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Roger J. Hourihan

Dillu Laymen,

The system does not want societal masses to fully understand how the sentencing guidelines work. If so there would be a huge outcry. However, the more people that get locked down for years sad to say is the only way that one day we can expose the legal system for what it really is. A numbers game. More and longer sentences mean more jobs in the legal empire from jailers to judges to six figure fee both honest and corrupt defense counsel.

Take away all of the prisons and its inmates and you end up with all the corrections and police officers on welfare. All the other administrative and non degree support staff will also be on public assitance. A very sad system we created.

Roger J. Hourihan

Great article, however, the government does not care how much time it passes out as the Assistant U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the cases care only about two items-convictions and image.
These attention seeking individuals will continue to argue and obtain the highest sentence possible under the guidelines no matter how many individuals and those individuals families they destroy and rip apart. Granted, if one is guilty then they have to do some amount of prison time which is justified in every case. However, when you are passing out 10, 15, 25 and 50 year sentences and beyond then have the audacity to ask and receive upward departures to increase sentences even further is beyond belief until one has sat in a courtroom and quietly observed how these prosecutors manipulate the guidelines and more importantly a person's future.
Then you turn on CNN and ask why are our own boys blowing up federal buildings, and why are they killing prosecutors and judges? And these boys were guilty. How about the ones that were not guilty? There has to be a system that checks these prosecutors! That system is not the Supreme Court or the Justice Department as they only enhance what these sub-humans are controlling.
The sentencing guidelines was the biggest mistake by the Reagan Administration and I have high regard for the former president, however, what he created with the guidelines was a get even method for prosecutors who were never able to stand up to anybody all of their lives and hence now they are able to and with a vengeance due to a 800 page plus manual.
So much has been written about criminals taking revenge on their prosecutors after they finished their sentence. Granted, lives have been exterminated and fledging judicial careers have been cut short due to some of these statistics making good on their promises.
My concern is not about them taking out of their agony-my concern is about all of the innocent incarcerated and what will happen when they are released as who can predict what the wrongly accused, convicted, incarcerated and wrongly yanked from their lives and loved one will seek when released and nothing is waiting for them except a probation officer and the system.
I pray to God that I nor my family or other families are not in close proximity to these lost souls as nobody can possibly predict what grief, hurt and suffering they will place on society in order to make up for what was wrongly taken from them. In my opinion it will make what McVeigh and Bin Laden did seem uneventful if this segment of society is not monitored every second of the day once they are released.

Hopefully God can reach to these individuals and somehow show them that violence is not the answer and that the prosecutors responsible for loss of their most basic freedoms are already being punished by the meaningless existence they have lead since being spawned.

disillusioned layman

Please consider submitting a version of this excellent article to a more widely-read publication (Time, Newsweek, etc.). Those of us who are not lawyers have a right to know about the Kafkaesque aspects of our legal system. Friends whom I have told about sentencing based on acquitted conduct look at me in complete disbelief.

The death penalty is not the only aspect of our legal system that deserves public debate. If anything, the subject of your article has the potential to affect many more of us than the death penalty ever will. Unfortunately, some in the legal profession feel that those of us who are not lawyers are not capable of understanding these matters and shouldn't get involved in discussions of them. However, if fundamental concepts of fairness in our legal system differ from what we citizens have been led to believe, then I think we all have a right to know.

disillusioned layman

Mr. Protass, I read your excellent article after being directed to it by Professor Douglas Berman's sentencing blog. As a non-lawyer who has become acquainted with this issue and other (to me, at least) surprising aspects of our legal system, I was delighted to see such a clear and understandable discussion of this topic.

I have told some of my middle-class friends about sentencing based on acquitted conduct, and they look at me in total disbelief. Such a thing is incomprehensible to them. The problem is, most non-lawyers have no idea that this occurs.

Please write an article on this topic for Time or Newsweek or as an op-ed in the New York Times or some similar venue where the rest of us can learn about it. It frightens me that the vast majority of even the educated public has no idea how our legal system really works. (A friend who is a psychology professor actually thought everyone accused of a crime got a trial!) It is equally disturbing that at least some in the legal profession seem to think this ignorance on the part of the public is just fine.

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