Mike Epifani has a compelling piece on antipathy towards prisoners:
Over 6.74 million people are supervised by US adult correctional systems, and tens of millions of people have a criminal record. And to many, their rights don’t matter because “they must have done something wrong.”
Let’s start with the fact that “we spend billions to keep 480,000 people locked in cages without a conviction.” And that abhorrent criminal justice system practice is the tip of the iceberg — this is getting worse, not better. Jeff Sessions just recently reinstated the practice of allowing law enforcement to seize personal property without a conviction or even an indictment.
Did you know that around 95% of convictions are obtained through guilty pleas, and, more specifically, through plea bargaining? That means that only 5% of prisoners receive a fair trial. Most of us have seen it on television: the prosecutor comes in, says that if they really want to take it to trial, they’ll push for the maximum sentencing, but if they plead guilty, they’ll be charged with a lesser crime or receive a shorter sentence. Given the fact that many people who are arrested do not have the resources (time and money) to feel confident in their legal counsel’s chances in front of a jury, they’ll go with the guilty plea just to be on the safer side, guilty or not.
So, if the punishment really fits the crime, what is the justification behind making a deal to release them sooner?
Or does the punishment not fit the crime?
Or are they admitting that, in large part, prisons fail to rehabilitate?
Or is there often not enough evidence to lock up a cash cow (inmate), so intimidation tactics are required?
If you argue that the prosecution wouldn’t even bother proceeding with the process if the evidence wasn’t there to make a conviction…okay…but 95%? Only 5% of people convicted of a crime enact their 6th Amendment right to a trial in front of a jury of their peers? That seems right to you? Well, it’s not right. In fact, prosecutorial strategies when someone decides to take it to trial can be downright abhorrent, including blatantly adding additional charges.
Read more here.