“American Justice” should always be scare-quoted. If you didn’t notice, the justice system has been dragooned into being part of a general push for voter suppression and forced labor that is highly racialized. It has also become a means of farming poor people for money – there are ridiculous crimes like “jaywalking”, and speed traps a’plenty to make sure that a steady stream of fines flows into the coffers of the police.
Americans accept this as a matter of course because it’s the reality we’ve known for a long time; it’s the way things are. But it’s bizzare if you start to think about it. Many Americans are passionately concerned about the 2nd Amendment and completely don’t care about the 4th – so they are comfortable with the development of a surveillance state that can retro-scope any activity they may have engaged in, for years. The same gun nuts who freak out if there is a “national registry of firearms” don’t seem to realize that the NSA has all of UPS and FedEx’s shipping records, and everyone’s banking information, and correlating firearms purchases would be a cakewalk for a tool like Palantir. That is literally the sort of thing Palantir is designed to do.
There’s no freak-out about that. And the Americans who don’t freak out are the same ones that have been targeted for farming.
A friend of mine sent me this the other day; they were asking “why am I being charged for Emergency Medical Services when all that happened was a speed trap?” The answer is simple: because they can. There’s a lot of that – that’s what “autocracy” means. It’s what you call a government that does whatever it wants, or whatever it can, and the will of the people is irrelevant. I doubt very very much that the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania voted to have speed traps at all, let alone that there should be random surcharges tacked on to the ticket.
Literally, unexplained surcharges. Look, there’s a line-item on the ticket: “Surcharge: $45.”
Then there’s “costs: $39.50” – costs for what? I don’t know, it’s just what it cost.
For a poor person, a $160 traffic ticket can knock them off the balance between scraping by and falling off the map. I know someone who drove uninsured for years because the insurance is the first thing you stop paying. Naturally, the state is now correlating information between the insurance companies and the Department of Motor Vehicles so they can automatically fine people if they are uninsured and don’t immediately turn in their license plates. With the new automated license plate scanners at every toll-way and on cop cars, they can farm for fines automatically.
That’s just the petty stuff, though. The real scam is that the justice system is utterly corrupted because of collusion between the DAs and the police unions – both to protect bad cops, and to protect bad DAs. [stderr] Then, you have things like the police union paying the legal bills for a cop that shot a squeegee guy. [nyt] The other day I ran across another case where the police union was giving money to a DA’s re-election campaign, coincident with a cop shooting a “suspect” (no doubt for jaywalking without insurance) – it’s a protection racket, pure and simple. I see these things in the news all the time – if you follow Radley Balko, you can, too. Usually they make me so angry I can’t remember them for very long. It’s unbearable to think about.
Appearing to distance itself from the officer charged in the shooting of a squeegee man on Sunday, officials of the city’s police union said yesterday that they were weighing whether to continue paying his legal bills.
The officer, Michael W. Meyer, was provided with a lawyer by the union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, to guide him through his arraignment on Monday on charges of attempted murder in the off-duty shooting of a squeegee man who was trying to clean his windshield.
One of the underpinnings of the justice system is its faith in sworn testimony. In my opinion, that’s something that has to go. For one thing, we’ve been treated to some excellent demonstration, recently, of how sociopaths will lie without any concern for the truth at all. What does “under oath” mean anymore? It never did mean much but finally, a few people are acknowledging that “testilying” is a problem.
Except, it’s also everywhere. [nyt]
A state judge handed a light sentence on Wednesday to a once-decorated detective who had been convicted of perjury, sparing him jail time and accusing prosecutors of hypocrisy in their handling of the case.
The former detective, Kevin Desormeau, 34, was convicted at trial earlier this year of lying under oath in a drug case. Justice Michael Aloise sentenced him in State Supreme Court in Queens to a three-year term of probation and fined him $500, saying he had eroded public faith in the police.
$500? That’s practically a traffic ticket. I hope they charged him for “expenses:” and “surcharge:” and “EMS:” too.