Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Innocent Victims of the Criminal Justice System

Sylvia Minor, who had celebrated 41 years of marriage to her husband Paul, died today. The story from the Clarion-Ledger is here:


The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Paul Minor's request for bond pending appeal, then also denied his request for a brief furlough to visit his wife. Predictably, some folks are posting that this is just what he deserves. One visitor to the Clarion-Ledger even said:

"His actions probably contributed to the growth of the tumor with all the stress he caused her. She was better off by him not being there & he got exactly what he deserved."

I rather doubt Mrs. Minor would have said that. She was the innocent victim in all of this.

Another said, "The BOP doesn't let inmates out for this kind of thing, as a general rule. The inmate or family have to pay for transport and pay for guards to travel with the inmate."

True enough. But is that the right policy?

Does anyone understand what incarceration is supposed to accomplish? If so, perhaps they can explain how extinguishing all family ties and feelings will serve whatever the purpose is supposed to be.

And let's not forget . . . the Fifth Circuit has raised some very serious questions about whether the Federal courts have jurisdiction over this alleged offense. The two judges who were allegedly bribed were STATE court judges, who allegedly skewed STATE court proceedings in Paul Minor's favor. Pray tell, why is this a Federal offense?

And if Minor has a strong argument that he should never have been tried by the Federal Court, and is later released, how can his wife's loss of his comfort in her dying months be justified?

I think we are a better nation than this.


Kingfish said...

The Bureau is responsible for furloughs, not Fifth circuit.

Jim Craig said...

That's true, but the Fifth Circuit has the power to grant release pending appeal under 18 USC Section 3143(b)(1). The denial of bail pending appeal in this case has never made much sense to me. He drank alcohol prior to his trial. That's a reason to have him in prison while the appeal is pending?

Kingfish said...

I see what you are saying but you are experienced enough to know when you blow off a judge and get your bond revoked, it doesn't help you in the future and truth is, he DID have a drinking problem and WAS a public threat as he WAS driving drunk.

How many times have your clients paid for it when they really angered the judge?

Jim Craig said...

That's definitely true. But it seems to me that the punishment for that bond violation is far in excess of the violation itself.

Kingfish said...

why didn't he apply for furlough from BOP earlier than the last minute?