Wednesday, January 7, 2015

civil disobedience

Michelle Alexander, in The New Jim Crow,  suggests that if all defendants declined plea agreements and opted for trial, the criminal justice system would grind to a halt under the weight of all those trials. Prosecutors would be overwhelmed by the work needed to prove their cases beyond reasonable doubt.  
Imagine what would happen if all sex offenders refused to register.
One after another, offenders would be charged with failure to register and packed off to prisons that are already overcrowded. That's the part of the scenario that would be hard to live with. On the other hand, since the registry makes it difficult for sex offenders to find employment, many of them do have time on their hands.
A few years of conscientous objectors, courts wheezing under the load of FTR cases, voters being hit with the expense of building new prisons...maybe this would deal the fatal blow to the registry.
Maybe not.
The part I can guarantee is that the incidence of sex offenses would not increase.

1 comment:

Ethan Edwards said...

I agree with you in theory. The problem is that if the public feels that lots of people who they think are guilty of terrible crimes are going free, they WILL find another way - drug property seizure laws being one example. Or they will pass laws streamlining trials, or amend the constitution, or declare martial law. Ultimately there's no substitute for winning hearts and minds that things like child porn possession and small-time drug deals are not the end of the world.