How Negative Word of Mouth Impacts the Criminal Justice System and Self-Radicalization
In 2009, TARP, a behavior research company based in Arlington, VA, conducted a study that explored the behavior of people sharing information with others about their negative and positive experiences with a business. The study found that customers who leave a business happy and satisfied may share their positive experience with just a few friends, while customers who had an awful experience shared their negative incident with an average of 12 people. In turn, each of those 12 people share their knowledge of that negative incident with six others. Mathematically, (1+12 + (12 x 6)), totals 85 people who will have a negative view.
In the same way negative word-of-mouth erodes the reputation of a business, it has also eroded trust in our criminal justice system. Many people are having profoundly negative experiences with police, prosecutors and judges. Failure by the criminal justice system to acknowledge, address, correct injustice, as well as hold officials accountable, has created a crisis of distrust in our government. As incidents of injustice continue, such as the killing of unarmed people and wrongful convictions, not only are new seeds of distrust planted and germinating, but established roots of distrust deepen. In the age of the Internet, social media and proliferation of cell phone cameras used to expose misconduct, distrust in the criminal justice system is spreading like wildfire. A negative experience at a business can't be compared to the devastating, conscience-shocking impact of wrongly losing life or liberty at the hands of the criminal justice system. Therefore it is certainly reasonable to conclude that a person may share that profoundly negative experience with a greater number of people. Applying TARP calculations to the wrongful conviction of the IRP6 presents a compelling case-study on how distrust in the justice system can multiply exponentially.
According to former federal judge, the Honorable H. Lee Sarokin, the IRP6, David A. Banks, Clinton A. Stewart, Demetrius K. Harper, Gary L. Walker, David A. Zirpolo and Kendrick Barnes, were wrongly-convicted for a "failure to pay corporate debt." These six men are long-time friends, some of whom grew up together and others are related through sibling marriages. The IRP6 all attended the same church for decades where David Banks' mother is the Pastor and the parishioners are knit together like close family. The wrongful conviction of the IRP6 has resulted in seeds of distrust being planted throughout the entire congregation, which consists of approximately 300 people. When applying TARP calculations to just a third of the congregation (100 parishioners), 8500 people would have a negative, distrustful view of the criminal justice system. Sharing that negative experience with the facts over Facebook or Twitter could result in seeds of distrust being sowed exponentially. A child's negative experience, especially the children of the IRP6, would extend distrust of the justice system into another generation. Many parents in the church would also pass on their disdain for the justice system to their children. The longer the injustice is allowed to endure, the deeper the roots of distrust go which could ultimately turn into total disillusionment or possibly hatred for the government (i.e. joining ISIS). Imagine how deep the distrust is for those who have watched the U.S. justice system's failure not only to correct the wrongful-conviction and continuing imprisonment of the IRP6 but it's unwillingness to deal with the gross prosecutorial and judicial misconduct in the case. Judge Sarokin's recent letter to President Obama requesting clemency on behalf of the IRP6 exposes that corruption in our criminal justice system extends to prosecutors and judges, not just police on the streets.
In the IRP case, Assistant United States Attorney Matthew T. Kirsch, U.S. Attorney John Walsh, Judge Christine M. Arguello and 10th Circuit appellate judges Bobby Baldock, Jerome Holmes and Harris Hartz failed to acknowledge, address or correct the wrongful-conviction through the judicial process. That makes them culpable. A Just cause along with Judge Sarokin have spent years publically exposing the gross constitutional violations and government misconduct to President Obama, Attorney General Loretta Lynch and members of Congress in hopes of freeing the IRP6, however, bureaucracy abounds and the men remain imprisoned, three and a half years and counting. How unfair! Government official's continuing failure or delay to correct injustice through the judicial process. Advocacy group A Just Cause has also spent over 3 years exposing the IRP6 injustice to government leaders, including President Obama, Attorney General Lynch and numerous members of Congress, however, none have taken visible action thus far to free the IRP6 or hold prosecutors and the courts accountable. Government officials failure to correct injustice sends a strong message that they are unconcerned with innocent people going to prison or the fact that children are crying from the loss of their fathers. It sends a message that they don't care about the pain and suffering of wives, mothers, fathers or injustice as a whole.
There has been much talk and discussion in the media about citizens being self-radicalized through social media by terror groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda. But the United States must take responsibility for their continuing failure in correcting injustice when its citizens suffer despotic government abuse perpetrated by police, prosecutors and judges. Victims and families of prosecutorial and judicial abuse, just like victims of other crimes, suffer mental trauma, many times resulting in fear and distrust. That distrust often deepens when they see their government fail to hold officials accountable for intentionally destroying their life or liberty, especially when there's overwhelming evidence of blatant misconduct as in the IRP6 case or where video shows a police officer gunning down an unarmed citizen. The family and friends of the IRP6, like most others, will continue to work constructively and peacefully to fight for justice for their loved ones. However, some in our society who are victims of government abuse are so disillusioned that they become vulnerable and susceptible to ISIS propaganda, not only perceiving ISIS's twisted ideology as a better way of life, but also as an opportunity to exact revenge against what they consider to be an abusive, cruel and hypocritical United States government. ISIS masterfully uses social media to attract those who have suffered abuse and have been beaten down by the criminal justice system. The government is culpable for contributing to self-radicalization under these circumstances. The trust of the justice system has been completely eroded by hundreds of people, including friends, families, church members and others in the community who witnessed the wrongful-conviction of the IRP6. Listen to what some of them have to say:
Tanique Wright, African American, Age 39
“The definition of justice is the process or result of using laws to fairly judge and punish crimes and criminals. I use to believe in our justice system, I believed for the most part the Judges who sat on a bench in a court room were fair, I believed prosecutors wanted to send only the guilty to prison, I believed in the statement "Innocent until proven guilty" and I believed witnesses who swore on the bible wanted to tell the truth. I thought if you had evidence to prove your innocence then you would never serve a day in prison As a child I was taught we had the best legal system in the world. I no longer believe that true justice exists. If our justice system is the best in the world, why are so many innocent people in prison? And if an innocent person is convicted, why are we denying them the right to appeal their sentences?
When my brothers, my friends the IRP6 were wrongfully convicted and sent to prison for a crime they never committed my whole outlook of this so-called justice system changed. When I turn on the news and hear a person has been arrested and charged with a crime I wondered if they were really guilty, I contemplate will they have a fair trial, will the judge want true justice? Will the prosecutor pay witnesses to lie? Will an innocent man spend days, years, or life in prison? The hope I once had in our justice system no longer exists. I do not have any faith in our justice system. I am angry, hurt, sickened and very disappointed. The reality is that the United States of America, which proclaims itself the "land of the free", has the most dishonest, corrupt legal system in the world.”
Donnajune Cruz, Filipino, Age 38
“I was born in another country and came to America at a very young age. I was taught that this country was the land of the free and the home of the brave; a place where opportunities for all nationalities and color are possible. All my life, I believed that, until I saw the system and authorities of this country destroy innocent families. It’s almost like waking up from a dream and realizing that what I thought all along wasn’t a dream but a nightmare. There is no justice in this country for the poor, the minorities, for the truly innocent and the list goes on. I see more oppression than freedom. I see more cowards, liars and crooks who run this so-called justice system. They say ‘justice is blind’ but I don’t believe that. Personally, I think justice in this country see’s just fine. It see’s money, power, color, ethnicity and who you know that has power. If you disagree with me it is most likely because you are the right color, you have power, enough money and you know someone who has enough power in the system. Just saying!”
Kyle Walker, African American, Age 23
“I've seen the darkness of our so-called "justice system". Though it may have been founded with good intentions, it has slipped into and now thrives in the darkness. An organization is always characterized by its people - an organization is its people. The people who are now in place in our justice system have settled into a sense of entitlement and selfishness. As long as they keep their wallets full and reputations where they want them, they don't care about what happens to anyone else - which is to say they don't care about true justice. I feel that true justice looks to preserve humanity and morals. It doesn't take away the freedom of innocent people, it doesn't pass judgment on someone because of the color of their skin or just because it has the power to do so. True justice is smart and fair. This system has made and is still making many mistakes. Until the people in the system start acknowledging these mistakes and begin to right the many wrongs that have been done, the system will only fall further into the darkness. Eventually, it will lose sight of the light that is True Justice.”
Kea Banks, African American, Age 23
“Responsibility, accountability, and ethics are vitally important to a proper justice system. Yet they cannot be found in the U.S. justice system. At least not in today’s world, they are a thing of the past. Because those attributes seem to no longer exist, we the people suffer. Faith, hope, trust- I have none of these when it comes to our justice system. Experience has taught be to know better. I find myself more cynical now than I have ever been. I’m working hard so that one day I can be a lawyer. I want to help people, because these days it seems that when people stand in the court of law, their fate is already sealed. This should not be the case. Our justice system today is like a hugely rigged game. When a game is rigged the odds are in favor of the dealer, or whoever they favor. When it’s the government dealing in a rigged game the people lose. Those who play a part in the administration of justice, play with peoples’ lives like merely rolling dice. When deals are made behind closed doors, and evidence is buried the structure of our justice system is weakened. I do not trust a system that does not hold its administrators accountable to a higher stander. If we grant them the authority to forever alter the life of another person/s we must hold them responsible when they fail to carry out justice as they should. Because we do not, our system isn’t worth the foundation it was built upon.”
Charlisa Stewart, African American, Age 43
“As a mother, after this experience I would tell my son don’t trust the justice system. There is no justice in America.”
Alex Nelson, African American, Age 21
I think that the system is corrupt. It's paid off. How can judges put you in prison with evidence of the right thing? Why are the prisons full of mostly black people? Why does it take forever to get innocent people out of prison, like 20 years down the road, when their lives are pretty much over?
Tiffany Stewart, African American, Age 21
“I always thought criminals were the only ones who went to prison, that judges were unerring when the words “guilty” came out of their mouths. I had respect for police men, giving them a nod when they came my way. But, I didn’t know officers could blatantly murder someone and never spend a day in prison. I didn’t know judges and prosecutors could fabricate a case to make a person “guilty before proven innocent”. I never thought I’d see the day my father (an executive at a software company) would be sentenced to ten years in prison, along with five other executives, for crimes that were never committed. I watched these men work hard on software built for this country. To see them in prison for trying to help our government, has altered my view of the justice system. I now see police officers as criminals with badges, prosecutors as malefactors with diplomas, and judges as transgressing hierarchies. My vision was once clouded by the fantasy of the Justice System, but now it’s clear that justice means corruption.”
Matthew Brown, African American, Age 31
“My view of the justice system before the IRP situation wasn't much different then what it is now. This is due mostly to injustices I've seen most of my life. My eyes were really opened to the corruption within the justice system during my own legal battle. I was guilty and deserved prison time but because my layer was friends with the DA I got away with a deferment and 80 hours of community service. I was happy I didn’t go to prison but I realized then how corrupt the system was one how I just a easily could have had the worst case scenario happen to me as a "favor". After seeing all that has happens with the IRP case I am even more untrusting of the justice system of America. I got summoned for jury duty and toiled with the thought of whether or not I would be effective on any jury. I didn’t get my number called but I don't think I could ever serve on a jury and claim anybody was guilty or not without having been an actual witness to the deed in question. I've seen all the evidence needed to determine the outcome of a trial and it still go the opposite way with the IRP and other cases. I have absolutely no faith in America's justice system. From now on I could never say anybody was guilty without wondering if I contributed in the imprisonment of an innocent person. Therefore without being an actual witness I can’t trust the word of another to claim someone is guilty. I'm not sure my point of view will ever change.”
Michele Harris, Caucasian, Age 45
“My understanding of the judicial system completely changed after seeing the IRP6 wrongfully convicted. Before then I thought that people basically got a fair trial and could have all the facts heard before a judge and jury. I thought the expression "the rich pay for their justice, just meant they get off scot free while the poor don't. I had no idea that the poor and mostly minorities were railroaded by lying cops, prosecutors and judges. They get much longer prison terms, false confessions due to corrupt judicial practices and very likely wrongfully convicted. I'm saddened and sickened that our judicial is not about justice and truth at all, but about numbers. The number of people they can lock up and the companies that make a profit off slave labor. Prosecutors have been known to withhold evidence and entice witnesses to lie to get a conviction. They break the law they are supposed to uphold; with impunity. The "system" are people that are morally bankrupt. Everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions. Judges, cops, prosecutors, witnesses and defendants. How we can have the nerve to lock someone up for a crime when everyone in the courtroom is a criminal? The IRP6 are one prime example out of thousands if not tens of thousands of wrongful convictions. People are not just effected while in prison, but for the rest of their lives. Their lives and families are being torn apart by a corrupt system and our society has turned a blind eye. I have NO FAITH in the judicial system. Shame on America.”
Jynel Gaulden, African American, Age 44
“I received a degree in Criminal Justice/Investigations Management. When I began my law classes, I immediately recognized the justice system was not fair and balanced. I can remember sitting in class one day and thinking of the Civil Rights movement, and all the people from that era that must have been incarcerated unjustly. From policing to the court proceedings, I realized that poor and minority citizens are faced with challenges beyond their control.
That was back in the 90’s when learned about: Policing, crime scenes, narcotics, Constitutional/Procedural/Substantive criminal law, etc. In 2016, I can honestly say I’ve seen the extremes of what I recognized back in college. From the initial interaction with police followed by arrest, acquiring legal representation, bail/bond, court proceeding(s), and fines/sentencing: I’ve come to understand the inconsistencies and bias that citizens are faced with. Throughout the process, there’s a cruel human factor that fosters corruption and injustice. When police, prosecutors and judges distort the truth and abuse their power, lives are destroyed.
You are guilty until proven innocent, and it’s going to cost you either way. That’s absurd! The chances of getting justice depend on the integrity of the human beings you encounter throughout the process. It’s appalling to have your fate in the hands of those who don’t necessarily have your best interest in mind. It’s a complete nightmare to have your rights maliciously violated by those in a position power. Without accountability and consequences for those who abuse their power, the current justice system is dangerous to everyone and justice is obscure.”
Preston Hodges, African American, Age 48
“My view of the justice system before the wrongful conviction of the IRP6 was that the system worked, it was fair, it gave people due process. I believed the term "Innocent Until Proven Guilty". My belief was that you would be treated fairly throughout the judicial process BUT NOW after I have seen what the IRP6 have been going through and the so called fair process. I DO NOT believe in the U S Justice System at all now. Seeing up close how the system really works is very frightening because you hope that everyone would not be treated as Guilty Until Proven Innocent".
Today's Justice System is not being ran the way it was set up to be. The system has taken a very wrong turn by Department of Justice leadership. The people running the system such as corrupt Lawyers, Judges and Prosecutors are the biggest blame. Change is needed now to the system. The outcry the past several years by the American people and elected officials is a very strong indicator change is way overdue. All levels of the Justice System should be changed and updated to be what our forefathers put in place and meant it to be.
The Justice System is needed BUT the right system is critical to American lives.”
Ashley Brown, Caucasian, Age 31
“My view of the justice system before what happened to the IRP6 men was a bit tainted, but it doesn't touch how I feel now. I knew by the age of 16 that the justice system was focused around race more than anyone would like to believe, but I saw it first-hand. Being around other cultures allowed me to see the injustice focused around that.
Now with the IRP6, not only is race a huge factor, but there are so many other unjust factors as well, which has caused my view of the justice system to be even more so tainted. This has caused me to think most people in the justice system are crooked, & COMPLETELY made me not believe in the system. "Innocent until proven guilty" is no longer in my mind. Basically, if they want you to be guilty, you will be guilty. If they want you to be innocent, you will be innocent. Today, me having done nothing wrong, if I were to get called on something they have claimed I have done, I can honestly say that even if I had the proof in my hand that I was innocent, it would still be very much concerned they would find me guilty if they wanted to. If they want something I have, I am not the right skin tone, etc. all play factors on if I am guilty or innocent. These are all unjust factors, that took place on the innocent IRP6 being sent to prison. I have seen it go all the way to the Judges and Prosecutors, them being crooks!”
Ariel Haughton, African American, Age 20
My view before the situation with the guys: I was very naive about the justice system partly because I was young. I was taught to follow the law because if you don't, you go to jail. I always thought that for the most part, we had a descent system. My view after what's taken place: We don't have a justice system. Nothing about the system says justice. It's all about what benefits the people in authority. It's never about actually proving someone innocent or guilty.”
Dennis Merritt, African American, Age 52
“In light of what has happen to six IT specialist that ran IRP Solutions and is now dubbed the IRP6, the increase in exonerations of the wrongfully convicted, and the constant news that an unarmed black man has been killed by law enforcement and the perpetrators' punishment is paid leave, I have lost all faith in our justice system. I am beginning to realize that Justice is not blind. I am finding out that justice is based on your economic status, race, religion, and who you know. Six men are in prison today because they sought out to obtain a piece of the American dream. They created software for federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that would facilitate the seamless collection, analysis, distribution and presentation of criminal intelligence from the first responder to the prosecutor. They created the software to ensure that any law enforcement agencies could get information instantly so that they could address a possible threat to its citizens immediately. While creating this software these men incurred some debt. What startup company does not incur some type of debt until the product is bought and begins to pay for itself. I feel this injustice was not about debt which our Federal Justice system labeled “Mail and wire Fraud” this injustice was about not letting a small black owned company be known for coming up with a solution that the IT giants could not come up with. Am I saying that our justice system conspired with Large IT companies to destroy a small Black owned company? Yes I am. This grave injustice has made me paranoid. I will never be able to trust our justice system to do the right thing ever again. I truly believe that our Law Enforcement and Prosecutors will seek a conviction at any cost even if it means planting or eliminating evidence. You are truly “Guilty” until proven Innocent. Our Justice system is failing its citizens miserably.”
Joseph Thurman, African American, Age 31
“Before the IRP6 Case I believed in our Justice System. I believed that the overall mission of the law, our prison system and the legal system was to incarcerate individuals who truly did something worthy of punishment. I always knew the system wasn’t perfect. It lacked a true focus on rehabilitation and did not leverage “Common Sense” practices for non-violent criminals. I felt the system could use improvement but that the roots and core of the system stemmed from an overall positive mission…to protect communities from people who had proven they deserved some level of punishment.
I was oblivious to the level of white collar criminals that are imprisoned every year and ultimately believed that the system was meant to be a deterrent for bad corporate behavior and largely immoral business activities. (i.e. Bernie Madoff, etc.)
After the IRP6 case I am sad to say that I have lost faith in any prospect of morality that I previously believed was at the root of our Justice System.
I now believe more than ever that it is nothing more than a Systematic Tool managed and operated by big government, big money and big business players. It is a “Legal” means of destroying, derailing and dismantling anyone or any group that challenges this group of “Big” players.
The definition of Legal is “permitted by law.” The big government, big, money, big business (hereafter referred to as “these people”) have built a system of laws that permits them to attempt to destroy and control the lives of Americans by any means necessary and convenient under this countries book of laws.
It is used for everything from controlling market share (destroying competitors with absurd legal challenges) to managing the hierarchy of our population. The “law” is used to ensure that the poor stay poor, the less fortunate have no control and no voice, the minorities lose their opportunities for growth into the middle and upper class…and this is all permitted by law.
These people have developed the Justice system into more than just a Tool for their own positioning, benefit and control. It has become an opportunity to gain riches by enslaving the poor and powerless.
The deeper you look into the history of our justice system the more you understand that it was corrupt from the beginning. Before the IRP6 case I had no idea that slavery was still legal in our country. Our Legal system was built to be a work around for slavery. The 13th Amendment reads as follows: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Slavery is a fair punishment for crime under our Legal System. So if These People want slaves they just have to ensure that crimes are being committed and that makes slavery Permitted by Law.
I now understand that we do not have a Justice System or a Justice Department or even any understanding of Justice in this Country. We have a Legal System…not based on Justice or morality…
I don’t just believe our system is corrupt…I know our system is 99% corrupt based on what I have read and seen since the IRP6 case. It is big business and has been developed into a self-serving and self-maintained ecosystem of preying on the general population and squeezing the rights, the freedoms, the choices and the hope out of the common man.
It is the essence of immorality, corruption and oppression.”
Lynette Campbell, Age 59
“How I USED to feel about the justice system:
1. Everybody gets a fair trial.
2. The system is fair and has checks and balances.
3. Those who do wrong are punished.
4. The innocent are not punished.
5. Judges are impartial.
6. Prosecutors do not induce others to lie.
7. Prosecutors do not fabricate evidence.
8. If evidence proves you are innocent, you are innocent and not punished.
9. Inmates get decent medical care.
How I feel about the justice system NOW:
1. It is full of a bunch of good ol' boys.
2. It is full of bureaucrats.
3. Even though there may be a law, that does not mean people will obey it...even those sworn to uphold the law.
4. It is NOT fair!
5. People don't care if they perjure themselves as long as they get what they want.
6. Adherence to constitutional law means NOTHING! Judges and prosecutors do what they want to do when they want to do it.
7. They will convict anybody they want to.
8. It is all about the money.
9. If you are black, you don't stand a chance unless God is with you.
10. All that overcriminalization!!
11. The police can kill people and get off with a slap on the hand...IF that.
12. Inmates are treated like sub-humans, like slaves.
13. COs treat inmates so bad and then have the nerve to be surprised when the inmates finally react to their brutality.
14. A lot of COs are horrible human beings!
15. The system needs to change faster than our slower than dirt system allows it to change!
16. The "right" people will probably have their loved ones treated horribly before they react.”
Dustin Jackson, African American, Age 23
“There is no justice system to me. If you have enough money or social status, then you get the dictionary's version of justice. Justice was supposed to be blind.”
Thomas Williams, African American, Age 38
“America talks a good justice game but their actions simply don't measure up when it comes to acknowledging, addressing and correcting wrongful convictions and misconduct by justice officials. Their failure to do so will result in a widening and deepening chasm of distrust across the country and contribute to more anti-government sentiment, creating a target-rich environment for ISIS propaganda.”
Mildred Anderson, African American, Age 62
“I didn't address the justice system with my kids outside of what they learned in school. I didn't believe in the system to begin with growing up in Alabama where there is a white standard and a black standard. Watching what happened to the IRP6 was the nail in the coffin.”