Equal Injustice for All

There's a right way and a wrong way to improve the system.

As I’ve recounted at least once before, an old Russian joke tells the story of a peasant with one cow who hates his neighbor because he has two. A sorcerer offers to grant the envious farmer a single wish. “Kill one of my neighbor’s cows!” he demands. (A darker version of the joke offers to grant the farmer a wish but that his neighbor will get double. “Pluck out one of my eyes!”)

I was reminded of that by several comments on this morning’s post “Most January 6 Rioters Won’t Go to Jail.”

It’s perfectly reasonable—useful even—to question whether this group of relatively affluent white folk are being treated better than poorer, darker Americans would be under comparable circumstances. Our system is rife with inequities and among them are that those with more financial resources and less melanin tend to fare better. We should work to change that.

I would submit, however, that the solution is not to make the system less just for rich white people but to make it more just for everyone. From the POLITICO report that sparked the post, I gather that prosecutors and judges are weighing the totality of the circumstances for each individual under investigation, including their prior criminal records. That’s how the system is supposed to operate but often—whether because of implicit bias, lack of resources, or other reasons—does not. We should figure out how to make the system treat poor Black and brown people as whole people rather than as “thugs” and “criminals,” not kill our neighbor’s cow out of spite.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Crime, Law and the Courts, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I would submit, however, that the solution is not to make the system less just for rich white people but to make it more just for everyone.

    I rather suspect most everyone here agrees James.

    From the POLITICO report that sparked the post, I gather that prosecutors and judges are weighing the totality of the circumstances for each individual under investigation, including their prior criminal records. That’s how the system is supposed to operate but often—whether because of implicit bias, lack of resources, or other reasons—does not.

    Yes, but…

    We should figure out how to make the system treat poor Black and brown people as whole people rather than as “thugs” and “criminals,” not kill our neighbor’s cow out of spite.

    As long as white people skate, we won’t because the system is working as intended and until we face that fact it won’t change.

    eta: wording

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Carried from another thread:

    We cannot over-charge X because we over-charged Y in order to maintain some abstract notion of balance or fairness. We have laws. When you violate them you can be charged. If the prosecutor has the evidence, you can be convicted. The law then prescribes a range of penalties.

    @James is right that we cannot and should not put all these people in prison. Most of them don’t deserve prison, they deserve a misdemeanor record and a stern warning. Most of them were just clueless fuckwits who stupidly listened to the piece of shit in the White House, and we don’t punish people for being idiots, only for the laws they broke.

    The solution to over-charging Black defendants is not to overcharge white defendants, but to stop overcharging Black defendants. Not revenge, not equity, just simple justice under the law.

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  3. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    As long as white people skate, we won’t because the system is working as intended.

    That’s an entirely fair point.

    @Michael Reynolds: You have unearthed a way for me to like the same comment twice.

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  4. Kathy says:

    And we should make it easier and faster for everyone to vote, and provide services equitably, and a bunch of other things that people past a certain color simply don’t get.

    At some point, one gets tired of hoping for equal treatment and will settle for payback.

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  5. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    We do not have the legal or moral right to demand payback. We have the right to demand that the law be obeyed and violators dealt with. But there is no moral system that can be built or sustained on the basis of payback. The fault lies with the system, not with an individual defendant. Payback in this instance is nothing more than finding a whipping boy to pay for the failures of society.

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  6. Joe says:

    When people noted that black and brown people storming the Capitol would not have treated so lightly, it occurred to me that the Capitol police were by far the better police force than the ones policing BLM protests because the Capitol Police understood the basic premise that these were property crimes while deftly and sometimes ingeniously defusing attempts to make them physical assault crimes.

    Yes, the optics are bad when people – or as Michael so aptly describes them – fuckwits – are storming your nation’s Capitol, but its still just property till somebody starts looking for bloodshed (and people who assaulted Capitol police should be fully prosecuted, like jail time). We would be far better off if other police forces followed the lead of the Capitol police than vice versa.

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  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Kathy:

    At some point, one gets tired of hoping for equal treatment and will settle for payback.

    What constitutes unfair behavior, necessitating payback, is entirely relative to the beholder. I don’t know how many times I saw Trump’s behavior justified as paying back to the liberals all the perceived (and maybe a few real) slights conservatives received from liberals. The last 35 years of insanity regarding judicial nominations has been one long tit-for-tat war stemming from perceived unfairness to Bork.

    Either we commit ourselves to breaking the cycle, or we commit to having the next Republican administration be even more fully devoted to criminalizing black and brown bodies.

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  8. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    @Neil Hudelson:

    I don’t disagree. I also don’t demand payback, but merely would settle for it.

    Imagine at dinner your sibling always gets a bigger helping than you do. When you protest you should get your fair share, your parents say “everyone should get their fair share,” and continue giving you less to eat.

    Then you protest again and they tell you underfeeding your sibling wouldn’t be fair, but you still get a smaller helping.

    What would you settle for, seeing you’ll never get an equal amount of food?

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  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    I would submit, however, that the solution is not to make the system less just for rich white people but to make it more just for everyone.

    How does extending extraordinary leniency to preferred groups make the system “more just for everyone”?

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  10. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    How does extending extraordinary leniency to preferred groups make the system “more just for everyone”?

    so, first, that’s not my argument. Rather, I argue that we should have the same standard across groups and that standard is more likely the one currently applied to the preferred group than the one currently applied to the disadvantaged.

    Second, I would argue that what we’re seeing here is ‘justice’ rather than ‘extraordinary leniency.’ The default position should be to assess actual harm, actual intent, and the totality of circumstance. Which is what seems to be happening with the lesser participants in the event.

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  11. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    Second, I would argue that what we’re seeing here is ‘justice’ rather than ‘extraordinary leniency.’

    It may be justice de jure. But if a majority of defendants in criminal cases get railroaded into harsher sentences, be it by trial or plea bargain, then we’re seeing leniency de facto

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  12. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    so, first, that’s not my argument.

    First, it’s a direct quote, so it is your argument, even if you’re now trying to motte-and-bailey your way out of it.

    Rather, I argue that we should have the same standard across groups and that standard is more likely the one currently applied to the preferred group than the one currently applied to the disadvantaged.

    But we don’t have the same standard across all groups and it’s not more like the one currently applied to the preferred group. How does your proposed “solution” (again, your characterization, not mine) get us closer to that goal?

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  13. Nightcrawler says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    we cannot and should not put all these people in prison. Most of them don’t deserve prison, they deserve a misdemeanor record and a stern warning. Most of them were just clueless fuckwits who stupidly listened to the piece of shit in the White House, and we don’t punish people for being idiots, only for the laws they broke.

    I agree and disagree. We absolutely should punish stupidity in cases where the stupidity was malicious, as is the case here. The terrorists who participated in the January 6 attack are sociopaths, and they richly deserve prison.

    However, I recognize that from a logistical perspective, putting all of these terrorists in prison isn’t realistic. There are just too many of them. Further, not all of them participated in vandalism or violence. Some of them just walked around. That’s trespassing, which is illegal but doesn’t carry the same penalties as vandalism or violent crimes. They can’t be charged with vandalism or a violent crime if there’s no proof they broke anything or attacked anyone. We also need to encourage lower-level thugs to turn in the ringleaders.

    Realistically, we’re going to put the ringleaders and the worst offenders in prison, and we’ll cut deals with the remainder. However, they should be charged with felonies, not misdemeanors. I know that won’t happen, but that’s what should happen.

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  14. Eric the OTB Lurker says:

    Realistically, we’re going to put the ringleaders and the worst offenders in prison, and we’ll cut deals with the remainder. However, they should be charged with felonies, not misdemeanors. I know that won’t happen, but that’s what should happen.

    I’m with Nightcrawler here. I don’t think misdemeanor charges would adequately convey to these people the gravity of what they participated in on January 6. I’m not necessarily advocating jail time, but certainly some mark on their record that cannot be erased or overlooked as the folly of youth. Some consequence with teeth other than a fine and a legal slap on the wrist.

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  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Nightcrawler: I would also agree with James that we don’t punish people for being stupid, for being, in James phrasing, clueless fuckwits. But that leads me to a bit of a conundrum. The BLM protesters were protesting something real. We can argue about the legalities, but we know Derek Chauvin killed an unarmed George Floyd. There’s video FFS. And similarly no question that many other incidents actually happened. The 1/6 protesters, on the other hand, were protesting over nothing, the myth of a stolen election. Are we to treat people who had no reason to be protesting more generously than people who have a valid cause? (Directed at James and the group, not you.)

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  16. Mimai says:

    This topic highlights the many ways people can approach issues of punishment and justice. And how inconsistent people are in operationalizing them.

    Punishment is often thought of as serving 5 goals: deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution, restitution.

    Justice is often thought of in 4 ways: distributive, procedural, restorative, and retributive.

    Given the impressively flawed creatures that we are, we tend to selectively and inconsistently privilege certain variants based on the circumstance. That isn’t a problem per se (h/t to RW Emerson).

    But it becomes a problem when it lacks a guiding principle. And I don’t think “It depends on whose ox is being gored” is a good principle.

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  17. gVOR08 says:

    I think we all agree the way to deal with the inequities in the criminal justice system is to make it more just for the poor and minorities, not to make it less just for middle class white people. However, I think we all also know that’s not going to happen. So where does that leave us?

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  18. Mimai says:

    @gVOR08:

    The BLM protesters were protesting something real…The 1/6 protesters, on the other hand, were protesting over nothing, the myth of a stolen election.

    I am going to try my best to steelman the 1/6 side.

    Some (many? most? all?) of the 1/6 protestors (I’m adopting your term) truly believe that the election was stolen. And that this posed a fundamental threat to the US experiment. And that this grave injustice warranted extreme action, even if that action violated certain laws. What’s the point of these laws if the entire US system falls?!

    Now, of course, you might simply counter with, well, reality. But that’s merely to dismiss the protestors’ lived experience. Indeed, BLM acolytes [still in steelman mode here] are allowed to articulate their own lived experiences – hell, we celebrate them for doing so and we even elevate their subjective experience above all others. Why is my subjective experience not given similar respect – hell, it’s not given any respect at all.

    [back to normal mode] That is my best shot at a steelman of the 1/6 perspective. Do with that as you wish…..just please decouple it from me.

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Second, I would argue that what we’re seeing here is ‘justice’ rather than ‘extraordinary leniency.’

    Funny how we only worry if justice is properly applied when it relates to white people.

    James, acknowledging your first response I just gotta say, the only way this changes is if white people get hammered as hard as people of color. Is it fair? Is it just? Hell no! But neither is it fair or just when only poc take it up the ass. Until the law is applied to David Koch’s son* or Mitch McConnell’s daughter* as equally as Laquan McDonald, or Tamir Rice, or Trayvon Martin, we’re just whistling Dixie.

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  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: No edit function. Wanted to add that I have no idea if David Koch has a son or if MM has a daughter. Don’t care enough to look. My point is made and y’all get it.

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  21. EddieInCA says:

    @Mimai:

    No. No. No. F No.

    This argument that we somehow have to validate the delusional beliefs of some 20 or 30 million people is bullshit. The 100% false beliefs should be called out, mocked, marginalized, and put into the trash as absolute crap.

    There should be no normalizing this behavior or beliefs.

    If 20 or 30 million people tomorrow decided to believe that the sky was red, would you be making excuses for them? Or would you be calling them out as crazy, delusional, and factually incorrect?

    That’s to your argument. Not to you.

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  22. Mimai says:

    @EddieInCA:

    That’s to your argument. Not to you.

    Thank you.

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  23. Mimai says:

    @Mimai: Actually, let me amend that to object to the part about “your argument.” It is NOT my argument.

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  24. Pete S says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Unfortunately I think you are right. We may all believe that the fairest thing would be to bring in more equitable and less draconian treatment of minorities and poor people. But how do we get there? Empathy? Thoughtfulness? The only tool likely to be effective is to ratchet up punishment for the people who currently skate and make clear that this continues. Overcharging and punishments will only come down when they come down for everyone.

    @EddieInCA: Yeah there needs to be a way to make these people regret being stupid. I would prefer that way to be outside the legal system for the morons but again that is all we have. It is hard to shame someone who is too stupid to know they are wrong.

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  25. Stormy Dragon says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Ironically, MM has three daughters, two of whom (along with their mother, MM’s ex-wife) are liberal political activists.

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  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Pete S: Yep, as much as I wish I was wrong, I’m afraid I am all too right.

    @Stormy Dragon: Even a blind pig, me, finds a truffle every now and again.

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  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Mimai: First let me apologize to James. “Ignorant fuckwit” is Reynold’s undying prose, not James’. Beyond that, I’m accepting that framing to point out the inherent contradiction that people who protest violently for no good reason would get excused while people with valid causes do not. If you attempt top rob a bank, the legal system does not give you credit for having a stupid, doomed to fail, plan.

    Beyond that, Republicans already live in a fact free Bizarroworld. I wouldn’t encourage them by crediting their “lived experience” or whatever.

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  28. Mimai says:

    @gVOR08:
    Yes, in this instance, it is clear that data (ie, reality) > lived experience. Nevertheless, I think it is useful to steelman the argument for at least two reasons:

    1) It often illuminates important and murky issues that are lying below the surface and/or issues that don’t get noticed because all the oxygen is sucked out of the topic by the obvious nonsense.

    In this case, the obvious nonsense is, well, obvious. Setting that aside, one important and murky issue is how we handle “lived experience” (aka, “my truth,” “individual perspective,” etc.) when it comes to thorny social issues. That is something I grapple with. Hence, I’m very interested to hear how others approach this, any guiding principles they use, etc.

    2) Steelmanning this topic is another rep to further condition my critical thinking muscle. Much like lifting weights, it’s easy to steelman when the weight is light – this is satisfying and easy and now I’ve earned myself a strawman doughnut.

    It’s much harder, and hence more of a workout, to steelman when the weight is heavy. This takes intention, effort, and good form. It sucks in the moment but the payoff is worth it.

    Somewhat relatedly, it’s damn hard (and rarely attempted) to steelman low-status arguments. And I think we can agree that the 1/6 perspective is low-status. This one is especially tricky because not only is the weight heavy, but it also runs the risk of social censure.

    Sure, we can tell ourselves that “I don’t care what other people think” but that’s just a fiction. We care. Some more than others. I consider this a risk worth taking (it helps that I’m anonymous….so the risk is very small, perhaps non-existent).

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  29. ptfe says:

    Wanted to drop this here, for no reason other than to engage the “Bizarroworld” commentaries:

    I was at the skate park with my kid, and a National Guardsman who was called to the Capitol after the insurrection started telling me about how taxes were going up to 60% now that Biden is in office, because the Democrats want more and more government. He used the classic RR quote, planted his flag on the States Rights/Federalism line for the Civil War, and talked about how the increased taxes and East Coast liberalism would naturally lead to rebellion because, after all, the Revolution was fought over taxes.

    This may not be “lived experience”, but the universe these people inhabit is the hook-line-sinker version of every right-wing talking point. It’s hard to even start to get a foothold on that.

    The most shocking part of that whole exchange was the Zitoization of the motives for 1/6 (not even three months ago!), as though the goons invading the Capitol hadn’t (1) flown to DC; (2) bought Trump merch; (3) waited breathlessly for his speech; and (4) flaunted that Trump merch while chanting his name through the halls of the Capitol. There was simply no economic angle to it, but to a staunch right-winger it blurred seamlessly into the Tea Party narrative of “grassroots movement of people upset about taxes!” (I offer no comment on the ahistorical parts of that convo.)

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  30. Gustopher says:

    We should figure out how to make the system treat poor Black and brown people as whole people rather than as “thugs” and “criminals,” not kill our neighbor’s cow out of spite.

    Far too many people only see something as a problem when it affects them or their families. The classic example is the Republicans who came out in favor of gay rights after their kids came out as gay.

    In order to reform the system, we have to get people who wouldn’t care to be our allies in reform. That means bringing down the hammer — maybe not as much as a brown person would get, but enough to sting.

    It’s not going to happen, but I would like the lightest sentence to be 7-14 days. No fines, just a little time. A nice, safe jail — not sentenced to prison rape, because no one should be sentenced to prison rape — but jail.

    I would accept 45 days home confinement.

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  31. Stormy Dragon says:

    One other aspect of this:

    Downgrading the charges from felonies to misdemeanors will often be the difference as to whether the guilty will be allowed to lawfully purchase firearms in the future. If nothing else, people who’ve already engaged in one failed attempt to overthrow the government need to be prevented from easily arming themselves for a second bite at the apple, and that can only be done by convicting them of felonies.

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  32. Mimai says:

    @Gustopher:

    Far too many people only see something as a problem when it affects them or their families. The classic example is the Republicans who came out in favor of gay rights after their kids came out as gay.

    This is spot-on.

    In order to reform the system, we have to get people who wouldn’t care to be our allies in reform.

    Agree.

    That means bringing down the hammer — maybe not as much as a brown person would get, but enough to sting.

    This is where it gets more difficult. If said hammer is the heaviest within statutory limits, I don’t think it will be heavy enough to do what you want it to. Moreover, I think it would require many such hammers, coming down over an extended period of time to even have a chance of being effective.

    If said hammer is outside statutory limits, then one would be advocating for injustice as a corrective for injustice. Although that might be appealing on many levels, I think we ought hold ourselves to a higher standard…..especially when the outcome is far from certain.

    I would like the lightest sentence to be 7-14 days. No fines, just a little time. A nice, safe jail — not sentenced to prison rape, because no one should be sentenced to prison rape — but jail. I would accept 45 days home confinement.

    It wasn’t clear to me if this preference was linked to the aforementioned “changing hearts and minds” goal or if it was a general preference unrelated to the aforementioned goal. To put it as a question: What do you seek to achieve with this preference? [note, I ask this as an honest question, not as an accusatory and/or motivated one]

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  33. Jax says:

    @Stormy Dragon: The odd thing about Trumpies is they care less about their right to vote than they do about their right to own guns. Most of them never voted til Trump.

    Telling, really. These are not people who are ever going to support actual democracy. The way they see it, they’ll shoot their way into power. 😐

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @Mimai: I think you underestimate just how fragile white folks are. Particularly middle class white folks. Our soft underbellies are so very soft.

    Black folks would be overcharged and overprosecuted and subjected to a grave injustice. That’s wrong. Do we need to commit the same wrong?

    My goal would be to find the minimum sentence that will make them feel like they were treated like black folks are treated. What takes them away from their kids and makes them make alternate childcare plans that they really don’t want to? What puts their job at risk, so they see that as a very real consequence?

    Ultimately, what is the minimum cruelty necessary to change a few minds without making some dim-witted grandma dressed in the American flag a martyr for anyone other than the far right? (There’s a specific one my brothers keep sending me while pushing the “they’re all fine” lie)

    I want that dim-witted grandma on fox, complaining how she had to spend all of her vacation days on jail time so she wouldn’t get fired. Because she works hard and then there were all these consequences and she’s the real victim… but not so victimized that normies buy that shit.

    I want someone three steps more reasonable on a more reasonable venue where it can be put into context, where it can sink through a bit more to the apathetic white folks — the normies. Show that it doesn’t just punish the person, it punishes their whole family. That’s something that we don’t think of because its seldom part of our experience.

    And I want the guy who showed up in tactical gear, with mace and ropes getting a light felony. Out in 3-6 months, suspended sentence for two years after.

    And hard felonies for those committing acts of destruction and violence.

    Totally a hearts and minds thing. Middle class white folks seeing other middle class white folks face some consequences for their actions, and being scared by it but not more angry than scared.

    We so seldom have to face consequences for our actions that it’s traumatizing when we do. We’re not used to it. We aren’t resilient. We haven’t learned how to be.

    In general, I would prefer our entire criminal justice system be based around “what is the minimal amount of punishment we need to inflict?” — I would ramp up resources on parole officers and social workers, and cut back on prison.

    Sometimes you need to send a big message to society — financial crimes — other times you just need to give someone a smack upside the head and get them to see what they’re doing, the effects is has, and to feel some consequence.

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  35. Gustopher says:

    I am, above all else, a bleeding heart liberal.

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  36. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    First, it’s a direct quote, so it is your argument

    Taking a fragment from a sentence and surrounding it with your words doesn’t make it “my argument.”

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  37. James Joyner says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If nothing else, people who’ve already engaged in one failed attempt to overthrow the government need to be prevented from easily arming themselves for a second bite at the apple, and that can only be done by convicting them of felonies.

    After thorough investigation, the Justice Department has found that the vast majority of the people inside the Capitol were not, in fact, attempting to “overthrow the government.” Further, US Attorneys and federal judges have seemingly concluded that felony charges are not warranted in these cases. If they could prove felonies beyond reasonable doubt, they would be charging felonies. They haven’t because they can’t.

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  38. Mimai says:

    @Gustopher: I appreciate you taking the time to lay this out. Your points about the soft underbelly and being held to account are well-taken. I think where we disagree is whether this approach (“what is the minimal amount of punishment we need to inflict?”) will do anything to bring equity to the criminal (in)justice system.

    I think it is unlikely for any of the punished – dim-witted grandma or tactical gear guy – to extrapolate their punishment to the systemic, historic inequities of the system. And even if they do make this connection, that’s not sufficient to enact change. Rather, they would need to marshal that epiphany into significant and sustained action (even if it’s just at the voting booth). I just don’t see that as likely.

    I think it’s more likely for them to lick their wounds and (maybe) commit to a life of law-abiding behavior, tail tucked between legs. It is also likely that many of them would internalize it (their punishment) as a grave injustice, thus, reinforcing their identity as disenfranchised people. This might actually strengthen their priors.

    Our soft underbellies are soft, as you say, but our identities (personal delusions) are very strong. Or in psychology terms: we are very good at assimilation, very resistant to accommodation.

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  39. mattbernius says:

    This thread is a classic example of why we have a mass-incarceration problem — Americans have a very deep “punish the folks we think deserve it” streak.

    I think the issues with these prosecutions have been pretty well covered here. For more details on this, I highly recommend the “All the Presidents’ Lawyers” podcast (https://www.kcrw.com/news/shows/lrc-presents-all-the-presidents-lawyers) which has been exploring these issues since the 1/6 riots. Lawfare’s podcasts has also done a great job on breaking down the reality of these prosecutions.

    I want to turn to a different topic I see popping up here: the idea that a federal misdemeanor is a “legal slap on the wrist.” Punishment is not simply related to Prison (or in lesser offenses, Jail — which really doesn’t exist in the Federal system), fines, and fees.

    First, some of these people may be placed on probation for up to 5 years. That means that any technical violation of the terms of said probation can be an automatic reincarceration (note that 1/4 of the people incarcerated in the US are incarcerated on tech violations).

    More importantly, they have a Federal Misdemeanor on their record and all the collateral consequences that come with it. Collateral consequences are legal and regulatory restrictions that limit or prohibit people convicted of crimes from accessing employment, business and occupational licensing, housing, voting, education, and other rights, benefits, and opportunities. This will appear on employment, financial, housing, and other background checks for at least the next 7 years for shallow background checks and longer for deep background checks. So every time they change jobs, apply for a loan, try to volunteer at a child’s school, they are going to have to explain why they had a federal trespass charge that falls so close to the Capitol insurrection.

    They will also have the initial charges on their records as well and a lot of places (incorrectly) will take them into account as well.

    And there is currently not Federal Expungement or Record Clearing statute–so there is no opportunity to petition or clean slate that off their record.

    As I’ve shared, part of my work is interviewing people who have been living with the impact of having a misdemeanor or felony conviction on their record. And I can tell you that 10+ years down the road, they are still causing people significant problems, even folks who are otherwise incredibly well off.

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  40. mattbernius says:

    @mattbernius:

    (note that 1/4 of the people incarcerated in the US are incarcerated on tech violations).

    Ugh, why won’t you show up edit button. That should be 1/4 of the people *REincarcerated* in the US. Annual reincarcerations are at approximately 600,000. Currently, there are 2.3 million folks incarcerated in the US.

    So 1/4 of the 600,00 who are incarcerated are in for tech violations (which can be as simple as being late for a check in with a probation officer).

    Fun fact, more than half a million of those folks have yet to be convicted of the crime(s) they are being held on.

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  41. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    After thorough investigation, the Justice Department has found that the vast majority of the people inside the Capitol were not, in fact, attempting to “overthrow the government.”

    I’m still waiting to hear the analogous finding with regard to the vast majority of the people involved in Black Lives Matter protests that turned violent. You know, the ones who weren’t committing a federal crime just by being there…

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  42. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT:

    I’m still waiting to hear the analogous finding with regard to the vast majority of the people involved in Black Lives Matter protests that turned violent. You know, the ones who weren’t committing a federal crime just by being there…

    You’re the one making an assertion that similarly-situated BLM protestors were treated more harshly. You provide the data. My guess, though, is that most were never charged.

    And those cases would mostly have been state/local rather than handled by US Attorneys and federal judges. Which is a whole different ball of wax because of sheer competency.

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