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Innocent People in Jail?

DGS49

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This is an interesting and tragic story of a doctor who was convicted of growing pot in his basement, which he was doing to treat his wife, who was dying of cancer. The recent de-crim of pot made the case even more absurd that it originally was, and it recently had a "storybook" ending when he was pardoned last week, largely through the efforts of our Lt Governor, who is a strong proponent of weed legalization.

Of course, the final chapter would be the answer to his question: "Where do I go to get my life back?"

In discussing this case with a close relative, he made the charge that this sort of thing happens "all the time." Black guys are arrested on phony pretexts, held for trial - which causes them to lose their jobs, alienates their significant others, etc., then they accept a bullshit plea bargain because they can't afford a competent attorney and end up in the Big House for nothing.

Hmm.

The person I'm speaking with is much more into this stuff than I am, having done volunteer work on many cases for the Innocence Project, and all I know is what they taught me in law school.

In short, Police don't want to arrest people. They never have. It is a pain in the ass, so they rarely arrest people for "nothing," and in most cases, even if they know someone committed a crime, they won't arrest the person unless they know they have (or can get) proof that will stand up in court. So as a general proposition, innocent people don't get arrested.

Next, we have the arraignment. The magistrate (or whatever) who presides over the arraignment must first of all decide whether the arresting officer(s) has a good prima facia case - that is, is there sufficient evidence at that time to convince him that this is not just a waste of time. If not, the person is discharged.

The next part of the arraignment is the setting of bond. The amount of bond is determined - at least in theory - by the accused's connections to the community. Is he likely to show up for the next step, which is the Preliminary Hearing? Is he a career criminal? Does he have a job, a home, a family? If he is likely to stick around because of these factors, then he is ROR, released on his own recognizance - a promise to show up for the Prelim Hearing.

So the question becomes, how likely is it for someone who is FACTUALLY INNOCENT and an OTHERWISE GOOD CITIZEN to go to jail for a would-be first offense. And given that more than 95% of criminal cases are disposed of with PLEA BARGAINS (i.e., guilty pleas), that does not point to large numbers of innocent people being in jail.

Obviously, it happens occasionally. There are mis-identifications, there are bad cops, there are stupid magistrates, but the System is set up so that innocent people will not be tossed into jail. To assert that jails are full of innocent people makes no logical sense.

But what is the reality? What is the percentage of FACTUALLY INNOCENT people who are held in jail? I don't know.

Does anyone reading this have any sense of this phenomenon?
 

Prof.Lunaphiles

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It is very low. I was an innocent victim of a corrupt NYC prosecution. None of the other men I met in the jail impressed me as probably being a victim of the corruption, like me. They were all pretty much unreasonable with odd ideas about defense arguments. They were not denying a crime occurred, because there was physical evidence.

I was the victim of personal retaliation, the primary witness had some local favoritism, and was able to construct complex lies that did not have to be proven, and I could not prove the truth without appearing to be delusional by any cross-examination, nor could I compel the persons who knew the truth to testify against the witness. I had always wondered why an innocent person would not testify on their own behalf, and the situation showed me why it might be.

I fought it all the way, hearing delays sent me back and forth from Rikers to Manhattan court, which is extremely excruciating - it is an all day event from 05:30 - 22:00. And then kangaroo court antics, they switch the public defenders, prosecutors, and judges, who will request a psychological evaluation against my will, because it keeps me incarcerated for three months with twenty lunatics that cannot communicate because of their deliberating mental illnesses. It is done in an effort to pressure me to take a plea bargain, which I refused, and so, they send me back for another three-month evaluation. It all added up to over a year of incarceration which is the limit for the misdemeanor charge - so they had to do a trial. Which cost hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, plus the incarceration and psych evaluation costs.

During that 14 months, I read newspaper reports of at least three instances of similar domestic charges with a violent criminal history, against black men, and the court released them at arraignment and they went and killed their accusers or someone! I had no violence associated with my charges, nor record, just driving under the influence.

As I followed crime in NYC I noticed the prosecutor that was finally assigned to litigate my case was assigned to at least one high-profile case that turned out to be fraudulent; and then he was relocated to The Bronx.
 
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LuckyDuck

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If there is a law on the books and people break that law, depending upon the infraction, one can expect a warning, a ticket, a fine, probation, jail time or, serious prison time. If one chooses to ignore the law and commit a crime, regardless of his/her reasoning, there will be penalties when caught. If the public objects to any particular law on the books, they are to petition their local/state/federal government for a change in the law. Until then, expect to get arrested.
I don't know where you get the idea that law enforcement personnel don't want to arrest people. That's why they got into law "enforcement." There may be some minor infractions that they "personally" don't give a crap about, but that would be the individual law enforcement officer's decision on minor infractions. They have no problem whatsoever on arresting people on moderate to severe infractions of the law.
As to checking out a "suspect's" garbage. That is perfectly legal. Once you toss your miscellaneous items into the garbage and put it out on the curb, it actually becomes public property to be picked up by the local waste management company, but anyone is free to rummage through your garbage.
The fact that someone reported the doctor as distributing marijuana to patients, may be because he just may have been and one of the people he offered it to, may have been anti-illegal drug access. It also could have just been a neighbor that smelled that telltale odor coming from the doctor's house and reported it.
In any case he was punished. As for a pardon, a pardon doesn't dismiss the guilt, it only in essence says: "You are guilty of this particular crime, but we are freeing you for what you did."
Pardons don't negate what a convict did, only frees them to try and rebuild their lives. Sadly, despite pardons, or even completing sentences, ex-cons do find it difficult to get meaningful jobs once out.
 

Prof.Lunaphiles

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Downstairs, cops descend into Paul’s finished basement two floors below. In a corner of the cellar, in a walled-off room behind a white door, they discover a full-blown grow operation: 28 plants in total, sprouting from soil in black planters. After searching the entire home, they find marijuana clippings in plastic containers. Grow lights and fans. They find a Hydrofarm water pump, a scale, plastic bags and multiple bongs. About $1,300 in cash. Paul has a couple computers that the cops seize, along with a copy of Maximum Yield, a magazine about growing marijuana. This is enough to charge Paul with a litany of crimes: conspiracy to manufacture and distribute a controlled substance. Multiple counts of paraphernalia possession. Intentional possession of a controlled substance by a person not registered to possess it. Probably more.

Sounds like he had a high production and distribution business going.
 

lennypartiv

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I used to thinks very few innocent people ended up in prison. Then they started rounding up those who protested at the capital.
 

SavannahMann

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I’m afraid your information is inaccurate. The police arrest people all the time. And not reluctantly.

Here they arrested two attorneys for not complying with the police orders and submitting to a warrant that did not cover the attorneys themselves.


They arrest people all the time for failing to identify themselves. When the individual has no legal requirement to do so.


But hey. The idea that cops don’t want to arrest people is popular. And so is the idea that the cops are honest and trustworthy.

You said your friend was on the innocence project. Ok. Read those reports. In every case where someone is proven innocent there is a lot of police misconduct. Now either we are supposed to believe that only in those cases does the misconduct occur. Or that it is common practice.

We know it is common practice to lie on warrant requests by the FBI. The IG report showed that didn’t it?
 
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DGS49

DGS49

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The innocence Project gets scores of bullshit requests for every one that they accept. Of course, one wouldn't expect well-reasoned descriptions from inmates.
 

justinacolmena

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And given that more than 95% of criminal cases are disposed of with PLEA BARGAINS (i.e., guilty pleas), that does not point to large numbers of innocent people being in jail
Coerced confession and collectively bargained guilty pleas do not imply guilt.
Obviously, it happens occasionally. There are mis-identifications, there are bad cops, there are stupid magistrates, but the System is set up so that innocent people will not be tossed into jail. To assert that jails are full of innocent people makes no logical sense
No. The system is a meat grinder. If you're picked up by the cops you serve your time just like everyone else.
But what is the reality? What is the percentage of FACTUALLY INNOCENT people who are held in jail? I don't know
Law isn't based on FACTS, Mister. Law is based on FEELINGS. If the cops FEEL you are a bad guy, and they DESIRE to punish you, you will serve your time in prison, and under supervision when you get out, just like everyone else.
 

Notaradical60

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This is an interesting and tragic story of a doctor who was convicted of growing pot in his basement, which he was doing to treat his wife, who was dying of cancer. The recent de-crim of pot made the case even more absurd that it originally was, and it recently had a "storybook" ending when he was pardoned last week, largely through the efforts of our Lt Governor, who is a strong proponent of weed legalization.

Of course, the final chapter would be the answer to his question: "Where do I go to get my life back?"

In discussing this case with a close relative, he made the charge that this sort of thing happens "all the time." Black guys are arrested on phony pretexts, held for trial - which causes them to lose their jobs, alienates their significant others, etc., then they accept a bullshit plea bargain because they can't afford a competent attorney and end up in the Big House for nothing.

Hmm.

The person I'm speaking with is much more into this stuff than I am, having done volunteer work on many cases for the Innocence Project, and all I know is what they taught me in law school.

In short, Police don't want to arrest people. They never have. It is a pain in the ass, so they rarely arrest people for "nothing," and in most cases, even if they know someone committed a crime, they won't arrest the person unless they know they have (or can get) proof that will stand up in court. So as a general proposition, innocent people don't get arrested.

Next, we have the arraignment. The magistrate (or whatever) who presides over the arraignment must first of all decide whether the arresting officer(s) has a good prima facia case - that is, is there sufficient evidence at that time to convince him that this is not just a waste of time. If not, the person is discharged.

The next part of the arraignment is the setting of bond. The amount of bond is determined - at least in theory - by the accused's connections to the community. Is he likely to show up for the next step, which is the Preliminary Hearing? Is he a career criminal? Does he have a job, a home, a family? If he is likely to stick around because of these factors, then he is ROR, released on his own recognizance - a promise to show up for the Prelim Hearing.

So the question becomes, how likely is it for someone who is FACTUALLY INNOCENT and an OTHERWISE GOOD CITIZEN to go to jail for a would-be first offense. And given that more than 95% of criminal cases are disposed of with PLEA BARGAINS (i.e., guilty pleas), that does not point to large numbers of innocent people being in jail.

Obviously, it happens occasionally. There are mis-identifications, there are bad cops, there are stupid magistrates, but the System is set up so that innocent people will not be tossed into jail. To assert that jails are full of innocent people makes no logical sense.

But what is the reality? What is the percentage of FACTUALLY INNOCENT people who are held in jail? I don't know.

Does anyone reading this have any sense of this phenomenon?
 

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