Monday, June 10, 2013

More NSA

By Robert H. 

So this guy wrote an article observing, among other things, that 1. Federal prosecutors routinely pressure criminals to plead guilty, 2. Prison conditions in America can be brutal, and 3. Since the 70's, the courts have reigned in people's ability to avoid criminal conviction due to police misconduct during the investigation of their crime. So that's all true.

What's weird is that he presents these entirely as problems facing protestors and whistle blowers
 who leak classified documents.  And I've been seeing a lot of that lately, ever since the Aaron Swartz tragedy.

To be clear, every criminal defendant in America is pressured to plead guilty by the prosecution, many face terrible prison conditions (overcrowding, sexual assault by guards, long term solitary confinement, etc), and the courts have made exceptions to the exclusionary rule that affect all of us.  If those things mean Edward Snowden can't get a fair trial in America, no one can.  And if you only speak out when the criminals you like face abuses, don't be surprised if abuses become the norm.

As a total aside, plea bargaining exists as a cost cutting measure because trials are expensive (and it works, 90+ percent of criminal cases are resolved before trial).  Anyone who says "prosecutors pressuring defendents to plea bargain are wrong and defendants should be able to go to trial without fear of harsher punishment" needs to follow that sentence with "and here is my plan to fund a vast expansion in the numbers of prosecutors, judges, support staff, and courthouses, so that we will be able to timely try the vast number of trials I'm creating."  Or maybe "and here is my plan to cut down on the numbers of citizens we arrest and accuse of crimes."  Whatevs, just please be aware of why prosecutors do it and the pressures it will cause if they can't.

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