Sunday, July 26, 2015

Great U.S. criminal justice system should work for all - by Public Advocate Ed Monahan

In today's Lexington Herald-Leader

Great U.S. criminal justice system should work for all

Americans enjoy the greatest criminal justice system ever known to civilization. Every person is entitled to a lawyer if facing incarceration, accorded due process when liberty is at risk, and assured freedom from unwarranted searches and seizures — to name just a few of the individual liberties we enjoy in our democracy. 


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However, this sort of injustice is not limited to Ferguson. These are some of the cases that happened in Kentucky:
■ A poor elderly man whose fourth-degree assault was diverted but whose court costs were not waived by the court, and so he was left to ask churches for help putting food on his table.
■ A DUI defendant unable to pay $1,008 costs and fees was required to serve 20 days. Defendants not released from jail until payment of a $40 arrest fee assessed by the sheriff.
■ Poor people given "pay or stay" warrants and then jailed for failure to pay a fine without any representation by a lawyer.
■ Defendants who fail to ask for more time to pay fines/fees and are jailed for 180 days, or can't pay for their $35/day home-incarceration bracelets and are returned to jail.
■ Probation has been revoked because defendants are unable to get transportation to their drug tests or are unable to pay for them.
■ Diversion programs which carry fees of $400.
■ Courts refused to waive costs for clients with long prison sentences.

Our great criminal justice system is not faultless. Like Ferguson, Kentucky has unjust practices that must be remedied now for the words of our pledge of allegiance "with liberty and justice for all" to have full meaning.
Read the entire article here 

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