28
Jul
11

black sun

“I wish you wouldn’t run down my state,” Henry said during our weekly call last Sunday. Henry lives in Orlando and loves his adopted state. He’d just seen my post “Fascist Florida and Free Russia,” and he didn’t like it.

“Most of my best memories have happened in Florida,” he said. Images of him as a kid posing with Goofy at Disney World and boating in Vero Beach come to my mind. I see Henry in his graduation robes at the University of Miami; I have a “U of Miami Dad” cup on my desk, stuffed with pens, pencils, etc.

I, too, have many happy memories of Florida, of family vacations on Captiva Island or at my mother’s home on Longboat Key. The greatest mentor in my life was a Floridian. I will never forget receiving a private tour of Thomas Edison’s home in Fort Myers because of him. My grandmother had a cousin, “Aunt Billie,” who owned a famous orange grove in Fort Lauderdale. She came to visit us once in the ‘50s in a big pink Cadillac. As a ten-year-old I was photographed at a Florida roadside attraction with a big snake draped over my shoulders; I have never been afraid of snakes ever since.

As a family we have much for which to thank Florida. But since I’ve become involved with Derek and Alex King, I’ve been seeing another side of Florida and I don’t like it at all. It’s the ugly side of Florida one sees in its courts, jails and prisons.

It’s a white-trash place populated by guards like:

• A 45-year-old Polk County deputy, Robin Pagoria, arrested in late May for forcing two young female inmates on different occasions to remove their clothes before handcuffing them to a table and administering as many as 62 lashes in what is being called “sadomasochistic spanking.” She videoed the abuse to share with a boyfriend she’d met on a spanking-fetish website. 

• Or the six guards and supervisor who allowed 18-year-old inmate Eric Perez to die at the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center earlier this month. Guards found him on the floor, vomiting. No one called 911. He was not seen by a nurse because there was none on duty. It is an example of persistent “incompetence, ambivalence and negligence on the part of the administration and the staff” (to borrow the words of a Florida grand jury that investigated a remarkably similar death in 2003).

• Or Okeechobee County sheriff’s sergeant Tommie Joe (T.J.) Brock, who was fired a couple years ago for coercing sex from a 39-year-old female inmate and got off with only 5 years’ probation and the loss of his pension instead of the 30-year prison term he deserved. The Okeechobee County Jail is so oppressive, two inmates (including a teen) have committed suicide there in the last couple years. This is where Alex King was held for a couple months before he was returned to Escambia County to face the traffic charges the state has inflated into a probation violation and has now escalated from a misdemeanor to a felony because Alex has insisted on his right to a trial.

Having witnessed the way the State of Florida has treated Alex since his February accident, I have lost faith in every level of Florida’s justice system to conduct itself in a just, reasonable, and ethical manner. The system, hidden like the subterranean world of Disney World, is indecent.

Despite recognizing that Alex had been complying with the terms of his probation so admirably that she had suggested an early termination of probation, Alex’s probation officer Melissa Cornelius acceded to pressure from higher-ups to file a Violation of Probation before any of the facts of Alex’s February 19th traffic accident had even been investigated. Unaware that Alex had a valid prescription for a pain-killer he took for a cracked or bruised rib sustained in the accident, Cornelius released information to the media that “opiates” had been detected in a urine analysis the day following the crash and created the erroneous public impression that Alex had been “under the influence” at the time of the incident (and that this is why he fled on foot). When I confronted her with the truth and told her Alex’s reaction is more reasonably interpreted as PTSD, she cut me off and said that FDOC was leaving it to the courts to sort out.

To date, this irresponsible decision by Alex’s probation officer has already cost Florida taxpayers approximately $9,500 in incarceration expenses, plus the additional costs and wasted time of public defenders, prosecutors, judges, court clerks, and drivers shuttling Alex the 546 miles between the Okeechobee and Pensacola courts and jails. It has cost us approximately $2,000 so far in phone calls, commissary charges, and other expenses necessary to support Alex through this ordeal. So what is the real total cost of the state’s vendetta against Alex? I wouldn’t be surprised if it has already hit $20,000—and the process hasn’t even reached the half-way point yet.

But can Alex get a fair shake in the courts? The prosecutor—a special prosecutor appointed by the governor—has just elevated the traffic charge from a misdemeanor to a felony only because Alex would not agree to being arm-twisted into accepting a guilty plea which may have sealed his fate on the Violation of Parole charge, which is itself so unfair and absurd. Everyone’s hands are dirtied in this outrageous affair: the governor, attorney general, special prosecutor, department of corrections secretary, probation officer, etc.

Alex had been on the President’s List at his college, for heaven’s sake. He has committed no criminal act. He has not violated the spirit of his probation terms. Alex is an extreme straight-arrow. He only got into a traffic accident on a foggy night, and the state is using this as an excuse to derail a promising young life—and for what?

Retribution and vengeance.

The “Sunshine State” is surely now ruled by a black sun that is a countervailing force to the good people and light that I used to know.

Alex belongs in school, not jail or prison. His experience convinces me that Florida is no place in where I would choose to raise children or to even visit if I didn’t have to. I dislike what Florida is doing to Alex so much because it is crowding out everything about Florida I have cherished for so long.

Henry won’t like me saying this, but the best thing about global warming is that Florida will be one of the first places in America to sink into the sea. God must think it an apt punishment for a place that has morally sunk so low.

۞

Groove of the Day 

Listen to Gillian Welch performing “Black Star” 

 

If you have friends in Florida who care about honest justice and are fed up with heartless politics, please tell them about Alex and consider sending them a license plate to display on their cars:

This license plate is now available for sale for $25 from http://www.kingbrostrust.org. Please enter "license plate" as a note. $15 of the price will help defend Alex King against this injustice.

Readers have also suggested that we write to these people to tell them what we think of Florida justice as it is being applied to Alex King’s case. Please ask your Florida friends to write, too:

Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Attorney General Pam Bondi
State of Florida
The Capitol PL-01
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1050

Special Prosecutor Brandon Young 
Assistant Florida State Attorney’s Office 
PO Box 787  
Bonifay, FL 32425

Secretary Edwin G. Buss 
Florida Department of Corrections
501 South Calhoun Street 
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2500

Deborah B. Brown   
Circuit Administrator – FDOC   
3101 North Davis Highway  
Pensacola, FL 32503


20 Responses to “black sun”


  1. July 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I agree with you 100% about the inexcusable behavior of the Florida judicial system. When Alex and Derek were fighting for their lives from 2001 to 2003 I had visited Pensacola and I ended up buying a home there in 2003 but the area lost it’s appeal to me within a short period of time and I had sold my home by 2004. While in Florida I made several visits with Alexs grandmother Joyce and she showed me where he played, where Chavis lived and where their home use to be, which was bulldozed over so quickly there wasn’t any evidence left when the boys withdrew their confessions. I then became involved in the Daniel Carter trial and the system was hell-bent on destroying that 15 year old boy as well. To get the feel of what he went through I stayed in the crime scene home by myself while I was on a 10 day vacation. I helped to get enough evidence to give to Daniels attorney and assisted this 15 yr old child ,who was charged as an adult for pre-meditated murder, but was acquitted because of the CHILD ABUSE that he suffered during the crime being committed by his own uncle.
    So I have seen the abuse of childrens rights and it still pisses me off when I think of it. Florida has a way to hide their morbid abuse as they continuously add more and more laws to destroy the young. Adults get 3 or more strikes but kids are used as examples………….Unfortunately Florida is not the only state to screw kids out of their lives all states are guilty because there are NO efforts to rehabilitate what-so-ever………….Bill

    • 2 abram
      July 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      Retribution and vengeance is commonplace in most government institutions not just the penal system. There needs to be an attitude adjustment for the abuse of laws to abate. Corrections people have to get away from their work environment more and trained to not consider everyone captured as bad.

  2. 3 Gloria
    July 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    There is another case of a 12 year old that Florida is fighting to destroy. Christian Fernandez. He is going to be tried as an adult on charges of first degree murder so he faces a LWOP.

    A CHILD, that for all of his 12 short years has been abused, physically, emotionally, mentally and SEXUALLY ABUSED.

    From News4jax.com:
    A 12-year-old boy was indicted Thursday on first-degree murder charges in the beating death of his 2-year-old brother.

    Cristian Fernandez beat David Galarriago on March 14 at the Carrington Place Apartments in the 11800 block of Alden Road, according to the state attorney’s office. The toddler died at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center two days later from blunt force trauma to the head, prosecutors said.

    Fernandez is the youngest person ever indicted on murder charges in Duval County.

    “The fact that we indicted a 12-year-old in and of itself is a stunning event and a sad event in our prosecutorial lives that we had to do this, but it is the only legal mechanism that we can use to protect the community from this particular defendant at this point,” State Attorney Angela Corey said.

    Details of the killing have not yet been released.

    Bianella Susana, Fernandez’s mother, was home at the time of the beating, along with the 12-year-old’s two other half-siblings, Corey said.

    Susana has been charged with negligent manslaughter.

    No one was at the family’s home Thursday to comment on the indictment. Corey said the family moved to Jacksonville to Miami less than a year ago.

    “In a case of this magnitude where the facts are absolutely provable as first-degree murder, then the only way that we can trust that we can fashion any kind of a sentence that both protects the public and at some point tries to help someone who is 12 years old and commits a first-degree murder is to put it in the adult system and work from there,” Corey said.

    Fernandez was being housed with other juveniles at the Duval County Jail. He was given access to a counselor.

    Before Thursday’s indictment, the youngest person to be indicted in Duval County was a 13-year-old who killed a correctional officer decades ago.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-Cristian-Fernandez/155817627820236

    http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-florida-cristian-fernandez-should-not-be-tried-as-an-adult

  3. 4 Wolfgang
    July 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    I spend 4 vacation’s each more than 20 day’s in the US until I learned that in US children a charged as adults and serve adult sentence. it disappointed me that much, that I won’t spend no more vacation in the US, I won’t spent a vacation in a country that doesn’t give children a chance!
    I think everybody heard about the serial killer in Norway who shot more than 70 people most are children, they give even such an individual a chance to get out of prison. They have a maximum sentence of 21, yes, 21 years for murder and for “crimes against humanity” 30 years in prison. Paul Henry Gingerich gets a sentence of 30 years for being involved in one single murder lead by a 15 year old friend; some children are facing Life without parole sentence like 12 year old Christian Fernandez (again Florida, Jacksonville) the US isn’t able to get young children rehabilitated within their juvenile justice, they throw children away like waste.
    Sorry for rant, but I had a very high meaning about the US until I learned about all those children without chance, I couldn’t imagine that people can be satisfied when children where send into an adult prison for live. For me each child, even if a child commit’s a horrible crime deserve a second chance because they are children and not adult’s.
    My condolences are going to Norway, and my respect for the Norway people who have and stay to a justice system that gives even the worst of the worst human beings a chance!

    • 5 Gloria
      July 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm

      Very well said Wolfgang. My condolences and respect to Norway too.

    • July 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm

      Wolfgang, one of the tragedies of America today is that we are alienating our best friends, people like you. You have been a more faithful champion of American kids and traditional American values than 85% of our own people–and yet we are deprived of your physical presence because of your self-imposed exile. “They know not what they do.”

      Let’s hope that at least some Americans will learn from the Norwegian response to the tragedy, learn some lessons from the Norwegians’ example, and thereby transform this terrible loss of life, so many young lives, into something of enduring value.

  4. 7 Jeanne
    July 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    It is such a shame that Alex has been in jail so long for a minor accident. It seems to me that people just do not get how much money and time is wasted on this nonsense. Alex should be in college, he paid his price already and he has been a model citizen and should be treated as one.

    I am so disappointed in the state of Florida. I will write and pass along to my cousins in Florida for help as well.

    Keep the faith!

  5. 8 matt
    July 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Seems like a very good opportunity to solicit the Governor’s attention/involvement.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/26/2332264/reform-underway-at-juvenile-justice.html

  6. 9 S London
    July 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Adam Harvey

    I recently got a quick look at a movie project in development that tells a very tragic and frightening story about Adam Harvey. What’s interesting is that it also delves into the lives and ethics of Judge Motto, Tom Corbett, and Krastek, as well as Jan Wilson, Trooper Martin, and other police. Apparently they all had a pretty good idea who the evidence pointed at when they took on Kenzie’s murder case, and after a couple of months knew for certain that there was no evidence linking Jordan to the crime, yet they still made the decision to sacrifice his life, as well as the safety of the community. Unbelievable.

    Apparently they were protecting their pensions and political aspirations, among some other secrets. I imagine losing their jobs and pensions will probably be the least of their worries as other information comes forward. Surely Jordan was not their only victim.

    It’s a very compelling script. As for Adam Harvey, it seems that it was only a matter of time before the truth came out. Apparently even his closest friends were getting nervous about covering for him, and Debbie Houk too. Nice to know that Hollywood didn’t buy into her smoke and mirrors theatrics, but went for the truth instead.

  7. 11 Gloria
    August 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    U.S. Children Raped + Beat, Mass Graves at Juvenile Reform Center, Florida ‘White House Boys’

  8. 12 matt
    August 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Another example the Florida detention system’s failure to properly care for the medical needs of detainees.

    http://news.yahoo.com/florida-teenager-dies-jail-being-arrested-possession-marijuana-185653175.html

  9. August 5, 2011 at 2:15 am

    Here we go again Dan, Just can’t help myself. What this state is doing to Alex is nothing short of criminal. Yes, I have been a (vicariously) supporter of both he and Derek over the past nine or ten years, but where are these bozos coming from?? The poor bloke (as we refer to “guys” in Australia) was clearly s**t-scared when he had the accident. I would have probably done the same (and I hadn’t been through the traumas and horrible experiences that Alex has been through). As you know, he has “His Gang” over here supporting him – I don’t know if I can say it enough, but we REALLY feel for him and PLEASE let him know that we are (as you say over there) “rooting” for him. As always, tell him (you know what I usually say, but I will say it again) – Be strong, stiff upper lip, chin up and WALK TALL. Cheers. £ance.

  10. September 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    STUPID FLORIDA! HAS TO BE THE WORST STATE KIDS TO BE IN. NOT SAFE ITS A DEATH TRAP AND LIFE DESTROYING KIDS LIVES FOR GOOD. NO PLACE KIDS TO EVEN VISIT AT ALL. WE TAKE ALEX AND DEREK HOW THEY WAS NOT TREATED FAIRLY AND IN DANGER. ALL CAUSE OF A PEDOFILE AND ABUSER RICK CHAVIS, I WANNA BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF HIM MYSELF, HE WONT BE STANDING. THEN U HAVE PROSECUTOR DUMBELL RIMMER THE IDIOT OF ALL GIVVE HIM A REWARD BEING THE MOST STUPIDEST HATERED DEMON MAN THAT HATES KIDS AND FRIENDS WITH PEVERT RIMMER, THEN JUDGE WELL I HAVE WORDS FOR THAT CREEP. SHOOT EVEN JOHN WALSH WAS PISSSED AT THIS. I DID TELL RIMMER OFF IN WORDS. NO DID NOT THREATS TO HIM PERSONALLY IF DID I BE IN ESCAMBIA MYSELF. 2 PEOPLE CALMED ME DOWN TO WATCH WHAT I SAID AND ACTION TO DO. I HAD SOMEONE GOD WILL MAKE HIM PAY FOR WHAT HE DID AND AS FOR AS CHAVIS HE WILL TOO BURN IN HELL BUT FIRST INMATES WILL BEAR HIM UP BAD. HOPE TO GOD IT HAPPENED. I KNOW I WOULD IF I WAS IN JAIL THERE. OK TIME PUT MIND TO REST. FOR NOW……. BEFORE I GET IN TROUBLE, WHICH IS EASY TO DO IN MY WORDS. BYE….

  11. 15 Guest
    January 18, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Leaving the scene of an accident IS a criminal act…

    • January 18, 2014 at 2:41 am

      Let’s hang them, then!

      • 17 Guest
        January 18, 2014 at 4:57 pm

        No, absolutely not. I agree that what happened was a miscarriage of justice. Alex should never have been charged with a felony when he refused to accept a plea bargain. It’s always wrong when a prosecutor uses a plea deal to gain leverage and it’s insane that it’s an accepted and widespread practice. Alex should’ve been charged and tried fairly on the lesser offense. I just wanted to point out that running from the scene is still classified as a lesser criminal offense after you said Alex did not act criminally. Random comment – I know. I guess it’s my nitpicky nature. But I have no ill will – only support for your overall mission and work as an advocate. I hope Alex is fairing well since his release.

      • January 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm

        Alex is doing very well, thank you.

        The reason Alex ran from the accident is PTSD, a condition which was fostered by his relationship with the system since he was 12. For this he was punished as if it were a felony offense, which we agree it was not.

        I would hate to ever seek understanding and compassion in the state of Florida.

  12. 19 system
    August 25, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I certainly enjoyed reading it; you’re a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back very soon. I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great job. Have a nice morning!


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