March 11 - "Probation is not benevolence from the State."
PROBATION IS NOT BENEVOLENCE FROM THE STATE
It is important to always remember that our judicial system is not about justice. It's not about deciding who is guilty and who is innocent. It is about funneling people through a system that has, as its endgame, the placement of individuals into government control. The probation system serves as an excellent reminder of this.
People often think of prison as being the final result of guilty verdicts or guilty pleas. While it is true that prison is the most oppressive part of our justice system, it is also the smallest. The number of people in prison is nothing compared to the number of people who are on probation. Why is this? It is because prosecutors usually offer plea deals that consist only of the offender being place on probation. This is especially common among misdemeanors.
The deal goes something like this:
Prosecutor: I have decided to offer you 12 months probation if you plead guilty on this misdemeanor.
Defendant: But I'm innocent!
Prosecutor: Well, this is America. So you are welcome to have a trial.
Defendant: I think I'll do that.
Prosecutor: Okay. Just know that, if you lose the trial, you could go to prison for up to a year and pay a $1000 fine.
Defendant: Errrrrr. Okay, I'll take the probation.
And that's how it is done. This happens to thousands of people who are innocent of the charged offense. It happens to thousands of people who are charged with a drug offense that should not have been a crime to begin with. The accused agrees to probation, and they are grateful that they weren't put in prison.
Before making the choice to accept this, however, here is something that you should know about probation - -
When you go on probation, you are placing yourself under government control for the duration of the period of probation. You will have to regularly see a government official who will ask questions about your private life. Failure to answer these questions could result in a violation of your probation. In many cases, you will have to ask your officer for permission to leave the state. In most cases, you will - for the entire period of probation - have to refrain from drinking a can of beer or sitting in a bar with your friends. And you will have to be prepared for a government official to come to your door at any time to demand that you piss in a cup.
But wait. It gets better! You will often be required to sign a Fourth Amendment Waiver. This means that, during the time that you are on probation, you will be required to give away a right that is so sacred to our nation that it is fourth in line in our Bill of Rights. This means that police can search your house, your car, or your body whenever they want - - for no reason at all.
So that's probation. The wonderful outstretched hand that prosecutors ask you to gratefully kiss.
Now, I'm never the defendant in the charged case (except once, but we won't get into that). So it's not right for me to tell you that you should take a risk by refusing probation and demanding a trial - not when that isn't what you want to do. All I'm suggesting is that you keep in mind the fact that probation is not the wonderful opportunity that the government tries to make it out to be. It is a minimum of one year of government intrusion in your life.
So give that some thought before bending the knee.