This is a discussion on Huh? within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Roanoke Times Editorial -- Roanoke Va. No small matters of justice - Roanoke.com Editorial: No small matters of justice Crackdowns on minor infractions shouldn't be ...
Roanoke Times Editorial -- Roanoke Va.
No small matters of justice - Roanoke.com
Editorial: No small matters of justice
Crackdowns on minor infractions shouldn't be allowed to overwhelm the courts.
The "broken-windows" theory of crime-fighting holds that stopping minor infractions prevents major crimes because signs of neighborhood decay, like graffiti or broken windows, create a "no one cares" atmosphere that invites criminality.
Communities all over the country have cracked down on misdemeanors as they got tough on crime.
A report issued last week by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers shows the broken-windows strategy opening onto a different view: the one where the people arrested for petty, non-violent offenses have their day in court. Due process, it seems, is a rare sight.
The report, "Minor Crimes, Massive Waste," asserts that explosive growth in misdemeanor cases in recent decades has so overburdened America's courts that millions of accused offenders -- overwhelmingly indigent -- are denied equal justice every year. As a result, innocent people go to jail, as do guilty people who needn't be there -- all at great cost.
Many had no legal representation at all. Researchers who visited courts in seven states -- Virginia was not one -- regularly saw prosecutors, and sometimes judges, pressure indigent defendants to waive their right to counsel even when they faced the possibility of jail time.
But then, as the report notes, those who were represented by a public defender or court-appointed lawyer likely did not fare much better. Crushing caseloads and lack of resources often don't allow defense lawyers to mount an actual defense.
That is for people who can afford to pay lawyers. Poor defendants plead guilty, and the courts move on.
Criminologists are divided over whether the "broken-windows" strategy cuts crime. If its critics are right, and declines are due to other factors, a benefit still accrues to law-abiding citizens able to enjoy a better quality of life.
It should not be bought, though, at the cost of justice.
The defense lawyers' report urges several thoughtful reforms to bring integrity to the system. The first could be the key to the rest: "Divert misdemeanors that do not impact public safety to penalties that are less costly to taxpayers." Unclog the courts, and free the time and money needed to assure the rights of people who should be in court.
Don't ignore broken windows. Make the vandals fix them.
OK -- who will and how will they "Make the vandals fix them" w/o going to court?
In addition to that question, I am reminded of a couple of cases a few years ago in the Ft Meade areas.
1) Some kids kept sneaking into a local pool & breaking glass into the pool. As the glass was a hazard and was hard to see/find/clear in the water, it was a major inconvenience for the members -- causing the pool to be closed for days.
The JDs were caught and the Juvenile Master (read judge) sentenced them to public service to be preformed in the neighbor where the pool was located -- as a sign that the vandals were caught and didn't get the last laugh.
2) Other kids went on a graffiti spree. Were caught and sentenced to clean it up.
Now for the rest of the story:
Neither group did what was sentenced.
Why? The "authorities" that oversee juvenile decided that the public humiliation would be harmful to the JD personal development.
I'm just one root in a grassroots organization. No one should assume that I speak for the VCDL.
I am neither an attorney-at-law nor I do play one on television or on the internet. No one should assumes my opinion is legal advice.
Veni, Vidi, Velcro
Read about it...
WORLD CORPORAL PUNISHMENT RESEARCH: JUDICIAL CANING IN SINGAPORE, MALAYSIA AND BRUNEI
Offenses which cause a caning sentence?
illegal bike racers
men who desert their wives
perpetrators of get-rich-quick schemes
Singapore has it right...
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NRA Life Member
aka Bleeding Heart Liberals. Yea, I'm really going to listen to them.National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
The JD's haven't had any "personal development" (no parents, etc.) and that is exactly why they need it! Embarrass the little turds.public humiliation would be harmful to the JD's personal development
FreedomDoc and Retsup99 hit the nail on the head.
"He went on two legs, wore clothes and was a human being, but nevertheless he was in reality a wolf of the Steppes. He had learned a good deal . . . and was a fairly clever fellow. What he had not learned, however, was this: to find contentment in himself and his own life. The cause of this apparently was that at the bottom of his heart he knew all the time (or thought he knew) that he was in reality not a man, but a wolf of the Steppes."