While I think most reasonable people do not question the bedrock principles of our Constitution involving the criminal justice system, I think it would be wise to pay attention to trends in this arena.
Recently, there have been a few high-profile cases where someone has committed a crime or caused a death while out on bail. The second-largest media outlet in the state, Masslive.com, has been hammering on this issue in an uninformed way, causing the public’s blood to boil.
The most recent example of this happened this weekend. The father of a newborn, returning from the hospital, was killed in an automobile accident. The headline today is “Driver that killed new father on Cape Cod was out on bail, being pursued by police before crash“.
Last week, the headline centered on the police officer shot in Weymouth, with the headline “Listen: Audio of November court hearing shows judge setting $500 bail for Emanuel Lopes“.
In neither of these cases was there indication that the person released on bail would perform the fatal deeds they performed. Emanuel Lopes, the Weymouth cop-shooter, was arrested for drinking alcohol and dealing cocaine. Mickey Rivera, involved in the crash, had been arrested in 2015 for an armed and masked robbery case, and had been in prison for two years before the State Judicial Court affirmed that the purpose of bail is to guarantee a court appearance, not to punish, and that high bail amounts for poor people amounts to a civil rights violation.
Criticism of the events surrounding these two occurrences are similar to those criticizing illegal immigration. They rely on a theory that “if only he wasn’t there” method to assign blame – meaning that someone, looking back in hindsight, finds some real or desired state interaction with the accused, and because of that, assigns the crime to the state, and more specifically to liberals.
“If only that illegal immigrant wasn’t there, my daughter wouldn’t have been killed in that accident”.
“If only the judge had set the bail higher, the officer wouldn’t have been murdered”.
The basis behind this is a total lack of understanding of the 6th Amendment, which guarantees those accused of a crime the right to a fair, speedy, and unbiased trial. If this line of reasoning is left to stand, it will be permissible for the government to hold people indefinitely. Rivera was arrested three years ago, but was not brought to trial. It is the government’s duty to make their case, and without such a case, they have no right to punish someone. But the public doesn’t understand that.
The public also does not understand why the police should not be involved in punishing the accused. There is broad support for the idea that the police should be able to mete out physical punishment to those who are accused of crimes, and growing support for the idea that police should be even able to murder those who are accused of crimes.
Watch your back, because if left unchecked, we run the risk of government repression.