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Justice for All

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by minerva, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. minerva

    minerva Member+

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    a thread for discussing criminal and civil laws, the application of those laws, arresting, sentencing, incarceration, prisons, etc.

    I tried to find an existing thread to bring up this topic in, but it didn't really seem to fit any of the existing one.

    I've thought about the issue of mandatory minimum sentences often, and the recent arrest of Elvis Dumorvile for allegedly flashing a gun (carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 3 years in prison) induced me to start a discussion about sentencing and the US justice/legal system.
    Personally, I think mandatory minimum sentences are bad because they take away discretion from a judge to take mitigating circumstances of a situation into account. the limit the ability of a judge to do his job - as the title implies, a judge is there to judge each case based on the law, legal precedents, and the merits of the case itself. but in these kinds of cases, the law itself hampers the ability of the judge to use discretion and his/her judgement to impose the appropriate sentence.
    I think these kinds of laws are the result of society's blind acceptance of the maxim that being "tough on crime is a good thing." after all, who really wants to be weak on crime?? add to this the sensation that is created when a story about some criminal gets paroled after only serving a fraction of his sentence (forget the fact that it's a sensational news story precisely because it's an aberration), and people get the idea that this happens all the time. that we need tougher sentencing and tougher laws. as with most negative things, people tend to think that those are things that happen to other people; never to them. they don't consider that one day they might find themselves on the wrong side of the law. everyone likes to consider themselves a decent, law-abiding citizen. so it's okay to punish those criminals with tougher laws. without stopping to consider what the existing punishment for a particular crime already is, they simply accept the truism that it's a good thing for the punishment to be harsher, because being tough on crime is a good thing, and vote for politicians and judges who run on a platform of being tough on crime. the end result of this is ever increasing harsher punishment for crimes that to the point where the punishment is completely disproportionate to the crime committed. every year, more and more laws are placed on the books, and sentencing is made harsher. I know there are a few exceptions to this, and sometimes this trend is bucked, but it happens very rarely. but where does this all end? we already incarcerate more of our population than any other industrialized country! we are creating a permanent underclass of people who had been incarcerated, and as a result, will never be able to find good jobs or establish careers again because of the stigma that comes from having been incarcerated, thus forcing them to turn, or return permanently to a life of petty crime.
    I know we've discussed the cottage industry that has developed around locking up our own people before, but I keep coming back to it, because I think it's bad for society.

    here are some links I've found on the subject.

    http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/mandatory_minimum_sentencing_statutes/

    http://www.csdp.org/news/news/mandmins.htm

    http://www.drugwarfacts.org/cms/mms

    http://famm.org/
     


  2. msilverstein47

    msilverstein47 BigSoccer Supporter

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  3. minerva

    minerva Member+

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    all I can say is - AMEN!!! - a hopeless Amen...

    Criminal Justice, Civil Liberties Issues Missing From 2012 Campaign
    When crime is falling (as it has been for nearly 20 years), the voting public isn't particularly concerned about whether old laws passed when crime was higher have gone too far. So, neither are the candidates. The result is a ratchet effect on the Bill of Rights.
    But those laws have had consequences. For all the talk about "the one percent" over the last eighteen months, the economist David Henderson recently looked at the other one percent. That is, the bottom one percent. Henderson writes:

    It turns out that about two-thirds of the people in the bottom 1 percent are in U.S. prisons. And of these people, a few hundred thousand are there for victimless crimes. Letting them out would help them and save us taxpayer money. That's a win-win ...
    We have a higher percent of our people in prison than any other country in the world and the percent of our population in prison has, shockingly, more than doubled since 1980 ...
    We may question the wisdom of using such drugs as marijuana and cocaine, but the people who use them should be free to make their own decisions. They might make bad decisions, but should people go to prison for making bad decisions that hurt no one but, perhaps, themselves?

    Former offenders struggle when they leave prison. Sociologists Bruce Western and Devah Prager have conducted experiments (PDF) in which they've sent trained testers to apply for job openings. Some were told to check the box on applications indicating that they had a criminal record. The applicants were dressed similarly, and had identical levels of experience. The results? White applicants with a criminal record were half as likely to get callbacks as applicants without a record. Blacks with a criminal record were two-thirds less likely. Former offenders earn 40 percent less than someone with a similar background and experience, but no record. And they're far less likely to increase their income over time.
    An arrest without a conviction can be devastating, too. A check in the "Have you ever been arrested?" box is a handy way for an employer to winnow down a stack of job applications. Why take the risk? In New York City, half a million people are stopped and questioned by police each year without probable cause. In some communities, nine in ten residents have been stopped. Aggressive stop-and-frisk policies have lead to thousands of arrests of people who have done nothing wrong, or have been tricked by police into committing a misdemeanor.
    According to Western's research, as of 2008 about 2.6 million children had a parent in prison or jail, and by age 17, a quarter of black children will have father who has done time. Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to be depressed, get into trouble at school, and drop out of school entirely.
    The collateral damage then spirals outward into neighborhoods and communities, where it's corroding the very institutions law-and-order politicians use to enforce the laws in the first place.
    Part of the power of punishment as a deterrent to crime is the shame and stigma of a criminal record. Where incarceration has become commonplace ... the righteousness of the police is no longer assumed and a prison record is not distinctive. The authority of the criminal justice system has been turned upside down, and the institutions charged with maintaining safety become objects of suspicion ...
    We may care little about the job prospects of ex-cons. We may not even care much about their children or neighborhoods. But if the social costs of imprisonment grow without limit along with the prison population, mass incarceration becomes a self-defeating strategy for crime control.
    There are other problems. The onset of DNA testing has revealed that our criminal justice system is more flawed and prone to error than most of the country probably suspected. The gaps in the system that produced the wrongful convictions uncovered by DNA testing are undoubtedly at work in other cases as well.
    There's an important debate to be had about privatizing prisons, and whether it's wise to have a government-created industry with a bottom line dependent on keeping as many people locked up for as long as possible. There's the vastly under-reportednational scandal of corrupt crime labs and corrupted forensic evidence. The latest incident involves a crime lab technician in Massachusetts who may have faked thousands of drug tests.
    We're in a 30-year trend toward police militarization, a phenomenon that has been driven by federal incentives. And we're expanding the use of solitary confinement(even for children).
    Politicians are risk-averse creatures of habit. For decades they've been trained to mutter the same soundbites about crime. Polls show America's opinions on many of these issues are shifting, but few people actually vote on them. And the people most affected when the crime policy pendulum swings too far toward government power aren't large enough in number or stature to force a debate. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/...-civil-liberties-2012-campaign_n_1966791.html
     
  4. minerva

    minerva Member+

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    I think this:
    "When crime is falling (as it has been for nearly 20 years), the voting public isn't particularly concerned about whether old laws passed when crime was higher have gone too far."
    is a particularly important point - one that is often overlooked by the perpetually toughening on crime stance of politicians.
    I think if all the laws that are on the books were actually enforced in every instance, there would be precious few of us without a arrest/criminal record.
    when you think about the fact that the only reason most people don't have such a record is because it's too costly or impractical for the government to enforce every law on the books in every instance, rather than the law itself that protects you, that's a dangerous position for a free society to be in.
    what happens when the government develops the means to enforce every law in every instance? or worse yet, what happens when it becomes financially possible, or even beneficial for the government (or its contractors) to enforce every law in every instance? who will protect us from the government?
     
    tomwilhelm repped this.


  5. minerva

    minerva Member+

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    http://www.npr.org/2013/05/15/184132972/u-s-military-faces-more-accusations-of-sexual-improprieties
    what is the point of ruining people's careers and lives based on nothing but an accusation?
    the guy hasn't even been charged yet!
    am I the only one who would prefer that names of individuals should be kept secret until they are actually convicted of a crime? I don't know if it's practical or not, but it just seems like a disgrace that someone's name would be dragged through the mud only to be potentially found to be innocent of all wrong doing later on.
    In this particular case, the name hasn't been released, but at least locally (which is probably the only circle that the guy really cares about anyway), people can figure out who the accused is.
    it would seem to me that withholding names of people until convicted, and indeed not even publicizing the story until a conviction would have the dual benefit of not dragging an innocent person's name through the mud (innocent until proven guilty) and also not potentially tainting the jury pool. any thoughts?
     
  6. soccernutter

    soccernutter Moderator Staff Member

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    Saw thread title and thought...

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Dr. Wankler

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  8. minerva

    minerva Member+

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  9. minerva

    minerva Member+

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  10. KCFutbol

    KCFutbol Moderator Staff Member

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  11. Auriaprottu

    Auriaprottu Member+

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    Dude's got "Engineering major" written all over him. Probably still has his flight sim scores from Space Camp posted on the basement wall...
     
  12. soccernutter

    soccernutter Moderator Staff Member

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    Google "incarceration 25"

    I've been working a research paper prison population has come up. Those two terms came to be a surprise in information even to me with the demographic that I deal with.
     
  13. msilverstein47

    msilverstein47 BigSoccer Supporter

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  14. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

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    Heard a snippet on the radio, taken from a movie I think.

    I want to ask her out.
    Dude, she's a cheerleader.
    So?
    You've watched Star Wars 27 times. Do the math.

    Of course the Space Camp guy does eventually make good, but justice never does get served. He never got the cheerleader; she got married to some Natty Light drinking loser long before Space Camper ever made any real money, and even longer before the cheerleader realized that she had spent her life chasing the wrong guys.

    Well hey, this is the justice thread. I was on topic.
     
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  15. Auriaprottu

    Auriaprottu Member+

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    See, it's the going after the cheerleader part that gets me. The cheerleaders at my HS were average to hot, but there were plenty of hotter girls who weren't cheerleaders or even members of other popular (school-sanctioned) groups. And our cheerleaders weren't averse to dating guys who weren't popular or weren't athletes, but it was a big school with a whole lot of cliques and niches. If she'll hang with Natty Light Loser for free but Space Camper has to buy her (your "real money" comment), she didn't chase the wrong guys- she was always in her niche and simply wanted to change later.

    Of course, having made the decision to go for NLL early, she ought not be worth the trouble to Space Camper- that's what pros are for. You take the bride who wants you in the sack, not the one who'll put up with you there in exchange for your worth as a provider. This is 2013 and women can earn their own money.
     
  16. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

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    I always took that approach. I didn't find many takers, but my wife eventually showed up. I only needed one.
     
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  17. minerva

    minerva Member+

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    I have an ex-wife who wanted me in the sack, but didn't want me anywhere else.
     
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  18. minerva

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  19. dapip

    dapip Member+

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    The problem with the bible belt is that they read the Old Testament selectively... They like the creation part and the stoning of adulterer women... The rest of OT and the New Testament they couldn't care less...
     
  20. dapip

    dapip Member+

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    Which episode?

    I say if it is Episode II, more than twice he deserves to die alone in his mom's basement.

    :D
     
  21. luftmensch

    luftmensch Member+

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    I assume Episode IV, which for those of us who are old enough will always just be "Star Wars." ******** that New Hope shit.
     
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  22. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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    Too bad for them. The prophets and quite a few of the Psalms kick ass.
     
  23. dapip

    dapip Member+

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    I personally prefer JC and the Galilee Band.
     
  24. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

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    Sure, but they were clearly influenced by the bands I mentioned.
     
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  25. minerva

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    A Record Number Of Inmates Were Exonerated Last Year For Crimes They Didn't Commit
    The registry is a collaboration between the University of Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. At the time of its creation two years ago, researchers had found 873 individuals exonerated since 1989. The database now tallies about 1,300 wrongful convictions.

    For 2013, researchers found 87 cases in which a convicted person was cleared of murder, rape or other serious offense -- exceeding the 81 cases they had found in 2009.
    These examples of justice delayed also involved an increasing number of people who pleaded guilty. False guilty pleas now amount to 11 percent of the exonerations on the registry, up from 8 percent as of two years ago.

    "This may reflect greater willingness by authorities to reconsider the guilt of innocent defendants who accepted plea bargains rather than risk higher penalties at trial," the authors wrote.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/04/exonerations-2013_n_4717997.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009
     

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