Justice for all, er, um, well maybe a few?

A friend of mine, we’ll call her “M”, is in law school. I think she’ll be a great lawyer. She’s smart, likes to debate, and is quite tenacious. Every once in a while she’ll toss out a topic and see what I’ll do. I think she likes getting a rise out of me. I dont’ really like to have too many political discussions with her though. Not because I don’t like to debate but because she lives in L.A. and we generally converse via Google Talk. I loathe talking on the phone and the distance factor prohibits face to face communications. So unless it involves typing, we ain’t really doing it.

Today we were chatting about her most recent forray into the dating scene, or as we like to call it, Chattle Hunt ’07. She brings up some of the cases she’s studying dealing with evidence gathering and tells me that she just can’t be “a liberal” when it comes to the law. I tell her a few times that I can’t discuss the “Justice” system with her right now. It’s just too big. What I want to discuss is not the evidentiary rules but the laws themselves and the societal issues that are underlying. We have to look at power relations. We have to look at who is making millions of dollars from the privatization of prisons.

Just like the “Military-Industrial Complex,” there’s a “Penal System-Industrial Complex.” Those involved in these groups use fear to push their agendas – just like the Executive Branch of our federal government has used fear to advance it’s military agenda. Be afraid of Middle Eastern Terrorists, Iran, North Korea, Palestinians, Fidel Castro, Poor People of Color, you know, all those people who want to take away our happy, middle class, existance. Or at least our perceived happy middle class existance, because that really doesn’t exist for very many people anymore. But that’s another rant.

Back to the original discussion. One need only look at the difference in prosecutions and sentences between white collar and no collar crimes. Here are two very quick and obvious examples: drugs and theft.

1. Drugs. Just look at the minimum mandatory sentences (as well as the number of prosecutions) for crack and coke. Ask yourself 2 questions: Who uses crack? Who uses coke? Now, what images did you get in your head?

2. Theft. Ok, so when someone breaks into your house and steals everything you’ve got, they’ll go to prison for awhile. Maybe a few years. How much do you think you’d be out monitarily? If you’re lucky enough to have insurance, you’ll probably get some money to help you buy some new stuff. So how many people have been affected directly by the theft of your stuff? Most likely, just you and your immediate family or those other folks living in your house. But what happens when someone or a group of someones cook the books, embezzle millions of dollars from the company and/or stock holders what happens? One or all may or may not be prosecuted. And if they are prosecuted and convicted, they’re not getting the same type of sentence in an ass-pounding prison as the theif mentioned earlier. And let’s look at who is affected. Well, in a case like Enron, all the workers and retirees lost the financial security they had worked for many years for. In many cases, families lost everything they had. Don’t forget about the town that relied on the income derived from the business.

Ok, my ranting mode has run down and I’ve been distracted by one of the evil corporate mid-level executives who take great joy in belittling other people in public forums. I’ve lost my train of thought but you get the idea…

3 thoughts on “Justice for all, er, um, well maybe a few?

  • March 7, 2007 at 1:40 pm
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    I, like Cheri, work in a corporate kiss-ass environment. I also enjoy, as does Cheri, a good rant once in awhile. I think it may be the fact that we are boxed in like animals in a sea of taupe-colored bullshit…..but that is a whole different rant entirely.

    The Justice System…..hmmmmm. This is always a personal dilemma for me. I agree with Cheri that the system is fucked, that’s the short and sweet of it. Justice is not blind and if your OJ you get off-that’s the way it goes. However, I do believe that there has to be something done with people that are a harm to others, (ie-child molesters, serial killers, etc..) However, Cheri is right that the majority of those in jail are in for drugs and theft, which is a common off-shoot of poverty. My children are starving….should I go work at McDonalds for $6.00/hour with no benefits or childcare or should I sell some rock and make enough to eat for a week in 2 minutes………hmmmm, what would you do?

    I would slang the rock-yep, that’s exactly what I would do if my babies were hungry, and you would too. Drugs can be devistating, we all agree. However, legalize them and tax the shit out of them like we do with alcohol and then it’s nothing but a constitutional right and a real bad one night stand.

    My point is, Cheri is correct, (I hate it when she’s right-you know she rubs it in). The Justice system is a source of revenue for those fortunate enough to not ever have to worry about their babies being hungry. I’d guess that 1 out of 1000 are truly criminal and a danger to the lives of society. Sorry “M,” but you sold out to the MAN.

  • March 7, 2007 at 2:38 pm
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    Sold Out? Industrial Complex? The Bleeding Heart Liberals are biting at my heels once again. I love Cheri with all my heart but there is a difference between sociological issues and the law. To be more specific “The Common Law” in this Country, “The United States of America” where by the way we have Constitutional rights for every person (not only American) in this Country. You complain about justice yet in comparison to other foreign lands you mention nothing of the glorious justice in the Iraqi Court system. Back to center.

    My intention was to engage Cheri in a discussion in regard to the 5th Amendment and more specifically Miranda (The right to remain silent etc). We have numerous fundemental rights for those suspected of committing a crime. However, we didn’t get that far as she shut me down especially because I attempted to engage her with the words “Anne Coulter” simply thinking this would elicit laughter and instead I felt the heat burn the tips of fingers as they touched down on my keyboard.

    Although I feel both of your points are valid in regard to societal stereotypes and poverty, I’m hard pressed to agree that this is a legal problem and not a problem with a persons morals or values, which leads to a legal issue. In regard to theft or legally termed Larceny, do we change the Common Law understanding from “The intentional trespassory taking and carrying away of personal property of another with intent to permenantly deprive” to add an exception to all of those who are stricken by the misfortune of poverty or McDonalds workers? Come on. Again, its a social issue and it wouldn’t be realistic to change the laws to justify the actions of those who want to continue a way of life that is simply not reasonable.

    Now if you want to discuss/debate/engage in the 5th Amendment and how that applies or why I felt the need to grace Cheri with my thoughts and findings, I would be glad to start but be prepared for my rather conservative views.

    In regard to my Chattel hunt 07. A woman that will be bound as my chattel will win my heart. Have fun with that one!

    I’m out.

  • March 7, 2007 at 3:28 pm
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    you can’t separate poverty and the law. You can’t separate the law from society (sociology = the study of society) because the laws effect society. By maintaining the status quo we do a huge disservice to the county. A county made up of people. Primarily poor people.

    And if you want to get into a discussion about legal systems around the world, there are plenty that are more just than ours. And are you talking about the Iraqi justice system now or pre-occupation?

    The standard responses to discussing systemic problems with the US usually have something to do with this being the greatest country in the world and if you don’t like it, leave, or some other generic cliche. If you want to compare our systems and standards of living, and healthcare systems, and educational systems, or judicial/penal systems to other countries, back it up with some data not some patriotic soundbyte.

    I love you too but I don’t think you’re seeing the larger picture. You can’t look at one piece of the puzzle and say this is what’s wrong and this is how you fix it. If you want proof of that, just look at our foreign policy. You have to look at how each part fits together. You have to look at cause and effect.

Comment if you want. You know, no pressure.

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