Several important areas stand before us in Chattanooga amenable to reform in the interest of justice.
Christians, whose Bibles reveal the model of all justice and equity, should review how they might assert a godly and evangelical interest in reforming laws and practices that serve the ungodly judicial-industrial complex. “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Lord your God is giving you” Deuteronomy 16:19,20.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
Several areas of reform are:
Cash bail reform — Encourage Christians to push for abolition of this needless practice, as California did partway last week. Cash bail keeps the poor in jail prior to trial as they cannot afford cash bail in toto, or the bondsman’s 10% fee. Two thirds of people in Hamilton County Jail are awaiting trial, meaning unable to pay bail.
Cash bail fund — Michael Gilliland and Chattanooga Organized for Action are planning a revolving cash fund for bailing people out. Short-term fix pending major reform. Churches should be involved en masse.
Mens rea reform — Insisting on enforcement of TN law requiring proof of mens rea (guilty mind, guilty intention) in every criminal case. Statute ignored except in murder cases. Could cut prosecutions in half, ease jail crowding problem, halt easy arrests of minorities most frequently targeted in abusive policing. Biblical concept.
Title 55 reform — I launched this project in February, giving notice to area governments of the need to halt ultra vires [outside the scope] enforcement of the transportation law against people not involved in transportation. State activity = extortion, racketeering defended by bar and court. Traffic stops are gateway for blacks, poor, immigrants, orphans and widow into police-industrial quagmire. July 3 ruling in federal court in Nashville gives impetus to this effort.
Expungement ministry — Many offenses can be expunged. Would be great diaconal project serving minority residents who suffer most from blotches on their record. Legal expungement is a picture of Christ’s forgiveness of sinners.
Police reform — Demilitarization, de-escalation, deprofessionalization, promotion of private alternatives (neighborhood watches, apps, the armed citizen), defunding in long term from $70 million city police budget annually. Shift cop powers back to elected sheriff (Jim Hammond). See Jonathan Mummolo on Police militarization, “Militarization fails to enhance police safety or reduce crime but may harm police reputation.”
My work as journalist
I am pressing Title 55 reform, a fight vs. traffic stop abuse via transportation administrative notice, eventual litigation by other parties and, perhaps, a police oversight committee whose investigative and accusatory powers would be entirely political. My print and radio coverage under the first amendment is not just what important people say about policy, but the law itself and its requirements. The reform defies decades of lawless (i.e., criminal) acts by law enforcement agencies in 100 percent of Tennessee cities and counties.
A committee of interested law-oriented commoners (such as Helen Burns Sharp) would try bad state actors and determine if they have committed crimes. Cops subject to review would include people such as David Campbell, who falsely charged Hanson (“walking while black”) Melvin in 2016.
DA Neal Pinkston does not prosecute “bad apples” who walk the streets and work with impunity, free from threat of arrest, suggesting a need for citizen oversight. Still, intense press coverage brought a good outcome for Mr. Melvin, who has a winnable civil case set for November against the city and Mr. Campbell.
Christians should get to work caring about justice — and local economy and free markets.