Sunday, October 6, 2019

How to Get Justice Back into the Criminal Justice System - Gary North

The criminal justice system in America really is criminal.
There are multiple reasons for this.
The main reason for it is that it substitutes incarceration for restitution. In California, it costs something in the range of $60,000 a year to incarcerate a prisoner in a state prison. The victims of his crimes get to pay the taxes to keep him housed, fed, and learning new criminal techniques from his peers.
What if he were given the option of paying restitution to his victims instead of going to jail? What if he had to get a job, and 20% of his earnings were used to reimburse his victims? Would that be better for society? Obviously, it would be. It would be better for the victims. It would clearly be better for the criminal. It would be better for the taxpayers. But the system does not acknowledge this.
Lois Forer was a trial judge in Philadelphia. She died in 1994. I quoted her in my book, Victim's Rights(1990). She got a New York Times obituary here. She wrote these books:
The second problem is this: the court system is a free good. There is an old economic rule: at zero price, there is greater demand than supply. The courts are clogged.
Almost no cases ever go to trial. It costs too much to run a trial. It takes weeks. Then there are all of the appeals. So, the prosecutors and the defense lawyers try to figure out ways of settling criminal cases before they go to trial. The prosecutors offer plea-bargaining, and defense attorneys pressure clients to accept a plea bargain, especially if the defense attorney is court-appointed. He is a free resource. He has way too many cases to defend.
A public defender does not have the time or the resources to do a thorough investigation of each of the defendants he is required by law to defend. He does not have enough knowledge of the specifics.
What if it were possible to supply missing information on the defendants free of charge to the criminal justice system? In other words, what if this information were donated to the court? This would be a tremendous advantage for the defense attorney, and would also be an advantage for the judge. The trial would go a lot faster.
An incredibly creative man has come up with an idea to use the division of labor to supply this information. He has developed a system of criminal defense that can be used by poor people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer. At present, the system he has developed is being used across the country in a relative handful of jurisdictions. It is being used primarily to defend Blacks and Hispanics. But there is nothing inherent in the system that would keep it from being effectively used by poor white people, who in fact constitute a majority of criminal cases in the American court system.
I want you to watch this video. It is a very effective talk. There are no histrionics. There is no visible manipulation of the audience. It is a classic example of the phrase that Jack Webb never actually uttered on Dragnet: "Just the facts, mam."
What we need is a cadre of lawyers who are willing to devote time and effort to investigating this system, re-working it for their own jurisdictions, and implementing it in local churches where there are volunteers available to do the necessary research.