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How To Crash the US Justice System: Demand a Trial 897

Posted by Soulskill
from the pleading-the-sixth dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The U.S. Bill of Rights guarantees the accused basic safeguards, including a fair and speedy jury trial, but in this era of mass incarceration — when our nation's prison population has quintupled in a few decades — these rights are, for the overwhelming majority of people hauled into courtrooms across America, theoretical. More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury, in part because the Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that threatening someone with life imprisonment for a minor crime in an effort to induce him to forfeit a jury trial did not violate his Sixth Amendment right to trial. 'The truth is that government officials have deliberately engineered the system to assure that the jury trial system established by the Constitution is seldom used,' says Timothy Lynch, director of the criminal justice project at the libertarian Cato Institute. Now Susan Burton, head of 'A New Way of Life' (PDF), is helping to start a movement to demand restoration of Americans' basic civil and human rights by asking people who have been charged with crimes to reject plea bargains, and press for trial. 'Can we crash the system just by exercising our rights?' Burton says if everyone charged with crimes suddenly exercised his constitutional rights, there would not be enough judges, lawyers or prison cells to deal with the ensuing tsunami of litigation."
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How To Crash the US Justice System: Demand a Trial

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  • by jsepeta (412566) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:37PM (#39332697) Homepage

    and my attorney advised that a trial would be more expensive, so i should just settle

  • Injustice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by F1re (249002) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:38PM (#39332707) Homepage Journal

    A plea bargain ensures that justice is not done.

    Either a guilty person gets less punishment than they deserve or an innocent person gets punished when they deserve no punishment. It's a lose-lose situation.

    Of course a bigger problem with the law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse but it's impossible for me to know every law and precedent that applies to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:45PM (#39332771)

    If you read even the summary, it is talking about criminal cases. In a criminal case "You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.".

  • by isotope23 (210590) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:47PM (#39332791) Homepage Journal

    Not only demands for Jury Trials -

    Occupy should start the Nullify movement - E.G. if you are on a jury refuse to return a guilty verdict for victimless BS charges.

    It is your right and DUTY to judge not only guilt or innocence but also the merit of the law itself.
    Fully Informed Jury Association -

    http://fija.org/ [fija.org]

  • Re:Injustice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thebigmacd (545973) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:48PM (#39332807)

    Yes, a shoplifter doesn't have any fewer rights than a murderer...

    People plead guilty without plea bargains, you know.

  • Re:Injustice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by isotope23 (210590) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:48PM (#39332813) Homepage Journal

    "Of course a bigger problem with the law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse but it's impossible for me to know every law and precedent that applies to me."

    Unless of course your John Corzine....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:49PM (#39332821)

    and my attorney advised that a trial would be more expensive, so i should just settle

    really?

    That's really fucking sad.

    Really.

    Justice is only for the rich, apparently.

    I don;t know what to say other than, Eat the rich.

    And for you fuckers who are going to say, "I have never gotten a job from a poor person."

    Well, I have. He was a poor bastard who got a painting contract and hired a bunch of us fellow poor bastards. He kept doing it. He's non rich but he's got a painting business that pays his bills and gives him a decent living and gives jobs to others when he has them.

    Poor people do give folks jobs and in this day and and age of offshoring, they give more jobs than BIG CORP who will insist that they can't "find any qualified Americans" to fill their positions.

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:49PM (#39332829)

    You can't just say "I can't afford an attorney". If you have any money in the bank, or if you have a job, or both, you don't get a court-appointed attorney.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:50PM (#39332851) Homepage

    The problem is we are talking about people's lives here. You want to forfeit your life for a prank or to make a point? OK, thought not. Well, neither do most of the folks currently being given an opportunity to plead to a lesser charge today.

    The justice system for the most part sees the scum of the earth and very rarely are these people even technically innocent. They know it and are just interested in doing as little time as they possibly can. They already know the system is broken because they have gotten away with many, many crimes for years before being caught. If it wasn't so badly broken, they would have been caught already.

    You see, there is a really simple truth at work here. People know they might get caught but they seriously underestimate the likelyhood of it because based on anecdotal evidence it looks like most people do not get caught. The reality is only about 20% of individual crimes do end up with someone receiving some kind of punishment. But, these are individual crimes - at some point the law of averages catches up with you so on your 40th crime or so it is almost a dead certainity that you are going down for it. The people in the criminal justice system - on the receiving end - do not think this through all they way and see only the few of their friends that are getting caught.

    Sure, every once in a while a truely innocent person is hauled into court. At that point they have maybe only a 50/50 chance of escaping undeserved punishment because of the way things work. Would it be nice to fix that? Sure. But to fix it we are going to have to start training children to be more like Beaver and less like Eddie - right now, Eddie is winning out because it looks like he has a lot more fun. Problem is, the Eddies of the world do indeed have more fun but we would really like to live in a world populated with as few Eddies as possible - while it may be fun for Eddie it isn't so much fun for the people around him. We are talking about trying to undo 40 or 50 years of pop culture conditioning and 40 or 50 years of real live experiences in the inner cities of the US.

    See, today when you end up in court the guy before you is really guilty and the guy after you is really guilty. The overwhelming number of people are really guilty, so much so that it shades everyone's expectations. Everyone is assumed at one level or another to be guilty because ... for the most part they are. If even 1 in 10 was truely innocent there might be a chance of the system being able to recognize an innocent person but they are so incredibly rare as to make it impossible for the people running the system to recognize them. There may be varying shades of guilt, but even with that the number of people in the system that are in fact guilty, know they are guilty and just wanting to get the smallest pain in their life possible makes the plea bargining system work the way it does.

  • by Joe_Dragon (2206452) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:51PM (#39332865)

    some times you lose more by getting on a jury.

    Some places have fired people for going on one http://www.jdsupra.com/post/documentViewer.aspx?fid=d92cc1df-79be-4c30-849d-988ccf1bba6d [jdsupra.com]

  • Re:Injustice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mashiki (184564) <[mashiki] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:52PM (#39332873) Homepage

    Shoplifting isn't as big a problem as they make it. It's employee theft that's the big problem.

  • by unassimilatible (225662) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:52PM (#39332875) Journal
    Why do we want to crash the government? It's our tool to serve the public good. It's not perfect, but we're better off with it than against it.

    In many cases, the government makes matters worse, not better. And nobody proposed "crashing the government." They said crash the "longer sentence for exercising your rights" system. Typical of anti-Libertarians, equate them to anarchists.

    The libertarian hostility to civilisation is very sad.

    The liberal obsession with statist solutions is very scary.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:53PM (#39332889)

    "The Prisoner's Dilemma" for nothing.

  • Jury nullification (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Xandrax (2451618) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:54PM (#39332903)

    Jury nullification would be another benefit. While the justice system tries to hide this consitutional doctrine and demand that juries be nothing more than "finders of facts", it exists primarily to protect citizens from unjust laws that have been forced upon them. The war on drugs would be a good example of this. If most citizens don't believe that a person should spend 5 years in jail for smoking weed, start acquitting the "guilty" using jury nullification.

  • by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:57PM (#39332941)
    That's a nice rosy thought, but the ability to afford an attorney for trial has nothing to do with your budgetary capability of paying for one, it is all about how poor you are and like many social services, you have to be very VERY poor in order to have an attorney appointed for you. If you don't meet the financial requirements then the state has NO OBLIGATION whatsoever to provide you with an attorney because hey if you really really wanted to, you could not pay your rent for a month or two to keep yourself out of jail. If you can't afford an attorney and one will not be appointed for you then you are on your own. Want to go ahead anyway? Well, there are a long series of rules and procedures you have to follow in order to represent yourself in a proper manner and you have to know that the prosecution is under not obligation to help you in any way shape or form. "You didn't see that piece of evidence? Well it's been here the whole time for you to look at" etc. The american justice system is of, by, and for the wealthy and they are often the only ones that can afford to go to trial which is why more often than not they get off Scot free.
  • by dougmc (70836) <dougmc+slashdot@frenzied.us> on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:58PM (#39332951) Homepage

    All they need is one case where a child pedo is released due to the systems inability to provide a speedy trial, and we will see another one of our rights taken from us

    Such cases aren't rare at all. It doesn't really happen to bonafide terrorists, but people accused of "child pedo" (which could mean a whole lot of different things with varying degrees of severity) often are released without even a trial.

    Criminals are released on technicalities or rights violated by the police all the time. And innocents are imprisoned because they were tricked by the police, didn't understand the situation or couldn't afford a decent lawyer all the time too.

  • Re:Injustice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by puppybane (120218) on Monday March 12, 2012 @06:58PM (#39332955) Homepage

    But surely the vast majority of people who take plea bargains are doing so because they are guilty, and because they are being offered a good deal. I suspect there are plenty who are getting screwed, and their lawyers need to stop that from happening, but it's not a vast conspiracy to deprive people of their rights. Just an attempt to save everyone time and money by not litigating petty crimes. I know a lawyer who refuses to take certain cases if his client doesn't plead guilty, because most of the time the client *is* guilty, and then he's spending his valuable time trying to keep criminals out of jail. But if the client pleads guilty, he can help make sure that the client isn't unduly punished. Most of what he does is make sure that those who plead guilty are given fair sentences.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:02PM (#39332987)

    Which is one reason the system is so fucked up to start with.

    Just getting ACCUSED of something can bankrupt you. Guilt doesn't enter it. Just like in the civil court system, big companies mostly use the legal system as a bludgeon, burying opponents in paperwork and attorney's fees regardless of truth or merit of any lawsuit.

  • by tonywong (96839) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:04PM (#39333019) Homepage
    What is the public good? Is it in the public's interest to imprison people who want to smoke weed? 18 year-olds who are sexually attracted to 17 year-olds? I don't think people are arguing that no government is better than any government, but when you turn the screws too hard against people/group/race/religion and try to restrict their rights, they need/will find a way to push back.

    When you see the number of African Americans who have contact with the penal system you have to wonder if the American people count black men as being part of 'the public.'
  • Re:Injustice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by F1re (249002) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:05PM (#39333029) Homepage Journal

    But surely the vast majority of people who take plea bargains are doing so because they are guilty, and because they are being offered a good deal.

    That's just it...they are getting a good deal and not being punished as much as they should be!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:06PM (#39333039)

    I think you mean the super-rich. A trial, ANY trial, can bankrupt a rich man.

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodInHell (258915) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:07PM (#39333061) Homepage
    Don't worry, after a few months of litigation you too can be indigent.

    That's a joke. The reality is that, yes, a jury trial is MUCH more expensive than taking your lawyer's plea agreement -- unless you calculate in your time in prison, etc.

    The real issue is that you actually CAN be punished for demanding a jury trial -- the sentence will be heavier -- this is tailored as "lack of remorse" essentially -- you're still claiming innocence!? You aren't facing up to your criminal liability. Add time.

    -GiH
  • Re:GAP (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:12PM (#39333117) Journal

    Government is terrorism against its citizens.

    Take a look at the headlines of today, and tell me, which ones does not follow the logic that if it is possible, someone will deem it necessary and government should require it? The logic used in most political discussions is: "We must do something, this is something, therefore it must be done!" Nobody ever stops to ask "WHY must something be done?"

    Government is tyranny, whether by do-gooders on the right or left edge of the political spectrum.

  • Re:Injustice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodInHell (258915) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:12PM (#39333123) Homepage
    I used to do some public defense work. Here's how plea bargains often went -- your choice was to (a) accept a plea to this minor included offense, pay restitution (money) to the victim, pay a charge to the court and the cost of your arrest and court fees; or (b) go on trial for the felony crime you may have committed (questionable), risk jail time, risk major and permanent alteration in your status and rights as a citizen (i.e. no right to vote, no guns, etc).

    Quick, you're innocent -- which do you choose? Remember, jury trials are a crap-shoot to start with, and the dice are loaded against you if you're brown and poor.

    -GiH
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:12PM (#39333127)

    My local municipalities all started sending cops out on fishing expeditions to supplement their income during the recession. One lawyer I talked to said the ticket rates for one city in one month exceeded that for the whole year. They started sweeps for buckled drivers and even drivers license checkpoints. I would've loved to see these drivers making all these cops go to court to defend their tickets.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:14PM (#39333143)

    The liberal obsession with statist solutions is very scary.

    Liberal? It's been the Conservatives at the forefront of the "fuck them, imprison them all, especially the n____s and spics" system.

    What, you didn't think that sentencing guidelines different for "crack" and "powder" cocaine came out of nowhere did you? Crack is predominantly used by blacks, powder primarily used by the silver-spoon sons of the upper crust. And as for Marijuana, Texas senators are on record, "All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff is what makes them crazy"; in the Deep South, marijuana bans were a way to discriminate against blacks, and again came up the comments, like "Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice."

    These laws were passed by Conservatives, not liberals. Conservatives, aka deranged lunatics like this [publicpolicypolling.com].

  • by praxis (19962) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:19PM (#39333187)

    So in the case of rape we should just find the accused guilty without a 'pointless' trial rather than permit them the right to have their crimes proven? We're not talking about accused that are going to plead guilty on their own free will, we're talking about accused that are being strong armed into a guilty plea, innocent or not, because it's cheaper.

  • Re:GAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:23PM (#39333233) Journal
    Oh stop using the word terrorism unless you're talking about a non-government group using terror in order to achieve a political objective. If you can't explain why something is wrong without labelling it as something it's not then I'll assume you're just trying to imply guilt by association.
  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:29PM (#39333315)

    "Be impartial in your decisions. Listen to the least important people the same way you listen to the most important people" - Deuteronomy 1:17

    For a supposedly "christian" nation they sure don't fucking act like it...

  • Re:Injustice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by F1re (249002) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:31PM (#39333349) Homepage Journal

    Yes, they are published, in huge books that I can read down at the library. I have to start with the Criminal Code Act 1899, then apply all the amendments that have been voted in over the last 100+ years. And then I have to look at verdicts of court cases in my state that establish presidents about how that law is interpreted. After all that I am not sure if I will have enough time for my day job!

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:32PM (#39333355)
    The post I replied specifically referred to society losing out if the accused is either innocent or victim. You're the one that's only talking about the one situation.

    If a guilty person pleads guilty, everyone involved in the case, the victims, the courts and the criminal himself benefits. Yes plea deals go wrong when innocent people wrongly take them but try as you might, you cannot pretend that plea deals have no benefits.
  • by rhook (943951) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:33PM (#39333357)

    The US is not a Christian nation.

  • by praxis (19962) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:35PM (#39333383)

    Gee, an officer replied to a DV call of a man beating his wife, comes in and sees a woman with a black eye and a dude that smells of whiskey* -- do we really need a jury to decide that one? Or grand theft auto where the perp is caught in the stolen car

    Yes, we do. We have a right to a trial by a jury. Every one of us. That includes stupid criminals. The alternative, where an officer or a lawyer or anyone else that decides a persons fate without due process is ripe for abuse. Really nasty and bad abuse.

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:35PM (#39333389)

    So say I. On the other hand, the conservatard/Republican party and their Tea Party yokels seem to like to say so every day. So I was pointing out how un-christian those assholes really are.

  • by painandgreed (692585) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:37PM (#39333417)

    Occupy should start the Nullify movement - E.G. if you are on a jury refuse to return a guilty verdict for victimless BS charges.

    BS charges like for a white man killing a black man in the Deep South? In all those old movies where a bad guy says "No jury will convict me.", jury nullification is exactly what they're talking about. That leads to break down of rule of law, and from there it goes back to lynching and vigilante justice because of lack of trust in the legal system. It works both ways. Sure there are some things I wouldn't mind jury nulification being used on, but there are lots of other things that people will use it for if it becomes an accepted practice.

  • by praxis (19962) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:39PM (#39333425)

    Plea deals have no benefit. A remorseful criminal that pleads guilty have a lot of benefit. A guilty person who pleas into a lighter sentence and has no remorse does not lead to justice being served. An innocent person who fears they might lose despite their innocence and takes a plea deal into any sentence feels let down by the system and does not lead to justice being served. A guilty person who feels remorse and pleads guilty and takes their just sentence is what you're looking for, and those rarely come out of one side using threats and bargains to get them.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:43PM (#39333479)

    Said that of all his clients, there was only one who he wasn't 100% sure was guilty. That isn't to say some of them didn't get off. One was a kid arrested with Sharpies on his person that the police claimed he used for tagging. He admitted to my friend he had in fact done so. However the search had been illegal, so the case was tossed. Saw the same kid back about 6 months later. This time the police had waited until they'd seen him tagging something, no getting out of that.

    This wasn't my friend being an asshole on his assumptions or anything. The one case he was unsure about was the only one where there wasn't direct physical evidence, or an admission, of guilt.

    In general, this is what you'd hope. You'd hope that cases would only be brought forward if the prosecution felt there was a good chance the person was guilty. The idea with the justice system isn't to just toss everyone in court and see what sticks. While a high plea rate can be indicative of other problems and we do need to monitor courts for abuses carefully, it can also simply mean that the state is doing its homework. They only press charges when they've got good evidence. The defense gets to see this evidence and tells their client "take the deal."

    That is what happened with the kid the second time around. He was initially smug and said "You can get me off again, right?" My friend explained no, this was iron clad open and shut. Take the deal offered because there was no way he was walking away free.

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:54PM (#39333579)
    It may be a 'flawed process' but it's a hell of a lot better than the outcomes of cases being decided on the whim of somebody who ignores all the facts presented to him in a court in favour of his own views.

    The point of the jury isn't to pass judgement on the person or the law. It's to pass judgement on the case through the facts brought up in court. Justice should be blind, not just when it comes to your views of the defendant but when it comes to all views and predjudices you may hold.
  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:55PM (#39333589) Homepage
    There's a dilemma there for me. Those who truly show remorse should, in an ideal world, be treated more leniently - they are more likely (again, in a ideal world) to go on to become productive members of society. But should we further punish those who maintain their innocence simply for doing so, even if it it is in the face of overwhelming evidence?

    .

    I guess it all boils down to it still being possible - not to suggest justice is inherently flawed, just imperfect - to be convicted of a crime one did not commit.

  • by Freddybear (1805256) on Monday March 12, 2012 @07:58PM (#39333623)

    Most politicians seem to be more fond of Matthew 22:21 "Render unto Caesar".

  • by abigsmurf (919188) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:01PM (#39333657)
    Who decides if it's a victimless crime if not the jury? Perhaps someone in the jury sees a klan member killing a black man as being victimless BS.

    Jury Nullification still looking noble to you?
  • by Imagix (695350) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:04PM (#39333697)
    I find this somewhat offensive. Were these people wearing their seatbelts or not? Were they appropriately licensed or not? "Make them prove it in court!" in many cases sounds exactly like "Yeah, I broke the law, but if I take it to court and waste taxpayers money to pay the cop double time to show up, hope that he doesn't so that I can avoid the responsibility for my actions.".
  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:05PM (#39333703) Homepage

    Sadly? Rightly.

    You're not to there to hold the justice system to account, you're there to apply it, imperfect as it is. If it was illegal to whistle on a Sunday, the stupidity of the law in question is not, legally (morally is an entirely separate issue), enough for you to find not guilty.

    Now, if there was such a law, then I'd be all for using that tactic to bring an end to it - but I also wouldn't expect or ask the court to start deciding who's in contempt and who isn't based on stupidity of law, because that's a slippery slope in and of itself. You would be guilty of jury poisoning, and should expect to be punished.

    Runaway Jury was a pretty good movie though.

  • by tmosley (996283) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:06PM (#39333721)
    Better that ten guilty men walk free than one innocent man be imprisoned.
  • by mspohr (589790) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:10PM (#39333753)

    The US tends to worship corporations and profit. Actual religion is just a background show.

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:12PM (#39333789)

    Really you ever notice any movement that gets off the ground that (however politely) wants gov't to fuck off and leave us alone always gets treated with contempt and ridicule in the media?

    They're not - The media asks these 'movements' pointed questions, the 'movements' squirm and claim they're being treated with comptempt and ridicule as an out to dealing with the questions...

    Teabaggers: Cut Gov't Spending!
    Media: So cut your medicare?
    Teabaggers: Cut all govt spending except medicare!
    Media: So we can cut the military? That costs billions.
    Teabaggers: Stop treating us with comtempt and ridicule!

    ...and yes the same thing happened with the 99 percenters when the media talked to them...

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:14PM (#39333809)

    I know it's fun to hate on anything that becomes well known (maybe they don't believe as you do - those BASTARDS!) but do you actually know anything about them?

    Actually, yes, I do since they took over my town's fourth of july celebration.

    They're a bunch of racist Birthers.
    They love to get drunk and shout "go back to Mexico" at anyone that looks remotely latino.
    They claim to be about "reducing the size, power, and involvement in daily life of government" until the moment you suggest touching the programs they use, like food stamps, medicaid, and free public "education" (that they nevertheless refuse to vote to adequately fund while screaming about taxes 99.999% of them won't ever have to pay unless they hit the lottery).

    Framing: it's a way to lie gruesomely without ever saying something false.

    Framing: I know racist ass-hats when I see them, and where I live, the Tea Party is nothing but racist ass-hats who found a new way to appear "respectable" to idiots like you who are too stupid to notice it's the same old crowd, just without the white hoods.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:15PM (#39333817)

    Everybody is still innocent until proven guilty, but what they do to innocent people these days is hard to fathom.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:26PM (#39333901) Journal

    If the rape victim does not want to recount the crime, they can refuse to do so. Of course, if their testimony is the only evidence, the accused goes free - but there's no right to put people in jail without giving them due process, and that kind of thing is a part of it. You can't just say "oh, he did it, but I don't want to talk about it".

  • by causality (777677) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:26PM (#39333909)

    I was surprised to discover the rate of premarital pregnancy and divorce was actually HIGHER among church-going Christians then the general population.

    It's not really a surprise when you think about it. A lot of well-meaning (but naive) Christians raise their kids in a heavily sheltered environment. Then they turn 18, go out on their own, and receive the shock of their lives when they are suddenly confronted with decisions they were never prepared to face. It's not a surprise that as young adults, they would engage in risky behavior like casual unprotected sex.

    A laundry list of "dos and don'ts" doesn't build character or cultivate wisdom, it just prohibits. It transmits little or no understanding and even less ability to reason through a situation and make good decisions. Such religious prohibition combined with severe social stigma may have mostly worked during the 1950s, among the Puritans, and during the Victorian Era, but there aren't so many external restraints governing consenting adults anymore. I consider that a good thing, but it doesn't produce good results if there is no internal decision-making that can plan ahead and evaluate risk.

    If the inability to evaluate cause-and-effect in order to consider the ramifications of one's decisions is a disease, I say we are suffering a pandemic. Doing whatever feels good in the moment with no thought to secondary and tertiary effects sounds great but it doesn't result in a life that most people would want to be stuck with.

    Speaking of your discovery, have you ever met a woman who is a pastor's daughter? They have quite the reputation. Sure it's a stereotype, but it has some basis in fact.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:29PM (#39333935)

    One snag is that when most of them want this to be called a Christian Nation what they really mean is that they want a white somewhat European style culture to be absolutely dominant. Whereas actual Christian fundamentalists may comprise a large chunk of supporters there are also many many supporters who haven't gone to church in decades who will loudly shout that this is a Christian nation (sometimes while drunk too). It is really more of a culture war than a conflict over actual religious values.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:39PM (#39334035)

    By that logic we shouldn't have police either - after all a racist cop is quite capable of destroying and/or planting evidence in order to achieve a bogus ruling too. Being human, any system we come up with will be imperfect. But that is not a reason to eliminate a part of our legal system that has been there from the very beginning.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:39PM (#39334043)

    I have a conservative relative who was an OB/GYN nurse who once said she did feel free condoms and birth control should be in high schools, and my mother just about had an aneurism. The logic was that she had seen all these pregnant teens and that high schoolers are a mix of bad judgement and high hormones. Yes you want to drive your car safely but you're a fool if you don't use a seat belt. Just like seat belts don't make you drive like an idiot, availability of birth control doesn't make you go out and have sex and lack of birth control doesn't make you not have sex.

    So in that sense I don't think it's really hypocritical that there is a higher premarital pregnancy rate in Christian communities. It's just fallout from a blind belief that abstinence programs actually work, that "my child is a good child and nothing bad will happen to them" belief that haunts so many parents, a horrified thought whenever Planned Parenthood wants to give a talk at the schools, etc. Just like most communities, Christian, atheist, democrat, republican, minority, etc, there are a few really loud influential people who drive the way most people think (or don't think). As stupid as it is for someone to just believe whatever World Net Daily tells them without thinking, it's also just as stupid for people to say "I heard that X is politically incorrect so we should avoid that". Just not enough people make up their own minds in preference for letting others tell them what to think.

    I'm not a Ron Paul fan and a lot of his ideas are extremely goofy. But I do admire a politician who knows what he thinks and says it when he knows it won't be popular.

  • Re:GAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aXis100 (690904) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:41PM (#39334059)

    But that is exaxtly what most governments are doing - creating an environment of fear by constantly reminding us of how vulnerable we are. External terrorism is less common now than it was 30 years ago, and yet we have grandmothers geting grope-frisked going through domestic airports, whole terminals evacuated when someone accidentally leaves their suitcase unattended, and pretty much every muslim on the planet put on notice.

    They do this to achieve a political objective of control of the populace, and to help their buddies profit from all of the "preventative" measures.

    How does that not satisfy the definition of "using terror to achieve a political objective"

  • Re:GAP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by causality (777677) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:46PM (#39334101)

    Oh stop using the word terrorism unless you're talking about a non-government group using terror in order to achieve a political objective. If you can't explain why something is wrong without labelling it as something it's not then I'll assume you're just trying to imply guilt by association.

    I am a law-abiding citizen. I am also much, much more likely to be harmed in some way or another by my government or someone in their employment that ANY foreign terrorist. At least the government would try to look like they're going after any foreign terrorist who strikes American soil. By contrast, a government agent who harms me in some way (legally or not) is unlikely to ever face a penalty of any kind. Without doing a Google search, when's the last time you recall hearing about a police officer who was prosecuted and put in prison for abusing his power? Do you think they never abuse their power?

    You're right, they are not terrorists. Terrorists couldn't do that much damage for that long to that many millions of people in their wildest wet dreams. They are worse than terrorists. They've been that way ever since the statesman was replaced by the career politician.

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:47PM (#39334109)

    But a prosecutor has never spoken those words in the history of mankind.

  • by westlake (615356) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:48PM (#39334117)

    "Self-represented defendants are not bound by lawyers' ethical codes. This means that a defendant who represents himself can delay proceedings and sometimes wreak havoc on an already overloaded system by repeatedly filing motions."

    You can ask a judge to make some reasonable allowances for your ignorance of proper procedure.

    But don't for one minute think that you can play him for a fool.

  • by Pseudonym (62607) on Monday March 12, 2012 @08:49PM (#39334125)

    Religion is culture (though, of course, the converse is not true). The biggest and fastest-growing religious group in the English-speaking world is people who self-identify as some kind of Christian but don't regularly attend a place of worship. This would come as a surprise to people who think that religion is fundamentally about beliefs and practices. To most people, it's fundamentally about cultural and ethnic identity.

    It's unfortunate, but that's reality for you.

  • by Xeranar (2029624) on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:06PM (#39334265)

    I honestly hate to go into this because you're right for the most part but most cases in the average metropolitan area have overwhelming evidence. The problem is is that the DA, the courts, and the Public Defender's office all have limited resources. So even if you have ten security cameras, three eye witnesses, prints on the weapon, and an arm's length rap sheet it could still take days into weeks to present it to a jury. So instead the DA gives a semi-lenient sentence to avoid having to waste valuable resources on a low-level crime (drugs, GTA, GTL, or a non-violent crime) while spending on the violent ones.

    The hands full of people who get charged with criminal offenses who can afford real legal defenses are usually the ones that the DA does want to go after because they tend to be the more violent and society-threatening (business owner/pillar of community murders his wife). The source material reinforces what we've known about the system for years. The dramatic increase actually occurred with the rise of CCTV and security cameras. Ironically the police didn't get better so much as technology made it more feasible to catch even the most mundane crime that would have been unsolvable 30 years ago. Then again a large portion of our prison population should be in rehab centers and mental institutions not prisons but that's an argument for another day.

  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:07PM (#39334271)

    I've come to the conclusion that rich people don't become rich by either acting fairly or giving money away. I saw one of the richest people in my country putting in an expense claim for a single newspaper - after all, it was a business expense to keep his knowledge current!

    The idea of outsourcing seems to be purely to either extract more wealth from a business. Take fisheries in New Zealand. The companies set up by the indigenous people to take advantage of their fishing quotas charter cheap foreign labour rather than locals (see http://thestandard.org.nz/nats-happy-with-slave-fishing/ [thestandard.org.nz] for a brief overview). The claim is that without using overseas labour it isn't economically viable to fish, so we must use foreign labour to extract any value from our resources.

    In some ways it makes perfect sense - extracting the most wealth from a resource, but it does very little for the wealth of the country's people - we don't have jobs, we don't have fish, and it contributes nothing to our standard of living. They would be just as well off if they left the fish in the sea.

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by javascriptjunkie (2591449) on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:21PM (#39334377)
    Which just goes to show that the court system in America is not accessible to everyone. It's tailored to the rich, those that have already been convicted of something, and people who are already lawyers. It's a damn travesty.
  • by dryeo (100693) on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:45PM (#39334529)

    They are all about reducing the size, power, and involvement in daily life of government. If they got what they wanted you wouldn't "quintuple the prison population" in a few decades which would avoid this problem.
    I think that privatizing the police and courts would accelerate the rate of imprisoning people just as reducing the size of the part of government that runs the prisons has driven the quintupling of the size of the prison population that was mentioned in the summary. It is not the government that is profiting off of the large prison population (besides the campaign funding).

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman (671371) on Monday March 12, 2012 @09:51PM (#39334569) Homepage

    Oh, we can all afford. Never mind the part that will leave you bankrupt with a ruined credit rating. Though I'm sure at the time that will be the least of your worries should you get convicted. But still.

  • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Monday March 12, 2012 @10:58PM (#39335057) Homepage Journal
    It's just fallout from a blind belief that abstinence programs actually work, that "my child is a good child and nothing bad will happen to them" belief that haunts so many parents, a horrified thought whenever Planned Parenthood wants to give a talk at the schools

    Which is in turn spawned (pun intended) by the aberrant idea that sex is bad, dirty, and only acceptable between consenting heterosexual married couples. Do you think there would be a problem giving kids sexual education if there wasn't a deranged stigma about sex in western society?

    Sexual behavior is normal and healthy in teens and young adults. Just educate them about birth control and safe sex, and everything will be fine. They will figure out which holes to stuff things into, regardless of your puritanical controlling attempts to influence them into being sexless jeebus zombies.
  • by Brannon (221550) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:47AM (#39335713)

    ten thousand, one hundred thousand?

    Life is a long process of slowly shedding the absolutism one has as a child through the course of learning some unpleasant realities. One of them is, "Justice can never be perfect, but imperfect justice is far better than no justice."

  • by tnk1 (899206) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:48AM (#39335719)

    Really? Christian children have no affection from their families? That's ridiculous. Where do people get this stuff?

    Look, certain parents may well be conservative, but that doesn't mean they don't show or give affection. They just don't want you dressing a certain way or whoring your way through school. For a lot of people, it works fine, especially if the parents explain themselves or the responsibilities well, or the kids are smart enough to realize that you don't have to stick your dick in someone because it might feel good.

    Yes, there are people who repress their kids. Thing is, I doubt religion is the actual deciding factor in most of them. It is most likely that they are simply oppressive sorts of people.

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Renraku (518261) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @12:55AM (#39335751) Homepage

    Lies. It happens all the time.

    Scenario: You blew a .04% on the breathalyzer and showed a .03% on the blood test, but you swerved. We have it on video. You also stumbled when we asked you to walk the straight line during the field sobriety test, never mind that it was twenty degrees out and we didn't let you put your jacket on and we drew the line right beside a busy interstate. We have this on video too. We can make a deal where you lose your license for a year, pay ten grand, take some classes, and are on probation for a year...or you can take it to trial and go to jail for a year. During that time, your girlfriend will see other men, you'll lose your pets, most of your possessions, and come out pretty much bankrupt from all the bills you weren't able to pay. Your move.

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @01:31AM (#39335909) Journal

    Actually there IS a magic bullet, its called "get rid of sin crimes" and treat adults like adults. The late William F Buckley said a perfect explanation once, sorry if i don't get the quote exact but it went like this: "If I put a bottle on a table that says poison and has a skull and crossbones on it and i tell you 'this is poison, it will destroy your health, destroy your family, before it finally destroys you' and you push me out of the way and gulp the bottle straight down? Well stupid you frankly are too ignorant to live! why should I spend billions to build cages to put you in and armed guards around the bottle because you are too dumb not to drink it?"

    Gambling, prostitution and drugs should ALL be legal and regulated, no different than booze is now. Personal responsibility means being able to choose stupidly as well as smartly and if you removed non violent offenders out of the system you wouldn't have this problem...

    But here is the REAL truth, ugly and sick such as it is, the elite have figured out how to make money off those poor by locking them up, both by privatizing the prison system and with prison labor, not to mention all the traditionally mafia style rackets like concessions Prisons and the prison system are billion dollar businesses and they give the elite the added bonus of stripping the rights away from a large section of the minorities so it is a win/win for them.

    Well right up until we have an Arab spring, which i figure we will have in the next decade, right around when unemployment hits 50% and the crime shoots through the roof because all these millions of uneducated poor can't feed themselves because all the factories were sent to Asia and all the manual labor given to illegals. Somehow I doubt power will be transferred as nicely as it was in the old USSR, it'll probably be more like Libya which with the amount of firepower the USA has spread out all over the country should give anyone nightmares. But hopefully when the final round has been fired we will go back to a more strict constitutional government where people are treated like adults again and the corps aren't allowed to become destructive monsters like they are now.

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @03:38AM (#39336333)

    There are exactly two parts in every law book that have no touch with reality: Sex and drugs.

    And it's only two because nobody ever bothered with rock'n roll.

    Quite seriously, these are the two parts of every civil law book that plain out don't make any sense. I can see the point in everything else, since it usually involves two parties, a culprit and a victim. In these two parts, they're usually rolled into one. Kinda like the law trying to protect you from yourself.

    And IMO that's now the law's prerogative. I should have the right to ruin my life in the way I prefer. Once you let me vote and enter other contracts perfectly able to ruin my life forever, I should also have the right to ruin it in a more pleasurable way.

  • Re:Uh, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karl Cocknozzle (514413) <kcocknozzle.hotmail@com> on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @07:34AM (#39337039) Homepage

    I generally agree with the legalization argument, but you're oversimplifying things. Many things are illegal only partially for the damage they allow you to do to yourself. The abuse of many substances could/would also have a widespread negative effect on society. Just as we restrict "liberty" by forcing all children to go to school in order to promote an educated society, we should also restrict liberty by preventing people from using highly addictive drugs like opiates.

    An interesting take, straight out of "Hugs not Drugs!" But also utter bullshit.

    Legalization leads to less abuse by youths, and less abuse overall, lower rates of addiction, and less overall harm.

    If you're really trying to "protect" people from dangerous drugs and their ill effects on society, you should be working to legalize or decriminalize just about everything, since the Netherlands experiment shows pretty conclusively that young people have less access to drugs in a legalized marketplace (because black marketeers don't check ID) there's less experimentation among youth, less addiction among youth, and less addiction overall in society. Overall, fewer people take drugs in the Netherlands now that they're de facto legal.

Vax Vobiscum

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