Everyday Erinyes #62

 Posted by at 7:11 am  Politics
Feb 112017

Experts in autocracies have pointed out that it is, unfortunately, easy to slip into normalizing the tyrant, hence it is important to hang on to outrage.  These incidents which seem to call for the efforts of the Greek Furies (Erinyes) to come and deal with them will, I hope, help with that.  Even though there are many more which I can't include.  As a reminder, though no one really knows how many there were supposed to be, the three names we have are Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone. These roughly translate as "unceasing," "grudging," and "vengeful destruction."

The Marshall Project has a series called "Case in Point," in which Andrew Cohen examines a single case or character which sheds light on the criminal justice system.  Jules Letemps is such an individual with such a case, and, while it certainly sheds light on how people may be sentenced and spend years in prison for stuff they didn't do – and there are way too many of those cases – this one also sheds light on immigration in the United States.

The article gives a good deal of backstory, which is, if depressing, worth reading.  But the gist of the case is this:

Letemps came to Florida in 1981 on “humanitarian parole,” a temporary status granted to those fleeing their country for urgent humanitarian reasons. He had fled Haiti on a boat with his father and sister, among thousands of Haitians who emigrated due to political unrest and economic turmoil….

When he arrived in Florida, Letemps moved in with his mother (shown right) in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood, where she had arrived the year before. He got jobs picking tomatoes and selling food at an airport kiosk. He soon left Miami to work at an orange grove near Orlando. There he started dating a woman and in 1986, she got pregnant. Letemps claims this was what led to his drug charge. “I couldn’t help her because I didn’t have a good job,” he said. “I bought 20 dollars worth of dope so I could sell it and make some money, but then the police arrested me.”

Letemps pled guilty to delivery of cocaine, and was sentenced to the five months he had already spent in jail. Immigration officials took no action against him. It was [a] later sexual assault conviction that brought him to ICE’s attention.

When he came to Florida, he was 17.  When he was 26, he left his home, his (pregnant) partner, and his two daughters to go to work at a dealership where his job was washing the cars.  He never got there.  Nor did he ever come home.  He was stopped by a police officer, fingered by a crying woman as her rapist, arrested, and charged.

He was assigned a public defender but no interpreter.  He was found guilty and given four concurrent life sentences, and has been in prison ever since.  He gradually lost contact with everyone except his mother, Pierrecina Aureus.  Siblings, nieces, nephews, his partner, his daughters – none knows him now.

In 2010, Centurion, a non-profit legal service which has works on exoneratatons, took on his case.  Their lawyers discovered in the file of the trial a seroligical test of a semen stain on the victim's robe, which completely excluded Letemps as the rapist.  THE EVIDENCE HAD BEEN IN THE RECORDS ALL THE TIME.  Apparently the public defender misunderstood it.  It was never presented to the jury. 

The Florida State Courts initially ruled that Centurion’s appeal came too late, but the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted them permission. In July 2015, a federal district judge ordered a new trial. And in October 2016, the state dropped all charges.

Centurion knew there would be immigration issues, so they brough on immigration attorney John Pratt.  Since his initial entry status was "humanitarian parole," and the felony conviction would have revoked that, he is now categorized as an "arriving alien" in court proceedings, not entitled to a bond hearing before a judge.  Only DHS can let him go.  Or not.  In November they denied that, so he will likely be detained until his immigration status is resolved.  He is now 53, so he has been in prison a little over half his life.

“Based on Mr. Letemps’ criminal past, ICE determined that his detention is warranted,” wrote [ICE} spokesperson [Tammy] Spicer in an email.

Alecto, I think this has been going on long enough.

Speaking of immigration, the Baltimore Sun raises a question about all the – stuff – that happened last week, when the executive order/Muslim ban was thrown into the mix at every United States airport.

When we worry and wonder about authoritarian regimes that inflict cruelty on civilians, we often imagine tyrannical despots unilaterally advancing their sinister agendas. But no would-be autocrat can act alone. As a practical matter, he needs subordinates willing to carry out orders. Of course, neither Donald Trump nor Steve Bannon personally detained any of the more than 100 people held at airports over the weekend pursuant to the administration's executive order on immigration, visitation and travel to the United States. They relied on assistance.

They refer to incidents such as the 5-year-old child handcuffed and detained, separated from his mother, for several hours.  The mother traveling with two children who was handcuffed, detained for 20 hours without food, separated from her children (who were US citizens.)  The 65-year-old mother of a US serviceman detained for 33 hours and denied the use of a wheelchair.  I expect we all heard about all of these.  They point out:

The men and women who work for the federal government completed these and other tasks and then returned to their families, where perhaps they had dinner and read stories to their children before bedtime.

Authoritarians don't need monsters.  They need people who will follow orders dutifully, even if the orders are monstrous.  And the Sun continues that we all need to ask ourselves what we will do.  Because it's so much easier to do nothing than to do something.  "If we do nothing, that is a choice. It means we accept a government that has demonstrated it is capable of inflicting cruelty on the innocent and defenseless."

Megaera, Tisiphone, come and visit all of us this week.  Help reinforce our spines so that we will have the backbone to keep resisting all the way.

The Furies and I will be back.  We are considering adding a special, one-time, "delusion edition" between Saturdays.

Cross posted to Care2 at http://www.care2.com/news/member/101612212/4036175


  6 Responses to “Everyday Erinyes #62”

  1. Furies: o.m.g. Such travesties, and tragedies!! Such heartbreaking stories.
    I believe the Resistance is spreading, as with the incident of DeVos trying to get into a school yesterday.

    Did you read about the Japanese PM going to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by HIMSELF??
    As dt's the Head Travesty for starters, we must RESIST! and his minions.

    Furies, unleash your Fury!!
    Thank you, Joanne for post.

    • I hadn't seen that yet.  It now has over 400 recs and comments – one of which is from Nameless with two WONDERFUL photos of Abe with Obama.  I thought Ivanka was going to be doing these little tasks while Melania is in New York with Barron.  Good Gad.

    • I meant to put those photos up yesterday – but then got bogged down setting up my Mom's online Walgreen's pharmacy account.

      First is when Pres. Obama paid his respects with P.M. Abe at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima:

      And then when P.M. Abe returned the gracious gesture at the USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Memorial:


      • Thanks for sharing!  The delay is no problem.  (I use Walgreen's too, and sometimes they make me crazy too.)  Anyone could have gone to the link – and also seen the GIF of Abe's reaction when the mango Moron FINALLY let go of his hand.

  2. Alecto: Letemps once spent 5 months for trafficking $20 worth of drugs, which "coincidentally" happened to be the time he already spent in jail awaiting trial (it's never shorter than that, is it :evil:) and then spent half of his life behind bars for something he didn't do because the public defender was asleep on the job/couldn't be bothered to do a decent job. He has been cleared of this, but now ICE wants to keep him in custody because of his criminal past? Give me a break. Do these people working in the justice department and ICE have their last bit of decency and humanity beaten out of them? Or is not having any part of the job description? Alecto, you first need to beat some decency and humanity back into those bureaucrats?

    The Baltimore Sun article also underlines this loss of decency and humanity by hiding behind "the rules"or "the orders". By following them without thought, they can avoid thinking about what they personally are dong to another human being by following, i.e. interpreting, rules and orders. Thinking about it might make them very uncomfortable, it might make them realize that what they are doing is wrong, that the order or rule is wrong. Not thinking is a personal choice, as is doing nothing. We all need to think, dare to stand strong in our own convictions and resist those that are hurtful, (deliberately) cruel and inhuman.

  3. Alecto:  You wouldn't believe how many similar cases I've known.

    Those who abuse others, according to the Fuhrer's directives, are just as criminal as the Fuhrer.

    Thanks JD!!  Great job!!


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