Lord Conrad Black Phones Home From FPC
Lord Conrad Black (background here)isn't having a bad time at the Federal Prison Camp in Coleman, Florida . Nonetheless, he has some scathing comments about our criminal justice system and federal prosecutors in his recent commentary in the Times Online, titled "From my cell I scent the reeking soul of US justice." The most salient paragraphs are below:
US federal prosecutors, almost all of whom would be disbarred for their antics if they were in Britain or Canada, win more than 90% of their cases thanks to the withering of the constitutional guarantees of due process – that is, the grand jury as an assurance against capricious prosecution, no seizure of property without just compensation, access to counsel, an impartial jury, speedy justice and reasonable bail.
....The system is based on the plea bargain: the barefaced exchange of incriminating testimony for immunity or a reduced sentence. It is intimidation and suborned or extorted perjury, an outright rape of any plausible definition of justice.
On our misguided war on drugs [More...]
The US is now a carceral state that imprisons eight to 12 times more people (2.5m) per capita than the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany or Japan. US justice has become a command economy based on the avarice of private prison companies, a gigantic prison service industry and politically influential correctional officers’ unions that agitate for an unlimited increase in the number of prosecutions and the length of sentences. The entire “war on drugs”, by contrast, is a classic illustration of supply-side economics: a trillion taxpayers’ dollars squandered and 1m small fry imprisoned at a cost of $50 billion a year; as supply of and demand for illegal drugs have increased, prices have fallen and product quality has improved.
He closes with:
[The United States] is still a country of incomparable vitality even as its moral, judicial soul atrophies and reeks.
The Toronto Star has this collection of Conrad Black quotes.
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