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Rikers Drove My Innocent Patient to Plead Guilty (politico.com)
170 points by de_Selby on Oct 31, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments



How is a plea deal not duress? Imagine if a cop pointed a gun at you and said "I'll shoot you unless you confess". We wouldn't accept that confession but we do accept a prosecutor saying "you'll get the death penalty at trial unless you plead guilty now." Same goes for lesser sentences vs threats of physical violence.


I think the problem isn't just plea deals but the combination of plea deals with holding suspects for way longer than the law allows, and under inhumane circumstances to beat.

If this guy had been let out of jail, still had his job and girlfriend, and didn't have to experience Rikers while he waited for his trial, giving him the option to choose between a certain thing and the somewhat gamble of a trial still could be called cruel, but I think it would be significantly less so. Surely, it would be more likely that a suspect will hear "You can get the death penalty unless you plead guilty now", even if the prosecutor says "you will".


By any reasonable definition of the term it is.

Of course, it's the courts that get to define these things and you can bet that they exempt themselves.


Because they can't directly give the person a death sentence. If you turn down the plea, you go to a regular trial where a jury determines if you're guilty and the judge & jury determine your sentence.


Well, they do, after several years at Rikers ...


Plea bargaining should not exist. It makes a mockery of justice, turns the legal system into a marketplace where you bid for relative degrees of guilt and are rewarded for "copping a plea", and occasionally snares the innocent.

The war on drugs has clogged the system, but also our somewhat lawless and rudderless population since the early 1960s, when a generally orderly society gave way to a general contempt for authority. And the population has grown far faster than the number of courts to accommodate it.

I think the only solution is to legalize drugs and build more courts to address the remaining cases more quickly and efficiently, without throwing due process out the window.

Better education would help, too. And instill moral education in our children in the schools and at home. In the end, a more moral society will bring about a more moral justice system.


> Plea bargaining should not exist. It makes a mockery of justice, turns the legal system into a marketplace where you bid for relative degrees of guilt and are rewarded for "copping a plea", and occasionally snares the innocent.

I confess that I'm somewhat naive regarding the larger context of this. I have dealt with the criminal justice system, and I was very thankful for plea bargaining. I was, without a doubt, very guilty of what I was accused of doing and I knew that the state would have zero issue proving that and convicting me, and my lawyer tended to agree. I did not have the money to post bail (at the time I was very poor, the bail was very reasonable), and my lawyer told me that a jury trial would keep me in jail for far longer than my sentence would be if I pled down. With my plea bargain, I spent 22 days in jail. I likely would have been in jail for at least a month and a half, even if my lawyer pushed as hard as he could for a speedy trial.

With that out of the way, while I understand that the plea bargain process is abused, isn't my case an example of why plea bargaining should exist, at least in a limited context? It saved everyone involved time and money.


Do you think it's fair that you were able to greatly reduce your punishment, not for doing something to mitigate your crime or reduce your chances of reoffending or anything like that, but merely for making things more convenient for the government? And especially, do you think it's fair that you were able to do this while someone in a similar situation who is actually innocent would have to risk substantially greater punishment if they wanted to prove their case?


> Do you think it's fair that you were able to greatly reduce your punishment, not for doing something to mitigate your crime or reduce your chances of reoffending or anything like that, but merely for making things more convenient for the government?

As I mentioned in another comment, I don't believe I got my sentence reduced significantly (if at all) by accepting the plea. My sentence was only 15 days, and my lawyer told me it was unlikely that I'd get more than that in a jury trial. The reduction in time was time saved not being stuck in jail for a trial to run its course.

> And especially, do you think it's fair that you were able to do this while someone in a similar situation who is actually innocent would have to risk substantially greater punishment if they wanted to prove their case?

No, I definitely don't think that. As I mentioned in another comment, I think it would be a really good idea to put a maximum sentence length across the board on all plea agreements, regardless of the severity of the crime. I also think that it should not be permissible to lower the severity of the charges for the purposes of a plea. If a reduction of charges is offered in a plea, it should automatically be applied to a jury trial as well.

Edit: Also worth mentioning, the judge rejected my blind plea (a plea of guilty with no agreement in place with the prosecution) at the first hearing on what I believe was the fourth day of my confinement. He told me he wanted me to be fully informed what my sentence could be before I plead down. I'm not sure why I'm mentioning this, but it seems relevant.


The difference between being held in jail awaiting trial and being held in jail after being sentenced may have legal significance, but I don't think the distinction is very important for this question. The fact remains that an innocent person who chose to fight for his innocence would have been imprisoned longer than you were, and that you were able to greatly reduce the term of your imprisonment, not for doing anything to make up for your crime, but merely for giving the government less hassle.

I don't understand how your proposal for a maximum sentence length would make things any more fair in a case like yours.

The fact is that an innocent person in your position would be faced with a choice: either plead guilty and be falsely convicted of a crime but suffer less, or fight for their innocence and suffer more. Meanwhile you, an actually guilty person, were offered a much easier choice.

I do not see any part of this as an argument for why plea bargaining should exist. It looks to me like a perfect example of why it shouldn't, and also provides a compelling argument for why trials need to happen more quickly in cases where the accused cannot be released on bail.


> The reduction in time was time saved not being stuck in jail for a trial to run its course.

'Excessive bail shall not be required' —Amendment VIII, U.S. Constitution

Given that your crime was such a small matter (judging by the sentence), then bail should have probably been nothing, or a token amount.


It was a relatively token amount, but as I said, I was reallllly poor, and I knew I was going to have to pay a sizeable fine. Because I was out of work, I had to make the choice not to pay that token amount.


Not really.

It's the state's duty to provide justice. That's what we've all kind of decided, and I don't think anyone is suggesting people take justice into their own hands.

If we agree on that, it should be clear there are limits - the "state" isn't some omnipotent, omniscient being. It can't provide absolute justice, if we even knew what that was. There are going to need to be compromises.

Plea bargaining represents a failure on both counts. The state isn't providing justice; it's meting out punishment without determining guilt. And it's similarly a failure that justice is too expensive; too unattainable - "we" made the rules, and apparently, voters via congress have made that process unreasonably expensive. The solution isn't to give just 3% of the people justice it's to be more realistic in our expectations so everyone gets a fair shot at justice. It shouldn't even be an option to deny people their day in court.

I bet that if it were illegal to detain people for more than some limited amount of time before a hearing, and a few nice and gruesome murderers walked voters would get their priorities straight.


> I bet that if it were illegal to detain people for more than some limited amount of time before a hearing, and a few nice and gruesome murderers walked voters would get their priorities straight.

They would, but it would be less of a "we need to get these murderers to trial faster" and more of a "we need to relax the rules requiring a speedy trial but only for murderers."


Except the whole point is that you don't know they're murders until the conclusion of the trial. Your phrasing shows the bias that's problematic.


>"isn't my case an example of why plea bargaining should exist, at least in a limited context? It saved everyone involved time and money."

Other than saving money/time for some people, how was it a net benefit to the victims (if any), or society in general? Care to elaborate as I'm not quite understanding what you're saying?

I don't think I've ever encountered the notion (other than in Law&Order) that the prosecutor is the one that gets to decide leniency in terms of punishment. This is traditionally a power held only by judges come sentencing time[1]. Personally, it's akin to the prosecutors acting as judge and jury. You were not judged by your peers, even though you knew you were guilty (and probably everyone around you). But the prosecutor took the role of jury to essentially "blackmail"[1] you using the power of leniency that a judge would have.

The system is broken, and we shouldn't have to come to a point where we make such comments or interpretations. The expectation is that laws should be obeyed, and punishment of them is applied equally to all. But what we have here boils down to "equally for all", except "more leniently" for those that don't waste money and time of those involved.

[1]. Correct me if I'm wrong historically. [2]. One broad definition of the term blackmail is: "the use of threats or the manipulation of someone's feelings to force them to do something."


> Other than saving money/time for some people, how was it a net benefit to the victims (if any), or society in general?

The victim received compensation for their injury more quickly than they would have otherwise. Society at large probably did not benefit in any way. It saved me money as the punitive damages were reduced, though I think that part was probably a failing of the system.

> This is traditionally a power held only by judges come sentencing time[1].

I believe that's still the case. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but the plea agreement is an offer to the judge re: sentencing, and they are free to reject it if they don't believe the punishment fits the crime.

Regarding the rest of your comment, I can respect that opinion. I agree that justice is best served by jury trials, and the coercion in some cases I've read about borders on the sickening. That being said, I think everything, including justice, is a compromise, and I believe that plea bargains serve a valuable (though heavily abused) purpose.


> Other than saving money/time for some people

Time and money are both limited resources, especially in the case of the Criminal Just system. That alone is an argument for its existence.

> the prosecutor is the one that gets to decide leniency in terms of punishment.

IANAL, but believe the judge is the one who decides (e.g. you could potentially plea out and not get the deal offered by the prosecutor). Moreover, if you don't like the bargain you can always roll the dice in the courtroom where you'll face the established punishment for your crime (rather than the reduced one being offered).

To be clear, I dont like the system as is either. But I think a speedy trial would probably be impossible without bargaining. Thus I think the only route to a solution (i.e. the one we should perhaps focus on) is: 1. Reduced penalties for various crimes 2. Drug legalization


The limited nature of time and money for the criminal justice system is artificial scarcity. We choose not to fund them adequately, and make up for this by making unfair and unjust arrangements with the accused.

The portion of government spending that goes toward courts is not terribly high. If we wanted to and needed to, we could increase it by a huge amount without greatly increasing tax burdens.

There is no practical reason we can't give every single accused person a speedy trial. We just don't feel like putting in the effort.


IANAL but I believe the state's prosecutors decide what to charge you with, and the difference between e.g. Murder and Manslaughter or different degrees of a given crime carry hugely different sentences.


The big issue with plea bargains is that the deals are worked out behind closed doors, and then just "sold" to the judge, who often have no incentive to question whether they serve justice.

You can get the effect you had with less problems if the judge has some discretion to sentence you to a lesser sentence for certain forms of good behaviour such as a guilty please, but without the ability to negotiate such a deal outside of the court room.

1.5 month to 22 days sounds reasonable. What doesn't sound reasonable to me is when people get offered to plead to something getting them 2-3 years when the alternative is 10+. In that case, either the plea deal is too lenient or the punishment they risk in a trial is far too severe, and the gap is so huge that it gives people a strong incentive to plead guilty when they are not - especially when coupled with a system where people who have not been tried are treated in ways that would be illegal many places if applied to animals, over periods of years.


I think I can agree with that. Perhaps the solution would be imposing a maximum sentence length on plea bargains. Make it so you can't have a sentence exceeding a year in a plea agreement. That would have a two-pronged effect. First, it would make prosecutors far less likely to pursue a plea for serious crimes. Second, it would prevent people from going to prison, as any sentence under a year and a day leads to jail instead of prison.


If the sentence is in part punishment then why should you have a shorter sentence because you confess? Yes we're also looking for people to reform, but to me that says you get the same sentence and a payroll board then assesses you to determine if there is any reform/remorse or indication of intent to alter behaviour and those who do not display changed behaviour get a longer stretch. It's practically perhaps not much different.

This seems like it would change the focus from getting a good lawyer to plea bargain towards being able to better argue that you've reformed; easiest way to do that seems to be actively work on reforming yourself whilst inside?


> If the sentence is in part punishment then why should you have a shorter sentence because you confess? Yes we're also looking for people to reform, but to me that says you get the same sentence and a payroll board then assesses you to determine if there is any reform/remorse or indication of intent to alter behaviour and those who do not display changed behaviour get a longer stretch. It's practically perhaps not much different.

I wasn't saying sentences should be shorter - I agree that ideally you would get the same sentence if found guilty by a trial. My argument was more specifically about my situation, where I was in jail longer than my sentence ended up being, and a jury trial would have easily doubled that length of time.


There's also the personal ambition of many prosecutors. See Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie for example, and countless other US Attorneys and District Attorneys and state Attorneys General. One of the ways to enhance your reputation as a prosecutor is to have a stellar (i.e. very high) conviction rate. Plea bargains count as convictions.


Interesting that you should single out two Republicans, both known for being reformers rather than abusers of the system.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Christie:

Besides doubling the size of the anticorruption unit for New Jersey,[61] Christie also prosecuted other federal crimes. For example, he obtained convictions of brothel owners who kept Mexican teenagers in slavery as prostitutes, convicted 42 gang members of the Double II Set of various crimes including more than 25 murders, and convicted British trader Hemant Lakhani of trying to sell missiles.[62] Despite claims of entrapment,[63] Lakhani was convicted by jury in April 2005 of attempting to provide material support to terrorists, unlawful brokering of foreign defense articles, and attempting to import merchandise into the U.S. by means of false statements, plus two counts of money laundering. He was sentenced to 47 years in prison.[64]

Giuliani made his name prosecuting the "Five Families" back in the 1980s, the Mafia Commission Trial which helped put away the leaders of the most notorious Mafia families and some of their associates. Giuliani also prosecuted Boesky and Milken, the infamous Wall Street financiers.

There are indeed quite a few very bad players, like U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz, whose notoriously overly zealous attack on the MIT Library hacker Aaron Swartz drove him to commit suicide.

[EDITED for typos, formatting]


Unfortunately, the current criminal system requires plea bargaining to exist, because, if it didn't happen, you wouldn't have enough judges, juries, or courtrooms to handle the mess.

A few years ago in California, a District Attorney who was running for re-election made the edict during campaign time declared that there was to be no more plea bargaining. Unfortunately, what happened was that prosecutors could not handle the trials, and had to release a fair amount of inmates for speedy trial violations, had to move cases to other counties who had the availability of courtrooms, and cases that should have been resolved in six months were taking upwards of a year to go through the motions of a trial.

Suffice to say, plea motions are the grease that keep the 'speedy trial' machine running in the United States.


A contempt for authority results in a healthy, vibrant society.

You may recall what happened in the 30s in Germany when it was present to an insufficient degree, or in the US in Vietnam. There's a reason the 60s saw a backlash, and it wasn't disproportionate.


30s Germany was a completely different situation; it was the Great Depression, combined with the humiliation of total defeat in WWI and onerous terms of surrender. Germans rallied behind a strong leader and were willing to forego liberty for the sake of national pride.

The 60s backlash against Vietnam was largely because they began drafting college students. It was an outlet for restless, idle youth who were the most pampered, spoiled generation in history. And it did nothing to shorten the war; in fact it gave moral support to the Communists at a time when they were very frustrated, e.g. the Tet Offensive which was a military failure for the North.


Maybe if that contempt for authority had been more present when the US was first getting involved in Vietnam, that whole mess wouldn't have gotten as far as it did in the first place.


I rather think if people had exercised the power of the vote and not allowed these morons into power who perpetrated that monstrous war in the first place.

Look -- Goldwater was against the war. Actually he said, either get in and finish it quickly, or don't go in at all. But he lost, badly, to the Johnson machine that portrayed him as an extreme conservative nutcase. Think how different history might have been had he, or someone like him, been in power during that turbulent era, plus of course more intelligent Congresscritters.


No - college students got deferments: my older brother managed to avoid the draft by remaining in grad school till he was over 26. I had a deferment until I tore my draft card up and mailed it back to the draft board. The '60s backlash against Vietnam had many causes: left-wing agitators, a really stupid war supporting corrupt regimes, lots of college students who were a little too late for the civil rights movement.


Very wrong. We in the U.S. remember the 50's and 60's as the heyday of the country. Not confidentially, that's when public faith in U.S. institutions was at the highest.



How very not Black of you.


Nope. Leaded gas caused increase in crime http://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2013/01/03/how-lead-ca...


But did you read the article. So let's say plea bargain doesn't exist, then you spend years in jails waiting for a trial as opposed to copping a plea and maybe get timed served.


Speedy trials are a constitutional right enshrined in the 6th Amendment; the only reason a person would spend years in jail waiting for trial is if they have explicitly waived their right to a speedy trial, which is either their fault or the fault of their incompetent legal counsel.

Edit: In California, this is 60 days after arraignment for a felony. In the 5th Circuit (i.e,. the South) this can be up to 2 years. Most jurisdictions are between these two.


Or an utterly broken legal system that disproportionally victimises people too poor to hire legal counsel that actually have the resources to present an effective attack on these abuses.

This has been a massive ongoing problem in New York. The state gets away with regularly saying they're ready to proceed, get a court date well into the future, and then ask for more time again when the court date gets closer, and effectively gets most of the time "not counted" for the purpose of the court considering any claims about the lack of a speedy trial.

They grind down defendants without sufficient resources to get anywhere before said defendants find it too gruelling and plead guilty. It's a system so broken that we even get cases like this[1] where someone who "beat it" ended up committing suicide afterwards.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/09/nyregion/kalief-browder-he...


If plea bargain doesn't exist, then everyone gets the same sentence for the same crime, and this sentence needs to be the average between plea- and guilty (otherwise new prisons will be required).


Yes, I read the article. Didn't you read my comment? I'm saying we need to reform the entire system, not just ban plea deals.


According to the numbers in the article, if everyone had a go in court, the waiting list would only grow and people would be spending their whole lives waiting. Since that's surely more unacceptable than what we have, it presumably wouldn't be tolerated and something else would be done to make it work. Like more courts or quicker/cheaper process.


I'm sorry to be so tactless with this, but the notion that the country was "generally orderly" until a "general contempt for authority" appeared in the 60s is ignorant and bordering on offensive. I would hardly call a national policy of racial segregation "ordered" except in the most pointlessly literal sense, and certainly not a desirable world to live in. Likewise, to characterize the rise of such ideas as feminism and pacifism as mere base anti-authoritarian chaos is to whitewash history and ignore the real injustices these movements have made progress in alleviating.


Well... there's that...

but there's also the fact that society was just plain disorderly prior to 1960. Not only were there outlaw villains like the James gang, there were also outlaw CITIES and settlements. The O.K. Corral was not the ONLY location of brazen shootouts. Shootouts happened regularly throughout the US. Then the century turned... and even more dangerous weapons got into the hands of what proved to be a demonstratively immoral citizenry. Criminally inclined immigrants began arriving from Europe. Prostitution was commonplace. Husbands locked their wives away in asylums because it was cheaper than divorce. Don't even get me started on the level of graft in government at every level at that time. The "moral" era he's talking about is the same one that saw vets beaten to death on the National Mall. And Union organizers slaughtered.

Naturally, all of that developed and culminated in respectably named organizations of thugs like "The Commission", or "La Cosa Nostra". Back then, the per capita crime rates of Chicago and New York make today's crime rates look tame. (Heck... the crime rates from 20 years ago make today's crime rates look tame!)

In short... the "good old days"... were not always good... and tomorrow is never as bad as it seems.


Sorry to disagree, but despite your assertions and insults, society was absolutely more orderly. Don't conflate "orderly" with "fair"; they don't go together necessarily. In fact often it's the opposite. South Africa for example during the apartheid era was a relatively orderly place for both blacks and whites, and since the end of apartheid it's become the world center for murder and other violent crime.

I've had countless conversations with people who witnessed the 30s, 40s, 50s and even earlier. My grandfather for example was born in 1900, passed away in '91, and I was able to learn what it was like growing up on the mean streets of Brooklyn in the early 1900s. For one thing, boys certainly had gangs, and there certainly was crime. Fights were not uncommon, and he had to fight plenty since he was on the short side. But if 2-3 boys were beating on one, others would intervene to break it up; that was considered unfair. Few carried knives, and no one carried guns. Women were not afraid to go for a walk. I know a 20-year-old musician who got beaten up walking home from a rehearsal. A skinny little girl with a violin, and she got her jaw broken by some piece-of-shit mugger. That would have been almost unheard of in an earlier era. It truly was a different world.

The New York subways were safe at 2 in the morning. There was little or no road rage. People were safe in their homes in most places. Sure, there were spectacular crimes and notorious criminals, but they were notable more for their exceptionalism than anything else. The average citizen's life was rather boring, actually, which is why these edge cases got sensationalized.

My mother told me of a news report on the front page of the local paper, that some college students had caroused and caused a disruption on the train the previous night. This was considered front page news in the old days!

In the U.S., prior to desegregation, black families despite the injustice of racism were far more functional than today; in the 1920s, 80% of black families had a mother and father, and the father was generally employed. Today that ratio is reversed and only 20% are 2-parent homes; furthermore the father is often destitute, drug/alcohol addicted, or in prison. No, I'm not advocating a return to segregation. I'm just pointing out that we have a vastly more disorderly and dysfunctional society today in many ways.


> Sure, there were spectacular crimes and notorious criminals, but they were notable more for their exceptionalism than anything else. The average citizen's life was rather boring, actually, which is why these edge cases got sensationalized.

I think for the most part your post is correct about the mindset of society, but my understanding is that exceptional crimes have actually decreased since those days; the difference being that the media in those days wanted to portray society as fairly well-ordered, while it now wishes to portray society as broken and fractured. Thus outlandish crimes were under-reported then and over-reported now.

There are also things like technological advances in communication and travel to account for. My great-parents probably didn't care much about a crime in New York or California, but I have friends and family throughout the country, and bad news anywhere may be of note to me.


It has been known for millennia that confessions obtained under torture are very effective at reducing the workload of the courts. So much so, that a billion-dollar industry can grow its own market at will with a minimum increase in judicial expenses.

What's the next "disruption" in the industry? Automated guilt-finding? Mass surveillance, check. Self-running prisons? Automated jail management, check. Automated lawyers? Watson, check.

The system is turning into a predator that seeks out the slow and weak as prey; unfortunately, unlike a predator in nature, it decreases the health of the entire herd.

To naively take the predator analogy to the extreme, it would be more beneficial for a nation to randomly select poor people and summarily execute them than maintain a justice system that deals almost exclusively in injustice.


I guess the suspects should not go to the same place as the convicts. So prisons only for convicts and "safekeeping places" (which are not allowed to be near a prison) for the suspects.

To treat suspects like criminals is not right. You and me could end up being a suspect without the slightest guilt in the matter.


> I guess the suspects should not go to the same place as the convicts.

By and large, they don't. Suspects go to county or city jail, not prison, to wait for bail or their court date. Convicted persons go to prison.

The issue is that a large, and growing, percentage of the pre-trial jail population is repeat offenders, people who have been to prison and therefore the jail environment begins to resemble the prison environment. In the county where I work, with a total population of nearly 1 million people, the jail houses about 2300 inmates on a regular basis. Those inmates are classified and housed based on a number of factors, including the type and severity of their current charges, their criminal history, direct observation by medical and psychological staff, age and infirmity, and so on.

Still, even with this sensible approach to keeping the "hardcore" inmates away from those accused of minor crimes, occasionally someone who has never seen the inside of a jail before ends up in a cell or dorm with career criminals. There's no easy solution, but proper classification and staff education go a long way towards keeping pre-trial jails safer for the accused.

As for the subject of this article, I can't help but wonder how high his bond was set for that particular charge, given that most bonding companies typically charge no more than 15% of the total bond amount. Even if his bond was $10,000 (which would be consistent with the charge here in Georgia, but of course NYC may be drastically different), the fee to a professional bondsman would be $1500, something his family and friends could scrape together. Even if his bond was set higher than that, he could have petitioned the judge for a reduced bond or even a ROR (released on his own recognizance) bond, given the non-violent nature of the offense and the fact he's never had a felony conviction.

No, it sounds like a big part of the problem is apathy on the part of the public defender's office in NYC, coupled with district attorneys who care more about conviction rates than actual justice and judges who are nothing more than rubber stamp machines.


Like apparently happens for many cases, there's probably a whole list of better options potentially available to people in the article's subject's position... as long as you have access to money. You could pay a bond and get out while awaiting trial, if you have money. You could petition the judge for a reduced bond or something, if you have the money to pay a lawyer to really care about your case and spend time on it. You could be confident of winning at trial when you're actually innocent, if you have the money to pay a lawyer to really research the case and all of the details and explain why you are not guilty.

No money, and apparently you are stuck in jail, with your only representation being a public defender who is at best drastically overworked and has very little time to spend on your case.


It's not apathy for public defender's office, it's that each one generally has dozens of cases to try to work on. Governments hate to spend money on public defense and prosecutors are happy to make their lives miserable. I find it amazing that anyone actually wants that job.


I was a public defender for a year. When I was interviewed, I was told that I'd normally do about 80-100 cases a year. During that year, I experienced true burnout around my 250th case. I took an unpaid Leave of Absence and ultimately left law because of this.


Jails are for short-term stays, i.e., defendants at any pre-trial stage (including pre-arraignment), and misdemeanor defendants that are serving sentences of 1 year or less.

Prisons are for felony defendants that are serving sentences of more than 1 year, though in many cases prisoners that are sentenced to less than 2 years end up serving their time in jail due to overcrowding in the prisons.


>I guess the suspects should not go to the same place as the convicts.

I'd take it a notch up. Convicts shouldn't be taken to horrible places, with cruel punishments like lengthy isolation, gangs, crappy conditions, etc either.

It should be about rehabilitation, not revenge and sadism.


If innocent until proven guilty, why treat them as guilty until their hearing.

Clearly they are treating them as such, so where is my error?


Because we're supposed to have speedy trials. The state should have the right to hold suspects until trial, because otherwise you'd be letting potential criminals run free (and run away).


> because otherwise you'd be letting potential criminals run free

Well, if we want to keep the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" then potential criminals should be allowed to run free.


Everyone is a potential criminal.


New York has a legal and constitutional obligation to hire enough judges, public defenders and court staff to provide speedy trials for all of the accused. "Speedy" is legally defined to mean six months. For some reason, they haven't done it, resulting in the crime against humanity that is Rikers Island. This is odd, because I can't imagine they even save money this way; imprisoning people is expensive.


New York defines this differently. From an article about Kalief Browder[1] who spent 3 years at Rikers before charges were just dropped (he subsequently committed suicide):

> Many states have so-called speedy-trial laws, which require trials to start within a certain time frame. New York State’s version is slightly different, and is known as the “ready rule.” This rule stipulates that all felony cases (except homicides) must be ready for trial within six months of arraignment, or else the charges can be dismissed. In practice, however, this time limit is subject to technicalities. The clock stops for many reasons—for example, when defense attorneys submit motions before trial—so that the amount of time that is officially held to have elapsed can be wildly different from the amount of time that really has. In 2011, seventy-four per cent of felony cases in the Bronx were older than six months.

> In order for a trial to start, both the defense attorney and the prosecutor have to declare that they are ready; the court clerk then searches for a trial judge who is free and transfers the case, and jury selection can begin. Not long after Browder was indicted, an assistant district attorney sent the court a “Notice of Readiness,” stating that “the People are ready for trial.” The case was put on the calendar for possible trial on December 10th, but it did not start that day. On January 28, 2011, Browder’s two-hundred-and-fifty-eighth day in jail, he was brought back to the courthouse once again. This time, the prosecutor said, “The People are not ready. We are requesting one week.” The next court date set by the judge—March 9th—was not one week away but six.

... and so it continued. He went to court 31 times. None of those times for the actual trial. Yet most of the 3 years he spent at Rikers, the "clock was stopped" and so it was not counted by the court as more than 6 months.

[1] http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/kalief-browder-1993-...


This is both enlightening and depressing.

We need to redefine "speedy trial" with a more common-sense definition. Six months, even without the technicalities of clock-stoppages, is in no way, shape or form a "speedy" trial.

I'd argue something like 30 days is the upper limit of "speedy". If our courts are too backed up to support this, then we ought to readjust our spending to prioritize "justice for all".

New York State's courts have a budget of about $2 Billion/year[1]. In comparison, the state's annual budget is almost $153 Billion/year[2]

[1]: https://www.nycourts.gov/admin/financialops/BGT15-16/2015-16... [2]: http://openbudget.ny.gov/spendingForm.html


Many stories like this around and I still do not understand it; how does it happen in a western country (not to mention the richest country)? A judge would have to glance over the evidence for 5 seconds and another jail spot would be free. Sure the conditions in those jails are really insane for a western country, however for hardcore convicted criminals I guess there are some (...) people who think that's ok, but what's up with the having people wait for trials in trivial cases?


Unfortunately, your logic is based on a faulty premise. It's not the goal of the american justice system to fairly enforce the law and to rehabilitate criminals so they can reenter society.

The evidence that the current "tough on crime" approach doesn't work is utterly overwhelming, but that doesn't matter in the least if building a more just society isn't the goal in the first place.

The reality is that the justice system is two-tiered. As long as powerful people don't get crushed by the system there's no real incentive for them to enact change. The American public is convinced only real criminals get treated inhumanely; it can't possibly happen to them. So they don't demand change from their politicians.

And so the cycle of police abuse, minimum sentencing laws, plea bargains and other brutality continues. The victims of the system are utterly expendable economically, and the public doesn't care or even notice what's going on.

See for instance "With Liberty and Justice for Some", by Greenwald (the guy who published the Snowden leaks)


Its not just lack of motivation for justice. Theres a positive motivation from the burgeoning prison-industrial-complex to keep as many people in prison for as long as possible.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison%E2%80%93industrial_comp...

Its big business, and its lobbying power and political clout continues to grow exponentially (if they get harsher laws and penalties enacted then they get more inmates and their business grows, allowing them greater lobbying power, and so on)

Its one of those seemingly insane systems that can develop over time but is very hard to stop as it has so much momentum and involved parties. Theres plenty of other examples in the US like food production and energy etc.


It's still the indifference of society at large that allows the prison complex to go wild. In all areas of society there are incentives that are completely at odds with the common good, but there's a huge difference between countries to what organizations are allowed to do for personal gain.

I agree that once you get to the point where politicians are bought and paid for, as well as the media and all educational institutions it's very hard to stop. Democracy has been hollowed out. Don't vote Kang. Vote Kodos!


I think the US is really feeling the effects of having its anti-trust laws gutted a few decades ago. I wouldnt despair though, in the late 19th century you had a similar situation with so called robber-barons and through consistent grassroots action anti-trust laws and other socal reforms were enacted.

Making a fairer society takes a lot of hard work over a long time (and constant vigilance) but its been shown to be possible many times even against seemingly insurmountable odds.

ps. I'd recommend that documentary film 'the corporation' from 2003.


I'm not so sure I share your optimism. Just because we dodged the last two bullets doesn't mean we'll dodge the next one. Countries can (and do) slide into totalitarianism and today's technology can be used to create a dystopia bleaker than anything the world has ever seen.

It's tempting to look at history as some sort of heroic epic. Times are bleak, people struggle, but ultimately human ingenuity and sacrifice wins the day. Real life isn't like that. If we mess up badly enough it's just game over. There is no Game Master that will put humanity back on track to ensure a positive outcome. Complete failure is always an option, and if we take for granted that all problems are fixable then sooner or later we'll run into a problem that isn't.


All true. But one must try! By saying dont despair that is all I really meant, do not despair.

The people who suceeded in the past certainly tried.

Even just setting a good personal example is a step, if everyone did that the problem would be fixed, and you may inspire those around you in subtle ways.

Globally humans are facing some of the biggest threats in history, looming food and water shortages and the resultant wars (possibly nuclear)

Jared Diamond in his fantastic book 'Collapse' describes well documented examples of societies that completely collapsed in the past, and we are now globally facing many of the same set of factors that felled them. However he also presents positive examples of societies predicting serious problems and systematically taking steps to prevent them, for example the problems of deforestation in Germany and Japan were arrested and they established sustainable forestry.


The attitude of American public about criminals is also not great. For example, it is appalling how common male prison rape jokes are in the US (in movies, in everyday conversations etc) - how can one joke about it, I don't understand. These jokes aren't as common in other western countries. Most people don't seem to have any compassion for criminals at all, regardless of the circumstances in which those crimes were committed. Add to this no one would hire an ex con - even a non violent one.

It is not just the powerful people, everyone's attitude needs to change towards this problem. The US has more than a fifth of world's prison population. It is a serious problem, something needs to change.


The story avoids mentioning the ethnicity of the accused in this case, but the US system's brutality cannot be disentangled from its racism.

I'd be very surprised if this kind of treatment was given to the average white guy who hits someone with a car. But a nonwhite guy on a motorbike? Much more plausible.


>I'd be very surprised if this kind of treatment //

That's just blunt discrimination unless it's based on data/stats you trust.

Basically what you appear to be using the "I'd be surprised" phrase to avoid really saying is that 'white people are racists and so the system, which they control, must be tailored to let them off more cheaply'; that's fine with strong trustworthy data IMO, without you're just being racist.


Racial disparity in the system is like global warming: there's lots of evidence which you have to work hard not to see.

You could start with, eg http://ir.lawnet.fordham.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=349... and its references and footnotes. Footnote 4 contains the surprising sentence:

"Very few whites were charged with crimes in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. I was a public defender for twelve years and carried a full caseload for six years. I represented only two white defendants during those years. The exper- iences of my colleagues were very similar"


It a sensitive area and there are many compounding causes that can give similar effects - different races could have different rates of criminal activity for example - so you need good data that goes beyond anecdotes and can look widely across the system. Indeed I'd go so far as to say you probably need to assess the system in question against other systems - perhaps places where biases of different kinds are expected a priori.

Presumably public defender are in court pretty much every day? So even assuming a caseload of one a day for 300 days of those 12 years we have a ratio of 1:1800 of "whites" to others. Is this really anything like how it is? Wikipedia figures (link below) suggest about 6-7 times the incarceration rate per head of population for "adult black non-Hispanic males" and ~3 times the level of "whites" for Hispanic males.

Interestingly the example case in footnote 4 is a report of a Vietnamese male being killed and the killer being aided by the prosecution in preparing a case for self-defence. Despite this being referenced as a case of racism - which I can't determine the truth of but seems quite possible - Wikipedia tells me that "Asians" have the lowest incarceration rate of all (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incarceration_in_the_United_St...) which following through with the logic of "non-whites are biased against, this can be seen by proportionally less whites being convicted" means that Asians are getting the most bias in their favour of all. But of course there are other explanations, like Asians committing less crimes, or Asians being less often caught committing crimes.

You appear to have looked at this in depth, I have not, do you know of comparative studies: It strikes me that in a situation where a "black" police officer arrests someone, they have a black public defending attorney, or a black judge then if there is racism based on the controlling forces being light-skinned ("white") that those cases would have a significant difference in profile of arrest, prosecution and incarceration respectively. This must be pretty easy to demonstrate with the available statistics - I think that would convince me () that there wasn't a misinterpretation of results; that for example it wasn't primarily the influence of poverty.

What I found quite interesting in your citation was it seemed not to be concerned at all - eg when looking at traffic stops - with whether those arrested had committed a crime or not, similarly when looking at drug use and dealing.

- I don't understand racism at all which makes it difficult to imagine that it's possible to be having the massive effects claimed.


He seemed to be from "white trash" origins from the description. Which for the system is as good as black or mexican.


I agree with the second part completely, but the story did mention the ethnicity of the accused.


Well, to nitpick slightly, the case here was a potential homicide, so it didn't really count as trivial. It should be an open and shut case though.

As I read the article I found myself getting angrier and angrier at how it was playing out & how powerless I or anyone else was to do anything about it. Of course I was aware of the concept of plea bargaining, but I had no idea such an overwhelming majority of cases are settled that way.

Like you suggest, there should probably be some court where clear cut cases like this are heard so they are dealt with quickly and efficiently. I'm not from the US so I'm but sure if such a concept already exists and it's just the magnitude of the potential crime here that's the obstacle?


But can you imagine what would happen if we allowed poor people to get out of it so easily? Everybody has a run-in with the law at some point and it serves to enforce social order. The rich pay a law tax and the poor are prevented from moving to a higher class. I mean, can you imagine how horrifying it would be to have all those poor people mingling in with us of noble birth? Awful, just awful. The system is a bit inefficient, I'll grant you that. Maybe when you turn 18 you pay half a million or get an automatic felony. You would have broken the law anyway...

p.s. </sarcasm>


>and another jail spot would be free

D.A's are making their name for political reasons by number of convictions. And judges can even be making money off of them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kids_for_cash_scandal


The United States is a capitalist country. If you don't have capital, you're screwed.


1. It seems he really did kill someone with his bike. But it's not clear to me why this would be considered a homicide? Is this standard practice in USA?

2. For some reason, it seems common practice in USA to assume that if someone decided not to go to trial, that this means they admitted their guilt. This seems .... bizarre somehow. Perhaps 'pleading guilty' should be changed semantically to 'chose not to go to trial'?

3. It seems odd that if you are convicted of a felony that this means that you'll basically be unable to get a job for the rest of your life. How is this going to help rehabilitate people? Might as well just execute them. At least its quick. (At least, it is quick in China, which is where I live).


1. Someone died. Most DAs (district attorneys) sees this as a reason to charge people. They will charge even if it is not the case so that the shirt-storm that might come from the media does not fall into his hands - it is like district attorneys think: "It will not decide, let the jury decide and I have my hands clean: If the person was found guilty, it was the jury who did it. If not found guilty, it was also the jury - so do not blame me for the situation"

2. You really need to watch a documentary called "The Plea" (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plea/) to get an insight on how FUCKED UP the "justice" in the USA is.

3. The media and politicians have much to blame here. If you are ever convicted of a crime (even like in the case of a plea bargain) you life is likely over because no one wants to take a chance by hiring a "convict" - Business do not want to take this kind of risk.


Huh? No, the majority of people who kill others using a vehicle of sorts are not ever charged (certainly not in NY), not even given as much as a ticket. If you remain at the scene and are not drunk, you can drive tomorrow.

(This applies even if your license is suspended or you were otherwise reckless.)

Now, the mistake you can not make is to choose the wrong mode of transport in your killing. Apparently this kid used a motorcycle. Any other transport but the good ol' car is an out group; you drastically increase your chances of being charged by using it.

(Not that I want to take the stance of this article that this is all "an accident"; too many reckless crashes are written off as "accidents". If you take a high-powered machine into the public, you should accept criminal responsibility regardless of your fault in a matter simply because of the excess risk you have brought into the equation.)


1. You're offered the option to plead at the beginning of your trial. You plead guilty or not guilty, with some variations therein. If you plead guilty, you're literally saying you did the crime. The judge may or may not accept your plea and then you are either sentenced, a sentencing hearing is scheduled or a trial is scheduled. 2. If someone decides not to go to trial and the judge accepts that decision, they are literally saying they did the crime. 3. It's not so cut and dry as that. Some jobs you can't get, some jobs you can. There are surely some people who went to jail that are not the type to land jobs easily which biases the system also. As an american not having ever been to jail, I can think of 10 places in my local town I could go try and get a job at and would have a chance even with a criminal record. 4. I would rather rot in jail for 30 years and then be executed than to plead guilty to a crime I did not commit. F the system!


The broadest definition of homicide is to cause a death.

So the thing that would be considered in a case like this is whether he was properly operating the motorcycle. If not, it is in most US jurisdictions some sort of homicide.

As far as not going to trial and admitting guilt, the mechanism to avoid the trial pretty much requires admitting guilt. It wouldn't be a change in semantics, it would be adding a whole new system of punishment to the criminal justice system, where there is punishment without a finding or admission of guilt. The prosecutor probably has a choice of offering a deal for a "no contest" plea, but they aren't doing that.


It's not "twisted" justice system.

It's totalitarian.

Using scare tactics like this is brainwashing the person in question to be in state in saying, feeling, showing something he wouldn't in the lack of these circumstances in a democratic country.


Many people seem to think that human rights abuses is something that only happens in dictatorships, and not democracies. I wonder, though, if you compare say the US with China, is China any worse? Or the US compared to the old monarchies in Europe, on a per capita basis?


China certainly imprisons a much smaller proportion of its population, so that's a good question.

"Worse" probably depends on who you ask. China is decidedly un-free for everyone in that everyone knows that certain things puts you at risk, and so e.g. in terms of free speech China is clearly worse.

But if you're sufficiently poor in the US, your odds of spending a substantial proportion of your life in prison is vastly higher than in China, and I frankly don't know if your chance of getting a reasonably fair trial in the US in that situation is all that much better than China.

Personally, if I in some parallel universe found myself on a US jury (which I won't - I'n not US), I would vote to acquit in all but the most atrocious cases, as I would not in good conscience find it moral to contribute to subjecting anyone to the US prison system. But as we see in the article, in most cases, it's not up to a jury.


Since clearly Rikers has over 400 violations of the 6th Amendment (since by no sane person's definition can over two years in jail be considered speedy), how about releasing these people on their own recognizance until trial?


[flagged]


>An person is dead because of this man's inability to control a lethal force. There may be nuances to the case, but he isn't innocent, even by his own account of the facts. (...) I'm relieved this guy is off the road for a couple of years.

Are you kidding me? "Chris sustained a broken hip, broken collarbone and internal injuries, but the teenager was dead. Chris denied he’d been drinking, and a Breathalyzer confirmed it. He also said he hadn’t been speeding, which was borne out by eyewitnesses as well as a police test on the tire marks."

How would you like such a jail experience, even without the horrors, for a mere accident? Especially one when some idiot jumped at you.

You speak more "as a cyclist who has to constantly contend with aggressive motorists" than someone clearheaded who evaluated the case.

And you know cyclists can do stupid things too like cut people off, turn unexpectedly etc, and cause accidents. In fact there are tons of "aggressive cyclists" who think traffic laws don't apply to them because they don't drive a car -- and kids who just want a thrill.


Well, regardless of guilt, there is the matter of responsibility. It's absurd to suggest he deserves jail time, but there is an argument to be made that there should be some consequences (e.g. loss of driver's license). It's your responsibility not to put people in danger, even through no fault of your own. If you can't react in time to a reasonable foreseeable event (somebody being careless in traffic such as that kid walking out from behind the bus), then you're taking a risk by going that fast. The speed limit is a limit, not a minimum, nor a right.

There's no way to avoid all risk, and there's no way to precisely define when someone is taking "too much" risk. But consequences similarly don't need to be an all or nothing afair. Jail is too much - but community service may not be (say, with traffic victims?). Or a fine. Or a temporary suspension of the drivers license.

Let those best placed to prevent tragedies like this bear at least some of the consequences, even if it isn't always fair. But even if you agree with that sentiment, it's hard to imagine that years of jail time a felony conviction are proportionate to the responsibility this guy carries.


> Well, regardless of guilt, there is the matter of responsibility.

You're not making any sense. How exactly would you have responsibility when you don't have guilt? A suicidal individual jumps in front of the train. Was it the train driver's responsibility to drive with 5Km/h so he could brake in time?


To be at least somewhat comparable let's assume it's not a suicide, but an accident, as with the motor cycle driver. These actually happen - people get killed at train crossings pretty regularly in some places.

It matters to what degree you're capable of preventing the accident. The whole point of my post was to emphasize that there are shades of gray, and that it's a mistake to harshly condemn those just over some artificial line while letting those nearly as responsible get off without any consequences.

Of course, as shades of gray go, it sounds like this one is about as guilt-free as one can get: there was almost nothing the driver could have done to prevent the accident; no amount of thinking ahead could have let him slow down enough because trains (unlike motorcycles) take forever to slow down. And you didn't specify the details, those matter - people walking out from behind a stopped bus is unfortunately rather common and predictable. But there are others that do bear some responsibility, for example those building level crossings that lack barriers.

Also note that the aim is explicitly not to be fair, it's to set incentives straight. If you're in a situation that forces you to pay for risks you yourself can't avoid, you're going to get annoyed, and try to fix that situation. For example, by getting barriers at train crossings installed, or by pushing for the city to design safer bus stops, or by discouraging mixing motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

If you just shrug your shoulders say "c'est la vie", improvement isn't likely. In unreasonable soundbite style: "you don't like risk taking - reduce the risks, don't whine about how life isn't fair".


The severity of his own injuries indicates that he might have been going too fast for the conditions (whether or not he was exceeding the speed limit, which nobody can confirm conclusively). In his version, "It was like he fell out of the sky," but that's a misleading comparison that paints him as entirely innocent. "The kid darted out from behind a bus," sounds more like a situation that required caution (was the bus pulled over to discharge passengers?). "Doesn’t he have any responsibility for what happened?" he says of the victim. Yes, he does, but the person who wields the most lethal power also bears the most responsibility. Unless a pedestrian intentionally and directly charged me or truly fell out of the sky, I would assume blame if I hit one while riding or driving.


I assume then that you only travel at walking speed when passing cars waiting at a red light on the other side?

By the way, it's people projecting absolutist opinions just like you've done here that have led the the travesty that is the Rikers Island part of the justice system - where four hundred people have been imprisoned for two years or more without being charged.

Stop injecting your own biased talking points into other people's stories and show some empathy.

> I would assume blame if I hit one while riding or driving.

What a nice, safe assertion to make from the comfort of not actually facing a murder change based on that assumed blame.


The tragedy of Rikers Island is that it's inhumane to everyone involved, guilty or not. I absolutely feel empathetic to all of them. It's disingenuous to suggest that it's a problem only because some of them might be innocent.

I'm not a hypocrite. I've had plenty of close calls, and some of them were my fault. I was lucky, but left the scene with full knowledge I was to blame. However, that's a personal acknowledgement; I would still do whatever it takes to stay out of jail, because the US prison system is broken and I don't want to get raped, beaten or forced to join a gang.


>It's disingenuous to suggest that it's a problem only because some of them might be innocent.

Luckily the parent never did that. He just mentioned that's even worse to be held there if you're actually altogether innocent, which I think we all agree with.

>I've had plenty of close calls, and some of them were my fault. I was lucky, but left the scene with full knowledge I was to blame.

In the cases that it was "your one fault" yes. In the other cases why?


>The severity of his own injuries indicates that he might have been going too fast for the conditions (whether or not he was exceeding the speed limit, which nobody can confirm conclusively).

You can have severe injuries even from a simple drop at 20 mph. Actually you can break something even from a single fall in the street while walking (I've broken my hand once like that, put it forward to avoid hitting my head on the fall).

But what part of "He also said he hadn’t been speeding, which was borne out by eyewitnesses as well as a police test on the tire marks" seems hard to parse?

Even if "nobody can confirm conclusively" (which, according to the article they did just that), that still would be reasonable doubt.

>Yes, he does, but the person who wields the most lethal power also bears the most responsibility.

...


"[T]his man's inability to control a lethal force."

Did I miss something in the article that you found?


> As a cyclist who has to constantly contend with aggressive motorists, unpredictable pedestrians and plenty of other douchebag cyclists, I'm relieved this guy is off the road for a couple of years.

I'm also a cyclist and I want you off the road if you're so intellectually challenged that you assign guilt to people respecting traffic laws.


Every fact in this story is presented in a way to support the author's premise, and there are no trustworthy narrators here. If you remove the emotion, an equally plausible scenario is that he rode past a school bus that had stopped to let out students and he ignored the signals. The story only says he wasn't drunk or speeding. It doesn't say he wasn't cited for violating other traffic laws, and clearly he was cited for something because he's in jail. The article's title tells you he's innocent, and you believe it. Fine. But guilty or not, the reason I'm glad he's off the road is because he killed a pedestrian with his motorcycle.


I concur with the person you are replying to. People like you have made cycling miserable for everyone.

I used to 100% cycle as my form of transportation. 20 years ago. Doing 20+ miles a day, and didn't own a car. You know, before bike lanes generally existed and you had to use common sense.

The rise of the aggressive "hipster cyclists" like yourself turned the tables from biking being dangerous simply due to folks being unaware of you - to being actively dangerous akin to a warzone because drivers rightfully assume you are a a passive aggressive asshole who is likely attempting to inconvenience them on purpose.

I also have not seen nearly the number of "aggressive" drivers compared to aggressive asshole cyclists these days. Perhaps the problem is you if you continue to run across them.

I cannot tell you how much I despise what you, and people you identify with (critical mass types) have done to my chosen mode of transportation. You took it as a way to get from A to B and turned it into a divisive social cause. Because of this, I don't see bikes being considered on par with motorized transport in my lifetime. At least in the US. In my town, the political pushback on cyclists is only growing as this phenomenon increases.

Do yourself a favor and try seeing how the Netherlands/Belgium integrate road, rail, and bike traffic. You'll note the complete lack of people like you.


You're projecting your ire on the wrong person. I ride 20+ miles daily in large city with outdated, poorly maintained infrastructure for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians alike. I'm just trying to get to work, not break any speed records, and I'm extremely mindful of pedestrians (for their safety) and cars (for my own). I'm not the guy laying on the bell without reducing his speed or treating a shared trail like a personal racetrack. I've cycled my entire long life and hardly qualify as a hipster (not that it's pertinent). Whenever I've been in Europe, I have to remind myself when I'm back in the States that drivers won't stop for you when you step into the road, even when there's a sign in the middle of the crosswalk telling them to do so. I have no idea what I said to inspire your alienating rant, when it seems we both want the same thing.


I'm not gonna say that I'm glad he's off the road, but I do want to agree with the point that the article is clearly biased towards making us think that he is innocent, when we don't know all of the facts either. Okay, he wasn't drunk or speeding - according to him, at least - but it sounds like he might have been going too fast for the conditions. Just because the speed limit is 35 or whatever doesn't mean that it's safe to do 35 all the time.

But all that just goes to show that he deserves his day in court, in a justice sense. Which he will apparently never get, unless he's willing to spend a few years in jail first.


At least he got a trial.

/sarc


Just to put this into context, this is of course a terrible injustice, but even worse was Kalief Browder, the teen who killed himself after being imprisoned in Rikers for three years without a trial.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/06/before-the-law




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