It is not even a controversial issue that a bedrock principle of the American system of justice is that if you did not commit a crime you are not charged with committing a crime, you are not convicted of committing a crime and you are not sent to jail. If a mistake was made, you get out of jail. This principle apparently escapes the U. S. Department of Justice, who have no understanding of why the term ‘Justice’ is in their name. The D of J is keeping innocent people in jail.
A USA TODAY investigation, based on court records and interviews with government officials and attorneys, found more than 60 men who went to prison for violating federal gun possession laws, even though courts have since determined that it was not a federal crime for them to have a gun.
Many of them don't even know they're innocent.
Wow, how can this be? How can this be in the
United States of America
in the year 2012?
The legal issues underlying their situation are complicated, and are unique to North Carolina. But the bottom line is that each of them went to prison for breaking a law that makes it a federal crime for convicted felons to possess a gun. The problem is that none of them had criminal records serious enough to make them felons under federal law.
And as horrific as this is, even more horrendous is the attitude of the Federal government.
Still, the Justice Department has not attempted to identify the men, has made no effort to notify them, and, in a few cases in which the men have come forward on their own, has argued in court that they should not be released.
Justice Department officials said it is not their job to notify prisoners that they might be incarcerated for something that they now concede is not a crime. And although they have agreed in court filings that the men are innocent, they said they must still comply with federal laws that put strict limits on when and how people can challenge their convictions in court.
"We can't be outcome driven," said Anne Tompkins, the
U.S. attorney in . Charlotte
For those of you looking for the typical snarky comments from this Forum, sorry. The above attitude of the Department of Justice leaves The Dismal Political Economist speechless.