America`s Injustice System is Criminal
The Christmas season is a time to remember the
unfortunate. Among the most unfortunate people are those
who have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned.
The United States has a large number of wrongfully
convicted. There are many reasons for this. One is that
the US has the largest percentage of its citizens
imprisoned of all countries in the world, including
China. One of every 32 US adults is behind bars, on
probation or on parole. Given a wrongful conviction
rate, the larger the percentage of citizens in jails,
the greater the number of wrongfully convicted.
According to the
International Center for Prison Studies at King`s
College in London, the US has 700,000
more of its citizens incarcerated than China, a
country with a population four to five times larger than
that of the US, and 1,330,000 more people in prison than
crime-ridden Russia. The US has 5% of the world`s
population and 25% of the world`s prisoners. The
American incarceration rate is seven times higher than
that of European countries. Either America is the land
of criminals, or something is seriously wrong with the
criminal justice (sic) system in "the land of the
In the US the wrongful conviction rate is extremely
high. One reason is that hardly any of the convicted
have had a jury trial. No peers have heard the evidence
against them and found them guilty. In the US criminal
justice (sic) system, more than
95% of all felony cases are settled with a plea bargain.
Before jumping to the conclusion that an innocent
person would not admit guilt, be aware of how the
process works. Any defendant who stands trial faces more
severe penalties if found guilty than if he agrees to a
plea bargain. Prosecutors don`t like trials because they
are time consuming and a lot of work. To discourage
trials, prosecutors offer defendants reduced charges and
lighter sentences than would result from a jury
conviction. In the event a defendant insists upon his
innocence, prosecutors pile on charges until the
defendant`s lawyer and family convince the defendant
that a jury is likely to give the prosecutor a
conviction on at least one of the many charges and that
the penalty will be greater than a negotiated plea.
The criminal justice (sic) system today consists of a
process whereby a defendant is coerced into admitting to
a crime in order to escape more severe punishment for
maintaining his innocence. Many of the crimes for which
people are imprisoned never occurred. They are made up
crimes created by the process of negotiation to close a
This takes most of the work out of the system and,
thereby, suits police, prosecutors, and judges to a tee.
Police do not have to be careful about evidence, because
they know that no more than one case out of twenty will
ever be tested in the courtroom.
Prosecutors do not have to make decisions about
which cases to prosecute or risk losing cases. By
coercing pleas, prosecutors can prosecute every case and
boast of extremely high conviction rates.
When prosecutors had to decide which cases to
prosecute, they had to examine the evidence and to
investigate the defendant`s side of the story. No more.
The evidence seldom comes into play. In place of a
determination of innocence or guilt, prosecutors
negotiate with lawyers the crimes to which a defendant
will enter a plea.
Prosecutors have lost sight of innocence and guilt.
What we have today is a conveyor belt that convicts
almost everyone who is charged. Every defense attorney
knows that today prosecutors can purchase testimony
against a defendant by paying a "witness" with
money, dropped charges, or reduced time to testify
against the defendant. Many prosecutors become highly
annoyed at any disruption of the plea bargain conviction
process. A defendant that incurs the prosecutor`s ire is
certain to be framed on far more serious charges than a
Going to trial is no guarantee that an innocent
person will be acquitted. Prosecutors routinely withhold
exculpatory evidence and suborn perjury. Generally,
jurors trust prosecutors and are unaware of their
inventory of dirty tricks. Few jurors can tell the
difference between bogus evidence and real evidence. For
example, psychologists and criminologists have
established beyond all doubt that eye-witnesses are
wrong 50% of the time. Yet, jurors usually believe
eye-witnesses unless they think the witness has it in
for the defendant and is lying.
Prosecutors–and there are still a few–who are
meticulous about their cases and fair to defendants show
poor results compared to the high convictions attained
by prosecutors who run plea bargain mills and frame-up
factories. Today`s criminal justice (sic) system is
results orientated, not justice orientated.
In the past judges could give light sentences to
people they believed had been wrongfully convicted. But
"law and order conservatives" have taken
sentencing discretion away from judges. Today
prosecutors hold all the cards.
Many conservatives believe that prisons are full of
hardened criminals who liberal judges are determined to
release to prey upon society. In truth, the largest
percentage of prisoners are drug users who are victims
of the conservatives`
"war on drugs." Drug offenses account for 49
percent of federal prison population growth between 1995
and 2003. Many of these prisoners are mothers arrested
for drug use. The greatest victims of the drug laws are
the children whose mothers are incarcerated.
As females become
sexually active at younger and younger ages, state
legislatures have stupidly
raised the age at which it is legal to engage in
sexual activity. Today, a significant percentage of new
prisoners are young men imprisoned for engaging in
sexual activity with teenage girls. In the US, criminal
justice (sic) has more to do with
ruining people than with punishing criminals.
I have written often about wrongful convictions. We
know that wrongful conviction is a serious problem when
the advent of DNA evidence has led to the release of a
significant number of innocent people who were convicted
of murder and rape, and when a number of law schools
feel that it is necessary for them to operate innocence
projects that work for the release of the
Prosecutors are like President Bush. They absolutely
refuse to admit that they ever make a mistake and have
to be forced to disgorge their innocent victims. Nothing
makes a prosecutor more angry than to have to give back
a wrongfully convicted person`s life.
Lt. William Strong and
Christophe Gaynor are two of the hundreds of
thousands of wrongfully convicted Americans whose lives
have been ruined by an irresponsible and corrupt
criminal justice (sic) system.
In Virginia, Lt. William Strong, the son of a
military family, grew tired of his wife`s unfaithfulness
and filed for divorce. The unfaithful wife retaliated by
accusing Strong of marital rape. Neither police nor
prosecutor investigated the charge. Instead, they
proceeded to set Strong up for plea conviction. The
arresting officer recommended Strong`s attorney, an
incompetent who owed his cases to the police.
Strong insisted on a trial, but the arresting officer
and attorney convinced Strong`s parents that with a plea
their son would be out in a year. No one told Strong or
his parents the implications of a plea, and Virginia
Judge Westbrook Parker, playing to feminist voters, gave
Strong a life sentence of 60 years.
The case has many unsavory appearances. If reports
are true, the arresting officer paid numerous visits to
Strong`s unfaithful wife, as did Strong`s attorney, and
the arresting officer ended up separating from his wife
and leaving the police force.
perk kit exists and Strong could be given a DNA
test, but Virginia refuses on the grounds that Strong
admitted his guilt. Strong says the semen, if any, is
that of the wife`s boyfriend.
Strong has been in prison for 15 years on the basis
of zero evidence. He is in prison because he and his
parents trusted the police officer and the criminal
justice (sic) system.
Another Virginia case is that of Christophe Gaynor.
Gaynor was the coach of an adolescent skate board team,
which he took to New York City for a competition. One of
the adolescents expressed his intention to buy drugs.
Gaynor forbade it and threatened to report the boy to
The irresponsible kid retaliated by accusing Gaynor
of sex abuse. There was no evidence. There was no
investigation. Gaynor had never displayed any homosexual
tendencies. The entire team knew the accusation was
false. Gaynor went to trial. He was framed by the
prosecutor with the help of the judge, who intimidated
Gaynor`s witnesses by incarcerating one of the kids
overnight without cause. Gaynor was sentenced to 32
years with no possibility of parole on the basis of no
evidence, just an unproven accusation. His trial was
full of irregularities, and the same judge who sentenced
him denied Gaynor a new trial.
Ten years later, this past summer Noah J. Seidenberg,
who brought the unproven accusation against Gaynor, died
apparently of drug overdose at the age of 24 years.
There is no institution in America that is a greater
failure than the criminal justice (sic) system. The
system can do nothing but fail, because the search for
truth and justice plays no part in the system. The
prosecutor`s career depends on his conviction rate, not
on discovering the guilt or innocence of the accused.
Virginia`s governor could pardon Strong and Gaynor.
But feminists and
"child advocates" would scream and yell, as
would prosecutors and
"law and order conservatives." Nothing matters
to these groups but their own single-issue, and justice
is not part of it. In America justice cannot be done
unless a governor is prepared to sacrifice his own
political career in the interest of justice.
What kind of people are we when we exercise no
oversight over a criminal justice (sic) system that
destroys the lives of innocent people with lies?
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Paul Craig Roberts
him] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of
Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington;
and the Soviet Economy and
Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy,
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice. Click
here for Peter
Brimelow`s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.