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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Free Our Political Prisoners

The outrageous prosecutions of law enforcers Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean as well as the separate case of police woman Stephanie Mohr call for an immediate pardon from George W. Bush.

Ignacio Ramos is serving an 11-year federal sentence. Compean is serving a 12-year federal sentence. Stephanie Mohr is in the middle of a 10-year sentence.

The cases have many similarities. First, the cases never should have been prosecuted in the first place. Both cases were politically motivated. Both cases involved illegal aliens. Both cost the taxpayer untold thousands of dollars to find the actual criminals in Mexico or Central America and bring them back to testify against the law enforcers. In both, prosecutors either suppressed relevant evidence or brought in non-relevant evidence and got away with it. In both cases, the convicting juries were stacked with minorities.

Stephanie Mohr endured two trials since the incident in 1995. The Justice Department indicted her one day before the statute of limitations was set to expire. Amazingly, in the intervening 5 years she continued exemplary work with her police dog, Valk, earning two awards and 25 letters of commendation. Sounds like a top-notch law enforcer to me. But Stephanie’s terrible crime in 1995 was letting her police dog bite and hold an illegal alien suspect. She thought he was trying to flee. She was indicted for violating the civil rights of the criminal.

Even if Stephanie acted maliciously – and that is highly doubtful – the punishment clearly does not fit the crime. The prosecutors in the second trial played the race card. They painted her as hating minorities. One witness testified that Stephanie used a racial epithet. Stephanie says the witness lied and that helped convict her.

The better-known case is of Ramos and Compean. On a routine border patrol in Texas, they tried to stop a drug smuggler who left 700 pounds of marijuana behind. He was shot when patrol agents saw him turn toward them as he was running away and pointed something at them. They wounded Osbaldo Aldrete Davila but he made it back across the border to continue the drug trade. The supervisors and other border agents clearly knew that shots were fired that day but let the matter drop. But Davila’s mother complained to a federal agent she knew on the other side of the border, and that set in motion the vicious prosecution of Ramos and Compean.

Defense lawyers for Ramos and Compean were not allowed to tell the jury that Davila was pampered beyond belief by prosecutors, given a free pass so he could cross the border at will, and even made another drug run in which he was caught again.

The politics behind the Ramos and Compean prosecution is almost inexplicable. But during the Bush Administration it seems criminals and drug runners from Mexico and Central America are free to come and go as they please, with no fear of being shot at or mistreated in the slightest. Justice Department prosecutors seem to be working for the benefit of the Mexican government, not protecting the American public.

Why go after law enforcers instead of criminals? Well, one possible reason, it’s easier. Police and border patrol agents are not running away and hiding like criminals. In fact, the typical law enforcer believes they are doing right and not looking over their shoulder at the Justice Department stalking them. In the Stephanie Mohr case, the justice department was looking for “police brutality” patterns. The white woman fit the bill they thought. After all, there are quotas to fill, names to be made, and maybe bigger paychecks awaiting for a successful prosecution.

That’s what gets me about these two prosecutions. Nothing about them even resembles justice.

Usually, civilized societies lock up dangerous criminals. But Mohr, Ramos and Compean are not dangerous unless the definition is twisted beyond recognition. I’d welcome them to my town and as neighbors any day. That should be the test.

If you are reading this, do what you can to write to George Bush requesting a pardon for these poor souls caught up in a political meat grinder.

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