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View Diary: Update on Florida teen arrested for doing science while Black (268 comments)

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  •  You're wrong about this (27+ / 0-)

    That is to say, your argument may be the one most frequently made in favor of zero tolerance policies, but it is not a good argument. The fact that discretionary power can be abused by the unscrupulous is not a good reason to take it away from the judicial system, any more than the fact that the right to vote can be abused by the unscrupulous is a good argument to take away that right.

    The fact is, the three strikes law in California has destroyed lives that were entirely undeserving of such destruction, by taking away all ability to take circumstances into account for sentencing purposes. The fact is, there are people in California prisons for life with no possibility of parole for three felonies that would be considered misdemeanors in other states. There is a guy in prison that I read about four years ago where his first felony was writing a check that bounced. It was his check. It was his account. But under certain circumstances, writing a check that get returned as insufficient funds is a felony, and he accidentally discovered those circumstances. And a pot conviction later (I forget what the second offense was) and he's behind bars for the rest of his life.

    That's what zero tolerance does.

    Or how about the seven year old boy who chewed a pastry into the shape of a gun (well, he said it was supposed to be a mountain, but what did HE know, right?) and got suspended from school for it? That's what zero tolerance does. It absolutely requires people to punish those who do not deserve punishment, and to punish those who deserve very small corrections in gigantic out-of-proportion ways. So there will be no grey areas. So that nobody has to use their judgement who might later turn out to have been wrong.

    Because it's much more of a disaster if ONE person gets leniency who doesn't deserve it than if a THOUSAND people get locked up forever who don't deserve it.

    I don't know about you, but that's not the America I signed up for.

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