Prosecutorial Misconduct an All Too Common Problem
By Derek Gilna
If you are like me, you are always a bit resentful that prisoner rights, over-sentencing, and criminal justice reform are not topics of daily discourse in the media.
Finally, however, commentators or every ideological stripe have finally shown the “American Criminal Justice System” for what it is, a gross over-reaction to upheaval in American society over forty years ago. Non-partisan groups like Pew, and even the DOJ, have proven with cold-hard facts that the most-sentenced groups are the non-white and the poor, disadvantaged, and mentally-ill. All you have to do is look around you to see the truth of that statement.
For those reasons, I was struck by an item prominently mentioned in the news recently regarding the legal troubles of one certain
governor not known for his warm embrace of prisoner rights. Suddenly, the shoe
is on the other foot. That governor faces decades in prison if convicted of the
crimes of which he is accused. Highly
ironic, since Texas is a poster
child for everything that is wrong with American criminal justice. (Four out of the six top jurisdictions for federal
prosecutions are in Texas . Texas
and Florida have one each). Oklahoma
case, the media is exercised by what they see as “prosecutorial abuse,” as if
it is a relatively new concept, and confined only to Texas . Not true.
The sad fact is that prosecutorial “abuse,” “overreach,” or “heavy-
handedness,” is present in every federal district in the country. It is ingrained into the system, and subject
to almost no limitations or consequences for its practitioners. Prosecutors
routinely use threats to get innocent people to plead guilty to crimes they
didn’t commit, and beat down and overawe appointed defense attorneys who often rely
upon referrals from the court system to make a living. Statistics also show
that federal courts will “stand on their head,” to avoid sanctioning or even criticizing
federal prosecutors for these tactics, which leads to some interesting court
You have only one solution: you must do what you can to level the playing field. You cannot rely on the government to come to the rescue, no matter how compelling their public relations campaign to convince you and your family otherwise.There are many opportunities to gain sentence relief if you have someone in your corner that knows the system, and can advocate for you. We can’t wait for the American public to wake up to prosecutorial and other abuses. We have to take responsibility for our own futures. Perhaps in some way we can do our part to bring the American Justice system back into balance.