US Criminal Justice System Knowingly Convicts Innocents to Fill Prisons – Here’s Why

There are those who believe that the US criminal justice system is not in need of repair and that money does not influence the outcome of people who are charged, tried, convicted and incarcerated.

By Suneel Chakravotry 

US Criminal Justice System Like a Banana Republic

Did you know that the US federal conviction rate is about the same as a Banana Republic, fascist state, or communist country?

Once the federal government charges a person in the USA, he or she is as good as convicted.

The reason for this is that all the power rests with the government and there are few if any safeguards left to protect the citizen who is accused. Unfortunately, most people are blissfully unaware of this until they find themselves or someone they love facing federal charges. Then, reality hits hard. 

This reality is more palatable, I think, in openly repressive countries because no pretense is made that the system is not rigged. The citizen is on notice that if he runs afoul of the government, he will be charged and imprisoned regardless of guilt or innocence.

In the USA, however, there is a pretense that the federal criminal justice system is fair and that the government cannot get away with recklessly charging innocent people, since we have due process, which includes trial by jury, where citizens, not government officials, decide the innocence or guilt of a defendant.

There is a presumption of innocence, proof at trial requiring the high standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the confrontation clause, and a host of other safeguards.

Yet there must be a reason why the USA has more of its citizens in prison than any other country, both in number and as a percentage of its population.

And there must be a reason why the conviction rate is so high in the federal system: 97%.

The reason is that in the federal criminal justice system, most of the traditional due process rights of defendants have been severely eroded or eliminated altogether.

Grand Jury Went From Safeguarding Citizens to a Tool of the Prosecutors

To name just one area where due process has been eroded, the grand jury was originally conceived as a safeguard against government persecution. It was understood that a reckless, overzealous, incompetent, or malicious prosecutor or law enforcement entity might indict too easily, and once a person is indicted he is effectively put through a great and painful ordeal.

The grand jury was designed to consist of citizens who were needed to authorize any indictment,  to safeguard against abuse. The grand jury is empowered by law to investigate whether a crime has likely been committed and they have subpoena power and the right to call witnesses.

Only after a grand jury – made up of 16 to 23 private citizens chosen by lot – determine that there is probable cause for the commission of a crime, is the government permitted to arrest a citizen for most species of crimes.

The freedom principle behind this is that before the government could bring a person to trial, it had to be approved by the people, as represented by a grand jury. Then the trial itself would be overseen by a trial jury, made up of 12 citizens who had to authorize the conviction of any defendant. In this way, no citizen would be charged or put in prison without the consent of the people.

While the trial jury still has some of its original intent intact, the grand jury has literally zero left.

Over time, prosecutors at the Department of Justice usurped the role of the grand jury, making rules, procedures and practices that made the grand jury, which was supposed to be a watchdog of the prosecution, into their puppets.

The grand jurors are not informed of their role as investigators, with the right to call witnesses on their own and decide the scope of the investigation, including what evidence they want to see. It was supposed to be that the prosecution would lay out its case to the grand jury and then the grand jury would decide what evidence they wanted to look at further and who they wished to call as witnesses.

Today, the prosecutors make all the decisions including what witnesses to call and what evidence the grand jurors get to hear.

If an individual grand juror asked to exert his or her legal right to investigate beyond what the prosecutor chooses to tell the grand jury, I am fairly certain that the prosecution would seek that juror’s removal, if he or she ever got on the grand jury in the first place.

The judiciary has largely cooperated in this matter of making the grand jury uninformed and obedient to the prosecution. While judges have legal oversight over the grand jury, they rarely monitor grand jury proceedings and it has become built into federal criminal procedure a “presumption of regularity” in grand jury proceedings.

Prosecutorial misconduct is “an illegal act or failing to act, on the part of a prosecutor, especially an attempt to sway the jury to wrongly convict a defendant or to impose a harsher than appropriate punishment.”

This means that the prosecutors are presumed to be doing the right thing inside the secret grand jury room during the hearings, which the defendant is not permitted to attend, and rarely told about. 

The grand jury today is entirely controlled by prosecutors – the very species of government officials that the grand jury was designed to safeguard against.

The federal grand jury system today is a case of the fox watching the henhouse.

If power corrupts, the near-absolute power to indict resting solely in the hands of prosecutors must at times corrupt absolutely.

There are 16 to 23 grand jurors, usually with no sense of why they are there other than they were called for jury duty. The prosecutors know that whatever they present and tell the grand jury, the jurors will believe them and vote accordingly.

When motions are made by the defense after a person has been indicted before judges or magistrates, arguing that the results of the indictment demonstrate that the grand jury was presented either misleading or false information, judges generally do not look at the grand jury minutes to determine the truth.  In fact, they almost never look at the grand jury minutes.

That’s because in law there is a presumption of regularity in the grand jury.  This presumption, which contradicts every known principle of checks and balances for every other kind of government official, allows prosecutors to not worry too much about whether their presentation of evidence is fair or if they might be seeking an indictment of an innocent person.

Prosecutors Rise By Conviction Stats Not By Justice Delivered

Tyrannosaurus Prosecutaurus targets a citizen.

Since a prosecutor’s career advancement is based in large part on the number of convictions he or she obtains, there is an incentive to get indictments, without too much attention to innocence or guilt, or whether the case is provable beyond a reasonable doubt.

Prosecutors know that almost all defendants, once they are indicted, will take a plea deal. If they happen to indict an innocent person, who refuses to take a plea deal, the prosecutors can always seek to dismiss the case. But in most cases they will simply try the case, for in federal court, the system is very much slanted toward the prosecution.

Still, there is a good reason why dismissals of charges are some four times higher than trials in the federal system. If an innocent person refuses to take a plea deal, and the prosecution realizes they might lose at trial, they dismiss the case.

The prosecutors are therefore incentivized and emboldened to use the grand jury as their playground.

Since the proceedings are always secret, if they cheat or take shortcuts with people’s freedom or justice, no one is likely to ever know.

Should a defense lawyer try to challenge the proceedings in a grand jury in a motion before the judge, because the grand jury hearings are secret, the defense can only argue that based on the charges or the language of the indictment that a fair presentation of the evidence would have led to a different result.

The judge invariably rules against the defendant because without specific evidence that the prosecution acted with malice or error in the grand jury, the “presumption of regularity” applies.

It is a Catch 22 because there is no way to prove evidence was omitted, or altered, because grand jury hearings are secret, and if you cannot prove it, then the presumption of regularity applies.

Prosecutors have control of the grand juries; there are no checks and balances, no monitoring.

Are Prosecutors Morally Superior to Others With Power so They Should Operate in Secret?

Unless you think that by some divine dispensation prosecutors are more ethical and honest than other species of government officials, only with a greater power, the ability to take people’s freedom away, this space in our system of government is deeply flawed.

The grand jury, that was supposed to protect the citizens, has often become a tool to oppress them. It is a farce and charade and everyone in the federal criminal justice system knows it. 

In fact, the grand jury is the federal criminal justice system’s dirty little secret. The secret is that the grand jury always does what the prosecution wants, which, of course, is the opposite of its intended purpose. Yet you still hear prosecutors say, “it’s up to the grand jury, not them to decide whether a target will be indicted.”

The Bureau of Justice Statistics from October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010 revealed that of 162,300 criminal offenses that the government presented to a grand jury in the USA, the grand jury indicted on those offenses all but 11 times.

Only 11 times did they find a person not very likely guilty of a crime, out of 162,300.  Could the federal prosecutors be that good – right 99.99% of the time?

Out of 162,300 crimes prosecutors wanted to charge, they only were denied 11 times?

Isn’t it more likely that there were many innocent people charged with crimes because the prosecution chose to present selective evidence, failed to present exculpatory evidence, and were reckless and careless with the truth, in order to get a conviction?

This is the attitude of many prosecutors: when in doubt about a target’s innocence or guilt, indict him anyway and leave it up to the trial jury to sort out the truth.

With this sentiment, one wonders how they are able to sleep at night. 

I believe this is the calculus of a sociopath; they know that a trial is a terrible ordeal and that prosecutors should be loath to indict an innocent person, and not be incentivized by career advancement fueled by the number of convictions they spearhead.


Indictment and Trial Is an Ordeal That Makes Innocents Guilty

Though the defendant is said to be presumed innocent prior to conviction, that is not the way it works in real life. Enormous reputational damage is done to that individual the moment he is indicted. His income is often diminished or halted. His business craters. He is fired from his job. Sometimes he is incarcerated pretrial. His assets might be frozen.

If he has any resources and does not qualify for an overworked and low-paid public defender, he usually has to hire lawyers who will, if he chooses to take the case to trial, drain his life savings. And then he faces the potential of a federal trial where the conviction rates are extraordinarily high.

When innocent people are indicted in the federal system, they are most likely going to be convicted. That’s how the system operates.

Part of the reason for that – and it is another example of why the US federal system is not much different than a totalitarian regime – is that the policy of federal prosecutors is to overcharge a defendant in order to encourage a plea bargain.

Overcharging Citizens

In other words, the prosecution, who have not been monitored in the grand jury room, will lead the grand jury to charge any crimes they want. They can pile on more charges since the federal law permits the prosecutors to bring cases to trial without proving they have an airtight case.

If the case does go to trial, say with 10 charges, and only one of them sticks, they get their conviction stats. So what harm is there in overcharging a defendant?

A defendant might be indicted for crimes that come with penalties of 20 years in prison. However, if the prosecution were to charge him only for those crimes they felt they could prove beyond a reasonable doubt, he might only be charged with crimes that would come with a three-year prison sentence.

The prosecutors know that with a three-year potential prison sentence, the defendant would risk a trial.

However, facing 20 years on a raft of charges, sometimes the very same act charged several different times, the defendant will probably take a plea deal where he might get somewhere between a 3-5 year sentence.

Should the defendant, even an innocent one, roll the dice and depend on his innocence being understood by a jury of 12 people?

Or realizing that he might face some 20 years in prison, should the innocent man take the three years offered to him in a plea deal and limit his exposure?

If he looks at the stats in federal criminal trials, he might choose the plea deal route, realizing the system is slanted towards the prosecution.

On the one hand, he might win at trial and not go to prison.  But if they have overcharged him – say with nine of ten charges – and the plea deal is offering him a chance to admit to only one charge, at trial, the defendant has to run the table and get a complete acquittal on every charge.

If he gets convicted for just one charge, he will wind up going to prison for just as long or longer than the plea deal offered.

I suspect that some juries, feeling that a defendant is innocent, acquit him of most charges, but they convict him on one, just to throw a bone to the prosecutors. The result is that prosecutors are overjoyed. They got a conviction and the defendant loses. He is going to prison.  Winning nine out of 10 charges is a loss for the defendant.

And if most of the charges are sustained, he will likely regret not taking the plea deal. If he had taken a plea deal, he might have saved 17 years of his life.

Innocents Take Plea Deals

There is an astonishing statistic that among incarcerated exonerees cleared by DNA evidence: Some 11 percent of these innocent men and women took plea deals. That means that rather than risk a long sentence, they took a plea deal despite being innocent.

This suggests that many people who take plea deals are innocent.

English jurist William Blackstone said, “Better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer.”

There is another reason why innocent people take plea deals, even when they know they are innocent. If one goes to federal trial, and loses, the federal prison sentences are longer than similar crimes charged by at the state level.

Some charges that in state courts come with one or two years in prison, can have 20 year maximums in federal sentences.

Therefore, going to trial can lead to a “trial penalty”.

According to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the ‘trial penalty’ refers to the substantial difference between the sentence offered in a plea offer prior to trial versus the sentence a defendant receives after trial. This penalty is now so severe and pervasive that it has virtually eliminated the constitutional right to a trial. To avoid the penalty, accused persons must surrender many other fundamental rights which are essential to a fair justice system.”

It has also been mentioned by legal experts and scholars that some judges sentence a defendant more harshly if they go to trial, versus if they took a plea deal, because the trial defendant took up the resources of the court.

On top of that, a defendant who takes a plea deal gets a reduction in his or her sentencing guidelines for accepting responsibility for their crimes. A person is likely to go to prison for a much longer time if he goes to trial and is convicted than if he takes a plea deal regardless of innocence.

Vanishing Trial

Since the risks are grave if a defendant goes to trial, very few go to trial. Today, in the federal system we have the “the vanishing trial.”

This means that when the prosecution decides a citizen is a criminal, he or she is almost certainly going to be convicted and usually convicted through a plea deal, in order to eliminate the risk of a much longer prison sentence if he or she went to trial and lost.

According to a Pew Research analysis by John Gramlich, “trials are rare in the federal criminal justice system – and acquittals are even rarer.”

Here is some of Gramlich’s report:

Nearly 80,000 people were defendants in federal criminal cases in fiscal 2018, but just 2% of them went to trial. The overwhelming majority (90%) pleaded guilty instead, while the remaining 8% had their cases dismissed, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of data collected by the federal judiciary.

Most defendants who did go to trial, meanwhile, were found guilty, either by a jury or judge. (Defendants can waive their right to a jury trial if they wish.)

pew-research-chart-federal-criminal-justice system

Put another way, only 320 of 79,704 total federal defendants – fewer than 1% – went to trial and won their cases, at least in the form of an acquittal, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. These statistics include all defendants charged in U.S. district courts with felonies and serious misdemeanors, as well as some defendants charged with petty offenses.

Trial rates are low regardless of the types of charges faced by federal defendants, but there are some variations across offense types. Fewer than 1% of federal defendants charged with immigration offenses (89 of 25,575) went to trial in fiscal 2018. The same was true of 2% of those charged with drug offenses (499 of 21,771) and 4% of those charged with property offenses (419 of 10,045).

The trial rate was slightly higher for those charged with violent offenses (7%, or 192 of 2,879).

Among the small share and number of federal defendants who went to trial in fiscal 2018, those who opted for a bench trial – that is, one in which the verdict is handed down by a judge – fared better than those who opted for a jury trial. Around four-in-ten defendants who faced a bench trial (38%) were acquitted, compared with just 14% of those who faced a jury trial. Even so, bench trials are far less common than jury trials in the federal system: In fiscal 2018, only 12% of defendants who went to trial had their cases decided by a judge, while 88% had their cases decided by a jury.

Fewer Trials, More Guilty Pleas

Trials have been relatively rare in the federal criminal justice system for decades, but they have become even less common over time. The share of defendants who went to trial fell from 7% in fiscal 1998 to 2% two decades later. In absolute terms, the number of defendants who went to trial plummeted from 4,710 in 1998 to 1,879 in 2018, even though the overall number of defendants in federal cases increased substantially during that span.

As trials have become rarer, guilty pleas have become more common. The share of federal criminal defendants who entered guilty pleas rose from 82% in 1998 to 90% two decades later. Guilty pleas rose in absolute numbers, too, from 55,913 in 1998 to 71,550 in 2018.

Not surprisingly, the decline in trials and rise in guilty pleas has corresponded with a decline in the number of Americans being called to serve on federal juries.

Experts have offered a range of explanations for the long decline in criminal trials. Among the most common is what critics refer to as the “trial penalty”: Individuals who choose to exercise their constitutional right to trial can face much higher sentences if they invoke the right to trial and lose, according to a 2018 report by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Prosecutorial Advantage

Prosecutors have the real power in the federal criminal justice system.

Prosecutors Have the Advantage

What about getting a fair trial? If the defendant is innocent he should have the opportunity to show that to a jury. 

It is not so simple. While it appears that there are many good, fair-minded federal judges, the rules of federal practice have shifted over time to give an advantage to the prosecution. 

One of the biggest advantages, which often flabbergast defendants when they learn about it, is that the prosecution gets to open and close the case.

It is obvious that the prosecution needs to make the opening statement to the jury to introduce their case. The defense then makes its opening statement to explain their defense.

Then the prosecution calls witnesses and the defense cross-examines When the prosecution rests, the defense has an option to put on a case. If they do, they call witnesses and the prosecution cross-examines them.

After the defense rests, the prosecution makes a closing statement to the jury where they tell the jury what it should conclude from the evidence presented during trial.

It is fair enough as far as it goes. Following the prosecution’s closing, the defense makes its closing statement, presenting the case in a light most favorable to the defendant. 

And that is where you would think it should end: The prosecution had the first word and the defense had the last.

But the federal system permits the prosecution to make a second concluding argument, after the defense’s final argument the prosecution is basically granted a second closing argument, where the prosecution can dispute all of the defense’s arguments.

This will be the last words from the lawyers on either side for the jury to consider. Prosecution first and last [and as some say, always] in federal trials.

Primacy and Recency Granted to Prosecution at Trial

Those who understand primacy and recency know this gives a tremendous advantage to the prosecution. The jury’s first and last impression of the contending parties are the words of the prosecution.

The serial-position effect, the tendency of a person to recall the first and last things they heard best, and the middle the worst, is in full bloom.

Studies have shown that most people have pretty good recall of things they heard last and most recently. It is information in the middle that people tend to struggle with.

With the prosecution going first and last, it helps the jury to side with the prosecution. That’s likely one of the reasons why there are so few acquittals. The system is designed to favor convictions, which in turn favor plea bargains.

Propinquity, Another Advantage of the Prosecution

Another advantage the prosecution gets at trial is that they usually sit at a table which is closer to the jury than the defense.

In this way the prosecution can be seen more easily by the jurors, and their gestures and expressions are more visible to jurors. Sometimes they can be overheard by jurors conferring with each other.

And when, for instance, a prosecutor sitting at the prosecution’s table happens to roll her eyes when the defense is asking questions, and a juror happens to see it, they might have a certain impression that might not otherwise be available if they were not sitting so close.

It is easier to make eye contact with the jury at a close distance. Sometimes prosecutors are overheard by jurors just when they would want to be overheard, a subtle way to influence the jury with information they would not be permitted to introduce without objection from the defense.

Sometimes the jurors sit so close to the prosecution they can smell the perfume or cologne of the prosecutors.  Meanwhile, the defendant is sitting far away, in effect as if he were hiding from the jury. 

Visuals can have a significant impact on subconscious perception. For example, studies have found that when the camera angle in an interrogation focuses more on the suspect, they are more likely to be believed. In cases where they are obscured from view, they are less likely to be believed.

Closeness brings familiarity and distance breeds suspicion. It is a subtle edge the prosecution has and they know it.

Prosecutors Know the Judges

Another advantage prosecutors have is that they interact with the judges more frequently than defense lawyers. The judges see prosecutors constantly since they have fairly heavy caseloads and there is a limited number of judges.

The judges therefore have numerous cases with prosecutors at all times. The judges might know many of the defense attorneys but they don’t always have cases with them.

If there are, for instance, 100 prosecutors and 10 judges, there is likely to be 1000 defense lawyers.

This creates a system where judges and prosecutors know each other better than defense lawyers and judges. This is a powerful advantage since the tone of prosecutors is respectful and friendly to judges and when people know each other, and work together, they tend to try to help each other. It is human nature.

On top of that, many judges were former prosecutors. While that might not mean that the judge will be biased toward those who stood in his shoes once, it is not an advantage to the defendant. And there are some judges who side with the prosecutors so much that they might be called prosecutors in robes.

If an innocent defendant gets a highly pro-prosecution judge, they have almost no chance at a federal trial and if convicted they will be punished severely.

Prison Industry Helps Drive the System

It is understandable how this abandonment of justice can occur over time.

First of all, much of this is driven by the huge prison industry in the US, which is the largest in the world. That industry needs a constant flow of customers [defendants who are convicted]. Everyone in the system understands this. 

Even in the federal system, where it is easy to indict and convict innocent people, most defendants are probably guilty.

With a majority of criminals and a need to get them into prison expeditiously, it is easy enough to not look too closely at the process of weeding out the innocent, since that is enormously time-consuming and expensive.

It would make the judges’ jobs harder; the prosecutors would have a slower track to acquire the conviction stats they need for career advancement; and the Bureau of Prisons, which is run by the same department as the federal prosecutors, [The Attorney General of the USA] they would be hampered by having far less people in prison, which would cause huge shortfalls in the BOP budget.

People just have to be convicted.

Defense Lawyers Can Profit Too

Most defense lawyers won’t complain too much. By having most of their clients take plea deals they can represent many more clients than they could if more clients went to trial.

A trial takes weeks for a defense attorney to prepare for and eliminates practically every other consideration for any other client during the trial itself.

System Needs Innocent People to Be Convicted and Sent to Prison

The system leans toward, and tacitly accepts, that a certain percentage of innocents must be convicted in order to feed the enormous and insatiable prosecution-run prison industry’s needs, ensure career advancement of prosecutors, enhance the income of defense attorneys, and permit a more leisurely and stress-free job for judges.

It has been said that if even a small number of people refused to take plea deals – say the same 10 percent who are innocent yet who took plea deals – the courts would be so clogged and overburdened, it would take years to untangle.

In the interest of judicial expediency, it seems to be acceptable that innocent people go to prison via plea deals rather than go through the rigorous effort of too many trials.

On top of that, if the system is skewed towards prosecutors, with a heavy trial penalty, that diminishes the appetite for innocent people to risk going to trial.

We will be getting into this more fully in future posts.

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  • I can’t help but disagree, citing Oj Simpson and Casey Anthony as examples. people were murdered in both their cases. basically everyone thinks they’re guilty, and they’re still free. if I’m ever killed by someone else, I won’t trust this country to do anything but let me down

  • The Dallas Morning News

    Bars and benefits: No Social Security in prison
    In the 1990s, Congress couldn’t act quickly enough to stop paying Social Security benefits to people behind bars.

    [Partial cutout:]

    But the kind of thinking that allowed incarcerated people to take their Social Security checks to jail, or apply for Social Security benefits while in jail, changed in the 1990s as the country and Congress got more conservative. I recall newspaper stories and other media reports highlighting prisoners who were supposedly “living the good life” with their Social Security checks, having far more disposable income than your average convict.

    Public opinion did a complete 180-degree turn. The rationale went from, “It’s their money, and they can take it along to prison if that’s where they end up” to, “It’s the taxpayers’ money, and we are already footing their room and board in prison, so they don’t need their Social Security check.” Voters started clamoring for change, and Congress couldn’t act quickly enough to stop paying Social Security benefits to people behind bars.

    So, since the 1990s, the rules have said that Social Security benefits cannot be paid for the time that a person is confined to a jail, prison or certain other public institutions for committing a crime. Or, to be more precise, benefits are suspended if someone is convicted of a criminal offense and sent to jail or prison for more than 30 continuous days. Notice that conviction is the key. Lots of people end up in jails while they are awaiting trial or pleas. But until there is a conviction with prison time involved, benefits will continue.

    It’s also important to note that while the convict’s benefits are suspended, if he or she has a spouse or child getting monthly Social Security dependent checks, those benefits will continue.

    Of course, most people don’t spend the rest of their lives in prison. When they are released, Social Security benefits will be reinstated, effective with the month following the month they get out.

    Speaking of getting out, I’ve heard there is a rumor in many prisons that younger convicts – or, rather, soon-to-be ex-cons – believe that as soon as they are released, they can waltz into their nearest Social Security office and sign up for Social Security disability benefits and have those checks start flowing into their bank accounts.

    There simply is no truth to that rumor. Of course, anyone has the right to apply for Social Security disability benefits. But no one will get those benefits unless he or she meets all of the rather stringent qualifying criteria. For example, he or she must have worked and paid Social Security taxes in five out of the last 10 years. And he or she must have a disability that is so severe it is expected to keep them from being able to work for at least a year. Or he or she must have a condition that is terminal.

    So far, I’ve just been talking about Social Security benefits. But the Social Security Administration runs another program for the federal government called Supplemental Security Income. SSI pays a small monthly welfare stipend (usually around $800) to low-income elderly people and to people under age 65 with disabilities who are down on their luck. SSI payments come out of general tax revenues, NOT out of the Social Security trust funds.

    Anyway, SSI payment rates have always depended on a person’s living arrangements. If you are living in a place where the government foots the bill for all your expenses (like in a jail or prison), then you simply don’t qualify for SSI while you are there. In other words, Congress didn’t have to change the law to ban SSI checks from going to prisoners. The law has always made sure that didn’t happen.

    But once a person who was previously on SSI gets out, his or her federal welfare checks can be reinstated. However, if that person has been in jail for a year or more, he or she must file a whole new application for SSI.

  • Sorry, Frank, it is hard to keep all the players straight. Sorry, Suneel, my apologies, still can’t figure out how a bright kid who went to Harvard got mixed up with a creep like Raniere. Suneel, don’t you think your name attached to such a scandal is going to hurt your job opportunities in the future?

  • Me like Keith.

    Me no gay.

    Women hate men bad.

    Media hate bias bad.

  • I am of the understanding that Suneel is a citizen of Mexico, not the United States. So, what right does he have to speak about our prison system.

    I’m sure the Federales in Mexico need help with their own prison, Suneel; our prison system does not concern you. Stay in your own lane, leave the problems with our country’s prison system to its citizens. As for Mr. Raniere, he lost his rights when he received his 120-year prison sentence.

    Maybe he should have thought about that 20 years ago; now it’s time for him to cowboy-up and accept responsibility for his actions take his punishment like a man. Now it’s time for you to go back to your home – and start a crusade in Mexico to reform the prisons there.

    • Actually Suneel is a citizen of the USA, having been born here. He is by the way not a Mexican American. His family are Indian, from Bengal.

  • It’s good that Suneel took the time to put together in one place all the info that has been known for ages.

    Still missing the point, though: he needs to prove, preferably with data, point by point, all the ‘injustices’ he claims in Raniere’s case. An individual, specific case. If Suneel is truly concerned about the justice system, there are 1,000 more worthy cases he could take up.

    In fact, Suneel, now is the time for you to do just that, before you get accused of hypocrisy. Saying ‘criminal justice system is corrupt’ is about as useful as saying ‘politics is corrupt’, ‘pharma industry is corrupt’, ‘big business is corrupt’ … the kind of ‘we’ll take down the corrupt system’ late night talk indulged in by drunken students in any dorm in the world. And then you grow up.

  • —Did you know that the US federal conviction rate is about the same as a Banana Republic, fascist state, or communist country?

    Let me get this straight, Suneel is comparing the Banana Republic, a retail store, to a fascist state; a communist country; and the U.S. government. 🤪

    What does the Banana Republic have to do with anything?

    Sure, Suneel went to Harvard. 🤥

  • Misandry is a neologism that refers to hatred or aversion towards men or the ideological or psychological tendency that consists in despising the male as sex and with it everything considered as male. It is seen as the sexist counterpart of misogyny. This dangerous trend has infiltrated all levels of the system and threatens anyone because they are male. I wonder how many innocents are in prison.

    • Boohoo Hetero!?!?!

      1 in 6 women have been raped.

      It’s a dangerous trend for a cult-leader psychopath who rapes women.

    • You know a guy is NOT gay when he calls himself Hetero Supremo. Super Supremo. Super Duper Supremo.

      Not gay at all. Never even thought about it. Not for one second.

      Check out his beard!

    • Super Hetero – your name sounds like a very gay sports wear brand.

      Also Misandry isn’t a neologism, its just not as frequently used as Misogeny.

  • Thank you for the info and your perspective, Suneel. Do you have references for some of this, such as the part about how grand juries work these days? Thanks.

  • I’m shocked that Suneel would so disparage a justice system that allowed his NXIVM masters and partners in crime to prosper long after 21 State AGs sought to prevent KAR et. al. from ever operating an MLM business in the U.S. as ordered by the NYS AG in 1997, and that has ever since avoided prosecuting Raniere and his cohorts for their most heinous crimes perpetrated in the DOJ’s NDNY district or that fall under State not Federal law, despite the on-going glare of the international media spotlight.

    Suneel, have you no gratitude for the corruption – though, perhaps not quite as great as that of other nations – that has so far spared so many of your NXIVM leaders from the vagaries of justice that remain valued by some hopelessly deluded individuals here in the United States?

    Please show some respect for the system that lets you call it corrupt while reveling free in its corruption.

  • NXIVM bitter-enders care as much about criminal justice reform as they did about a cappella vocal competitions–just another recruiting tool that promises to be even less successful.

    Even with the support of what looks to be a ghostwriter, sending Suneel out to lead this charge is like Rosanne Barr singing the National Anthem.

  • So what if most people charged with Federal crimes are convicted. That just means the government isn’t prosecuting lots of people who are innocent.

    Would we rather have a system that goes after people who can’t be proven guilty? I sure as hell wouldn’t.

    Harassing people with frivolous lawsuits was something Raniere did. I wouldn’t want our government using that same tactic.

    Grand juries don’t convict defendants. Judges and prosecutors don’t convict them. The private prison industry doesn’t convict them.

    Juries composed of ordinary people convict defendants. Are they somehow part of this giant government/industry conspiracy?

    The system works. Proof: Raniere was convicted. By a jury of his peers. In open court. With extensive benefit of counsel.

    His trial bore no resemblance to dictatorship or fascism or a banana republic.

    His co-defendants pleaded guilty. Wisely. They did so in exchange for reduced charges. It was a good deal for them; Mack avoided certain conviction on the sexual trafficking rap, since evidence that came out at trial proved her guilt with absolute certainty.

    This is why most cases don’t go to trial. This is why most accused plead out. The evidence is there to convict.

    There are (relatively) a lot of people in prison in the US because there are a lot of criminals. And they tend to get caught. Criminals deserve to be locked up.

    The Nxivm trial illustrates this perfectly. There’s not a single one of the defendants who doesn’t deserve prison.

    Justice was done. The case is closed.

    • It’s a non-sequitur that because the government has a high conviction rate, the system must be biased or corrupt. There are plenty of other reasons for such a rate and one of them is they simply prosecute people who are guilty for significant crimes which can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

      Plenty of people try to scam the legal system by sneakily committing crimes or attempting to create impotent loopholes to bypass the spirit of the law just like Raniere tried to scam language with his word salad. In the end, most people are smart enough to know who is truly guilty or innocent.

      While there are cases where the justice system has failed some (as any imperfect system can), these are exceptions that ultimately self-correct themselves for the same aforementioned reasons: good people and a pretty good justice system.

  • Why are comments taking so long to show up and why are they only selectively missing? Why are some comments that were posted five or six hours ago not showing up while those posted an hour ago show up before them?

  • You know 😏 when nobody is around late at night and I’m in bed, I watch old Loony Tunes. The ones where they promote war bonds and dress the chicken up like Hitler. That one of Bugs Bunny falling from the plane holding up the sign jackass is classic Loony Tunes. Suneel, can an employee of the prison also own the company that sells the commissary to the prisoners?

    • Oh Peaches, having grown up in a snowy place, I don’t read any more of Chakravorty’s repetitive rabbit droppings. But he has been painting the town like a buggah. Bugga bugga boo.

      I too enjoy the cartoon. With cafe latté. It is like Cornholio reruns. Or drive-in Idiocracy. Or a remake of Clueless, starring this poor whatever he is. It’s as fun as all hell breaking loose.

      Who doesn’t love that?

      But it would be a tremendous help to the chinless one’s causation if only Suneel would submit another close-up shot of himself to Frank. Crikey, enough already.

      That one regularly featured close-up of the drugstore cowplop, uncosy cowboy shows too clear of a path up into his nostrils. Rather too intimate!

      Why create unnecessary, unaesthetic, atmospherically distasteful disturbances, as spring approaches? Especially as spring approaches, Frank could AT LEAST unearth a different photo of his Specimen, for crying out loud. Frank, cut it the hell out! Said Not Bangkok. Ffs.

      Postnasal drip is never a help to anyone’s image. Nor is a chipmunk face.

      Suneel is morphing into one of Alvin and the Chipmunks, a chattery chipmunk strapped to a keyboard in a one-act play without a playwright.

      Why is it that he does not simply embark to Scotland, while the going is good? It is unreasonable to he so devoter to heing a damned chucklehead who upchucks his woodies, so publicly, prodigiously. Shitting into the wind tunnel.

      It is clearly not effective advertising, Suneel’s nostrils or the landscape of monotonous unmagnetic, chinless wonders. Who wants to know some persnickety stranger’s nostrils this pugnaciously? Not I. Hirsute or her suit?

      We have pleasant a passel of creatures out in our yards already to enjoy. It is the full moon. Egrets are flooding through our neighbor’s yard, at least two dozen of them. I hear baby birds, see cardinals, bluejays, mourning doves. It is amazingly busy outdoors today. The bouganvillea is a riot with color and breezy motions.

      Alas, no chipmunks. I say, all ass.

      • Oh, cats. “unreasonable 2 b so devoted
        2 be-ing a damned chucklehead….”

        Prince Rogers Nelson school of nouvelle linguistic innovations, as seen astrally, thanks to the International Lover. Lessons are available or unavailable.

        “If for any reason there is a loss to cabin pressure
        I will automatically drop down to apply more
        To activate the flow of excitement….”

        But not Chakravorty. He is no Rick Alan Ross, never mind a raj of alertness.

  • Well dang, look at Sunneel recognizing complexity along with cause and effect. This is too well presented to make me think this was not written with a whole lot of help from others (different writing style being first sign…).

    This was what I was alluding to with my previous comments elsewhere. The US Justice System (but also everywhere else) is deeply flawed and going to be extremely difficult to fix. At the core of every single problem is the human element. The desire to “win” no matter what and to increase those precious stats. On the “win” front we see it constantly in politics on a daily basis, as people wave hand away cheaters, liars, and just flat out wrong behavior because their “team” did it. On the metric side, I am sure most of you know about this from your day to day job – got to keep those metrics up if want that raise or promotion.

    One aspect he did not touch on is what ultimately drives this wrongness of the justice system – the illusion of safety our society demands.

    Society intentionally helped break the justice system. Its a pure reaction to the fear and hate that drives our political system for the last few decades. Being able to prove they are “tough on crime” is ultimately how most judges, politicians, police officers and more rise through the ranks. To prove “tough on crime” they go for in volume be it the “war on drugs”, overkill sentences, high volume plea deals, or lots of arrests and tickets. Their reward? The gratitude and votes of the people to applaud them for making them feel safe (never mind they were not really any more or less danger than before).

    A perfect example of this is the militarization of the police that occurred post 9/11. A direct reaction to protecting towns from “terrorists” by providing the means to do it with literal military class weapons like tanks and more. Despite the fact that none of them were ever targets to begin with but sure did make those local politicians and police look good for a while. Military based corporations got new customers, the local politicians, police and more could look tough on crime and protecting them from those incoming “foreigners” and the local citizens have their illusion of safety. Never mind the side effects such as the high cost of training to use and maintain all that firepower which got passed on in higher taxes, more speed traps, more arrests and eventually the accelerated privatization of the jails which lead to…. The domino effect of our societies decisions is sure to kill us all before our “enemies” do. We are just now finally starting to understand the domino effect the “war of drugs” of the previous 30 years has cost us to go for another example that touches on everything in this article as it was the ultimate proof of concept.

    The question ultimately is how to fix it? Whatever solutions would have to remove the financial, political, ego, and society pressure to achieve those court “wins” no matter what. Pleading to the better angels of our nature flat out isn’t going to work which is what Suneel has been previously really arguing for Raniere whether he knew it or not since “fairness” and ‘justice” have little to do with the justice system.

    How do you fix society so it quits demanding an “by any means necessary” to maintain their illusion of safety? How to stop people from only caring about the “win” above all else? How do you stop people from being ambitious that they don’t care who they hurt along the way? Ultimately how do you stop people from profiting via money, power, or ego off this broken system? To fix the justice system you have to literally fix human nature.

    Good luck on that. If the last four years proved one thing, the need to “win” will trump all things, even the basic tentpoles of democracy and our rights, be it justice related or otherwise. It would be weird if somehow Raniere became the symbol to drive change that came up with at least some solutions to make the justice system even a little better (despite my depressing post, something is better than nothing) but sadly even all this analysis from Suneel (or whoever wrote this article) is still just about the “win” and not about what is right. We all know if Raniere was released tomorrow the sudden “concern” Suneel and the NXIVM fragments have about the broken justice system would disappear.

About the Author

Frank Parlato is an investigative journalist.

His work has been cited in hundreds of news outlets, like The New York Times, The Daily Mail, VICE News, CBS News, Fox News, New York Post, New York Daily News, Oxygen, Rolling Stone, People Magazine, The Sun, The Times of London, CBS Inside Edition, among many others in all five continents.

His work to expose and take down NXIVM is featured in books like “Captive” by Catherine Oxenberg, “Scarred” by Sarah Edmonson, “The Program” by Toni Natalie, and “NXIVM. La Secta Que Sedujo al Poder en México” by Juan Alberto Vasquez.

Parlato has been prominently featured on HBO’s docuseries “The Vow” and was the lead investigator and coordinating producer for Investigation Discovery’s “The Lost Women of NXIVM.” In addition, he was credited in the Starz docuseries 'Seduced' for saving 'slave' women from being branded and escaping the sex-slave cult known as DOS.

Parlato appeared on the Nancy Grace Show, Beyond the Headlines with Gretchen Carlson, Dr. Oz, American Greed, Dateline NBC, and NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, where Parlato conducted the first-ever interview with Keith Raniere after his arrest. This was ironic, as many credit Parlato as one of the primary architects of his arrest and the cratering of the cult he founded.

Parlato is a consulting producer and appears in TNT's The Heiress and the Sex Cult, which premieres on May 22, 2022.

IMDb — Frank Parlato,_Jr.

Contact Frank with tips or for help.
Phone / Text: (305) 783-7083