February 11, 2011; 10:43pm
Jon Utley's prepared remarks on awarding Pat Nolan the Freda Utley Prize for Advancing Liberty at CPAC 2011:
The Freda Utley Foundation was founded in memory of Freda Utley and her husband, my father, Arcadi Berdichevsky, who was executed in Vorkuta, Russia for being one of three leaders of a hunger strike in a concentration camp. The documents, which we obtained in Russia, are posted on the website, FredaUtley.com.
This award of Ten Thousand dollars has been given in the past to Think Tanks in difficult parts of the world through the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. This is the first time we are making the award inside America for an issue we feel is now getting much deserved attention, our criminal justice system, thanks much to the pioneering work of Pat Nolan and Justice Fellowship of which he is president. The United States today has more persons in prison or in its criminal system than any other nation in the world. About half are for victimless crimes, minor parole violations, and extremely long sentences under mandatory minimums. Prison guards have become a powerful labor union lobby seeking more prisons and prisoners. Prosecutors use the threat of long sentences to get innocent persons to confess to crimes they did not commit, even for environmental crimes or for political activity. The drug war and threats of terrorism have been used to vastly expand the prison powers of government.
Obviously America is nothing comparable to the old Soviet system, yet there are trends. The 4th Amendment to the Constitution against warrantless searches is now routinely violated. Civil or political offenses are more and more turned into criminal ones. Torture in the form of brutal solitary confinement, sleep deprivation and prison rape are common; drugs are given. Even the Roman empire, as my mother used to tell me, could not, by law, torture its own citizens, witness the case of St. Paul.
Pat Nolan has helped bring together a coalition on both the Right and the Left towards reforming our criminal justice system. He helped Congress to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act. He helped bring about the Statement of Principles signed by top, top conservatives to bring about reform in our system which now creates more criminals, destroys countless young peoples’ lives, and is contributing to the bankruptcy of America.