Archive for the ‘justice’ tag
Since the start of the current economic downturn all those years ago, this question comes up pretty regularly, and never really gets a satisfying answer. I don’t know that I’d call Jed S. Rakoff’s explanations “satisfying”, but it’s both less political and more plausible than any other explanation I’ve seen:
In recent decades, however, prosecutors have been increasingly attracted to prosecuting companies, often even without indicting a single person. This shift has often been rationalized as part of an attempt to transform “corporate cultures,” so as to prevent future such crimes; and as a result, government policy has taken the form of “deferred prosecution agreements” or even “nonprosecution agreements,” in which the company, under threat of criminal prosecution, agrees to take various prophylactic measures to prevent future wrongdoing. Such agreements have become, in the words of Lanny Breuer, the former head of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, “a mainstay of white-collar criminal law enforcement,” with the department entering into 233 such agreements over the last decade.
Prison rape is so common in America that most confronted with the reality either go for the joke or greet it with a “well they shouldn’t have gone to prison, then” attitude rather than face the catastrophe that it is. It’s good to know that the Obama administration has created a program that, though late, has some reasonable hope of bringing the problem under control.
As someone who’s never experienced it, I enjoyed Michael Friedman’s undramatic retelling of what it was like to get arrested in New York City for an old, unpaid speeding ticket.
The guards are clearly angry that the police have brought so many people to the Tombs on a Sunday, the police are angry that we aren’t being processed quickly enough for them to bring in more prisoners and make their quotas, and the public defenders seem furious at the whole thing. No one explains what is happening to the prisoners. It is unclear how long any of this will take.
I’ve told you how much I love deep-dives from the LRB and NYRB, this “Letter from Guatemala” is almost as good as similar things in those magazines. A few more things like this come across my lap and I might have to start closely following the LARB. If they focus on Latin America and the Pacific I’m already sold.
There may be be some who argue about the seriousness of the problem, but I think after reading this piece no one would be able to contest with a clear conscience that there is one. I can’t shake the feeling that the basic premise of this provocative essay is sound:
America’s prison system is a moral catastrophe. The eerie sense of security that prevails on the streets of lower Manhattan obscures, and depends upon, a system of state-sponsored suffering as vicious and widespread as any in human history. Dismantling the system of American gulags, and holding accountable those responsible for their operation, presents the most urgent humanitarian imperative of our time.
That isn’t the truly provocative part of Cristopher Glazek’s thesis, but it’s the part that you need to hear. The other half’s more in the “mind-blowing and interesting to consider” category.
(via The Browser)
Sam Harris’s argument entails a reasonably straight-forward refutation of free will, but that question doesn’t much interest me. This does:
The men and women on death row have some combination of bad genes, bad parents, bad ideas, and bad luck—which of these quantities, exactly, were they responsible for? No human being stands as author to his own genes or his upbringing, and yet we have every reason to believe that these factors determine his character throughout life. Our system of justice should reflect our understanding that each of us could have been dealt a very different hand in life. In fact, it seems immoral not to recognize just how much luck is involved in morality itself.
(via The Browser)
Even if soon-to-be-president Obama wants to close the prison at the naval base, he’s got a nearly Hereculean set of problems ahead of him. Just one example:
Where should the remaining detainees be held? The new administration will presumably have to hold the remaining suspected terrorists in facilities in the United States. But where? They will likely end up in a prison on a military base, since it would be unsafe to hold them in normal prison populations. But few states will want to house Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his friends. And members of Congress will give NIMBY-ism a whole new meaning when it comes to keeping them out of their districts.
Seeking refuge in the Dutch embassy, he’s ended his campaign to defeat Mugabe. For those wondering why, this gallery — absolutely not for the faint of heart — gives some indication of the reasons.
America has more prisoners on death row than any country but Pakistan. (China’s figures are open to dispute.) It’s either a triumph of justice that they’re still alive — and likely appealing their cases — or a damnable pity that they’re there at all.
Those angered by the system of justice being deployed at Guantanamo should probably blow their lids about what’s passing for justice in some cases in Afghanistan. Here, for example, was enough evidence to convict a man to eight years in prison:
“Confessions/Admissions/Incriminating Statements: None”
“Physical Evidence: None”