Sunday, November 1, 2009

Peonage, A form of Slavery

A page from LectLaw:

"INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE & PEONAGE - a condition of compulsory service or labor performed by one person, against his will, for the benefit of another person due to force, threats, intimidation or other similar means of coercion and compulsion directed against him.

In considering whether service or labor was performed by someone against his will or involuntarily, it makes no difference that the person may have initially agreed, voluntarily, to render the service or perform the work. If a person willingly begins work but later desires to withdraw and is then forced to remain and perform work against his will, his service becomes involuntary. Also, whether a person is paid a salary or a wage is not determinative of the question as to whether that person has been held in involuntary servitude. In other words, if a person is forced to labor against his will, his service is involuntary even though he is paid for his work.

However, it is necessary to prove that the person knowingly and willfully took action, by way of force, threats, intimidation or other form of coercion, causing the victim to reasonably believe that he had no way to avoid continued service, that he was confronted by the existence of a superior and overpowering authority, constantly threatening to the extent that his will was completely subjugated.

Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1584, makes it a Federal crime or offense for anyone to willfully hold another person in involuntary servitude.

A person can be found guilty of that offense only if all of the following facts are proved beyond a reasonable doubt:

First: That the person held the victim in a condition of 'involuntary servitude';

Second: That such holding was for a 'term,'; and

Third: That the person acted knowingly and willfully.

It must be shown that a person held to involuntary servitude was so held for a 'term.' It is not necessary, however, that any specific period of time be proved so long as the 'term' of the involuntary service was not wholly insubstantial or insignificant.

Title 18, U.S.C., Sec. 1581(a) is the peonage law cited in the indictment.

The specific facts which must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in order to establish the offense of peonage include each and all of the three specific factual elements constituting involuntary servitude as previously stated and explained in these instructions, plus a fourth specific fact; namely, that the involuntary servitude was compelled by the person in order to satisfy a real or imagined debt regardless of amount. "

This was the entire page on Peonage from LectLaw. I copied it here, because to have paraphrased it would have brought an injustice to this work.

How is peonage important to offenders you might ask? Simple.

When an offender is sentenced, they sign their name on the "guilty" line and form a contract with the State. When that sentence is over, the offenders debt to that state is complete. But what happens when the state takes a portion of that "contract" and continually changes it, thus changing the contract.

The offender then no longer has the ability to complete the contract, and, is forced to do things not previously agreed upon.

Also, if this wasn't disclosed to the offender at the time of signing (the ever changing nature of the contract that is), the contract becomes null and void.

Contract Law states:

"Full Disclosure n. the need in business transactions to tell the "whole truth" about any matter which the other party should know in deciding to buy or contract. In real estate sales in many states there is a full disclosure form which must be filled out and signed under penalty of perjury for knowingly falsifying or concealing any significant fact."

If the Court did not fully disclose the nature of your sentence to you, and all the definitions of each portion of your sentencing, then that contract can be viewed as void. (Contract law would be tough to go into and make it easy to understand. Do a word search for Unconscionable.)

And for those that think that sentencing (plea bargains) are not contracts, please read this.

So, if your contract is now null and void, but you have no recourse, you are now suffering from peonage. Why? Because if you don't conform to the new contract, you will be thrown in jail. Coercion. Did the Legislators "knowingly" make a new law to make things tougher for you?

I'll leave that one for you to decide.


Brian's Sister said...

Excellent post. It seems to me that this might also be an appropriate place to mention (from the Constitution), Article I, ss 9, clause 3:
"No state shall...pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post fact law, or law impairing the Obligation of Contracts..."
This just shows another area of the constitution that is being violated when legislation is passed that impairs an offenders ability to fulfill their contractual obligations (which all too often results in the never ending sentence).

Anonymous said...

The U.S. Supreme Court made a decision as announced by NBC News on April 23, 2007 that the threat by a judge to silence a defendant using contempt of court a rights violation, which is nothing more than a bill of attainder.