Thursday, October 04, 2007

How Guidelines Corrupt the Process

From our friend Teri Carns at the AL (Alaska, not Alabama) Judicial Council, a classic case of how, to get around guidelines considered too severe (aka the federal guidelines), a state judge screwed with reality, vanishing a prior conviction, so the feds couldn't jerk an offender into a giant prison term that the state judge felt unwarranted. Let's let the prosecutors rage about what happened. I think the bigger point is that, when we need law to be seen as consistent and not gamed for the sake of its long-term legitimacy and utility for all of us, the gaming just expands and expands. I'm not a strict constructionist and I understand how law bleeds into the fuzzy areas of reality, but, just like how our drug laws going back to Prohibition have led to more corruption and official illegality than we would ever wish, guidelines have these secondary effects as well, and not just in this case. It's time we acknowledged that, and the danger they can pose. It's nothing to pooh-pooh.

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