Yesterday, the WashingtonPost ran a story that upset me more than anything I have read in a while. It seems in Maryland, judges can reduce the sentence of any criminal for whatever reason (or no reason) they want. One of the examples given involves a man who was sentenced for shooting a man to death in a fight.
The family of the victim was never told of the resentencing. As far as they were to know, the killer was to be in prison. The fact that the judge and attorneys set up the “show” sentencing is, to me, especially grievous. In fact, in many of these circumstances, the victim (or victim’s family) is never told of the rehearing that lets the perpetrator out of prison before the assigned sentence is up. The original sentence is there to placate the family and get written up in the papers to snow the community into thinking that justice has been done; to “send a message to the community.” The message is, they are making fools out of the people of Maryland.
This is not like parole. To my knowledge, a parole hearing goes in front of a board who is responsible to voters or at least the state legislature or some sort of oversight. And doesn’t the victim or other interested parties get to show up and have a voice?
The article goes on to mention that this judicial privledge does not come from any law publically debated or voted on by the legislature, but from a procedural rule decided on by the judges themselves.
I guess it is moot to ask “how can they get away with this,” because obviously they are. But is it right?
Some more examples:
I think more of this story is in today’s Post, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I’m so disgusted that I will wait until this evening, so as not to further depress my mood for the day.
Thanks for listening.