Ambition and Self-Empowerment, not Justice

Please find the link to Andrew Gumbel’s article on The Guardian’s site at the end of this post.

Some conservatives believe disregarding the rights of the accused is an appropriate way to obtain justice.  It is not.

There are reasons we have safeguards in criminal law, including the right not to incriminate oneself.  Those protections aren’t just for the guilty.  They’re also a safety net for people who are falsely accused or suspected.

Orange County, California is the defendant in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, alleging the county Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s office have encouraged coerced confessions from suspects.  It’s also alleged that jailhouse informants have been employed indiscriminately.

None of these practices protect the public or the criminal justice system.  They put innocent people at risk, and destroy respect for the only way the public can legitimately respond when a horrific crime is committed: by calling the authorities.

Mr. Gumbel’s article makes a vague reference to a 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which protects defendants after they have been charged.  I’m not familiar with that specific case, but many Americans have heard of the so-called Miranda Ruling (Miranda vs. Arizona), which affirms the right to legal representation beginning when a suspect is placed under arrest — before any charges can be filed.  The Miranda Ruling was issued in 1966.

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