Friday, February 8, 2013

Weapons of Mass Incarceration


Only in America do we spend $40,000 a year to incarcerate each prison inmate, and only $8,000 a year to educate each elementary school student.

While the monetary figures vary from state to state, with some states spending more per year on school children, and other states spending even more than $40,000 per year on inmate, this is an important issue that American lawmakers and the American public need to tackle.

At the Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd., several of the clients we represent are currently in custody, awaiting trial. These are clients for whom the bond - of which they must post 10% in order to walk free - is far too high, so they must remain in the custody of the Department of Corrections until trial or until their loved ones can come up with the money.

Not every family can access the tens of thousands of dollars often needed to secure a loved one's freedom (conditional on the eventual verdict in the case), which is a source of much frustration and devastation. Prison is not a nice place, and especially not in the Cook County jail system. I use prison and jail synonymously, even though there is a distinction. Jail refers to the institution in which people are held after arrest, and in anticipation of trial. Prison is the institution to which people are sent after a judge has sentenced them to a serve a certain amount of time for which they have already been convicted.

Many of the people in jail, awaiting trial, do not belong there and should not have been charged. And many people in prison should not be there for as long as they have to be. Abuse of police power and prosecutorial discretion, as well as disparity in sentencing, all contribute to the soaring numbers of people behind bars.

And the more people behind bars, the greater the financial and social cost to the country.

In the coming weeks, we at the blog for the Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd., will be publishing a series of posts looking at incarceration, sentencing, for-profit prisons, and the impact of all of these on society. These are issues we care about deeply, and which we fight against every day. We hope you'll come back soon and stay informed.

As always, if you or a loved one is the subject of a criminal investigation or is being charged, it's very likely that the main goal is to stay out of prison. That is what we at the Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd., fight for. Contact us at (708) 481 - 4800, and let us help you in your time of need. Attorneys are available 24/7, and the first consultation is always free.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Police Terrorize Child Over Allegedly Stolen $5


Last week, a young Hispanic man accused of stealing was handcuffed to a railing at a Bronx police department and interrogated by officers for over ten hours.

This story is not all that uncommon and based on the details above, it fails to shock and enrage. It is not unusual to hear of young men being subjected to grueling police interrogations during the course of a criminal investigation.

But here are the details that make this event truly shocking: the subject of this ten hour interrogation was a seven year old boy. He was accused of stealing $5.

Wilson Reyes’s family members were shocked to enter the Bronx precinct where he was being held and find him handcuffed to a railing. He was wrongly accused of taking $5 from another student on the playground, and was subjected to physical restraints and verbal abuse for a total of ten hours at the hands of the NYPD.

The boy’s family is filing a $250 million claim against the city and the NYPD for the brutality. The robbery charge has since been dropped, and another child confessed to stealing the $5 from the victim. While the NYPD continued to argue that the child was held for a reasonable period of time, the family lawyer, Jack Yankowitz, had this to say: “It’s unfathomable, what the police did. The whole thing sounds so stupid. They were interrogating him like he was a hardened criminal. …If you have a child, a nephew, can you even imagine this happening to them?”

This story is a difficult one to process, and one can’t help but empathize with this poor child and his family. Little Wilson Reyes – and many other children like him who have experienced this – will remember this event for the rest of his life. When he’s seventeen years old, old enough to be charged as an adult, he may see a cop harassing someone. He’ll intervene and get charged with assault on an officer and be packed off to the local Department of Corrections, and that will be that. That is the nature of the life-long ritual abuse at the hands of the justice department.

But even if nothing even close to that ever happens, consider for a moment that this happened in a country that considers spanking to be child abuse. At the very least, this child will carry these traumatic events with him for the rest of his life. He’ll suffer from anxiety issues and very likely Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well, all at the hands of the people that ‘help solve crime.’ And that is what is criminal.

For many people, particularly minorities, instances of police misconduct and overreaction like this are a reality. There are numerous stories that make the news – and countless more that do not – of unconscionably long interrogations, food and sleep deprivation, freezing temperatures, verbal abuse, beatings, and other police misconduct.

As defense attorneys, we at the Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd., have had many clients come in with accounts of being mistreated by police. The accounts vary, but the sense of humiliation, fear, and severe stress our clients experienced is always the same. While this law firm does not handle these civil complaints against local police departments, we use our indignation over the treatment our clients suffered to help us in our fight to defend their rights and defeat the charges made against them.

If you or a loved one is the subject of a criminal investigation or has been charged with a crime, time is of the essence. Let us at the Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd., use our 37 years of experience to help you in your time of need. Attorneys are available 24/7 and the first consultation is always free. Contact us at (708) 481 – 4800.