(graphic of Harold Hempstead and Darren Rainey reprinted with permission)
The inmate who exposed Florida prisons’ culture of cruelty | Miami Herald
“In my opinion, because Rainey was black, poor and mentally ill, to a lot of people his life had no significance,” [Harold] Hempstead said recently. “But to me, if we have that opinion on the value of life, and if staff thinks they can get away with killing inmates, then they are going to get away with anything.’’
Update 8/11/15: A gentleman has kindly pointed out that – at present – the president can only pardon individuals who are convicted of federal crimes. This fully explains why governors are so confident, nationwide, in denying clemency in cases where convictions are clearly more the result of Color of Law than the rule of law. As the FBI and Department of Justice have ignored requests to address Color of Law behaviors (including my requests concerning both Florida and Texas), it is time for President Obama to author an Executive Order that empowers him – and all future presidents – to grant a pardon to any person whose criminal conviction on U.S. soil or territorial soil is clearly based on or affected by the abuse of authority … Color of Law. An Executive Order granting unlimited pardon powers will give our presidents insight they have never had before into the existing collusion that is keeping thousands of unjust sentences intact. President Obama can swiftly verify this collusion between states and the federal government that screams the need for unlimited power to pardon by directing the FBI and Department of Justice to provide him with copies of all requests to address Color of Law behaviors, including mine. It shouldn’t be necessary to petition the president to meet such an easily verifiable need, but I’m up for working with others to do whatever it takes to make this happen: there are legions of us waiting for Color of Law behaviors to be addressed. My original post follows.
Darren Rainey was scalded to death by Dade County corrections officer on June 23, 2012. Inmate Harold Hempstead has put his life on the line ever since in a quest to secure justice for Darren’s family. Any perception that Florida prisons are improving is belied by the simple fact that Harold’s life is still on the line, Darren’s family still has no justice, and the suspicious death toll within Florida prisons is rising.
Darren Rainey was black, and a Muslim; Harold Hempstead is white, and a Christian, but the two men did have one thing in common: neither of them belonged in prison.
Darren was mentally ill, and belonged in a medical facility, if he should have been charged at all for possessing a minor amount of cocaine … it is common for the mentally ill to self-medicate with street drugs since mental health services have been defunded.
Harold’s story is more complex than Darren’s only if you choose to believe that it isn’t child abuse for Florida law enforcement agencies to entice a vulnerable middle school student to do dangerous work for them, and that such a child not only could, but must – somehow – be more resistant to eventually going rogue than an actual undercover cop.
As to whether Harold actually went rogue, all I’m willing to say at this point is that the Miami Herald hasn’t told the whole story, and I won’t, either. Not yet. What I will instead address is the preposterous length of Harold’s sentence.
Many White Collar criminals repeatedly steal more in a single day than Harold Hempstead allegedly stole and allegedly fenced, all told. (Yes, allegedly.) When caught, most White Collar Criminals simply fork over a chunk of Other People’s Money – shareholders and investors – and then go right back to ripping us all off … with every intention of tapping O.P.M. if caught again. Although the media puts little emphasis on it, “no admission of guilt” are possibly four of the favorite words of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Governor Rick Scott, for shared reasons.
Equal justice is supposed to be just that. Harold didn’t physically hurt anyone, but is serving a multi-life sentence while many convicted murderers are serving less-than-life sentences. White Collar Criminals aren’t even held personally accountable for restitution when they’re caught stealing millions, on top of enjoying lawless immunity from incarceration via “no admission of guilt” settlements.
The embittered comments from public servants in the Miami Herald in support of Harold’s stupendously severe multi-life sentence indicate how critical it is that we, the people elect a passel of real public servants the next time around, because we need real Sentence Reform, as soon as humanly possible. It must be nationwide; it must be retroactive; it must be entirely equal, including a legislated end of “no admission of guilt” White Collar theft settlements, and an legislated end to warehousing the mentally ill, just because prison profiteers prefer that taxpayers pay hundreds of millions of more than we need to to improperly treat this vulnerable population … even though this improper treatment is so often deadly.
Governor Rick Scott feigned no knowledge of the frauds that were going on under his nose at HCA. Despite all the media uproar and his visible participation in PR pretenses at prison reform, he’ll likely claim – if pressed under oath – that he had no knowledge of the ongoing abuse, neglect and slaughter of Florida inmates.
Scott’s failure to deliver justice for Darren Rainey after three long years while the toll of suspicious inmate deaths continues to rise is his personal, vulgar message to inmates, their families, and their advocates: screw you.
For that reason, it’s best for President Obama to step in this week and pardon the Caged Crusader … Harold Hempstead will be a far more effective fighter for prison reform as the Un-Caged Crusader.