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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    Isn't it amazing? (5.00 / 2) (#5)
    by SeeEmDee on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 05:24:09 AM EST
    Amazing, that is, that when one of the Elite is imprisoned, they suddenly begin sounding like your average social justice activist...the very kind of people the Elite scorn. The kind of people who the Elite believe should be kicked to the curb, spurned in the dust, spat upon and dragged off somewhere for a good drubbing.

    All just for daring to upset the Elite's idea of a Burkean 'natural order' in which such concepts as 'social justice' are treated with disdain, for only the Elite know what justice is, and are uniquely qualified to dispense it...to other people, of course, not Their Own.

    Well, he got caught in his perfidy, and found he wasn't Elite enough for his clique to save his arse. You know, the kind that believe that 'taxes are for little people'. Now he knows personally what the average citizen can expect from the (ha-ha) 'justice' system which he and his neocon cohort supported. So now he's sounding like the very people he literally 'lorded' it over. (Cue sardonic laughter.)

    A conservative imprisoned ... (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Erehwon on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 05:59:47 AM EST
    becomes a liberal? :-(

    If that's the theorem, what's the corollary? :-)

    My favorite quote from Conrad Black (none / 0) (#1)
    by Jacob Freeze on Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:52:19 PM EST
    "Don't write me off. I'm about to become a corporate-governance counterterrorist."

    some of it was right on (none / 0) (#2)
    by Salo on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 12:45:55 AM EST
    hilarious. Stiff upper lip type. This guy's take on per capita imprisonment in the us is stunningly funny given that he ran the daily telegraph! I mean torygraph

    Similar view (none / 0) (#3)
    by koshembos on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 02:18:04 AM EST
    My spouse has sued the government for retaliation, non accommodation, etc. US employees, in general, are subject low level management  exploitation and abuse. My spouse decided to sue.

    The district attorney's lawyer behavior is downright criminal. He encourages his witness to lie, he doesn't let them finish answering during depositions. The guy should be disbarred and serve time. This behavior is, for reason beyond me, allowed to continue.

    Not being a lawyer, I did participate as an expert in about 50 cases. Most of the case were civil like my spouses one. All lawyer on both side were always looking for advantages. They never broke the law. I saw experts lying in court (quite common); I never saw lawyers lying, twisting facts and evidence a lot but they do the best to do a decent, honest work.

    I wonder whether this is yet another phenomenon of the Bush mafia or is it a typical behavior of government attorneys as reflect by the many innocent people in our gulags.

    It's Bush (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 08:43:08 AM EST
    Took him about 5 seconds in between making Katrina hit N.O. and cutting deals with OBL......

    Is Black getting hot meals? (none / 0) (#7)
    by Katherine Graham Cracker on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 06:46:39 AM EST

    Court says lukewarm food hot enough for prison

    Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    "Isn't having a bad time"? (none / 0) (#9)
    by lentinel on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 08:49:39 AM EST
    Why isn't he having a bad time?

    If all the other inmates aren't having a bad time either.. well, ok.

    Black's indictment of the prison system is presented well and clearly.

    Since we have been encouraged to hope by the Pres-Elect and his campaign, I hope that Obama will come home to what one hopes are his deeper instincts and do something about the appalling state of civil liberties in this country.

    Upside down (none / 0) (#10)
    by Jacob Freeze on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 09:52:46 AM EST
    "If all the other inmates aren't having a bad time either.. well, ok."

    This is the upside-down version of John Rawls' minimax principle: Don't raise the river, lower the bridge.

    Personally, I hope Conrad is having a marvelous time with piles of drugs and crowds of hookers.

    It's the only form of wealth that really "trickles down."


    Isn't he guilty? (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 12:30:08 PM EST
    I guess he'd only be happy if he wasn't caught and convicted...