April 24, 2004
25 years to life!
For trying to stop your own pain!
Stuff like this article by Jacob Sullum makes me sick beyond words. A guy who medicated himself, for pain, and who refused to plead guilty to being a drug dealer (which he wasn't) is now locked up where he can do society no harm:
[H]e sits in jail in his wheelchair, a subdermal pump delivers a steady, programmed dose of morphine to his spine.Nice work, men!
Not a lone example. It's what passes for "justice" in America. Considering that the prosecutor in this case, Assistant State Attorney Michael Halkitis, wants to be a judge, my attempt at sarcasm (placing the word "justice" in quotes) is pretty lame.
That's why I said I was "sick beyond words," because they can't express my outrage.
I guess that's why I blog.
It's better than medicating my anger.
Those who would imprison their fellow citizens for medicating their pain are without conscience, and it's scary. Those who hurt those for the "crime" of hurting themselves (if that's what medicating pain is), who put them in prison, are guiltier of far more heinous crimes.
They better hope there isn't a hell.
At least the Salem witch trial prosecutors imagined that they were doing the Lord's work.
UPDATE: Prosecutor Halkitis is against "medical necessity" as a drug defense -- even in marijuana cases -- as he believes it's "an excuse to abuse illegal drugs." It's high time voters are made aware of this sort of judicial terrorism, because I think the more Americans know about these mandatory sentences of 25 years to life, the harder it will be to convict anyone.
Not that this is new. Under British law well into Victorian times, criminal penalties were so severe that juries would look for almost any excuse to acquit. These evil laws should be abolished entirely, but until then I'll support any "excuse" that can be placed on the ballot. ("Evil" is a touchy, much-abused word these days, and I am not using it lightly or engaging in hyperbole. If 25-to-life for self-medication isn't evil, then what is?)
The answer the legal establishment gives to charges that prosecutors might misbehave is basically: "trust us." But they don't trust juries, and they haven't given any very persuasive reasons why they're more trustworthy than juries are.Excellent research on the subject can be found here. (Via Spoons, who argues against the dangers of nullification, and I see his point. But excesses like this demand additional remedies.)
Interestingly enough, even those of a strict law-and-order mindset would do well to consider that severe punishments disincline juries to convict, and create legal chaos; as one legal scholar put it,
[A]s severity increases, certainty decreases.
posted by Eric on 04.24.04 at 11:40 PM
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