Pure insanity outside of the St. Louis City Justice Center
April 4, 2021 9:27 PM   Subscribe

“We’ve had people locked up for well over half of the year without a preliminary hearing,” ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A group of detainees rioted at the Justice Center in downtown St. Louis Sunday night, the second time such an uprising has occurred in recent months. Videos from the scene show detainees breaking windows, throwing items out of the windows, and setting items on fire on the third floor of the building.

“We’ve had people locked up for well over half of the year without a preliminary hearing,” Mahaffey says. “It’s leading to the conditions that we saw over the weekend.”
The problem isn’t just the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly slowed the circuit courts, and has led to detainees in the jail often facing severe isolation, similar to solitary confinement. It’s a fundamental failure, as Mahaffey and his fellow public defenders see it, in how the criminal justice system fails to protect the most basic of civil rights of those it charges with crimes.
posted by robbyrobs (12 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 


451:
Unavailable due to legal reasons.
posted by jan murray at 10:05 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, geoblocking on most of the small local news sites. Here's a link to a site ("focusing on prisons, protest, unrest, and repression in the US and Canada") reporting on the story, and of course, twitter is on it.
posted by taz at 10:51 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


By comparison, in NY you have to have a preliminary hearing within 5 days (unless the state takes the case before the grand jury within that time period).
posted by praemunire at 10:56 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


The time on the clock of the world is telling us it's time to reimagine public safety.
posted by ichomp at 1:02 AM on April 5 [7 favorites]


It doesn't take a legal scholar to realize that this is unconstitutional. The 6th Amendment calls for a "speedy trial." Waiting 6 months in jail for a preliminary hearing is just BS.
posted by drstrangelove at 4:10 AM on April 5 [18 favorites]


To support detainees:

The St Louis Jail & Legal Support facebook page

Direct link to fundrazr page to donate to the cause.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:20 AM on April 5 [6 favorites]


It wasn't in St. Louis, but in one of the places I lived the county prosecutor used this to bolster his conviction rates. He'd let you sit for a few days then make an offer like "Tell you what, here's a plea deal, if you take it, you plead guilty and just get time served, you can go home right now. Or you can sit and wait and see what happens." Most people didn't want to sit in jail for days or weeks even if they hadn't done it but, oops, now you have a record and you were guilty. But his conviction rate was high and he kept winning elections.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:30 AM on April 5 [17 favorites]


Where are all the people who've been screaming about the non-constitutionality of masks? You'd think this would really be in their wheelhouse...
posted by klanawa at 7:45 AM on April 5 [17 favorites]


It wasn't in St. Louis, but in one of the places I lived the county prosecutor used this to bolster his conviction rates. He'd let you sit for a few days then make an offer like "Tell you what, here's a plea deal, if you take it, you plead guilty and just get time served, you can go home right now. Or you can sit and wait and see what happens."

Which is why we need to make plea bargains illegal, or at the least highly restricted. We need to remove power from the prosecutors.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:18 AM on April 5 [21 favorites]


In the immediate, short term, sense we really need two laws:

1) All people accused of a crime must be at least set for a trial within 72 hours.

2) All criminal cases **MUST** be tried by a jury, and plea bargaining is prohibited.

Because right now we've got an obscene abomination of a system in which almost all people accused of crimes are arrested, tossed in jail to rot for weeks if not months, then plead guilty to a crime regardless of their innocence just to get out.

What's that you say? My proposals would require a massive increase in the number of judges and the number of people serving on a jury?

Why yes. Yes they would.

Because that metaphoric band-aid doesn't address the metaphoric cancer that is our "criminal justice system". It's necessary to take that sort of short term, urgent, action but it isn't sufficient and doing just that will cause larger problems later.

Our system of criminal justice is designed to put as many Black people into prison as possible and to overburden society in general with too many laws and too many police.

In addition to fixing the immediate problems with the system, we also need massive change in how the system works and what it's goal is.

I'd argue that our first step needs to be reducing the number of criminal offenses.

Drugs? Legalize, regulate, and tax all of them. Yes, including PCP, heroin, and straight up opium. Abuse is a medical problem, not a criminal problem.

Sex work? Decriminalize and focus on trafficking and coersion.

Gambling? Legalize, regulate, and tax.

Theft and other property crimes? Set up a proper welfare state and the financial incentive for that sort of crime largely vanishes leading to a vast reduction in the number of crimes of that nature. Not that there are very many to begin with, but still.

We need to completely rethink crime, policing, and how we have our society structured. The current crisis of prisons filled with people who haven't even been charged needs quick crisis intervention. But we can't stop with that.

Unfortunately I suspect we won't even start with that. The riot will be brutally suppressed, the prison system will demand more wardens and more cells, and the city will do that instead of even trying to solve the problem.
posted by sotonohito at 10:20 AM on April 5 [33 favorites]


Drugs? Legalize, regulate, and tax all of them. Yes, including PCP, heroin, and straight up opium. Abuse is a medical problem, not a criminal problem

These people have greivences that are not being met.
I tend to agree. First, the 6th amendment being partially shredded, not a great fan of the GJ but a GJ can be needed in sensitive cases. Covid aside, is this a further tear, yes.
Judicial leniency coupled with rehab, post prison facilities, overloaded, help but not enough. The opioid crises is a reason why legitimate folk have a harder time now with pain management (drug test, monthly visits, etc) but it's a medical problem in as far as those who need to aquire, crooked doctors and oversea infusion has not abated the problem. But there is a whole lotta thinking about pcp using Crane operators and what not. The law has made amendments and courts for alcohol Historically, so. Marijuana decrim for example is just know catching, federally but it's partial wildfire for local tax coffers. Though biased as I spent Alot of my life in a pot decrim city and state...like a weed crime in Ann Arbor is selling mouldy Chem OG.
/Gambling? Legalize, regulate, and tax.
There should be a federal law allowing gambling, takes the states out of the decision process and into the community for example: is it wise to build a Casino in Flint, michigan. No, its like building a theme park about cars in a place called vehicle city.
Because people will find a way...
Just like people won't visit a theme park about cars.

it's cheaper to go to the races.
posted by clavdivs at 5:55 PM on April 5


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