Monday, November 11, 2013

Big government and the criminal justice system

A blog post today from the conservative blog Red State opens:
The growing role of big government in our lives presents a continual attack on the cherished and hallmark American values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In no area is this expansion more troubling than the criminal justice system. Actions defined as crimes have proliferated to the point that the average American now inadvertently commits an estimated three felonies a day. This explosion of criminal statutes has little to do with protecting our communities; it is simply another symptom of the expansive reach of big government.
Read the rest here.


JJ said...

I placed my American Flag on my lapel this morning because it is Veteran's Day and I'm a proud veteran. I had to go to jury duty and thought it was ironic to serve in this capacity on such a special day. As I'm going through the security line at the courthouse the private security contractor waved her wand over my American flag triggering the metal sensor. I didn't think anything of it as the lapel was worn proudly. At this point, because of the alert, I was subjected to a full physical pat down in front of a line of other potential jurors. I realized after the fact that this is what so many other veterans and I have fought for. To wear an American flag on Veterans Day into any controlled environment will likely get you subjected to a physical search of your person. I'm proud of our service, yet disappointed with the level of freedom we supposedly preserved. I know this country is better than that.

An Attorney said...

The leg has been controlled by the Rs for some time. They are the party allegedly opposed to big govt. Yet they are also the ones making all of these laws that make more things criminal, change misdemeanors to felonies, and enhance penalties. So if big govt is the issue, then the Rs are the problem.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

That's not my experience, An Attorney. At the Lege, I find both parties promote new crimes and enhancements but, despite their minority status, the majority tend to come from Dems as a practical matter. Both parties are culpable and examples of Rs supporting new crimes and enhancements abound, but IMO there is indeed something about Dems' government-can-solve-everything ideology that makes them reflexively support overcriminalization. After all, it was Ann Richards and the Dems who decided to triple the size of the prison system, while R legislatures have closed the first units since the days of the republic.

Really, though, it's a bipartisan thing - a function of legislators thinking everything looks like a nail because the only tool they have is a hammer. The situation was created because there's a bipartisan consensus on the approach; neither party can escape blame.

DEWEY said...

Solution: Lock everybody up except the "congress critters". They are exempt so they can make even more criminal laws. (Insert sarcasm here.)

Anonymous said...

One contributing factor for the increasing number of crimes is the increased use of probation and deferred adjudication for those who plead guilty of those crimes. I plead guilty to something that I don't think should be a crime. I could have gone to trial, been financially ruined if found innocent and going to prison for life if found guilty. The prosecutor offered me probation which allowed me to go home that day. If I had faced prison, then I would have gone to trial. If the state legislature had to pay for all the people put in jail by the new crimes, it might think twice before creating new crimes. The law of unintended consequences strikes again.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:04

Most people will not go to trail the risk are too high. Even innocent people will plea to avoid a very harsh sentence or on occasion a death sentence . All the prosecutor has to do is tell the defendant he will seek a lot of time and file a much more serious case and cause. For example if you get caught with a small amount of marijuana the cops will say t you were dealing all they have to do is say they saw you exchange money for drugs . It does not have to be true if in court a cops says he she saw x then x is by default true unless you the defendant can prove otherwise . Why do you think recordings go "missing" or the camera "did not work" and of course the video was erased by accident .That should result in a automatic dismissal with prejudice now we know damn well what went on and that will stop it . Now you are looking at a felony ,instead of a petty misdemeanor. The prosecutor will tell you and your attorney ; I'll I'll accept possession and a state jail felony or what ever it is in different t states . if you plea guilty . If you take this to trial you are going go to prison for 5 - 10 years .what are you gong to do ?
Worse the cop say he has a witness that saw you exit the now deceased MS Jones house at about 2 am and that is real close to the MEs time of death . it is all B/S but and cops can do that yes cops can lie to you and id you lie to them it is a crime ask Martha Stewart she went to prison not for financial crimes but lyingto a federal agent . Ask any CDL lawyer. In reality not legal fiction land you were at home asleep but can't prove it your looking at death what do you do ? If you take you case to rail you should get all the discovery and maybe then plea that too can happen but first you have to be willing to go to trail . The state should be forced to give you the discovery as soon as you are arrested never mind arraigned . You can then ask for more, there will be , when you have a attorney .
If you think this does a not go on every day in every prosecutors office in the US you are either very naïve or really believe the lie of if you did nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about.
Every case should go to trial .That would be very costly and bring more of us into contact with the justice system .Even a ex con off paper should be on a jury that would along ways towards changing the system well as making sure those who obtain a false conviction regardless of how do life for ruining a life a arrest can alter you life a conviction even a misdemeanor can make your life very difficult it never goes away and follows you everywhere example you might not think of you cannot enter Canada( if you drive a truck that might cost you a job) if you have any conviction no mater how petty of long ago . Some employers ask if you have been arrested in states that allow it that will cost you a job most of the public equates a arrest with guilt . The thinking is you got off on a "technically" Bullcrap, the state did not have a case or they violated your rights badly enough for a court dismissed the charges. For those who say can't do the time do not do the crime . You do not have to have committed a crime at all and things you think are not crimes are .See Three felonies a day.