Dear Editor

Dear Editor Hate Campaign The articles in the January 7 issue of The New Leader by Andrew J. Glass ("Presidential Trust and Political Circuses") and Waiter Goodman ("A Letter to Lenny Garment")...

...This statement is confusing, if not misleading...
...Appleton, Wis...
...I never realized that 97 per cent of New York City's felony cases are not tried through to completion (I have since learned that the figure for the entire U.S...
...If punishment is wrong, then prisons, if they do not reform, should be closed...
...Philadelphia Walter R. Storey...
...Yet intelligently usedówith a set of guidelines and policies established by the prosecutor, extensive investigation prior to the pleading, proper surveillance, and reporting by the pressóthis much misunderstood and often distorted instrument can be a significant factor in the administration of criminal justice...
...Finally, why can't there be more pretrial investigations and psychological tests of defendants...
...that it has no function simply as a barrier, keeping violent persons from preying on the rest of us...
...And it should not be justified simply as a means of helping the court to deal with all the cases coming before it...
...Why do liberals overlook this...
...New York City Lorraine R. Colvillf...
...Yet the logical conclusion from this is that since we know prisons scarcely rehabilitate (and even harden some inmates) there is no point in locking up dangerous persons at all...
...The press, in publicizing cases that are disposed of by the acceptance of lesser pleas, can expose the unjustified ones or enlighten readers as to the reasons for those that are appropriate...
...It is destructive of their civil rights, of which surely the most fundamental, even if unwritten, is the right to be secure from physical attack...
...How few persons placed on probation receive this privilege...
...They must look at each case on an individual basis and exercise sound discretion if justice is to be achieved for the defendant as well as the state...
...Unfortunately, there is reluctance even to investigate how much money such an effort would require...
...What is so unjust about sorting out those who repeatedly menace and destroy us and segregating them where they can do no harm...
...The excuse for this ridiculous state of affairs is that too few prosecutors, judges, courtrooms, and defense lawyers are available to conduct trials...
...But we need to know more about how it is being used by court personnel...
...Those who understand the democratic way and spirit and are strong in the faith have no desire or need to borrow such contemptible weaponry < from the authoritarian arsenal...
...I say it is unjust to the vast majority of nonviolent persons to permit them to be preyed upon...
...Wouldn't it be worth a few extra millions to be able to walk the streets and use the subways without fear...
...The guidelines Kuh proposes for improving the plea bargaining process have much to recommend them as general propositions...
...Such a point of view is stated explicitly in a letter dated December 27...
...But isn't this a classic example of a vicious circle...
...The examples Kuh cites show how crimes are committed by people whose motives and methods vary in innumerable ways...
...New York City Albert Sanders Bravo to Richard H. Kuh...
...Offenders come back in such numbers that they can only be disposed of with short sentences, with the result that they come back in such numbers . . . One way to break out of this would be to spend more money over a relatively short time...
...As a widespread, frequently used device for disposing of criminal prosecutions without trial, based upon the possibility or certainty that Mich plea will result in a lesser penalty than the sentence that could be imposed after a trial and verdict of guilty, it offers advantages to the state as well as to the defendant...
...He ignores deterrence (to whatever extent it is effective) and, most important, he ignores separation...
...in others, it breeds a number of evils...
...Nor that defendants are permitted to dispose of one or even several serious charges by pleading guilty to a minor offense...
...It can be an effective vehicle for upholding the basic constitutional principles within the Bill of Rights, while at the same time protecting a society that feels and often is threatened by the criminal who is out on the street before the police officer is back on his beat...
...We need a systematic, continuing, publicly available record of grand jury charges, sentences, judges, and lawyers involved in all felony cases...
...1973...
...from John E. Helbok, a teacher, to the New York Times...
...Most criminologists maintain that large-scale rehabilitation has never been successful, even when attempted over long periods...
...Kuh should be saying the reason short sentences are futile is that they provide insufficient time during which dangerous persons are segregated from the general public...
...Including paying for competent defense counsel, what would the whole thing cost...
...Thus it is refreshing to encounter a rational and sound analysis of this important problem by an experienced and dedicated practitioner of the lawóa man who has served both as a prosecutor and a defense counsel...
...He writes: "We on the Left should be careful not to violate the principles we preach, among which are the following: Acting in revenge is wrong...
...John Jay College of Criminal Justice Richard H. Kuh's excellent article gave me my first understanding of how our defective criminal justice system contributes to the violence we all fear...
...Former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, despite the U. S. Justice Department's case against him, was given three years' probation and was not even required to report to a probation officer...
...This is why I say the objection to a better court system is a question of ideology, not stinginess...
...Such a record would provide an adequate basis for evaluating judicial performance, and it would contain enough data to make possible the drawing of meaningful comparisons and the setting of standards...
...Along with Chief Justice Warren Burger's recent recommendation that we train attorneys to be trial lawyers, I would suggest that we train lawyers to be judges...
...This has to do with ideology, not stinginess...
...Prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges could thereby more intelligently evaluate plea bargaining and begin to restore respect to our legal system...
...Not because plea bargaining is wrong, but because it is used so ineffectively to produce justice...
...In itself, the practice is neither an evil nor a boon to the administration of justice...
...This now exists in some cities and is available to the press and responsible civic groups...
...With this attitude, obviously it does not pay to spend money for an adequate criminal justice system, for it would only result in longer prison terms that are both useless and immoral...
...Then habitually violent persons (an incredible 70 per cent of prison inmates are repeaters and therefore habitual) could be tried properly and put away for long terms, and the courts would thereafter be able to handle their case loads without resorting to plea bargaining...
...But a prepleading investigation might result in a deprivation of the defendant's constitutional rights, unless there is a waiver of same by the defendant...
...In some of these cases, plea bargaining offers an appropriate method of disposition...
...Instead, he reinforces the belief that the only purpose of a prison is to rehabilitate...
...Too many judges today are incompetent political appointees...
...Dear Editor Hate Campaign The articles in the January 7 issue of The New Leader by Andrew J. Glass ("Presidential Trust and Political Circuses") and Waiter Goodman ("A Letter to Lenny Garment") provoke me to say that your magazine should never give space to a hate-and-destroy campaign of any kind against anybody...
...Separating violent persons certainly does work to protect the rest of us...
...New York City Louis J. Lefkowitz Attorney General, State of New York Richard H. Kuh touches a sensitive nerve in the criminal justice system...
...Plea bargaining might be accepted by tax-paying citizens if it seemed more equitable...
...In weighing the advantages against the disadvantages, we have to remember that people charged with crimes are prosecuted, defended and judged by other human beings...
...Helbok thinks the incarceration of criminals has only two purposes: revenge (punishment) and reform (rehabilitation...
...Both positions cry aloud for special instruction, and this might have a desirable effect on plea bargaining...
...New York City Joel W. Harnett Chairman, Board of Trustees, The City Club of New York Plea bargaining continues to be a matter of great concern to law enforcement professionals as well as to the lay person who often reads about its "evils" in his newspaper...
...J certainly support Richard H. Kuh's argument that plea bargaining can be turned into a tool for helping to rehabilitate the wrongdoer and reduce the crime rate...
...The factual or legal basis for the lesser plea should be on the record, as is now the practice with respect to the voluntariness of such plea, and the defendant's clear understanding of the nature of the charge should be an on-the-record inquiry in open court...
...Zoe Cloak Kuh Richard H. Kuh's "How to Make Plea Bargaining Work" (NL, January 7) contains a good summary of a practice that has become an integral part of our criminal justice system, i.e., permitting a defendant to plead guilty to a lesser offense than that with which he is charged...
...The exception is when brainwashing techniques are used, but such methods are abhorrent...
...is 90 per cent...
...Plea bargaining has a place...
...It can be abused or used unwisely, resulting in inadequate sentences, inducing innocent persons to plead guilty (rather than risk conviction for a more serious crime), and making a mockery of the revolving door at the courthouse...
...Consider a line from Kuh's own article: "They [plea bargains] produce inadequate sentences that do not permit sufficient rehabilitation time and effort, leaving society unprotected...
...Would such a one-time expenditure be all that large...
...Allow me to make a few suggestions that may persuade the general public to show more respect for our judicial process...
...No doubt steady newspaper exposure of the practice would help, as Kuh suggests, yet that alone is not sufficient...

Vol. 57 • February 1974 • No. 4


 
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