Some years ago, when I was hosting my radio talk show, I spent a great deal of time complaining about the criminal justice system and how easy many of the judges went on defendants.
As a result of the show I was invited to spend an entire day with a criminal court judge, Philip Bloom, who intended to show me the problems that exist in our court system. We began the day quite early in the morning as the various attorneys did their plea bargaining. This took several hours.
Then I was taken on a tour of the actual jail and saw the process for placing criminals in the lockup including fingerprinting, etc. Later the judge had to make a speech to a local group and finally went to his courtroom where he had a seat placed right next to him on the bench, provided me with a calendar for the day, and even asked my opinion on several matters before him.
It took nearly the entire day before we were able to bring a case to trial due to all the delays in presenting evidence, witnesses being unavailable, and a host of other things. The result was we were able to select one case and it took the rest of the evening before a jury was selected and the matter had to be deferred to another day.
What happened to all the other criminals that had been arrested by our local police? I don’t actually know, but I suspect that most of them were released shortly after being arrested. There simply weren’t enough cells to incarcerate them all nor did the prosecuting attorneys have the time to investigate each and every matter and see that they were brought to proper justice. Remember, most prosecutors and assistant prosecutors are entry-level attorneys who don’t have near the skill of the established defense attorneys.
What brought all this to mind so many years later? Someone I know well, who has been serving the Miami- Dade Police Department for many years, has decided to retire early thereby giving up a good deal of his retirement income. When I asked him why, he was quite forthright in telling me that lately, for some reason, the police had become the bad guys, or so it would seem.
Reading the newspapers you would have the impression that police were going around beating up people for no reason, abusing folks and other horrific deeds. This may be the case in a few situations but, for the most part, I truly believe our police force is doing its very best to keep us safe and secure on our streets and in our homes.
What becomes frustrating for the police officers is after they spend a good deal of time and effort to finally make an arrest they get to see the defendant walk free or receive minimum jail time. Perfect examples of this are all of the hit-and-run cases that appear in the newspaper every day.
Recently a lady in a wheelchair was struck by a hit-and-run driver who when caught probably will serve minimal time in jail. Being an avid bicyclist myself I continually read of cyclists being killed by intoxicated motorists who leave the scene and, if they happen to get caught, also receive minimal jail time while the victim’s friends and relatives sit in the courtroom crying their eyes out.
Something is wrong with this system and I now can understand why police in many cases no longer feel that their efforts are being rewarded. Unless the situation is somehow corrected, I see dark clouds ahead. We seem to be able to spend billions of dollars in other countries fighting people that we hardly know and yet we always come up short trying to protect our own people at home.