The Myth of American Justice:
There is no way that we can have anything but injustice if the office of the prosecutor is given 10 times the budget of the office of public defender. Defendants are subjected to the situation of the defenders of the Alamo – the odds are overwhelmingly against them. In this dysfunctional system, a defendant is guilty until proven innocent to the hilt, despite the theoretical innocence until proven guilty. There are far too many innocent people in prison, mentally ill people in prison, and non-violent criminals guilty but sentenced excessively with no rehabilitation available for them or help in re-introducing themselves to society when they get out.
We can solve this problem in several ways:
1-Parity in terms of budget for both prosecutors and public defenders;
2-Mandate that all attorneys must provide a specified amount of pro bono services – they won’t do it without a mandate as in the federal court system;
3-Raise the level of required training for the police so that they stop abusing laws such as trespass laws, disorderly conduct laws, and resisting arrest, laws – now often used for harassment and to retaliate against whistle blowers and activists, as well as for judges – who often violate the Bill of Rights out of ignorance of the law;
4-Revise grand jury rules so that the jurors are told that they can call witnesses and so that it is more likely that defense witnesses will be called to prove there is no probable cause;
5-Increase penalties for prosecutors who commit fraud upon the grand jury by mistating the law and withholding exculpatory evidence including witnesses;
6-Revise our criminal statutes so that non-violent crimes may be dealt with more by mediators and not all “crimes” are automatically forced to trial so that judges are freed up to deal with more significant crimes;
7-Increase funding for mental health services including drug addiction treatment and offer more diversion for first time offenders and non-violent drug offenders to remove their cases from the trial schedules.
Most importantly we need to have civilian oversight over judges and prosecutors. There will have to be creative thinking as how to accomplish this task. The fox cannot guard the hen house!
I am sure that there are a lot more who through creative thinking can come up with the solutions that I am too ignorant to figure out.
Tags: Alternative Sentencing, Court Oversight, Criminal Statutes, Drug Addiction, judicial incompetence, Judicial Reform, Judicial training, Mental Health, Police Training, Prosecutorial Misconduct, public defender funding