LETTERS / Americans Think That Everything We Object To Should Be Criminalized

Published Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Dear Editor,

Americans think that everything we object to should be criminalized. The uneven tyranny of America’s legal system is destroying our society. Prosecutors have enormous power. Investigations producing no charges ruin lives, reputations, and bankrupt the targets. It’s a political position, and particularly so at the federal level. If a prosecutor wants to ruin your life, they can and even when you’ve innocent there’s nothing you can do about it.

If you’re acquitted, charge dropped, or you’re investigated but never charged, you don’t get compensated for the time, stress, and expense it cost you. In federal cases you’re supposed to at least be reimbursed for you legal expenses, but that doesn’t appear to happen much, either.

The prosecutor’s job is choosing which laws to enforce, choosing what people to expose as criminals, and picking the laws to make that happen. Federal laws about conspiracy, racketeering, wiretapping, mail fraud, giving aid to “terrorist” organizations and money laundering give prosecutors enormous discretion and have no requirement to show intent.

State prosecutors are reelected, move to higher office, or win big jobs for getting impressive convictions. They’re not rewarded for declining to prosecute someone in the interest of justice.

We have vague laws that are too complicated; thousands of federal criminal laws, with perhaps 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. This year hundreds of new federal laws took effect, as did 29,000 new state laws. Americans unknowingly commit several felonies daily.

You must obey these laws because “ignorance of the law is no excuse”. That isn’t possible. You must hire a lawyer or accountant to pay taxes, run a business, run for office, or start a political organization, without fear of prison.

We can go to prison for breaking laws we don’t know about, but prosecutors and police who wrongly arrest, charge, and prosecute citizens generally face no consequence. Prosecutors who act badly are rarely if ever sanctioned or even named in appeals that overturn convictions due to misconduct. The Supreme Court provided absolute immunity to prosecutors and judges.

Grand juries historically protected people from prosecutors extremes but are now used to harass and intimidate. Plea bargaining frequently lets guilty people get less punishment by pleading to lesser crimes but it’s also a weapon. Thanks to overlapping, vague laws, prosecutors can stack charges to build enormous possible sentences. Threats of decades in prison can make pleading to a lesser charge and time tempting to anyone. People plead guilty to crimes they didn’t do to be done with it.

“Our government” doesn’t tolerant challenges to its authority and uses force and serious charges to make an example of people who defy them. SWAT raids on medical marijuana dispensaries aren’t because the people running these businesses are violent. SWAT sends a message. “Our government” sends that message when it raids farmers and co-ops that sell raw dairy products, or SWAT raids doctors offices suspected of over-prescribing painkillers. The goal is to send the message; Defy the government and you will be attacked. My sister, the doctor, admits these considerations accompany her when considering the patients problems.

The law is a political weapon. We saw this when baby Bush aimed prosecutions at democrats, “sending a message”. Law and order has long been a favorite tool of “conservatives”. Both “sides” are guilty of prosecutorial misconduct. We aren’t a nation ruled laws, but by politics. We’re all potential criminals. How long before the severed heads of the executed are displayed on spikes before the courthouse?

Frivolous law reduces freedom and the psychopaths passing these laws always do so for good cause; ‘for the children’, or ‘security’, or other ‘benefits’ for the people. Sandy Hook as a motivation for laws that wouldn’t have stopped that tragedy is a perfect example because it’s always about control so you must give up control of your life, your thoughts, and your ability to reason.

The contradiction of police-state sponsors removing freedom to protect it is confusing. Perhaps they want to keep freedom in a safety deposit box. Consider the hypocrisy displayed by those who do the work of Big Brother while insisting such logic shouldn’t apply to them.

Craig Dudley

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