Prejudice and the Criminal Justice System

nojusticeatallThe FBI!  I dreamed to one day be like my neighbor next door who packed a gun under his suit coat and had a shiny FBI badge in his wallet.  I loved taking care of his dog as he was off guarding another important dignitary.  One day it was Bob Hope, another Vice President Spiro Agnew.   I helped him carry sealed boxes from his black car to the kitchen table for another big case to review.    Protecting important people, carrying out justice and helping people to be safe, that was my dream job.

I took his advice and joined the Army to be a Military Policeman as soon as my senior year ended.   I did not heed his advice to avoid the justice system though, he said, if you want to change the world, it sure is not going to happen working in the criminal justice system.  I did not understand.

After making it through basic training, I had my first stint of police duty in Edgewood, MD.  I recently visited the run down base;avgjoearmydays

it brought back haunting memories of why I left the criminal justice system.

Some of my fellow MPs’ wanted to be cops or were looking to advance their military careers during this no-war time period.  I was the only one in the crew seeking beyond police work.  I was enrolled part time at the local community college taking advantage of the free education the Army recruiter promised.  I could not believe others did not partake in the opportunity, my family had no funds and I wanted to be something in life.   I relished the criminal justice classes and loved in particular the one titled ‘Criminal Investigation’.   I found an old picture with the books on my makeshift bookshelf from 1979 with the book and some others.img219

Those dreams of being an investigator were exciting as we had mock investigations in the classes.  In addition, on the ‘MP’ job there was little action other than a few traffic stops, a trainee suicide attempt (which gave me my one and only moment to save a real life), and some minor arrests.  For a while, I thought I could really do something to make the world a better place by being a cop, and really make the big time if I could work into the FBI.  The thought of getting a master’s degree, which was required, and having to be straight, clean, and have 10 years experience though seemed like a lifetime to reach.  However, I would try.

My other passion was sports.  My defunct baseball career was replaced with softball and we proudly won the championship that summer.   I played basketball as often as possible, which is where I experienced my  first taste of prejudice in my young life.  The Hoyle Gym was a stone throw from my barracks.   I played often but I was the only MP that played hoops and most were afraid to play in what they called the ‘dark’.

Growing up in the suburbs of central Ohio, from what I remember,  there were only a few blacks in the entire school of 1,500.  The only one I knew was the friendliest, happiest cheerleader named Sheri.  My other view of blacks was learned from the TV and prejudices of others who considered rioting, robbing people like them as dangerous and untrustworthy people.   But in the Army I had met many, changing that warped view.   While my fellow MP’s shared a common fear, a few blacks on the force became my friends and the bond of being MPs’ allowed us to work together as a team.

On the basketball court at many times I would be the only white person.  The taste of reverse prejudice would sting my young mind as I was treated as a white guy that could not play ball.   Getting a touch or a pass to me was rare.  The only way I could get the ball was via a rebound, which typically I would grab and take down court full speed.  I would work the ball to my teammates and sought to win respect.  Sometimes, knowing I’d never get the pass back, I would just take the ball the whole court and shoot.  Scoring was crucial, lest the label and groans against the whitey making us lose, would prevent me from being on a team the next time we played.

But one guy in particular gained respect for me and we established a great on court relationship.   He would pick me to be on his team, so I would not have to wait to be on the leftovers.   We’d talk about life after and before the games.  Perry was 6’4″ and had the smoothest jumper, so I would pass to him often.  We would win often.  Perry was like my first non-work black friend.    Sort of, as I really couldn’t associate with him being a trainee, and me being an MP.

One day on the MP job a case came in about a rapist.   We all gathered around and heard the story of a black trainee who had raped a Colonel’s daughter.  She and the Colonel were white.   A few in the MP station were roused up to the maximum.   The whisper was whomever was sent to make the arrest was going to serve some justice.  Stories were told of MP nightstick beatings that took place in the Viet Nam war days.  I had never harmed a person in my life to that point and my heart was racing as I heard of horrible things a few of my cohorts discussed.  I saw sides of some that I had not heard before and real fear arose in my heart that I might become like them.  That was not my mode, I talked a tough talk but honestly had not punched or hit a person my whole life. (other than a buddy whom I punched in the cheek in science class who had been flicking my ears for an hour)

My name and three others were drawn to go make the arrest of the black rapist.

The mood was somber as we jumped in the two cars to head to the trainee barracks to make the arrest.  Most of the policeman and MP’s I had ever dealt with had a sense of care and kindness for people, but now I was with a crew that had a side that scared the hell out of me.  I was silent, a beating was not something I wanted to participate in as a rookie MP and I prayed it did not go crazy.

After arriving, the lead Sergeant greeted us at the door and the paperwork was presented.  The rapist was behind a door and told we were there to take him to the station, which was 10 miles away.  The plan was to make the arrest and have a little lesson teaching on the way.   My heart and mind raced with terror of what ‘we’ were going to do.  They patted me on the back several times saying I was going to become a man today.  We rehearsed how to put the handcuffs on and make sure they were tight.   I was told, be ready for a fight, as who knows what this fiend will do.  We owed it to the Colonel and his daughter to not let him off easy.

The door was opened.   Sitting on the bench was not the black devil that needed a beating that I expected.   It was my friend Perry.

I knew he was dating a white girl, and although it bothered me slightly at the time as that was a new scene in those days, I had grown to accept it.   Some type of newfound strength came into my heart as a scene of blood splattering from this kind and gentle man did not seem right at all.  I was not much for blood in the first place, the attempted suicide by a young man I had  helped a month ago was not something my stomach tolerated very well.

As we moved in to haul Perry off I looked Perry in the eye and could feel his innocence.   Some odd strength came over me.  Instead of sheepishly hanging in the back I moved quickly towards him blocking the potential vigilante MP’s from moving any further.  I said to them,  I know this guy!   Everyone froze looking at me as if I was insane.    I pulled the team back and said he is cool; we should have no resistance with this one.    Perry stood up and turned around with his hands behind his back and we easily cuffed him and made the arrest.

I volunteered to ride in the back and ‘keep guard’ on Perry.  On the ride, I found out that Perry was secretly dating the Colonel’s daughter and the high-ranking officer became an angry Father.  Much to his daughters horror charges were brought against him for rape.

Shortly after the arrest, my stint at APG was over and I was transferred to another base.  I was not very popular with the other MP’s after that incident, but I know my intervention not only spared my friend unwarranted pain, but prevented memories I know I did not want to have in my mind forever.

I was not able to find out exactly what happened thereafter but I heard Perry was sentenced to prison and his life destroyed by the criminal ‘justice’ system.  Perhaps he was lying, who knows in a his-word against their-word situation, what the real truth was.  I know in my heart I felt an innocent man was put in prison because of the color of his skin.  It melted my heart and made me a changed man wanting to wipe out prejudice.

I understood what my FBI neighbor was talking about in that one experience.  It ended my pursuit of a criminal justice career.

Please note, I know very many people in the criminal justice system and police world.  95% would never cross such lines.  This story from 30+ years ago is not intended to shine a negative light on those who risk their lives to protect our communities.  Words were spoken, but no actions taken in this case, and I pray we never have to hear of such things actually happening.

(If this is your first time visiting Average Joe’s Portico, please read the Do you Dare  tab to understand the shift, tap the red line before you read below and come on back ‘if you dare’)


DO YOU DARE TO CROSS INTO THE PORTICO?


I joined the Army oddly thinking the self-disciplined lifestyle of the military would help straighten out my life.  If you have not read how the circumstances did bring on a major change, please read how God used that time to bring what I really needed.

I also wanted to change the world and make it a better place for everyone.  That just does not seem to be working out very well now is it?   Or maybe it actually is.   We all effect prejudice and justice in how we  Average Joe’s walk down the street every day.  If everyone, who carries the power of God in their lives, lived knowing that the victory of Jesus already finished the task of overcoming evil and death, the world would be different.  We would be leaving a huge impact on the streets as depicted in this new drawing: running-temple

At this time, the world we live in is in a panic the day before an election.  We are waiting for the FBI to reveal truth.   Or does WikiLeaks have the truth?   Who is the most or least evil person seems to be our choice.  We are waiting for a real leader to step in and solve our problems.  We want justice served on the bad people, but in reality, people have no idea what justice is about as a proverb says;

Justice makes no sense to the evilminded; those who seek God know it inside and out.’  Proverbs 28:5 

I do know when given the opportunity, we must stand up for the Perry’s of the world:

“Speak up for the people who have no voice, for the rights of all the down-and-outers. Speak out for justice! Stand up for the poor and destitute!”  Proverbs 31:8-9

I do know we cannot change the world we stand on, but there is no need to panic, we can bring unity and wipe out prejudice, and there is justice, just not the way some want to understand it.   The victory was already won!  The havoc that surrounds us is to be expected.  Paul, a person who was a murderer said to a group of people, what the real secret plan is.  We don’t need Wikileaks to provide the hidden motives, it is in plain English, translated eloquently and modernly by The Message Bible:

 

The Secret Plan of God (From Ephesians 3)

This is why I, Paul, am in jail for Christ, having taken up the cause of you outsiders, so-called. I take it that you’re familiar with the part I was given in God’s plan for including everybody. I got the inside story on this from God himself, as I just wrote you in brief.

4-6 As you read over what I have written to you, you’ll be able to see for yourselves into the mystery of Christ. None of our ancestors understood this. Only in our time has it been made clear by God’s Spirit through his holy apostles and prophets of this new order. The mystery is that people who have never heard of God and those who have heard of him all their lives (what I’ve been calling outsiders and insiders) stand on the same ground before God. They get the same offer, same help, same promises in Christ Jesus. The Message is accessible and welcoming to everyone, across the board.

7-8 This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities.

8-10 And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!

11-13 All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud!

14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

Is this your life work too? 

All Bible verses are copyright of the The Message Bible.

 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Prejudice and the Criminal Justice System

    • Thanks anonymous, every post is one filled with prayer and I trust a HS filled inspiration. More than this mini-story, I am so humbled to see the spirit of God in the picture shown in the portico. The picture of the business man running with power and carrying the finish line flag was drawn by another Average Joe during a church service while inspired by the music worship time and teaching of the morning service. That Avg. Joe was also my son. Talk about God’s amazing grace, I have -zero drawing skills, so he definitely did not learn it from me.