Criminalizing justice

Guilty for the crime of demanding a day in court:

The jury, which deliberated for more than two days, rejected a bunch of counts against Ravi, including the hate crime charges involving Clementi’s visitor (who testfied during the trial, identified only as M.B.). Because of this selectivity, one juror told the Trenton Star-Ledger, “You feel like justice has been served.” I don’t. Ravi is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21. In addition to a potentially lengthy prison sentence, he faces the likelihood of deportation to India, where he was born. Reprehensible as his conduct was, he does not deserve either of those punishments. Had Clementi not killed himself a few days after what he dismissively called Ravi’s “five sec peep,” leading to the completely unproven conjecture that Ravi’s spying drove him to suicide (a claim the prosecution never made during the trial), Ravi probably would not have faced criminal charges at all, let alone a possible 10-year sentence. Before the trial the prosecutors offered him a deal that involved no jail time and a chance to avoid deportation, which suggests even they do not believe he should be punished as severely as a violent felon. So in addition to all of the questionable crimes for which Ravi is about to be punished, there is one more: insisting on his right to a trial.

Setting aside the absurdity of the “bias intimidation” laws and the idea that the jury was capable of correctly reading, post mortem, the late roommate’s thoughts in the absence of any testimonial or documentary evidence, Jacob Sullum is right to note that the main reason Dharun Ravi is facing jail time is because he refused to be served up as the sacrificial victim demanded by the increasingly gay-influenced mainstream media.

While it makes practical sense to offer criminals far lighter sentencing in order to avoid the time and expense of trying them, it is a complete miscarriage of justice. Such a system rapidly devolves into one where even the completely innocent given massive incentive to plea guilty, not only because they avoid the risk of a disproportionate punishment, but also save themselves the expense of defending themselves.