, 11 tweets, 3 min read
As always, a critical reminder: Calls for greater harshness for one—even if we want it in our hearts & relative leniency may sometimes feel unjust—leads inevitably to greater harshness for all. And does nothing to fix racial disparities. Also, even 1 day in jail is a long time.
When we support pain, punishment, torture, harshness long sentences for one-no matter how much we might despise them or think they "deserve it"-we further entrench an unjust system for all. "All" tends to be those I represent: Black & Latinx people from only certain communities.
Traditionally, it has been pro-carceral forces who have weaponized extreme outlier cases to drive mass incarceration. Mandatory minimums. Pretrial Detention. Long sentences. The criminalization of everything. It's how we got here & how they're trying to maintain the status quo.
More recently, in high profile cases of "leniency" allies in the fight to end mass punishment, people who want decarceration & fairness, are rightfully outraged. But increasingly channeling outrage into calls for greater harshness or at least "the same" harshness that most get.
We can & should be outraged by disparities in the system. But I am concerned that in calling for less mercy, less individualized justice, less leniency, we adopt the language of oppression that will only lead to more disparities. What if we channeled our outrage differently?
When Manafort was given his relatively light sentence, I spoke about a man I represented who was offered the same sentence for stealing quarters from a laundry room. But made clear, I didn't want a longer sentence for Manafort. But more justice for all.
When Weinstein was released pretrial on bail he could afford, I wasn't mad at his treatment. Bail worked like it was supposed to. As an incentive not a punishment. Took into account his ability to pay. I asked that everyone I represent get same treatment.
When Brock Turner got his light sentence, I too was mad. But made clear that recalling the judge who sentenced him would only disincentive judges to be merciful across the board. And that it would be Black & Latinx people who would suffer most.
When Amber Guyger got 10 years, it felt wrong bc I know people charged with far less, including marijuana & drugs are serving decades longer. But what would asking for more get us? Nothing. I noted instead than 10 years is a long time for anything.
We need more mercy. More leniency. Less jail. Less punishment. Across the board.
Now some may argue that the more white & privileged few feel the pain, the more likely they'll be to support real transformative change. Problem: Punishment bureaucrats make choices that make any kind of widespread enforcement tipping point highly unlikely (cite: @equalityAlec).
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