Saturday, October 10, 2015

Guilty period

I told an Aussie whose been in Bali for 35 years what a great job the manager of a restaurant she's associated with was doing. Yeah, she said, but he's suspect. Oh no - not again. This sort of thing keeps happening - missing money. Yeah, she said, in America you're innocent until proven guilty, here everybody's guilty. Ouch.

That "in America you're innocent until proven guilty" made me think. That's not exactly what I've seen. A young person I'm close to was going through a pretty psycho period and locked his keys in his car in front of a convenience store and aroused suspicion when he tried to get back in it. A police car came and he couldn't answer or relate to the policeman who threw him on the ground, was very rough with him, and arrested him. The serious charge was resisting arrest. His public defender was only trying to get the charges and sentence reduced in a plea agreement. I met with them and pointed out he doesn't know what you're talking about, that he was crazy and so they had two court appointed psychologists meet with him who said he was cognitively impaired and unfit to stand trial or to plea. So then they just waited for him to get sane which he did and got probation and a fine. There was no consideration by the system that he was crazy when it happened and he might not be guilty. There was no chance for him to say anything, no one really on his side except to get a lenient verdict. That there might be some version other than the policeman's was not considered. I corresponded with the police chief about it and he sent me a list of like 100 public outreach programs they had but nothing to deal with a situation like that. No way to sit down and talk about it, resolve it outside of court. Maybe only in the movies do public defenders have time to find and talk to witnesses, to point out that he wasn't resisting, he didn't understand what was happening. From this and other cases I've been around and heard about, to me the criminal justice system in America is just a big money machine - money for the cops, lawyers, judges, jailers, prison guards, food service people, consultants, and so forth. The lawmakers who are almost all quite well off and obviously have no idea what horrendous amounts even traffic tickets are, just make it more expensive with more laws with longer sentences. Five percent of the world’s population, 25% of the worlds prison and jail population. I'd say that in America you're innocent until proven guilty if you can afford it.

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