The flaws I personally witnessed through the ordeal:
1. The police have arrest quotas, and enormous pressure to "make the arrest" regardless of the cost, or whether the person is actually guilty.
2. Criminal defense lawyers love the system as-is and will fight to protect it. More arrests mean more business. An absolute worst conflict of interest that you can imagine.
3. Public defenders will do the minimum amount of work, and will always strong-arm you to take a plea deal.
4. The whole system is rigged against you. You are guilty the moment you first enter the court room. Nobody cares whether you are really guilty or not - judges, lawyers, prosecutors, clerks, cops.
5. The worst part of all - there is a strong groupthink among these power players. They wholeheartedly believe they are living gods, protecting the world from societies ills.
My hope is that one day there is true criminal justice reform. The fact that America has the largest incarceration rate is a red flag.
My advice: Save some money. Just like a car accident, or some health or other emergency, it's best to be prepared with some kind of emergency fund.
The typical argument in the other direction is that requiring every case to go to trial would overwhelm the courts. I think that means that we either have too many crimes or not enough courts, or some mixture of the two. A society that pretends to have the rule of law must be able to afford to give every accused person a trial.
I guess your second point causes people to be biased against spending any more money, no matter how little.
Plus, the innocent who aren't jailed pay taxes and do productive things for society.
This is all ignoring the human cost of the equation.
I really look forward to when self driving cars eliminate ALL traffic cases.
It just isn't a realistic proposition. Insurance with all its flaws exists for good reason.
EDIT: Why not make it a law that when you are found innocent then prosecutor's office should refund whatever it cost you to hire your lawyer?
The question, though, was whether a person in a criminal case would be reimbursed the cost of their defense by the government after being found not guilty.
Even worse is when the evidence is poor but they want to convict the guy anyway because he looks like a bad guy. "Even if he didn't do this, I know in my heart that he's guilty of other crimes."
That's a good point. This is where working with experienced actuaries to build risk models will be important. This idea would not be a tech startup per say. Just a good 'ol insurance policy with a shiny iOS app wrapper :)
1. The crime occurred in another city about 3 hours way, so poor granularity or precision really didn't come into play.
2. The crime itself was a hit and run on a road worker. Not something you'd generally believe to be premeditated where I'd have thought to have a friend haul my phone around town to provide an alibi.
quite a bit better than public defenders, still a lot of incompetence from my experience on the paralegal side, but they'll do the research. I haven't had experience with criminal cases though
Are there elections for judges in other countries too?
That's not to say there isn't corruption and cronyism when appointing judges in other places :( . No system is perfect.
there are only two nations that have judicial elections, and then only in limited fashion. Smaller Swiss cantons elect judges, and appointed justices on the Japanese Supreme Court must sometimes face retention elections
Isn't this what legal costs insurances are for? Why should everyone save huge amounts of money individually if you can spread the cost (as well as the risk) over a large group?
Criminal defense lawyers hate the system as-is. There isn't much money collecting $1,000 here and there convincing people to plead guilty. The criminal lawyers that make the real money are the ones that take big cases to trial. There would be a lot more of that work if the system weren't so stacked in favor of taking a plea deal.
> 3. Public defenders will do the minimum amount of work, and will always strong-arm you to take a plea deal.
Public defenders' offices are incredibly overworked; deal almost entirely with people who are, in fact, guilty; and work within a system where not taking a plea can have very negative consequences in terms of sentencing.
The root of both (2), (3), and (4) is the American public. In many European countries the maximum prison sentence effectively is 15 years, and many don't really have a plea bargaining system. It's not like those countries don't have lawyers who have the same incentives as American lawyers. That's not the difference. The difference is that the people over there are more moral and virtuous, and don't keep voting for politicians who push "tough on crime" and inhumanely-long sentences.
Breaking down the math, the lawyer did a total of 5 hours of work just for the plea. If he had to go to trial, the hours of work would have exploded to 50-100.
Plea: $5,000 / 5 = $1,000/hour
Trial $20,000 / 50 = $400/hour
The criminal defense lawyers know that most cases will get plea-ed, so they frontload their costs. I can't speak for every CD lawyer out there, and I imagine many would like to see CJ reform, but not too many of them are complaining about the current system (that I know of).
> The difference is that the people over there are more moral and virtuous, and don't keep voting for politicians who push "tough on crime" and inhumanely-long sentences.
The challenge for most lawyers is keeping a full pipeline of work. Unless you’re a household name, you do a lot of unpaid work to get each engagement, and often have downtime between engagements. So it’s vastly preferable to have fewer engagements that are more work each. Just look at the numbers above. Say plea bargaining became illegal. Even if the number of prosecutions dropped by a factor of four (highly unrealistic), lawyers would still come out ahead by earning the same money in fewer engagements.
> but not too many of them are complaining about the current system
They have an advocacy organization that does that. The National Association of Criminal Defense lawyers advocates vigorously for changing the system. E.g. https://www.nacdl.org/reports/misdemeanor/
> Millions of people each year are now processed for misdemeanors. In a 2009 report titled “Minor Crimes, Massive Waste,” the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers described a system characterized by “the ardent enforcement of crimes that were once simply deemed undesirable behavior and punished by societal means or a civil infraction punishable by a fine.”
Maybe that sentence prompts a knee jerk thought that I don’t want to consider how bad it really is, or that I don’t care about or have empathy for your friend. I assure you both are not true.
It’s just counterproductive to say things like public defenders want to do minimum work. Is that because they are lazy? Or is it because of a budget/management/legislation issue that would better deserve to be highlighted?
These are all not only complex topics but they vary wildly based on location and local vs federal government etc. The reasons may be different.
The point is it would be more helpful to try and identify root causes and motivations, because that shows where the thing is broken.
I never made an insinuation as to the "why", just the "what". Are they overworked? Definitely. And yes this is a large city, where the cogs are moving fast. I'm sure in a smaller jurisdiction there is more attention to detail.
If only that were true
There is cancer, let’s try to understand it and use a scalpel before chemo.
Maybe just naming the city state and jurisdiction? That at least potentially allows specific issues or causes to be discussed.
Wouldn't it be better to wait a week to meet a public defender for a day instead of having 20 minutes with one?
I'd disagree with 4. We did arrive at a guilty verdict so you might take that to support your thesis here, but everyone involved seemed genuinely interested in giving the defendant a fair trial. The judge who presided over voir dire and the judge who presided over the trial were rigorous, affable, and sincere in their desires to be fair to everyone. The public defender fought well for her client. The clerks didn't insert themselves. I was really taken by the lengths that everyone went to in order to ensure that we weren't biased by certain facts. For example, it came out in cross-examination that the defendant was on probation. We wouldn't have known that otherwise.
We deliberated for hours, so the outcome was far from pre-determined.
Some other marginally relevant impressions:
1. The courts need more state funding. Your post actually makes me reconsider this, since it could increase corruption. But I think that if you had more judges and courtrooms, it could remove a bottleneck that might lead defendants and prosecutors alike to take the plea deal and move on rather than getting tied up in the courts for a long time. There are probably corrupt interests that make the current system the way it is, but I know that one reason people push plea deals is because the system would become paralyzed otherwise. More money could maybe go to public defenders as well or provide incentives to go to trial and fight hard. I have to think public defenders push towards plea deals because they have too much on their plates already.
2. Everyone should stop making "get out of jury duty" jokes, and jury duty should be more heavily incentivized. It's a lot harder to get a trial by your peers if you're lower on the socioeconomic ladder, because people are trying to get out of jury duty since they can't lose the money from work or perhaps even the job itself (that's illegal de jure, but de facto? Who knows). I'm not sure I'd want my jury to only be there for the money, but there's always gonna be a risk that your jury has bad motives.
3. People watch too many crime dramas. This isn't as relevant to what you're saying, except that it might actually be a counterpoint to your argument. Jurors can be unwilling to convict because the guy didn't confess to the police, get caught on video, AND leave DNA in five spots at the crime scene. It has to be harder to get a conviction now than 30 years ago, for better or for worse.
4. It's amazing how charges can get slapped onto someone. One crime could end up having three or four different charges attached to it. I could see how that'd be scary when it's time to plea bargain, but what can you do here? How can you have a variety of charges to choose from to adequately cover justice for different kinds of crimes without using them as a club to beat guilty pleas out of people?
I have had three encounters with law enforcement, the first ended in similar fashion to this story. I was charged with a crime I didn't commit which happened to occur on video.
After 18-months, and threats of serious felony charges, I refused to accept a plea. I asked my lawyer if it was illegal to plead guilty to a crime I didn't commit and he said it was.
The prosecutor then says, "the state moves to drop the case citing lack of evidence". Again, the crime (theft) was recorded on videotape and two other guys I didn't know clearly stole the items involved. I won but the court wouldn't actually let me win.
Another time I was caught in an unfortunate incident where a security guard pushed me into a street. I was tackled, tasered, later choked, threatened to be killed and then powerslammed head first on concrete by Detective of the Year, Glenn A. Ritchie, of the Broward County Sheriff's Office.
Ritchie charged me with non-violent misdemeanors and then a day later, alleged felonies in a contradictory and clearly false 2nd police report. I spent 34-days in jail until the charges were non-filed but not until the felony was refiled as a misdemeanor, sent to the wrong address, resulting in a still standing capias warrant for my arrest.
The system is flawed. People who work in the courts, especially in major cities, are not to be celebreated but derided. It's an insane system of high bails, boilerplate plea deals and cold indifference.
Because not much political upside to helping criminal defendants exists, many jurisdictions end up with a perennial funding problem ... In both cases, the committee heard about extreme funding shortfalls, excessive caseloads and insufficient pay.
After years of cuts, his budget was down from $9 million to about $6 million, and he had just eight investigators for 21,000 cases per year.
This matters because the majority of defendants—a 2014 study put it at 80 percent—use some kind of indigent defense. That means most Americans charged with a crime are at risk of bad outcomes partly caused by the quality of representation that they can afford.
Yet following it in an heavily corrupt organization means you find yourself doing very dirty stuff to get recognized by your peers, oversee and facilitate corruption to get buy in from your superiors, and crush weaker people to stand on top where you’ll get more power.
In the event you yourself get crushed in this process, the only trace you’ll leave in the world will be dirty things you didn’t agree with in the first place and actually strived to change.
I wonder how much that approach bares fruits when it comes to really shitty organizations.
I've thought about this more in the political realm, so it may not apply as cleanly in the justice system. We know that public pressure works in politics because they depend on voters to keep voting them in. The only way to stave off a slide into conformity is to hold people accountable for behaving the way they said they would during a campaign. It's not an easy answer since it requires a lot more public participation, but I think we have been lulled into believing that these institutions are self-maintaining once set up, and that is clearly not the case. A few honest and caring people just entering the justice system are going to have a hard time of it. Millions of people outside the system shouting loudly and unceasingly about its abuses have a better shot at causing changes.
Out of curiosity, are there good examples of fundamental/systemic flaws -- where it's not that the system needs to be fixed, it's that a new system is needed -- being fixed by people working within the system? The success rate of violent, armed revolution is low, but it has produced some concrete successes (e.g., the existence of the US and more generally the fall of monarchy).
If the Confederacy had succeeded in seceding, it would have been a very similar revolution - the state governments on down would remain intact, with just a little bit at the top being rearranged. I'm not sure I could name a third, similar armed revolution off the top of my head; most of the ones I'm familiar with involve charismatic outsiders burning down the existing institutions and starting over fresh.
I believe this is formally called the "SLC Punk Maneuver"
There's a reason judges impose gag orders which violate people's right to free speech. They're OK with violating peoples constitutional rights to serve their own self interests.
Who bells the cat?
What it boils down to: post civilly and substantively or not at all. Put differently: if you have a substantive point to make, make it thoughtfully; if you don't, please don't comment until you do.
I realize that it's hard to separate a tone that makes the mdoerators unhappy and content that makes the moderators unhappy (I didn't read the comment above as unsubstantive or uncivil at all!) but you gotta play by their rules.
(Or, I guess, burn HN down and start a new one that isn't subservient to capital. I'll join.)
In the meantime, HN is merely one specific kind of community, and it has specific rules which, if people want to participate, they have to follow. Those rules are at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html. They're not hard to follow for anyone who wants to.
Ok, so we burn the system to the ground. Then what? Crown bitJericho king?
It's such a silly mindset. Do what we currently do in US or anarchy. There are over hundred other countries on earth and significant fraction of them is doing way better than USA in most aspects.
Adopting something more akin to European style democracy (which is what I assume you're mostly referring to) is already possible within the US system. That it hasn't been done yet isn't evidence of corruption within that system, but of the culture of the US simply not wanting it.
You need really a lot of disregard of previous system and power to make any significant changes. You'd need either revolution or invasion. Obama inaptitude shows that the system can't be touched from within even by smart person in position of highest legal power.
Anarchic theories are premised on the idea that everyone would act as individuals and treat each other equally, but that's not what happens. People naturally form alliances, tribes, religious groups or out and out criminal gangs.
The prosecutorial assumption of infallibility is just one symptom of a wider malaise. IMHO what America needs to appreciate, as a nation, is that it's nothing special. It's just big and therefore powerful, but it really doesn't have any special moral status or exceptional ethical immunity. You see the ideological belief that it does throughout American History from Manifest Destiny to America First, both the isolationist movement of the 40s and today.
America is a great nation, yes. It's a bastion of democracy, true. But it's a very long way from moral infallibility. There's the perception that e.g. Europe is a corrupt den of elites, born from America's struggle for independence from and conflicts with European Monarchies such as England and Spain, but it's ludicrously out of date. The American allergy against Communism is a symptom of this. At it's root communism and socialism is about individual freedom and a caring society, but communism got infected with totalitarianism early on. Individual communists have often been as shocked and appalled by Soviet excesses as anyone else. George Orwell, who wrote Animal Farm and 1984 as critiques of Stalinism was himself as communist, but the distinction between Communists like Orwell and ones like Trotsky is lost on American ideological anti-communism. You really can have a fair and caring society, and real meaningful individual freedoms. They're not absolute, utterly opposed principles and in fact they need each other. You can't have guarantees of real individual freedom without a society that cares about making that guarantee and takes actual steps to protect it. Even Ayn Rand accepted welfare support when she needed it. You can't have a well functioning system of state care and support for individuals without individual freedoms to hold that system to account and drive change when it's needed.
What makes change in the justice system so hard, as in other areas, is this assumption of ideological purity in the American system, mainly by American Republicans I have to say. As a British lifelong Conservative voter I find this hard to cope with but in the post-Reagan era I find very little common ground between myself and mainstream Republicanism these days. It's a bit bewildering realy.
A comic book character, you say? Let me quote V for Vendetta, Chapter Five, Versions, second half:
[Scene: Roof of the Old Bailey (building of the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales) in London. V stands beside the large statue of Madam Justice which adorns the top of its dome, and acts out a… conversation of sorts:]
Hello, dear lady.
A lovely evening, is it not?
Forgive me for intruding. Perhaps you were intending to take a stroll. Perhaps you were merely enjoying the view.
No matter. I thought that it was time we had a little chat, you and I.
Ahh… I was forgetting that we are not properly introduced.
I do not have a name. You can call me V.
Madam Justice… this is V.
V… this is Madam Justice.
Hello, madam justice.
“Good evening, V.”
There. Now we know each other. Actually, I’ve been a fan of yours for quite some time. Oh, I know what you’re thinking…
“The poor boy has a crush on me… an adolescent infatuation”
I beg your pardon, Madam. It isn’t like that at all.
I’ve long admired you… albeit only from a distance. I used to stare at you from the streets below when I was a child.
I’d say to my father, “Who is that lady?” and he’d say “That’s Madam Justice.” And I’d say “Isn’t she pretty.”
Please don’t think it was merely physical. I know you’re not that sort of girl. No, I loved you as a person. As an ideal.
That was a long time ago. I’m afraid there’s someone else now…
“What? V? For shame! You have betrayed me for some harlot, some vain and pouting hussy with painted lips and a knowing smile!”
I, Madam? I beg to differ! It was your infidelity that drove me to her arms!
Ah-ha! That surprised you, didn’t it? You thought I didn’t know about your little fling. But I do. I know everything!
Frankly, I wasn’t surprised when I found out. You always did have an eye for a man in uniform.
“Uniform? Why, I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about. It was always you, V. You were the only one…”
Liar! Slut! Whore! Deny that you let him have his way with you, him with his armbands and jackboots!
Well? Cat got your tongue?
I thought as much.
Very well. So you stand revealed at last. You are no longer my justice. You are his justice now. You have bedded another.
Well, two can play at that game!
“Sob! Choke! Wh-who is she, V? What is her name?”
Her name is Anarchy. And she has taught me more as a mistress than you ever did.
She has taught me that justice is meaningless without freedom. She is honest. She makes no promises and breaks none. Unlike you, Jezebel.
I used to wonder why you could never look me in the eye. Now I know.
So goodbye, dear lady. I would be saddened by our parting even now, save that you are no longer the woman that I once loved.
Here is a final gift. I leave it at your feet.
[V places on the ground a heart-shaped package wrapped with a bow, bows deeply, then leaves.]
[A large fiery explosion destroys the dome and the statue is toppled. V watches the fire from a distance.]
The flames of freedom. How lovely. How just. Ahh, my precious Anarchy…
“Oh beauty, ’til now I never knew thee.”
How can you still live there?
If you get arrested the best thing is if you are clearly wrong rather than innocent. Trying to defend yourself will only get you in four times more trouble. It appears Judges will through the book at people for having a trial by jury.
Plea Bargains are also given to criminals when they are caught red handed on video camera.
My adopted children's mom was murdered with a baseball bat by one of my son's biological father. He then knocked on my door at 8 AM but thankfully I was out of town with his biological son. He got 20 - 40 and can have parole in 16.
Then I have my friend accused by someone with zero evidence except a changing accusation over 9 months. He was offered 18 months I begged and even cried telling him to take the deal. "Why should I take the deal when I never did anything wrong?" 18 month plea became 12 YEARS!
the courts/prosecutors, out of necessity, have set up a shadow system of pressuring most defendants into plea bargains based on the relative strength of their case, which would be fine except the rules around this are weak and its ripe for abuse by the lazy or career/politically motivated.
At some point we'll need to admit this and draw up a better system for minor felonies.
Example (that is drenched in personal opinion): How much time would we save the courts if we stopped prosecuting people for personal drug abuse?
Unfortunately, they're not particularly complicated cases, and drug offenders only make up like a sixth of the prison population. So, it'd help, but the USA would still be a huge outlier internationally, let alone among developed Western countries.
I don't believe this at all (simply due to lack of evidence), which is why I phrased it as a question. Additionally, it's just an example, in which I tried to be clear that my personal beliefs make me biased in. Feel free to substitute your own "useless prosecution" in it's place |;)
That being said, 1/6 seems like a pretty hefty amount.
I'm not saying I agree with the war on drugs, but we may just trade one problem for another
FWIW, my point is not about drugs, that's just an opinionated example. It's about wasting time policing things that shouldn't be policed.
Also if the cost is too high then our society/laws are broken and that is what needs fixing - not by just working out cheaper ways to lock people up.
b) get rid of the distinction between 'prosectuor' and 'public defendant' - make state laweyers take sides randomly (With coin flip) and reward them more for wins on defense than prosecution.
c) make private prisons pay the state a refund when any released prisons commits a new crime outside. Watch recidivism drop.
Here's why prosecutors seek it:
As part of the plea deal, the three men cannot pursue civil action against the state for wrongful imprisonment.
And if you think about it.. if they really thought this person was a murderer, letting them out would not be on the table.
Personally, I believe that if a prosecutor wrongly pursues a case, hides evidence, whatever and gets a conviction. When the sentence is overturned, it should be applied to the prosecution. It might teach some respect for the power they're throwing around.
* Yes, I know that won't work. :(
In Florida, they actually charge the defendant the cost of prosecuting him. What the hell?!
If you are poor and charged with a crime you cannot afford a good attorney and you will more than likely be forced to plea and get either fined or jail time. Once you have been convicted your upward mobility will be retarded and the cycle will repeat.
On top of that, the bail system is used to enforce this cycle. A poor person is arrested, and bail is set at $5k. They cannot afford it so they sit in jail awaiting trial. They will plea guilty out of desperation just to get out of jail and try to get back to work to support their family. (Guilty plea does not necessitate prison)
The whole system is rigged to punish the poor and allow the rich to purchase a get out of jail card.
The 15 year old who did commit the murder was actually caught too, and also prosecuted at the same trial, but he would not take his own plea deal, which would have freed the innocent accused.
edit: some grammar.
Definitely time to get the lawyers OUT of government.
Source: The Whole Story on Japan’s 99% Conviction Rate, and the Corruption that Follows - Confessing for Nothing
Specifically, the link you specify gives very misleading information from some of it's sources. For example when discussing Ramseyer and Rasmusen's paper, they quote a part out of context from the introduction of the paper and conclude that the paper indicates that corruption among judges is the reason for high conviction rates.
However, if you look at Wikipedia's summary of the conclusion, you get a completely different perspective: "In murder, U.S. police arrested 19,000 people for 26,000 murders, in which 75% were prosecuted and courts convicted 12,000 people. In Japan, 1,800 people were arrested for 1,300 murders, but prosecutors tried only 43%. Had the allegation that Japanese prosecutors use weak evidence mostly based on (forced) confessions to achieve convictions been true, the larger proportion of arrests would have resulted in prosecutions and eventual conviction. But the opposite is true. In fact, the data indicates that Japanese prosecutors bring charges only when the evidence is overwhelming and likelihood of conviction is near absolute, which gives a greater incentive for the accused to confess and aim for a lighter sentence, which, in turn, results in a high rate for confession."
Even though I live in Japan, I don't actually know that much about the justice system. The one time I've seen the police in action they were incredibly lenient (My friend, who suffered from schizophrenia violated the terms of her visa and also punched a police officer, yet they treated her incredibly kindly and didn't even arrest her).
I often say this in threads about Japan. There are problems here just like anywhere else. Unfortunately, however, it seems to be fairly profitable to write stories in newspapers that promote stereotypes of foreign countries, including Japan. I would recommend trying your best to track down primary sources before you make any conclusions about these kinds of stories.
Sorry, not my intent at all.
By and large, the vast majority of people that appear before the courts are guilty. If the guilty/not-guilty split were 50/50, it would indicate completely indiscriminate policing.
So, to make a determination about the false-guilty pleas, we'd need some data those in particular. That is to say, that statistic combines true-guilty and false-guilty, so you can't make an argument that too many people are forces to plea guilty. At least with that statement alone.
Only then could we get a good idea how fair the legal system really is. The invention of such a clandestine "Justice League" would be a pretty interesting way to measure whether any local or national police/justice system is fair and effective.
Plus there would need to be a massive expansion of the court system to accommodate trials for everyone. Where's the money to pay for that going to come from?
Criminal justice reform is necessary, removing plea deals completely is foolishly short sighted.
Yes. People have been coerced into false pleas. The prosecutor should have to prove the case. And if their punishment is so light, we should consider if it should be a crime at all.
>And victims too, say someone robs you, now you're forced to take time off work to attend a trial for the person that admitted to robbing you and also doesn't want a trial.
If you want them to be punished, then the prosecutor has to prove their case. If it is so cut and dry, perhaps they don't need your testimony at all.
>Plus there would need to be a massive expansion of the court system to accommodate trials for everyone. Where's the money to pay for that going to come from?
We get rid of minor crimes that shouldn't be crimes to begin with. Reduce the prison population and you can use the saved money to expand courts a bit, if need be. Was the cost reason enough to not ensure other rights are met, such as work needed to comply with ADA?
>removing plea deals completely is foolishly short sighted.
Not seeing the fundamental violation of rights caused by plea deals is foolishly ignorant.
Under current policies, that results in more lenient punishment than the innocent who fight their charges. So, yes, try them.
Where is the money for that going to come from? Ending the Drug War would cut the number of criminal cases by more than half.
Even traffic court works this way.
Which is the same thing as giving a more extreme sentence to someone insisting on their right to a trial.
Edit: I want to be clear. I agree with your point, but observing the obvious roadblock to implementation.
There are a lot of companies that make a ton of money off of having more people in prison. Maybe we should just tax them.
In any case, I think it's important to realize we cannot let widespread Constitutional violations go unchecked. It's not that there's no money. The real problem is that there are so many entities profiting from this unjust system that no one bothers to look for solutions in the first place.
If you actually have so many people committing crimes that there are actually too many guilty people for the courts to properly try, you have a societal engineering problem, not a courtroom efficiency problem - you need to get people to stop committing those crimes in the first place, since clearly the justice system isn't working as a deterrent. There are lots of options, including changing social conditions, reclassifying the behavior at issue as not a crime, etc.
Let's talk about race. When a white supremacist wants to kills some folks, sure, that's a problem and we should try to detect, prevent, mitigate, and punish (in that order) their actions.
However, the real issue to solve at a higher level is the societal engineering one where large segments of the population feel a need to turn towards white nationalism. Note: I don't mean "let's make thoughtcrime a thing". I assume the issue is that racially homogeneous rural areas end up with a combination of little welfare and little economic opportunity.
In the medium/long-run, these sorts of issues require UBI, an improved education system, public transportation, and universal healthcare of some sort. That's a tall order and hard sell, so we're left demonizing individuals (treating symptoms).
Very few go to trial because of false-carrots-on-a-stick plea deals to throw someone away without the trial, because the prosecutors know the trial may not go for them.
I wonder if it could be argued that plea deals deprive a citizen of their right to a speedy trial, and are therefore unconstitutional?
At least the 3rd is still going strong!
As such, there are people in prison for almost a decade without a trial because they couldn't afford bail, see the Riker's Island cases.
This is not what I had in mind and I think this result undermines the social contract people have in mind for this country.
Plea bargains allow the justice system to effectively ignore all those costs and instead push them onto a non-representative subset of society.
We simply can't enforce the laws as written, but it's considered easier to avoid enforcing them than to come up with reasonable laws.
Cost of pleading? Maybe a couple hundred dollars.
Cost of ruining someone's life over a drug charge? Maybe worth tenz of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Also, sending innocent people to prison because of please bargains costs a lot of money. It's very possible that having real trials and not sending innocent people to jail is cheaper overall.
Most countries in the world manage to have due process. Also the US is one of the wealthiest countries.
It seems tools are being developed right now to assess the effectiveness of the current system, innocence projects, etc. So there should also now be a possibility of developing a new and better algorithm for trial. A machine learning algorithm that's better than all this human complexity at determining who did it, and can explain why it came to its conclusions.