Freedom for Ramiro Muniz
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By Steven Fischer
In the 1972 election for Texas Governor, Ramiro (Ramsey) Muniz, Corpus Christi and Waco attorney and his La Raza Unida Party won 214,000 votes. In Wilson County 492 people voted for him which was about 10% of the votes cast. On this 30th anniversary of that election Mr. Muniz celebrates his own 70th anniversary at the Federal Penitentiary in Beaumont Texas.
Muniz, a college football star and a Baylor law graduate, is serving life without parole for his 3rd strike against our drug laws. He was sentenced in 1994.
I am certainly not the first to write about this. The Internet is replete with editorials most by leftist and/or ethically motivated organizations, such as The Prison Abolitionist and Chicano Mexicano Prison Project that proclaim Muniz’s innocence and denounce those who “framed” him, demanding his release.. Its hard to discern the actual facts when they are obscured by hate and covered with venom.
According to his supporters, his 1994 and final conviction was a government set-up. “Three strikes you’re out” means there were two other drug offenses, so was every pitch a “foul”? I’ve been both an elected district attorney as well as a defense lawyer and although any thing is possible, it's hard to believe that Muniz was never guilty as charged. Muniz can’t claim he had an ineffective court-appointed attorney, as Dick De Guerin defended his last case.
In 2012 where many, including a presidential candidate, are advocating drug legalization; past drug offense shouldn’t be shocking. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama and scores of others admit to such. Muniz however, in his last conviction was said to be in possession of a trunk full of cocaine. I wouldn't expect this from a successful attorney, but who really knows?
Even if guilty ... so what? According to a Texas Criminal Justice Policy Council Report the average time served for conviction of an Aggravated Violent Offense in 1994 was 5.85 years. Non-violent offenders served less; an average of 3.74 years. In other words, of the majority of 1994 convicts, even violent offenders, were free in 2000.
Is Muniz a risk? A United States Justice Department Study “Trends in Parole” found that age is among the most reliable predictors of recidivism. Whereas over 50% of 18-29 year-old offenders return to prison, among those over 55 the rate was 2%. Muniz didn’t live the life of a criminal. He was active in the “Model Cities’ program, Head Start and Drop-out prevention programs. While many in prison promise they will do good deeds if released, Muniz spent his pre-prison career working on youth programs. I cannot imagine why someone who tirelessly advocated for youth education would also be involved in the drugs that destroy them.
What I do know is Ramiro Muniz turns 70 in this, his 18th year of incarceration. Society is safe from Muniz and further prison is a waste of our money. I never voted for Muniz for Governor, but I do acknowledge his place in Texas history. Let Ramsay Muniz out of prison to live his remaining years with his family and those who believe in him.
President Obama --This decision isn’t about re-election polls, it’s about time.
Fischer in an elected director of the State Bar of Texas. He has been Willacy County & District Attorney, and a Professor of Criminology at the University of Texas -- Permian Basin.