Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The definition of a "two-tiered justice system"

Great opinion piece about the unfairness of the US justice system. Rich people get away with everything and the poor are incarcerated for petty drug crimes! If it doesn't piss you off then you must be rich!

By Glen Greenwald - Ordinary people who commit petty, nonviolent crimes rot for decades in inhumane prisons. High political leaders who commit serious felonies receive full-scale immunity.
Aside from the intrinsic dangers and injustices of arguing for immunity for high-level government officials who commit felonies (such as illegal eavesdropping, obstruction of justice, torture and other war crimes), it's the total selectivity of the rationale underlying that case which makes it so corrupt. Defenders of Bush officials sing in unison: We shouldn't get caught up in the past. We shouldn't be driven by vengeance and retribution. We shouldn't punish people whose motives in committing crimes weren't really that bad.
There are countries in the world which actually embrace those premises for all of their citizens, and whose justice system consequently reflects a lenient approach to crime and punishment. The United States is not one of those countries. In fact, for ordinary citizens (the ones invisible and irrelevant to Ruth Marcus, Stuart Taylor, Jon Barry and David Broder), the exact opposite is true:

Homeless man gets 15 years for stealing $100
A homeless man robbed a Louisiana bank and took a $100 bill. After feeling remorseful, he surrendered to police the next day. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
Roy Brown, 54, robbed the Capital One bank in Shreveport, Louisiana in December
2007. He approached the teller with one of his hands under his jacket and told
her that it was a robbery.
The teller handed Brown three stacks of bill but he only took a single $100 bill and returned the remaining money back to her. He said that he was homeless and hungry and left the bank.
The next day he surrendered to the police voluntarily and told them that his mother didn’t raise him that way.
Brown told the police he needed the money to stay at the detox center and had no other place to stay and was hungry.
In Caddo District Court, he pleaded guilty. The judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison for first degree robbery.

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1 comment:

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