How money buys immunization from prosecution

The influence of money in politics lies largely in the fact that if you are a big donor to politicians, you can get immediate access to them. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. is perhaps the best example of this process in action. It turns out that the Manhattan district attorney’s office is currently considering bringing criminal charges against the Trump organization in the wake of the information released in the recent convictions and plea deals of close associates of Donald Trump.
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Film review: Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2017)

This is a must-see documentary about one overlooked story on the financial crisis of 2008. I did not hear about it until last week when it was discussed on the radio as one of the Academy Awards nominees for best documentary. There have been many good films about that crisis that I have reviewed before, such as Inside Job, Requiem for the American Dream, The Big Short, Margin Call, Capitalism – A Love Story. In each of them, the viewer is left furious at the fact that the top officials at the big banks were not criminally prosecuted and were able to escape scot-free while so many people suffered as a result of their actions.
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Will Weinstein be prosecuted vigorously?

I have written before about how Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. does not prosecute big banks or the moneyed class but goes after those who have little power, such as minorities.

Media mogul Harvey Weinstein can be accurately described as a monster. Reporter Ronan Farrow who broke much of the story that implicated Weinstein in cases of rape and sexual abuse is a little wary as to whether the prosecution will be vigorous because of the fact that the person who is in charge of this case is Vance, the same person who dropped charges on earlier allegations after Weinstein’s lawyers made big contributions to Vance’s election campaigns.
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The problem of mandatory sentencing laws

Here is the part of an 4-1 majority opinion by a New York State appellate court that describes the offense committed in the case that was brought before them.

Defendant, a homeless 53 year-old, entered a pharmacy and attempted to pay for a tube of toothpaste using a counterfeit $20 bill. The bill was rejected by the cashier, and defendant left the store without completing the transaction. Shortly thereafter, defendant was observed by the police, where he was attempting to purchase food with a counterfeit $20 bill. The restaurant cashier refused to accept the bill. Defendant was stopped by the police in front of yet another fast-food restaurant. Five counterfeit $20 bills were recovered from him upon arrest.

So here’s a question. What would have been a reasonable punishment in this case?
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The Jeffrey Epstein case is a perfect example of how plea deals favor the rich

I have written before about how plea bargains are used against poor people to get them, even if innocent of the crime were originally arrested for, to plead guilty to some other charge and accept a lower penalty, even if it includes jail time. Poor people do not have the resources to mount a vigorous defense and do not have access to the top prosecutors who make the decisions about who to prosecute and how vigorously. With rich people, it is the other way around, as I have described before with the way that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. treated leniently the wealthy and influential and well-connected and those who contributed to his campaigns (like Harvey Weinstein and members of the Trump family) but went after the poor and Chinese immigrants.
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Prosecutors need to be held accountable for their abuses

Yesterday, I wrote about the case where the Pulse nightclub shooter’s wife Noor Salman was acquitted of all charges, despite the determined efforts of prosecutors to make life as difficult as possible for her and coerce a confession. Fortunately for her, the jury overcame the ‘scary Muslim terrorist’ fear-mongering and cleared her. But as Shaun King reminds us, many people do not escape the heavy hand of prosecutors seeking conviction at all costs and gives the case of Natalie Pollard, where she took a plea deal just to avoid being badgered by the legal system.
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