Justice, Justice You Shall Pursue – Deuteronomy 16:18
In the wake of the sentencing of Derek Chauvin, a lot of people in a lot of places are expressing that they wish he’d gotten the maximum. That if he was black or brown or Muslim he wouldn’t have gotten less than the maximum. While I understand those sentiments, especially when framed within the real, true, and factually accurate context that Americans who are non-white and/or non-law enforcement get treated far more harshly by every part of criminal justice system.
However, the way to fix the system is not to push for someone like Derek Chauvin to be treated as badly as those who are non-white and/or non-law enforcement, but, rather, to push for everyone else to be treated better. America over polices itself. It over prosecutes itself. It over incarcerates itself. At every point of contact the system is far, far, far more punitive than it needs to be. Some of that has to do with the fact that there are really two histories of America’s policing and criminal justice systems. Some of that is because there’s profit to be wrung out of both of them. And both of them are inextricably linked.
I haven’t taught criminal justice in a long time, but at least through 2007 the standard texts for criminal justice, as well as for policing, start the history of what we would call formalized policing in the US in the 1840s in New York City. That department was quickly followed by ones in New Orleans, Cincinnati, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Milwaukee. The same texts date the first police union to the early 20th century as a result of the police strike in Boston in 1919. In between these they take a detour to London to describe Sir Robert Peel’s policing innovations.
All of this is true. It is factually accurate. It also misses the other, older history of policing in the US. The first actual formalized policing in the US was the fugitive slave patrols and the plantation police. The first slave patrol was formed in 1704 in Charleston, South Carolina. The first benevolent association for law enforcement was actually created in the mid 19th century in Charleston, South Carolina. This police union predates the one created in Boston by almost a hundred years. And the language used to describe these patrolmen’s and policemen’s duties, such as patrolling a beat, would be familiar to us today.
The purpose of all this American policing that we don’t normally call policing was about profit. Ensuring that the human property that was creating the profits for their owners didn’t do anything like run away to seek their freedom or revolt to do the same.
There are a lot of problems in how America undertakes policing, as well as the other parts of its criminal justice system. Police are all too often used to respond to things that really shouldn’t be policed, but because we’ve been defunding public mental health resources since the Reagan administration, who you gonna call? The cops. Because there isn’t anyone else to call. Similarly, state legislators and municipal officials create ever more criminal and civil infractions that the police are then expected to enforce and the prosecutors to prosecute. They do this because someone has identified a problem. And when every problem looks like a nail, you put it under the hammer. That’s not the fault of any specific police department or any specific police officer. It is a systemic problem.
This systemic problem is allowed to exist because it also generates revenue. If you can’t have any revenue from taxes, because taxes are un-American or Satanic or socialism or insert your boogeyman of choice here, then issuing lots of citations is a good way to make up some of the difference. The problem, of course, is if you make something illegal, eventually someone is going to try to enforce it. And, eventually, an enforcement action is going to go badly.
Don’t even get me started on how even the ever shrinking public prison system was both always rooted in profit and has been reimagined over and over and over again to ensure someone can make money off of it. The private, for profit prison industry should be abolished outright.
We over resource police and prosecutors and prisons and under resource public defenders, mental health professionals, social workers, teachers, schools, and community programs such as sports leagues and recreation centers.
We know that our criminal justice system does not create a deterrent, which is supposed to be one of the most significant points of the whole thing. The data on that has been clear for decades. Most police departments never even get close to a 50% clearance rates. The majority of them are lucky if they have a clearance rate above 30% for their serious crimes. Yet year after year, the system continues to just grind along in the names of crime prevention, law and order, deterrence, and public safety.
And all of it is a one way ratchet.
The solution to black and brown and some religious minority Americans being over policed, over prosecuted, over sentenced, over incarcerated, and over punished is not to do the same thing to the Derek Chauvins of America, no matter how satisfying that might feel. And no matter how that feels like it might be equal justice. The solution is to actually replace the ratchet and go in the other direction. We’ve spent decades, more accurately we’ve spent well over a century, trying it the way things are now and I don’t think anyone who is honest and informed actually believes it is working. Sentencing Derek Chauvin to the maximum thirty years instead of twenty-two and a half isn’t going to fix any of that.
Every aspect of our criminal justice and rule of law systems are in need of serious reform. In some cases they need more than reform, they need to be reimagined and reconceptualized and then reconstituted. The purpose of establishing systems and processes to seek justice should be to seek justice, not punishment and not profit. And justice should be tempered by mercy.
In creating the world God combined the two attributes of justice and mercy: “Thus said the Holy One, blessed be His name! ‘If I create the world with the attribute of mercy, sin will be plentiful; and if I create it with the attribute of justice, how can the world exist? Therefore I will create it with both attributes, mercy and justice, and thus may it endure.'”. [Gen. R. 12:15]
It will require even liberals to rethink the process. Americans seem to like throwing the book at people. And even those who note that the system as a whole is to harsh still look for harsher penalties for the crimes or criminals who offend their sensibilities.
I commented over at LG&M, and it’s relevant, I think, to Chauvin’s sentence:
It wasn’t a single criminal act, a single offense against George Floyd.
Well said, Mr. Silverman.
Adam L Silverman
@Anne Laurie: Also, someone needed to bigfoot Cole for bigfooting you!
Adam L Silverman
@Chetan Murthy: The other thing everyone is missing is that he’s still going to face Federal charges. And if convicted, that’s a whole new set of punishment he’s facing.
You’re not wrong. But you’re also not hearing exhortations to back off on harsh sentences when black people commit crimes, and this imbalance is just fucking exhausting. Exhausted people make shitty choices.
My biggest concern is that now the Blue Lives Matter people will hold this up as evidence that they don’t get away with murder all the time, because, look, see, one time, a dude didn’t.
Everybody Cryin’ Mercy But They Don’t Know the Meaning of the Word.
I don’t believe the things I’m seein’
I’ve been wonderin’ ’bout some things I’ve heard
Everybody’s crying mercy
When they don’t know the meaning of the word
A bad enough situation
Is sure enough getting worse
Everybody’s crying justice
Just as soon as there’s business first
“Don’t get me started ….”
But seriously, you make a good point
Chauvin got a fair trial and the judge gave a fair sentence under the existing system. It’s not his place to change the system – judges aren’t legislators. Yes, the system needs to be reformed, but Chauvin’s victims (including Floyd) needed justice now.
In other news, …
Why it’s almost as if the FTFNYT is garbage in their non-political reporting, also too.
@Adam L Silverman: And when and if Chauvin actually does serve a lot of time, then we can revisit this issue. But for instance Oskar Grant’s murderer got a slap on the wrist.
OK, so we’re supposed to be civilized and all. We’re not supposed to be demanding retribution. Fine. [not meant at you personally, Adam] YOU FIRST.
We’re never going to get sentencing reform until white people are treated as harshly as nonwhite people. When white folks are exposed to how systematically cruel the criminal justice system is, maybe we’ll get some changes.
> And no matter how that feels like it might be equal justice.
That’s a strange definition of equal in that sentence — white cop should get less because it’s unfair that other folks yesterday, other folks today, and other folks tomorrow will be punished more harshly? This is just special pleading.
Maybe it’s worth thinking about this in the frame of the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma. When the other player is “defecting” (kneeling on necks, murdering children, etc), it makes no sense to “cooperate”. That just *rewards* the other player’s strategy. You want to get the other player to cooperate? Then *defect* and punish the F out of him. Over and over, until he realizes that defecting doesn’t work.
There was a shooting recently in Colorado. A police officer was shot dead. A “good Samaritan” shot the person with the gun who shot the police, and a police officer shot that dude dead.
Excellent post, as always.
I have a theory that “Defund the Police” was initially pushed as a disinformation campaign by malign right wing actors seeking to discredit BLM. The language of DTP is unnecessarily inflammatory and miscommunicates the absolutely appropriate message. I’d be interested in other’s thoughts about my theory.
@Starfish: Classic circular firing squad.
Adam L Silverman
@Earl: Perhaps there was a more apt way of phrasing that. The system is not dispensing justice, it is dispensing injustice. Those that are over policed, over prosecuted, over sentenced and over incarcerated are receiving one type of injustice. Giving that get far too much leniency than they should creates a further injustice for everyone.
Like healthcare, there are real world examples of better solutions and outcomes. Citizens have to want them though and here the emphasis is too often revenge and punishment.
That said, Chauvin’s disregard of civil rights was not isolated to this particular incident. He doesn’t appear particularly remorseful. I’m relieved his rights will now be restricted, I simply hope I don’t give him another thought.
I will be happy to do so whenever this someone on this blog posts about sentencing in general or the racial disparity in sentencing.
@Omnes Omnibus: We don’t count. We’re already on the train.
@Omnes Omnibus: I agree. The US was always the land of 2nd chances. It was supposed to be the place you could fuck up, pay for your fuck up, and get another shot. And we’re a wealthy enough nation that we could apply that broadly.
I think of someone like Trump, which I’m not inclined to go easy on, mainly because he’s had a lifetime of fucking up and never paying for it and never being held accountable.
And this leads to the real conflict, IMO. Our consequences are so harsh that we’re disinclined to use them for people we believe can be easily rehabilitated, which leads to this class discrepancy where people of authority are free of consequence and people lacking authority just get ground through this system and lose the opportunity for rehabilitation and return to being an equal citizen because we never invest in that side of justice.
One of my favorite college applications was a guy who was an A student in school and got caught up with the wrong crowd and found himself doing 5 years for drug trafficking. He gets to prison, starts talking to his cellmate who goes off on him for fucking up when he had such a good thing going. His cellmate convinces him to start taking classes again and he applies. Still a straight A student, gets parole, and we grab him. What’s more we use his application to teach admissions readers how to put aside biases and focus on a student’s potential for success. But he was lucky. His cellmate pushed him in the right direction. He was incarcerated in a state where inmates can pretty easily take college classes. And he applied to a school that would give him a fair shake. But all of that could be SOP instead of luck. We choose it not to be like that.
Adam L Silverman
@Martin: You were supposed to screw up here then head over the border, up to the Yukon, and give everyone a made up name for yourself as you started over. There’s a system…
@Martin: IIRC there is a lot of evidence that your story is much, much much more common among white people, than among Black people. Black kids who fuck up are hit much harder by the law, and they are much less frequently given a chance to recover, than white kids are.
@Martin: My second chance was the Army instead of jail, part of McNamara’s moron corps.
@Suzanne: Are we really?
@Chetan Murthy: Yes, but the solution is to quit fucking over black people.
Gin & Tonic
Bucks up by 30 over the Hawks and it’s not yet halftime.
This will be Marv Albert’s last series – one of the best sports announcers in America, IMO.
Oh, and fuck the Hawks.
@Gin & Tonic: After dropping the first one at home, the Deer need to win.
@Omnes Omnibus: Which probably, ultimately, means having more Blacks as prosecutors and judges, legislators, defense attorneys, and all the rest.
“Personnel is policy.”
@Gin & Tonic: Rain on em Trae!
We need to end our cash bail system. There are horror stories about people being held for years because they could not afford bail – often for very minor crimes.
I agree that “balance” is a bad reason for giving Chauvin a long sentence, but it’s not the only possible reason. Nor is deterrence. Chauvin has a *well established history* of such behavior, with no signs of remorse or desire for redemption. While rehabilitation should be a focus of our penal system, for some people it can take much longer than for others. When there’s strong reason to believe we’re facing such a case, a short sentence is only likely to mean mandatory release before the process is complete, followed by recidivism. Why should we *not* believe that Chauvin is such a case?
All of this is true, and oddly or ironically or tragically or something else, I fear that the downfall of the Republic will hinge on our failure to sufficiently punish the transgressions of politicians, insurrectionists, etc. that threaten the country’s existence.
@Obdurodon: Do you believe that 270 months is a short time?
There is a word for that. Judicial enlistment. I have another friend who had one. I’d bet it is or was far more common that one might think. Especially considering some of the people I knew in the navy. Of course it might just as easily been the one’s who don’t draw any attention to themselves. Or it might not be as prevalent as I think.
@Omnes Omnibus: A group of Very Online Liberals?! Yeah, we’re by no means representative of the country. Not even slightly. I am sure, if you sliced and diced our demographic profiles, I bet we are whiter, richer, and more educated than the average, by a lot.
I will truly believe that there is a mainstream, widespread movement to reduce sentences when I hear about it in, say, the Arizona Republic, not Balloon Juice.
@Omnes Omnibus: Depends on the context, doesn’t it? For a process of rehabilitation, starting from where Chauvin seems to be, it’s not long. Compare e.g. to how long people remain in therapy when they’re on the receiving end of such behavior. Healing takes time.
This is a “good guy” nightmare scenario I’ve been expecting to happen ever since the Aurora theater shooting. Dim lights, perp shoots victim, good guy shoots perp. You’re also carrying. Lights come up and reveal 2 guys with guns. Quick, which one is the perp?
@Suzanne: I think we are talking past one another. I am not sure there really is big appetite for it here.
@Omnes Omnibus: 22yr, of which (so I have read) he’ll serve 2/3. But for the crime he committed? He should be in prison for *life*. nine-minutes-and-change. With a mass crowd of people yelling at him that he was killing Mr. Floyd, and even his own people asked him if he wanted to let up, and he said “nah, I’m good”. And the paramedic, same story. 22yr is too *short* for such a depraved crime.
Was he on trial for those other things?
It is important for our judicial system to actually work, to follow the law, not to just decide to do whatever it wants to do.
Those other things had been dealt with, even if very badly dealt with. POC are routinely given much longer terms because they must have done something and just did not get caught or their skin is the wrong shade of skin, and we need to stop that, not extend it to others.
Our entire concept of criminal prosecution is, as Adam says, broken. 270 months is not nothing, in his case it gets him out of jail with basically only half a life of income, he will be unemployable in most cases and 67 if he serves the entire term, who is going to support him? The citizens of MN will be doing this for at least the next decade and a half, who’s going to after that? Even if he’s 60, he’s likely unemployable. Just like a black man who gets 40 years for a much lessor crime he’s got this one for his entire life.
Really, Mercy and Justice? What a pile of utter shit – the world is an indifferent place and the natural world is brutal and life rather short and mostly filled with pain and bitter experiences for the vast majority of living things; as for policing in amerika, the fucking asswipes called police in the past, along with the joke of a court/kangaroo system in most the south and mid-west were just people designed to prey upon young black men and enough ignorant poor whites to keep the gulag system running from 1870’s to 1940’s. This overt system of slavery (called the prison system) kept corporations for gang labor, mines and steel mines running with huge profits for wealthy whites. These were death camps filled with torture and called justice. Till we admit and teach these real amerikan values, we will never be able to address our current issues properly.
@Omnes Omnibus: I have seen many threads in which commenters here assert that the sentences many people get are ludicrously punitive, especially around nonviolent and drug crimes.
But it seems a bit insensitive and slightly disingenuous, immediately after we ***finally*** get a sentence for a cop after watching cop after shitty-ass cop get off…. to then try to make the point that sentences are too long. Like…. pick the moment.
@Ruckus: Honestly, I don’t think Chauvin will survive his sentence. Even if he is kept away from the general population, I think he is not going to make it out alive.
@Ruckus: I think you’re confusing determination of guilt with sentencing. Those past events are indeed inadmissible wrt the former, but they’re absolutely relevant to the question of how long it is likely to be before he can safely be returned to society.
Also, he’s going to be very far from unemployable. He’ll be richer than any of us here. A pretty significant percentage of the people in the US think he’s a martyr to political correctness. He’ll be on talk shows. He’ll have books ghost-written for him. And that’s also beside the point that you’re assuming punishment is a goal, which neither Adam nor I do.
It would be one thing if we had *any* rational expectation that the next time a po-po dealt with a Black American, they’d treat them the way they did Dylann Roof. But only an *idiot* would have that expectation. So this plea for mercy and kindness in sentencing Chauvin, is just another round of “heads I win, tails you lose, sucka!”
Wikipedia – First Step Act:
(Which may have been a big reason so many on the right were in favor…)
My recollection is TFG thought it was going to guarantee his overwhelming support by Blacks and others. Of course, he actually undermined the reforms.
tl;dr – Some reforms have been started. More are needed.
@Suzanne: No one is arguing that Chauvin’s sentence is too long. And, like I said, I will be happy to talk about sentencing here whenever people bring it up. It just doesn’t get discussed that much.
@Chetan Murthy: No one here is pleading for mercy and kindness toward Chauvin. If you think that you are very seriously misreading what people are saying.
I think the goal is a law-and-order/justice system that treats all Americans equally, and decently. To get to that goal, I argue that it is a *necessary* step that White Americans, and especially those acting under color of law, are treated in the worst manner they mete out on other Americans. Because it is *clear* that until that happens, they will *not* stop murdering people of color.
P.S. Things -are- changing. In 2009-ish, I remember having drinks with a friend, and his friends. Those guys …. boy, the Oskar Grant murder trial verdict had just come out, and I was pretty appalled. So I said so: something like “yeah, that Mehserle, he sure proved you can murder a Black man with impunity, amirite?” And one of my friend’s friends just *lit into* me about it. Here in SF. In ostensibly liberal circles. I suspect that that would not happen today. It’s not enough. But at least, white people are starting to learn and understand.
Yeah, no. I went back and re-read comment #1 to make sure. If you want to argue for more humane sentencing, then *start* with Black prisoners. Otherwise, yeah, you’re just asking for mercy and kindness b/c the guy’s fucking *white*.
@Chetan Murthy: If you read my comments in other threads you will see that I think the sentence is in line with MN law and that I think it was an appropriate sentence. Nowhere have I said anything about his sentence being too harsh. So I would appreciate it if you would recognize that.
@Chetan Murthy: There are traditionally three reasons to keep someone in prison: punishment, rehabilitation, and isolation for public safety. Civilized countries have generally rejected punishment as a reason except as a deterrent, and Adam already addressed how that doesn’t work either. If you want to argue that punishment *is* a valid goal, either to establish that “balance” I already eschewed or for any other reasons, then there will be generations of moral and legal scholars to contend with and I refer you to them.
I actually agree with Adam that the way to improve the system is to make it less awful for those currently oppressed by it, not more awful for those who have historically escaped responsibility for their actions. I only disagree on whether that should affect Chauvin’s sentence. In my opinion, resistance to rehabilitation justifies longer sentences even in a generally kinder and fairer system.
@Obdurodon: You can’t make the system less cruel by making it more cruel. To me, that is the same logic used by the people who want to heighten the contradictions in general in the political system. I don’t think it works. You make things more fair by making them more fair.*
*FWIW I am not arguing with you.
@Obdurodon: I’m not sure it’s realized even by those on the left that the prison systems and sentencing is awful. And most of those in the middle and the right think it’s too LIGHT.
I’m just going to have to go with the folks that the way to get EVERYONE to realize what a shitshow the justice system is…..is to make white people suffer the same consequences as brown and black people. That’ll be the only way that will get people to just grok it.
I would say that Chauvin’s sentence is in the correct ballpark; IANAL, but I’m pretty sure that in Massachusetts he’d have been charged with Murder 2 and Depraved Indifference, and the sentence is generally 15 to Life, minimum served is 15 years (because you killed someone, duh). Murder 1 is 25 to Life, which is what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ought to be facing (for 4 counts, all in state) from the confines of MCI Cedar Junction. Dammit.
The outrage-du-jour for our local GOP asshats is the Suffolk County (Boston) DA who refuses to ask for bail for non-violent charges. Steal a car, get remand. Chain yourself across I-93, a night in jail for blocking traffic, and remand. Knife or shoot or run your car into someone, high fucking bail or none at all. I wish that Middlesex County (where I live) would follow suit.
@Omnes Omnibus: Omnes, that’s certainly enough to convince me. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t pick on you for something you didn’t say. I apologize profusely. Sorry.
@Omnes Omnibus: How did cruelty enter into this? Certainly not from anything I’ve suggested. I’ve argued *for* prison as rehabilitation, *against* prison as punishment. I absolutely agree with you that the system should be made less cruel, but length of sentence is not necessarily the same as cruelty. In Norway, for example, they have a system that nobody would characterize as cruel, but it’s still unlikely that their own home-grown mass murderer will ever be rehabilitated enough to leave it. That’s the model I’d like to see us strive for.
@Chetan Murthy: Apology accepted. I know feelings are running high, but, as it happens, I have had an interest in this issue for a long time and it does not come up for discussion very often. Unfortunately, when it does come up, it is almost always in the context of a white person’s sentence.
@Obdurodon: Again, I was not arguing with you. I was adding on to what you had said.
Which system? (1) The penal system? Or (2) the “law and order” system that executes people of color without trial? B/c I don’t see how your argument follows: you can *indeed* improve #2, by making punishments for those “law and order” murderers more draconian. It’s clear that most of these murderers don’t think they’ll ever be punished for their crimes. Making punishment severe and and much-more-certain, will deter them.
I mean, we’re talking about *law enforcement* officers here, not your run-of-the-mill undereducated thug with not very many life chances. They will be intimately aware of what awaits them, and will be deterred.
Well, to be fair, a person of color getting sent away forever for a minor offense, or getting a vastly disproportionate sentence, is …. dog bites man. It doesn’t make the papers.
@gwangung: *Certainty* of consequence is a better deterrent than severity. The problem is not that police aren’t sentenced to long enough terms or severe enough conditions. The problem is that too few of them even get to trial. More trials (and inevitably more convictions) within a humane system is far more likely to stop the killing of Black people than a few symbolic cases while the majority suffer no consequence whatsoever. We can make the system more fair wrt those who currently escape it while *also* making it more humane for those currently oppressed by it. They’re not opposite goals.
@gwangung: I got called for jury duty in Virginia just before we were to go on our honeymoon. The case involved an “aggravated malicious wounding” charge. The possible sentence was 20 years to life. I was shocked.
(I was excused by the judge, so I don’t know how it turned out.)
@Chetan Murthy: If you want to say that what happened to Chauvin should happen to every cop who kills an innocent person, you will get no argument from me. But you are going need prosecutors who do their jobs like the ones in this case. You are going to need grand juries that do their job. And you are going to need petit juries that do their job. And that is a heavy lift.
I think most people of good will would agree with you. I certainly do. But ….. this is the first such case in my memory. They’re few and far between. When qualified immunity has been removed, when killer cops are treated like the perps they are, *then* we can talk about sentencing reform. Right now, Chauvin [spit] is the first cop to have actually suffered consequences in …. I-can’t-remember-how-long. The only other one who comes to mind was that Somali immigrant who became a cop, and shot that pretty white Australian woman. He got a 12.5yr sentence for third-degree murder, and that crime was *nowhere* near as heinous as the murder of George Floyd.
And it confirmed for a lot of people (like me) that there’s one law for white cops, and another one for Black cops.
It is indeed. But it starts with the first case, and continues with the (inevitable) second case, etc etc.
@Another Scott: BTW that situation is one of those where you could see a defense attorney arguing nullification. That the potential punishment was did not fit the crime to such an extent that it would be more just to acquit.
@Chetan Murthy: He was latino, from LBC. But yeah, I don’t disagree in general.
@trnc: JJMacNab (on twitter) tracks violent right wing extremists and noted that this particular “good guy with a gun” had some rather nasty posts on his social media, which lends yet another twist to that generic plot. https://twitter.com/jjmacnab/status/1408146056311754753
@Chetan Murthy: Why forego sentencing reform until we solve prosecutorial reform? Both are necessary. They can proceed concurrently. Throwing more cops in prison does nothing to help Black people who are already and will continue to be incarcerated unjustly alongside them. Let’s fix two wrong things instead of one.
@Martin: Sorry, I’d forgotten he was Latino. It’s a problem for people of color generally, and honestly, it has completely changed my sense of police. I’m brown enough that their first reaction is gonna be “maybe he’s Black, maybe he’s Hispanic, let’s beat his ass”. And I don’t think my yelling “no, no, I’m Indian, I’m one of the good ones” will do much good.
Re “defund the police”, on twitter, the tag dates back to 2016. For years it was mostly a few sincere activists. It took off like crazy after George Floyd was murdered. I don’t know how organic the takeoff was, or who was amplifying it. Could have been organic, could have been influence operators, domestic and/or foreign. Or a combination. Perhaps somebody has done a proper analysis; anyone?
Anyway, it’s a hot button topic here, that sets some people off; I’m mostly interested in the actors deliberately manipulating sentiments with it (it was used in a lot of RW fund-raising appeals in 2020), and their identities, and whether some of them are related to current efforts e.g. anti-Cancel Culture or anti-Critiical Race Theory actors.
@Obdurodon: Throwing more cops in prison *will* help with “driving while black”, “playing while black”, “breathing while black”, and the versions for Hispanic folks, too. This is an authoritarian regime, constraining the life chances of millions of people by meting out death and maiming without any sort of due process, at the whim of a state-sponsored militia. It needs to *end*.
ObOpenThread – AlJazeera:
(IIRC, Amir got the Sinovac vaccine recently – ) Good luck Amir! Be careful.
Here’s hoping the mRNA vaccine technology is distributed worldwide as soon as possible. Biden’s right to press for waiving patent rights for the vaccines.
@Chetan Murthy: Are you talking about people who *do* enter the criminal-justice and penal systems, or people who are denied “any sort of due process”? You seem to be conflating or flip-flopping between the two, and it’s not helpful. There are people who are *already* in that system, who will *not* be helped by any kind of deterrence. There will continue to be more for quite some time even if we start prosecuting police as we should have been all along. Do they not deserve relief? We help them with sentencing reform *now*, not after we solve other problems.
In the *long* term, throwing more cops in prison (and I’m glad to see you’ve adopted that idea in lieu of your earlier enthusiasm for punitive sentencing of a few) will help avoid extra-judicial forms of oppression. As I said, we need to solve both problems. There no reason either solution should wait for the other.
I think justice is somewhere between the way minorities are treated and the way respectable white people are treated. I phrased it that way because poor whites get screwed unfairly too although not as often fatal as for black men. It’s more complicated than that of course and Kay has explained about the problems with probation. I was afraid he would get off with nothing so I am relieved he got this sentence. I would say it seems to meet a somewhat medium and therefore almost fair result. I think this may be because the judge and system really didn’t want him to have good grounds for an appeal.
improvement is the next bad cop also getting a medium sentence instead of nothing, and the next, and ALSO some black men getting fair treatment…reasonable sentences and….not ending up dead in police custody, someone stopping them. There are lots of things that need to happen and we voters have to keep paying attention and demanding all of the things that are part of justice for all. We should make our own lists because there are so many pieces we need to keep track of to get the whole thing.
A bunch of lawyers and prosecuters had to do a lot of work for us to get this. They need thanking and appreciating. Sure it shouldn’t be unusual for them to do their jobs, but the fact is too many other departments haven’t done it and I am more used to seeing police predators walk.
I think this is a win. We should enjoy, then get ready for the next step. There are a lot more needed.
First, please rest assured that I will always prefer more certain punishment for all infractions, over capricious punishment for only a few infractions. And that that more certain punishment will necessarily be less severe, than the capricious punishment. I’m 100% down with that. I’m just not holding my breath to see more certain punishment of the many, many crimes committed by po-po.
Now to your question. I’m referring specifically to the way that po-po can be and are “judge, jury, and executioner” on the streets, and mete out punishments to whomever they wish. Which, it seems, is disproportionately people of color. Those victims never see the inside of a courtroom. And the *fact* that this happens, causes all people of color, and especially Black Americans, to change their behaviour, to teach their children to change their behaviour, in order to avoid the wrath of what are effectively unaccountable, lawless state-sponsored militia.
Punishment for these rogue cops isn’t about improving the penal system, or the courts. It’s about *ending* the lawless authoritarian regime on the streets that constraints the life chances of so many people of color.
I agree with you, of course, but you’ll forgive me if at this time all I feel is schadenfreude for former officer cum convicted murderer Derek Chauvin, who will emerge from prison an utterly destroyed human being.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
I have an easier solution – no more automatic protective custody for former cops.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
Our vet is also our friend, and we do a lot socially with him (lots of boating and shooting). End of last summer, we’re sitting on the boat dockside over drinks and he says “I guess you’ve run my record”. I replied that I don’t do that to friends behind their backs, and that everybody has little blips (I assumed he had a DUI or youthful theft or vandalism charge somewhere).
Turns out, I was wrong. It was an old manslaughter conviction; he’d had a single car wreck and killed his girlfriend at 19 his freshman year. His dad was loaded but insisted on him going through it. He attempted a defense but got convicted and sent to the prison that was within a half mile of the high school where he’d been a football star, so he could sit in his cell and hear the crowds at games. He finally made parole after a couple of years, and his dad waited until the parole time was done before acquiring the pardon. He went on to finish college and vet school, and then bought a veterinary practice next door to the high school but also in view of the prison – a view he sees every day, because that’s the side he parks his car on.
THAT is a well utilized 2nd chance.
Well said, Adam.
This is often where it breaks down. In order to get convictions in the vast majority of their workload, prosecutors need the help of the police on a day-to-day basis. They know that if they come down hard on a cop, they can kiss that cooperation goodbye, and with it, any hope of being successful in their job as a whole.
ISTM that every state needs at least one prosecutor that isn’t in that bind, that can handle police prosecutions without any adverse consequences to the rest of his/her job, and take those kinds of cases over from the city or county prosecutors who can’t get out of that bind.
I don’t know what they would do with the rest of their time – prosecute white-collar crime, maybe – or maybe at the state level, there are enough occasions to prosecute cops that the work can support a full-time prosecutor.
But as long as the same prosecutors who have to make the case against a killer cop are going to need full cooperation of the police to do their jobs going forward, prosecutors are going to do as poor a job of prosecuting cops as they can get away with.
@lowtechcyclist: Agreed. Local DAs have an inherent conflict of interest when prosecuting members of the law enforcement agencies they rely upon to make the rest of their work possible.