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Repairing our criminal justice system..

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  • Repairing our criminal justice system..

    Does our criminal justice system need some serious work ?

    I think it does.

    As everywhere else, corruption... systemic corruption ? Seems to be the rule.

    Thoughts & opinions ? Restore Long-Absent Decency to US Justice System ? Can we do that ?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However the legal controversy between the administration, congressional committees, and the Justice Department plays out (and I have made my predictions on that subject), the general state of American justice should be the ultimate winner.

    No objective assessment of its condition can leave anyone in any doubt of the terrible shortcomings of the American criminal-justice system. As I and as many others have written here and elsewhere, ad nauseam, but inconsequentially to date, the U.S. has 5 percent of the worlds population and 25 per cent of its incarcerated people, and six to 12 times as many incarcerated people per capita as the most comparable prosperous, democratic countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

    There are over 40 million officially convicted felons in the United States, which is ridiculous, and convincing proof of the practical legal impossibility of defending against a criminal charge because of the advantages enjoyed by the prosecution, and also of the insatiable public demand for more convicted people as part of the infamous and infinitely demagogic (and rather unsuccessful) "war on crime."

    The American conviction rate of nearly 99 percent, 97 percent without a trial, because of the heinous perversion of the plea-bargain system, removes the U.S. in criminal-justice matters from the category of its socioeconomic and democratic peer countries and places it, in matters of criminal procedure and conviction rates, disgracefully among the totalitarian states.

    I will not dwell on these points again. But even as the current drama that has called into question the probity of the highest officials of the security and intelligence agencies and of the Department of Justice (DOJ) itself has unfolded, there were some striking evidences of the terrible failures of this system.

    There was the pathetic and heart-rending case of Matthew Charles in Nashville, Tennessee who was released 15 years early on a terribly severe sentence (35 years), for drug trafficking, after the changes that the Obama administration made to reduce the disparity between sentences for powder and crack cocaine (essentially a distinction between white and non-white users). In two years, Charles re-integrated brilliantly into normal life, was usefully employed, engaged to be married, and well liked and encouraged by friends and co-workers.

    Then he was deemed to have been ineligible for reduction of sentence because of a prior conviction, against the wishes of the judge, the probation office, the media, and any audible civilized person. He has been ordered to finish his original sentence, and his judge has asked the Justice department to drop some of its charges and confirm his release.

    At this point, it appears likely that he will return to prison for many years.

    This would be an abominably evil official act, though not an especially untypical one, compounded by the resigned shrugs of the prosecutors, robotically repeating that it is impossible to contravene the rules. The concept of tempering justice with mercy has been thrown out with due process and other relevant parts of the Bill of Rights.

    Hannah Arendt famously wrote, in respect of Adolf Eichmann, of the banality of evil; American criminal justice adds the failing of sclerosis to both its banality and its evil.

    The United States has a self-emasculated attorney general, a deputy attorney general in whom no one has any confidence, and a Justice Department that is wallowing and simmering in the vessel of its own failure, a vessel suspended over the conflagration caused by the unmasking of the Justice Departments unconstitutional politicization.

    As the legal and political communities await the latest findings of the inspector general of the Department of Justice in the Clinton emails affair, it is little wonder that a system so rotten at its core has attracted intense scrutiny of its highest levels.

    Illustrative of the brutality of the system was the disgusting spectacle this past week of Harvey Weinstein being frog-marched handcuffed past the media of the world into the courthouse in New York. I am not trying to rouse sympathy for Mr. Weinstein on the legal charges that he faces (unless a quiet persistent suggestion of due process is seen as sympathy because of the unlikelihood that it will occur).

    But the addiction of American law enforcement, even in the least constabulary circumstances, to handcuffing people and publicly humiliating them in a gauntlet of the gawking, mocking public and media is barbarous. Harvey Weinstein was not going to flee on foot or flail out at anyone, and I doubt that even those who allege that he raped them would claim otherwise.

    The perp walk should end, and most of the oppressive and excessive powers of American prosecutors should end with it.

    The assault on the Trump presidency and his counterattack on his tormentors will run their course. But the best possible result that could come from this affair, apart from the end of the routine criminalization of policy differences between partisan political opponents, would be a massive overhaul of the medieval torture chamber of the American criminal-justice system.

    The plea bargain must cease to be a process of extorting and suborning perjured inculpatory testimony under threat of prosecution and inducement by immunity for the catechized perjury. Notions of civilized penal reform must return, such as assisting convicted people to learn how to earn honest incomes on release, and encouraging wholesome relationships with families and friends during incarceration.

    The entire spirit of the system must change, from unlimited punitive severity in pursuit of political kudos, to policies that encourage law-abiding conduct as efficiently as possible, facilitate rehabilitation where it is reasonable to aspire to it, while protecting the public from wrongdoers with any tendency to violence.

    If these ends are served, the nasty and tawdry political struggle in Washington in which the president has torn off the pompous fraudulent facade of American official justice and exposed its unsalubrious innards will have been very much worth this immense distraction.


    https://www.newsmax.com/conradblack/.../29/id/862994/

  • #2
    Suppose this administration actually reforms the justice system at the federal level, then puts economic (carrot/stick) pressure on the states to follow suit on a list of "bare minimum" reforms. An end to abuses in plea bargaining, or shielding poor performance by prosecuting attorneys, among other things that need reform.

    If that happens, this administration deserves credit. I doubt it will happen. This is the "real feel" of reform, as far as the current administration is concerned:
    The White House is ignoring requests from the governments chief watchdog, according to a letter from the agency, which said officials are either refusing to cooperate or not responding to inquiries at all.
    ...
    GAOs requests that went unanswered involved a wide range of topics, from NSCs overseas stabilization efforts to inspector general vacancies to presidential travel.
    https://www.govexec.com/oversight/20...tchdog/148602/

    Does this mean the administration doesn't trust the GAO for good reason? Then it should state those reasons. If the admin won't allow oversight over it's own operations, but will follow through with an impartial reform of the DOJ/federal prosecution system, that would be wonderful. Wait, did I say wonderful? I meant to say such reform would be highly unlikely.

    ?


    • #3
      Originally posted by radcentr View Post
      Suppose this administration actually reforms the justice system at the federal level, then puts economic (carrot/stick) pressure on the states to follow suit on a list of "bare minimum" reforms. An end to abuses in plea bargaining, or shielding poor performance by prosecuting attorneys, among other things that need reform.

      If that happens, this administration deserves credit. I doubt it will happen. This is the "real feel" of reform, as far as the current administration is concerned:

      https://www.govexec.com/oversight/20...tchdog/148602/

      Does this mean the administration doesn't trust the GAO for good reason? Then it should state those reasons. If the admin won't allow oversight over it's own operations, but will follow through with an impartial reform of the DOJ/federal prosecution system, that would be wonderful. Wait, did I say wonderful? I meant to say such reform would be highly unlikely.
      Right now it looks like Trump is going to pardon everyone currently behind bars except for the black guys of course.

      ?


      • #4
        Originally posted by redrover View Post
        Right now it looks like Trump is going to pardon everyone currently behind bars except for the black guys of course.
        Oh man, you shouldn't say things like that. That WOULD start a civil war and for good cause LOL

        That you think Mr. trump is really that much of a lowlife .... -rollseyes- c'mon, give yourself and Mr trump a break

        ?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Captain Trips View Post

          Oh man, you shouldn't say things like that. That WOULD start a civil war and for good cause LOL

          That you think Mr. trump is really that much of a lowlife .... -rollseyes- c'mon, give yourself and Mr trump a break
          For instance, maybe a certain giant-assed, Kardashian-like person lobbies for a pardon of a non-white person. And maybe a certain prez gives it. See? All one needs is some celebrity involvement and a publicity stunt. Justice at it's best. It almost smells like reform. Or something else.

          On a more serious note, I'm still waiting for legitimate signals from this administration that it takes reform seriously. Action, rather than just floating nice-sounding words, from both the GOP WH and Congress.

          ?


          • #6
            Granting pardons is not "reform" though. My guess is, Trump only pardons (or commutes) sentences with a purpose in mind.

            For example, our former governor, Rod Blagojevich, is about half-way through his sentence for profiteering from the political appointment process when he was governor. The FBI recorded him making deals with several opportunists who wanted the Treasurer's job and Senator Obama's job when he went elsewhere instead of fulfilling his obligation. They had him dead to rights and he has even been in the Hilton honor ranch in Colorado to serve his sentence, but he has relentlessly complained his punishment is too harsh: That he is missing his daughters growing up, etc.

            So Trump has let it "leak" that he is considering commuting his sentence (which obviously means he is still guilty of the crimes, but he doesn't have to serve the full sentence). I am aware that the man currently destined to be our governor, JB Pritzker, was involved in trying to buy the Illinois Treasurer's appointment from Blagojevich but he was not arrested, never had to answer for his participation, and has never spent one day in jail or prison. I believe Blagojevich has an ax to grind with Pritzker and IF Trump commutes Blago's sentence, the next step would be to give him a microphone, let him drag Pritzker under the bus and hopefully torpedo his run at our governor's mansion.

            To the Captain's OP, yes, we absolutely do need to reform our criminal justice system. Far too many crimes are not prosecuted at all because the "easy" ones are overfilling the prisons. Too many miscarriages of justice, including guilty men going free and innocent men being punished.

            ?


            • #7
              Originally posted by DavidSF View Post
              Granting pardons is not "reform" though. My guess is, Trump only pardons (or commutes) sentences with a purpose in mind.

              For example, our former governor, Rod Blagojevich, is about half-way through his sentence for profiteering from the political appointment process when he was governor. The FBI recorded him making deals with several opportunists who wanted the Treasurer's job and Senator Obama's job when he went elsewhere instead of fulfilling his obligation. They had him dead to rights and he has even been in the Hilton honor ranch in Colorado to serve his sentence, but he has relentlessly complained his punishment is too harsh: That he is missing his daughters growing up, etc.

              So Trump has let it "leak" that he is considering commuting his sentence (which obviously means he is still guilty of the crimes, but he doesn't have to serve the full sentence). I am aware that the man currently destined to be our governor, JB Pritzker, was involved in trying to buy the Illinois Treasurer's appointment from Blagojevich but he was not arrested, never had to answer for his participation, and has never spent one day in jail or prison. I believe Blagojevich has an ax to grind with Pritzker and IF Trump commutes Blago's sentence, the next step would be to give him a microphone, let him drag Pritzker under the bus and hopefully torpedo his run at our governor's mansion.

              To the Captain's OP, yes, we absolutely do need to reform our criminal justice system. Far too many crimes are not prosecuted at all because the "easy" ones are overfilling the prisons. Too many miscarriages of justice, including guilty men going free and innocent men being punished.
              Leave Blago in prison. If there is a strategy of letting Blagojevich out to throw Pritzker under the bus, that sounds like a sure (back) fire way to mess with the opposition.
              -The prez goes easy on a corrupt gov, from the opposition party? The potential prize -a Pritzker with bus tire-treads all over his career- is a long shot. Because....
              -There is a chance (a small one, I know) that Blago will keep his mouth shut on that issue, leaving Chicago politics to do their usual thing. Either way, a freed Blago would just leave an additional stain on Trump's reputation as a reformer.

              I'm a scorched-earth kinda guy, when it comes to political corruption. I like it even better when the corrupt leaders in my party go up the river. Sure, a few polished turds in the GOP might remain free in my perfect world, but they become poster boys to whip up the votes for viable Democratic candidates.

              ?


              • #8
                I can't say I disagree with any of it, Rad ... particularly about leaving Blagojevich in prison.

                I figure Trump will NOT commute his sentence, however, until or unless there is an agreement in place about Blago getting a microphone soon thereafter with the intent of dragging Pritzker under the bus ... Pritzker who, now, has a 16 point lead over the GOP challenger, Rauner (whom I also don't want to sent back to the Governor's Mansion) ...

                Best we can hope for is a third party (speaking of things that won't happen).

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