I wrote yesterday how some people just commit crime after crime and the criminal justice system in Massachusetts acts indifferently to these lifelong criminals by putting them back into the communities where they ply their evil trade. One reason that happens is that few if any of the judges live in those communities. They do not feel the crime on their skin or go off to work hoping someone will not break into their house while they are gone or go to sleep hoping their car will be outside their house in the morning. Judges are too removed from the people they are judging so they are unable to appreciate the agony caused to the people in the neighborhoods where these criminals operate.
That is a bad problem with our justice system. One should go into the district courts especially those in the city and see the daily activity and the type of people who are caught up in the system as both criminal and victim. They are usually from the lowest level of our society and the system is set up to keep them there.
As bad as that is there is another system in our area that is worse than the worst state district court; it is the federal district court in Boston. There, everything is totally divorced from the outside world. It is like one of those High Holiday temples where only few are allowed within its inner hallways.
The most insular are the high priest prosecutors who have offices in the court-house on the highest floors. There, supposedly under the leadership of Carmen Ortiz, they are supposed to ensure that those who commit federal crimes, which by design are supposed to more serious than those being handled every day in a busy municipal court, are prosecuted.
Yet something strange is happening in Ortiz’s office. They are not prosecuting serious federal crimes nor are they prosecuting people who deserve to be prosecuted like those I wrote about yesterday. They are finding people who have no criminal records and who otherwise are contributing to society and charging them with crimes that have punishments of up to 20 years in prison even though their actions are barely criminal and the injury, if any, is minor.
If those persons did commit any crime then it was one that should have been in the local district court. Those persons going in there without a record of past criminal behavior would have their cases quickly dealt with and put back into their former state often free of a criminal record.
Here though is the Ortiz gimmick. The federal judges also go along with it. It makes everyone look like they are doing something. I guess it justifies the salaries they receive. It benefits society little.
Ortiz indicts people for highly serious charges knowing that at some point no matter how innocent a person might be the cost of going to trial in federal court is so enormous and the potential penalty so great that the person will do anything to get out from under the hammer that is going to impoverish him and perhaps separate him for a year or two from his family and friends.
Ortiz will drag the case on for a bit and then she pulls out her offer of settlement. She will not recommend the person be sent to prison if he pleads guilty. He will be put on probation for a short period of time and be able to get out from under the financial crunch and sleep at night not worrying about going to prison.
The indicted person has no choice. What good is it for him to go through the agony of having 12 angry faces of strangers who know nothing about him staring at him from the jury box who will decided his fate and an impatient judge glaring down at him for taking up the time of the court that could be otherwise spent elsewhere. Even if he is acquitted he’ll come out financially broke and broken in spirit.
This is no way for a justice system to function.