“Obama was president when I was arrested, then Trump,” Bilal Muhammad said. “Now Biden will be campaigning for presidential reelection… I felt like this matter would all be cleared up in a day. Days turned into weeks, weeks into month, and months into almost eight years now.”
Bilal Muhammad is in pre-trial detention in the El Paso County Jail. He called us in May to talk about the horrific bureaucracy underpinning convictions and corrections in Texas.
Bilal tells us that he has been held illegally for almost eight years. The excuse for this captivity: he faces a felony. He is one of many victims of the gridlock that is pretrial detention in America. All over the nation there is an enormous backlog of cases just like his. Bilal points out that this “the mass arrests and incarceration,” is the inevitable consequence of targeting the poor.
“About two thousand El Paso inmates are facing the same government corruption,” he said. “I may be the most extreme example in my eight-year struggle, but there are other inmates, people’s moms and dads, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, friends and loved ones, that are going through this.”
Bilal notes the courts in El Paso rely on plea deals to reduce the number of trials. “There’s basically no trials, and El Paso has a rate of about 99% on these plea deals,” he said. “So they don’t care if you’re overcharged with a crime. If you’re innocent or guilty. They just want a conviction. They are so effective at getting these pleas because they use six main tactics.”
These six tactics, according to Bilal, are:
- Extraordinary & indefinite detention in order to mount psychological pressure
- Ignoring & Invalidating the constitutional right to bail
- Denying speedy trials
- Horrific abuse to break folks will
- No reliable or trustworthy counsel
- Holding mock trials in kangaroo courts to intimidate
This corruption is common, without correspondents like Bilal Muhammad, many of the stories in the El Paso County detention system will go untold. Prison Radio is shining a light on what’s really happening. We are demanding justice for those locked indefinite pretrial detention.
“We as a people need to focus on the heart and the brains of the whole operation,” Bilal notes. “My goal and the mission of Prison Radio is to expose the El Paso courts and how they use their power wrongfully and corruptly against us.”
Prison Radio Staff