Hypocritical Justice?

So, over at Crime & Federalism, the question has been raised - can (or should) a criminal defense attorney really want to see someone sent to jail?

And my answer is yes. Well, at least I do. I won't speak for my colleagues.

I know that jail is a nasty place. I've been there. (For counsel visits, never to stay.) And maybe I'm not such a libertarian. But, yup, I believe there are many people who belong in jail. Just not my clients.

The other day I was in the audience in court, waiting for my case to be called, when I overheard another case on the record. Basically, a man was being held on bail on charges that he harassed his girlfriend. The defense attorney was arguing there was a change in circumstances and that bail should be reduced because the girlfriend had now admitted, to the D.A. and to the court, that the alleged incident never occurred. In fact, she wrote a full statement to that effect and sent it to the court. Including the assertion that she had him arrested "to teach him a lesson."

In my mind, lock her up. Make her spend at least as much time in jail as her boyfriend had spent. Plus some community service for wasting the police department's time and the court's time.

There are other people who deserve some punishment too, but I won't bother with a list right now. My point is, I'm not opposed to jail. I certainly don't believe that it's rehabilitative, but I think it's appropriate in some cases. Just not for my clients.

Hypocritical? Maybe. An accurate expression of how I feel? Certainly.

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