One of the ways I entertain myself in retirement is watching television. Mostly I watch sports or History. I never watch network television unless they are broadcasting a sports event. I do, however, watch reality cop shows with my favorite being “The First 48.” This column deals with some of the questions I have come up with from watching these shows.
The first big question is this. On almost every cop show, officers refer to a “known drug house.” Here is my question. If it is known to be a drug house, why does it exist? If the police know drugs are being illegally sold at this house, why are they allowed to continue? If in fact we were interested in stopping illegal drug activity, wouldn’t it be a good idea to close down “known drug houses?” Wouldn’t it be a good idea to arrest and prosecute persons in those houses who are dealing drugs? Seems like a reasonable idea to me.
The second thing that I have learned is that so many people who are stopped for minor traffic offenses have open and active warrants for their arrest. I wonder how many people are wandering around with open and active warrants and why are they not being pursued and arrested by the police officers we have on the job for that purpose? Now I recognize that not all traffic stops make the final cut in a television show, but even at that, isn’t it strange that so many people are running around with warrants? Could it be that the police have decided rather than chase after open warrants, they just lie in wait for a traffic stop or some other police interaction to check offenders for warrants? That’s probably a lot easier, huh?
This then brings me to my next question watching these shows has caused. It seems that in almost every case of a crime, the perpetrator has a record of arrest and conviction as long as your leg. I am talking about youthful offenders. I’m talking about twenty somethings or younger. Many have been arrested and convicted for all sorts of crimes. They have been prosecuted and incarcerated and yet are out of jail, running around on the streets. Mostly these crimes are drug related and many are associated with weapons. Many include violence and assault. Still many others include armed robbery and general mayhem. How does this happen? What does one have to do in order to be put away for a long time? How could an eighteen year old convicted armed robber, drug dealer, having been convicted and jailed, be out on the street at age twenty? What was his sentence? Thirty days or thirty minutes? Whatever happened to twenty years to life?
Well the skeptic in me has developed this theory.
It seems that the judicial system in this country has become something of a cottage industry. Young thugs commit crimes, are chased down and arrested by police officers, tried in court, judged by Judges and sent to prison only to be released early for any of a number of reasons. Many cases are pleaded down to make the prosecutor’s job easier. Most of these thugs get an early release only to go back to the streets and recommit crimes and the cycle starts all over again. To me it looks strangely like job security for members of the judicial industry. Are they telling me that there would not be enough business if they keep these punks in prison where they belong? I find that hard to believe. By the way, have you ever wondered how much the criminal justice system cost us?
I am not likely to get answers for these questions, but still I can ask, huh?
Ron Scarbro August 28, 2013