Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Criminal Justice Failures

When Obama was elected, I signed up for Change.org so I could sign all the libertarian petitions.  I still receive their weekly bulletin; it is a good look at the things that liberals consider to be the important issues of the day.  The last bulletin was noteworthy in that its top three stories were about how our criminal justice system is ruining lives:

Free Sex Trafficking Victim Sara Kruzan

At Change.org, we encounter a lot of stories of tragedy, injustice and triumph. None is more heart-wrenching than the story of Sara Kruzan.

Sara, who was once her elementary school's student body president, met the man who would become her pimp when she was just 11. After acting as the father figure she never had for two years, he raped Sara at age 13 and trafficked her into the commercial sex trade.

For the next 3 years, from 6pm to 6am, strangers would pay Sara's pimp to rape her and other adolescent girls he recruited and preyed upon.

Finally, physically and psychologically traumatized, Sara snapped. She shot and killed her pimp.

Her punishment? Life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The sentence was handed down by a judge in 1994 against the recommendation of the California Youth Authority, and before there was much awareness about the violence of child trafficking or an appreciation for the trauma of adolescent sexual and physical abuse.

There is a constant joke about the Deep South, that it is a place where "He needed killin'." is a valid defense.  Well, sometimes it is.  Any sane criminal justice system would call this 'self defense' and release her, perhaps after a period of counseling and psychological evaluation.  She is not a threat to any law-abiding citizen.

Recovering from Wrongful Imprisonment

Gloria Killian spent more than 16 years behind bars for a murder she didn't commit, a victim of prosecutorial misconduct and admittedly false testimony from a man who had struck a deal with the state for a shorter sentence. Her conviction overturned in 2002, Killian has gone on to campaign on behalf of other women unjustly imprisoned.

This kind of thing is far too common.  The incentives for prosecutors are horrible: there is a constant pressure to convict, no good oversight, and no punishment for actions that would constitute perjury and criminal misconduct if committed by any other person.

Police Threaten Rape Victim

A South Carolina woman who reported being raped by a Marion police officer was subject to another assault when the officers who responded to her call threatened to put her in jail if she didn't recant her story. Instead, they forced her to write the following: "Though I didn't agree or consent to it (it) was not rape." Non-consensual sex is rape - there's no getting around it. And while the accused rapist has thankfully been sent on leave, the two officers who threatened to throw the victim in jail are sitting pretty. These officers need to be suspended for gross police misconduct pending investigation before they harass any other victims. 

This is the kind of thing that you would expect to see in a third world country.  It is clear that something is very wrong in the institutional structure of this police department.  American citizens simply should not be subjected to this kind of thuggish savagery from our police officers.

Sooner or later the liberals and progressives who follow these issues will realize that government is the problem, not the solution.  No matter how evil or corrupt they might be, businesses do not have access to violence and the power of the state.  True threats to liberty come from the corruption of people within the government.

But it may take a while.  People who get emotional involved in these kinds of issues often have no sense of perspective at all.  All too often, they utterly lack the ability to prioritize and focus on important things.  Here is another story from that same email:

Fighting Racist Mascots
The University of Illinois retired Chief Illiniwek, the college's costumed, dancing Native American mascot, in 2007 after pressure from the NCAA. But more than three years later, his ghost remains on campus. The administration has not named a new mascot and students still stage unofficial "chief" rallies, resurrecting a caricature that Native American groups have found offensive, racist and misleading. A coalition of student and community groups is pushing for a new mascot, saying this will help heal racial tensions and allow the campus to move on.

Seriously?  In the same email in which you bring serious abuses to light, you complain about a few college kids showing loyalty to an old mascot that some people find offensive?  This juxtaposition is an insult to the three women victimized by state power.  You will never get anything done if you waste time, attention, and moral authority with irrelevant things like this.

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