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".
Of course, it's the courts that get to define these things and you can bet that they exempt themselves.
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.
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.
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.
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.
'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'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.
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."
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. 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" 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.
. Correct me if I'm wrong historically.
. 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."
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Christie:
Besides doubling the size of the anticorruption unit for New Jersey, 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. Despite claims of entrapment, 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.
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]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 where someone who "beat it" ended up committing suicide afterwards.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To treat suspects like criminals is not right. You and me could end up being a suspect without the slightest guilt in the matter.
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.
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.
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'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.
Clearly they are treating them as such, so where is my error?
Well, if we want to keep the concept of "innocent until proven guilty" then potential criminals should be allowed to run free.
> 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.
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. In comparison, the state's annual budget is almost $153 Billion/year
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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
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).
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.
(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.)
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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?
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".
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.
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.
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?
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.
Did I miss something in the article that you found?
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.
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.
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.