Wednesday, May 28, 2014

10,000 Innocent Americans In Jail

"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." --- Desmond Tutu

Federal Judge Jed Rakoff has been crunching the numbers and says our judicial system is broken - plea deals may reduce the number of cases in courts but the reality is that thousands and thousands of innocent Americans are in jail. A recent interview with the Judge is here. Some excerpts:

"Nationwide, 97% of federal defendants plead guilty instead of taking their chances at trial.

How many innocent or partly innocently people are locked up on false plea agreements? Rakoff says estimates have ranged from 1% to 8% of the prison population. Even 0.5% would total more than 10,000 people, Rakoff said."

Judge Rakoff presented his perspective and how to improve the judicial system in a recent speech.

In a related note, writer Nell Bernstein warns the nation's juvvenile justice system is also broken, in her new book "Burning Down The House." After years of research and study, she says:

"One in three American schoolchildren will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that fly in the face of everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults."