Sunday, October 11, 2015

A key metric underlying mass incarceration

More from John Pfaff, this time an interview in Slate, on his theory that prosecutors are responsible for mass incarceration. Here's what I'd call the money quote in the story:
What appears to happen during this time—the years I look at are 1994 to 2008, just based on the data that’s available—is that the probability that a district attorney files a felony charge against an arrestee goes from about 1 in 3, to 2 in 3. So over the course of the ’90s and 2000s, district attorneys just got much more aggressive in how they filed charges. Defendants who they would not have filed felony charges against before, they now are charging with felonies. I can’t tell you why they’re doing that. No one’s really got an answer to that yet. But it does seem that the number of felony cases filed shoots up very strongly, even as the number of arrests goes down.
Here's another brief item quoting Pfaff on similar themes from The Economist. See related Grits coverage and Texas data supporting that thesis.

RELATED: "How to reform the nation's prison system," from The Onion.

1 comment:

Thomas R. Griffith said...

John, John, John,

Sorry, but this theory is full of holes and it begins with assuming that prosecutors are to blame. Maybe the following will redirect you and put you on the right track to assigning blame to those that earned it.

It's very simple. When a person is arrested while on probation (guilty or, not) that person is advised by a lawyer to: avoid or, stop a jury trial in progress and Take-the-Plea. Why? Well John, I'm glad you asked. (Maybe you'll decide to write about the Why in more detail).

In Texas (other nations are asked to chime in if they are also experiencing an epidemic of system-wide Defenseless Misconduct syndrome), when a lawyer takes or, is assigned a criminal case, he/she has no actual plans to take the case all the way to the very end (a jury verdict). Guilty or, not, the suspect turned defendant will be advised to Take-the-Plea, hearing slimy versions of this crapola - "probation is cheaper than a trial" and for those not on probation they hear slimy versions of this - "take the ten and get out in three is better than risking 99 years". With about three percent only hearing this - "are you ready for trial, let do this" and actually letting the jury do their duty. If there is no jury trial to verdict: the actions of those charged with arresting (police), detecting (detectives) and accepting charges (INTAKE) are not brought to light. When that is allowed, the results are - arrest 'em all and let the courts hide the pesky details with fake trials.

When everyone from the: defense, ada & judge all: allow, condone & encourage defendants in mass (side-by-side or, one-at-a-time) to participate in assisting the prosecution obtain a 'Win', the end result is wrong (especially when they all celebrate it as a win). Fake defense lawyers, fake vior dire proceedings and fake judges all eventually leads to: false arrests and subsequent convictions of those allowed to be deprived of a jury trial to verdict. When you can't tell the difference between a used car salesman & a person dabbling in criminal law, you get a shit-load of folks being charged and convinced to trade in an old plea for a new plea. And, that isn't to be laid solely at the prosecution's feet, for it takes a Team Effort to: deprive defendants, juries, crime victims and taxpayers - one case/charge at a time.

So John, now that you are fully aware of the Texas TapOut dilemma (where defendant(s) are encouraged to trade in their original plea(s) of not guilty for another form of guilty aka: no contest / nolo contendere), I hope you can now connect the dots as to "why".