ethel’s words

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PUNISHMENT AS GROUNDS FOR PUNISHMENT

The adding of pain to punishment, is a subject I have wanted to rant on, but procrastinated. Now, I am inspired and motivated, learning of the grace of Michael Martinez, Esq., who, pro bono, rescued two persons from “secondary punishment”. (That is my expression.)

Two women, working in Yankee America, not gifted with dual citizenship, sentenced to harsh labor for life (by accident of birth), maimed and disabled by pernicious chemicals on their miserable job, were then punished (by denial of compensating benefits) by the state Workers Compensation Fund. That is one kind of “secondary punishment”. And inflicted despite our U.S. of A. Constitution that relates to, protects, PERSONS, not only citizens.

Another example of secondary punishment that grabs my attention and whips me into rage is the denial of earned (or entitled) benefits to prisoners because they are in prison. What is going on here? What right does any agency, organization, government, or business have to cancel out their debt or obligation to someone because that someone is in prison? Of COURSE I know this does not happen to the parasites who managed to claw their way up--or were born--into Undeserved Privilege--who run off with government or other kingly (or often charity) funds and end up in prison. Oh, how the royal money grubbers help each other: a bonus to quit their job when they have fouled up; pensions awarded despite infractions; even provision of Country Club prisons when somebody gets damn-mad enough to sentence an ujpper-crust violator to serve time.

On the other hand, the Social Security Administration, a remarkably efficient agency, serving millions with few errors denies prisoners their due benefits. Who or what can empower them to withhold benefits only because a person is in prison? This is secondary punishment, inflicted without due process, isn’t it?

The prison would soon grab the dough, but that is a different ethics question for a different struggle.

Ethel C. Hale