Is Eliza Orlins just a really bad defense attorney, or is something else going on here? Hmmm …
Also in New York City, Kalief Browder—a teenager who had allegedly stolen a backpack but hadn’t been tried or convicted—spent more than 1,000 days imprisoned at Rikers Island, where Weisselberg will serve his 100 or so days. Much of Browder’s time on Rikers was spent in solitary confinement, and he was assaulted by both inmates and staff. He died by suicide about two years after he was finally released. A thousand days for a crime he wasn’t convicted of versus Weisselberg’s probable 100 days for the 15 felonies he admitted.
The 19 people who died in custody at Rikers in 2022 included a man who, like Browder, had not yet been tried, but had been imprisoned for three years awaiting trial on a robbery charge. They included a man who had been imprisoned for more than a year after allegedly committing assault while having a mental health crisis; he was supposed to be on suicide watch but was left unattended. It goes on—and while the 19 deaths in the Rikers Island jail complex in 2022 are a scandal, it’s also a scandal that people are being held for years without trial while people like Weisselberg get five months maximum.
Even some fairly prominent people have gotten noticeably harsher sentences than Weisselberg:
There are massive racial and wealth disparities threaded through everything about the so-called justice system in the United States, but every now and then there’s a case that just shows so clearly how advantageous it is to be white and wealthy (even if a good chunk of the wealth was illegal in some way) and connected to power that you have to stop and marvel at it. Also relevant here is how our system doesn’t treat white-collar crime as real crime, even though in many cases it has more victims who experience more harm than in cases of individual acts of theft or even assault. If there’s one kind of mass incarceration I would cheer, it’s mass incarceration of white-collar criminals.
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