Aside from the intrinsic dangers and injustices of arguing for immunity for high-level government officials who commit felonies (such as illegal eavesdropping, obstruction of justice, torture and other war crimes), it's the total selectivity of the rationale underlying that case which makes it so corrupt. Defenders of Bush officials sing in unison: We shouldn't get caught up in the past. We shouldn't be driven by vengeance and retribution. We shouldn't punish people whose motives in committing crimes weren't really that bad.
I actually hadn't heard that song from conservatives. What I've heard is a complete denial of the charges, even those President Bush and Vice-President Cheney admitted to themselves. In any case, the point of Greenwald's article is made with a number of examples of the overly severe treatment of petty criminals, as well as these incredible prison statistics.
Currently in the U.S., close to 7,000 people are serving sentences of 25 years to life under our merciless "three-strikes-and-out" laws -- which the Supreme Court upheld as constitutional in a 5-4 ruling -- including half for nonviolent offenses and many for petty theft.
As I've noted many times before, the United States imprisons more of its population than any other country on the planet, and most astoundingly, we account for less than 5% of the world's population yet close to 25% of the world's prisoners are located in American prisons.
Often I seem to hear that we're too soft on criminals. Does anyone think that in the light of these stats? Does anyone think we need to lock more people up than we do now?
Here's my three-part plan:
1. White collar criminals get out immediately, but it's not a get-out-of-jail-free card. They'd have to pay heavy fines and submit to severe supervision.
2. Then, we remove all the alcoholics and drug addicts from prisons and give them the mental health care they need.
3. After that we release the 25% least dangerous prisoners, right across the board, under the same conditions as the white collar guys.
With all the savings generated we could afford the proper upkeep of the present facilities including the mental hospitals and make the necessary increases in the probation departments.
As far as the former administration goes, I believe they should answer for what they've done. They should be investigated and if found appropriate, tried for their crimes. Perhaps under my system outlined above, they would fall into the white-collar group, but they should pay for their crimes like everyone else.
What's your opinion? Does this sound like crazy liberal talk? Or do some of my ideas make sense to you?
Please leave a comment.