Thursday, February 9, 2012

On the "Justice" System

America operates a terrifying system of gulags. Cross the State and find yourself in its ghastly, dehumanizing embrace. Millions are arrested every year on drug possession charges, hundreds of thousands are incarcerated based on like convictions. These are crimes against the State, crimes that only exist because the State says an activity that affects only the actor is illegal.

And god help you if you are a political dissident, which anyone who’s participated in the Occupy movement should well know by now. When the State decides to take you into its increasingly for-profit “justice” system for your political beliefs it will start with sending in militarized cops to crack the skulls of you and your like-minded friends. Then they charge you with resisting arrest for getting beaten. If you are one of the unlucky few to get hospitalized by police violence, expect several felony counts of resisting arrest or assaulting an officer to be charged against you.

Even if these charges don’t land you in prison for years (and give you all the wonderful collateral consequences of a being a convicted felon, like never being hired for a job again, or being unable to vote), you still have to deal with possible confinement before trial if you cannot make bond for release, an overworked and under-resourced public defender’s office, court fees, fines, the time it takes out of your day-to-day life and the intense stress born of facing a possibly long stint in prison.

Increasingly people are punished by Peace Officers for the brazen act of not showing the proper amount of deference or respect – park police tazering people walking their dogs without a leash, arresting people who document police activities on public streets, murdering teenagers in their homes over a tiny quantity of marijuana – the use of force is wide-spread and encouraged.

And the numbers of innocent people convicted of crimes (or forced to take plea "bargains" where they admit guilt to avoid the maximum sentence possible from an unsuccessful defense at trial) is truly staggering:

Extrapolating from the 281 known DNA exonerations in the US since the late 1980s, a conservative estimate is that 1 percent of the US prison population, approximately 20,000 people, are falsely convicted.
 And of course the excuse given at the beginning of that article that no true number can be found because the court system is a "patchwork of federal, state, county, and municipal" institutions, and thus the numbers are not kept and cannot be combined. If only some machine could be invented to put all this data in one place, maybe in a format that is easily transfered between different machines of the same or similar type. What a world that would be.

Alas, we are consigned only to "conservative" estimates the governments do not want the data to be compiled, because, I imagine, the numbers would be much higher if proper data was kept on the subject.

The justice system of this country could be called a joke, but given how many innocent humans are chopped up and devoured by its dark, gaping maw I would call such a characterization callous.

Oh and don’t be fooled by the notion, however tempting, that this is the result of a mistake, or well-intentioned failure. For all intents and purposes, and by all rational observation, it operates well within its intended range and effect. But more on that another time

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