According to a new report by the American Bar Association, both civil and criminal courts are unable to enforce justice due to budget cuts and inadequate funding.
The courts of our country are in crisis. The failure of state and local legislatures to provide adequate funding is effectively — at times quite literally — closing the doors of our justice system. At the same time, Congress has reduced its support for both the federal courts and other programs that directly and indirectly support our justice system at the state, county and municipal levels. . . Our courts, already short-staffed, have thus been forced to lay off judges, clerks and other personnel just as they are being inundated with hundreds of thousands of new foreclosures, personal and small business bankruptcies, credit card and other collection matters, domestic fractures, and the many other lawsuits resulting from the Recession. . .
To cite but one state’s experience, the courts in Georgia have seen their funding shrink 25% over the last two years, such that their budget (which must also pay for prosecutors) now constitutes a mere 0.89% of the state’s overall budget.
These are real problems that affect not just the poor but also anyone seeking recourse for civil cases or business matters. Middle-class and business people are finding themselves at the end of a very long and slow line when they need access to a courtroom.
Of course, it’s still money-burning time at agencies like the Department of Justice, where they are spending more than ever “coalitioning” on pet projects with the A.C.L.U., the Open Society Foundation, the Atlantic Philanthropies, and the Center for Constitutional Rights (click on each link to see just one program subsidized by your tax dollars, at their behest). Such elite members of the prisoner’s-rights-only lobby can go directly to Eric Holder when they want to intervene between the great unwashed public and the criminals they vigilantly defend.
Meanwhile, the prisoner’s rights lobby has succeeded in nearly pricing the death penalty out of existence. Every frivolous appeal means that some other citizen is being denied access to courtrooms they — not the activists — subsidize. From Oregon:
Convicted killer Robert J. Acremant, judged delusional, was moved off of Oregon’s death row two months ago, spared by a deal that got him a life sentence instead. . . Acremant admitted killing a Medford lesbian couple, binding them and shooting them in the back of the head in 1995. His publicly paid lawyers have been contesting the case since a jury in 1997 sentenced him to die. . . One avenue of appeal alone cost taxpayers $317,000.
$317,000 for just one appeal; fourteen years of appeals and counting, until the state gave up and commuted his sentence.
Acremant admitted killing a man and two women. What was there to reconsider? Well, thanks to the death penalty activists, every last thing. And by creating this system of mandatory, endless appeals (with help from journalists and academics who have deceived the American public into believing that death rows are filled with innocent men), they have succeeded in defunded criminal justice to a point where we prosecute fewer people who belong behind bars.
The goalposts for these activists is to abolish the death penalty, then abolish life-without-parole, and eventually whittle down sentencing to the good old days of the 1970′s, when even aggravated murder wasn’t hard time. It’s unconscionable and anti-democratic to do this by placing fiscal pressure on the courts, and thus the American taxpayers, but “unconscionable” isn’t a label that seems to bother. Instead, now that their tactics are working, they are even pretending that their motive is to save money:
Defense attorneys say changing how murderers are prosecuted could get the public the same result most often seen now — life sentences — at less cost.
But the moment the death penalty’s off the table, don’t expect a single activist to declare victory and retire from the fray: they’ll just get up the next morning and start making life sentences as expensive to litigate as death sentences once were, as prosecutors in Oregon point out:
Prosecutors are pushing back, saying defendants would be far less likely to take plea deals if the death penalty weren’t hanging over them. The savings that reformers promise would be swallowed by new and expensive criminal trials, they say. . . “We have many people who are aggravated murder defendants who plead guilty to aggravated murder and either take a true life sentence or an extremely long mandatory minimum who would never do that if there was not a death penalty involved in the equation,” [Multnomah County chief deputy district attorney Norm] Frink said.
Here is one of Robert Acremant’s many appeals. Take the time to read it, to see the sort of litigious junk that really gets murderers off death row — not “innocence.” Here is a raw jailhouse interview with Acremant, in which he describes the pleasure of killing three people, just for the hell of it (the interview starts at 5:57).
And think about this, as you watch a killer laugh: everything these activist groups want, they can achieve, while making us foot the bill and simultaneously de-funding our courts . . . as we’re forced to live alongside criminals who certainly don’t move into George Soros’ neighborhood, nor Chuck Feeney’s, when they’re sprung loose.