Mike Shackelford. That is also wrong. Article III intends to lobby for the abrogation of the Procedural Default Doctrine in Federal Writs of Habeas Corpus, in lieu of strict enforcement of the Exhaustion Doctrine with waiver provisions where the States fail to provide a means of exhaustion.
Our mission is systemic change. That will affect everyone.
Join us in making the judicial system, and this nation as a whole, better. No less than your fundamental right under the First Amendment to meaningful Access to the Courts is at stake. Without meaningful access to the courts, all other rights are meaningless.
As much as you may hate to admit it, consider that it is the ex-cons of this nation who are best qualified to know where the flaws lie in the execution of the expressed ideals underlying our court and rehabilitation policies. As expressed by Justice Marshal in the case of Bounds v. Smith, (citation omitted), "The prisoners petitions in this nation are the first line of defense for the Constitution of the United States." Ex-felons are the citizens that have been, and are being, most directly affected by these flaws in our system of government and the broken policies being challenged by Article III. Perhaps it is time for them to have a voice in making those policies. 30,000,000 people are a lot of votes.
Our funding plan is simple. We are asking every ex-con to donate $1.00 a month. A link to PayPal deposits your donation directly into our account at PNC. Our Director is a former criminal defense attorney, for over 21 years, who has been convicted of a felony and is presently suspended from the practice of law. Our Treasurer is a former Ohio Deputy Sheriff for 20 years, who was convicted of a felony.
I did 15 years in prison with our Treasurer. The Director is one of my criminal defense lawyers partners in a real estates venture doing business as "The Citadel," which houses some of the State of Ohio's finest criminal defense lawyers. They are both good men. It is time for those men and women in this nation who have been previously convicted of a felony to organize and make this nations promise, of them having paid their debt to society by being imprisoned, a reality.
Ohio prison system from April 1990 to November 2015.
Author: "System Failure: A Critique of the Judicial System of the United States."
Founder, Article III