30 January 2004

Joshua Claybourn provides A tale of 2 probationers.

Sadly, while I hope that the second person was truly reformed (and Joshua was clearly in a better position to judge then I am), this looks to me like two different ways of scamming the system. I think that few actually do the in-your-face thing. Far more likely is the second approach: I've found God. It's the biggest scam in the prison system. I'd say that perhaps 40% of my clients go to religion classes while they are in jail. Partly it's because they are bored and there is nothing else to do, partly it's because they can get certificates of attendance or letters from the person running the class to use in their sentencing hearing (or motion to reduce sentence), and sometimes there is genuine interest (one can hope). However, over time I've noticed that clients who know they are going away for 15 years, or who are on their 9th felony and know that judge Smith is going to give them two years no matter what they do, don't bother. Or at least if they are going they don't tell me.

Now, my perspective is different from Joshua's. I seldom see, and don't long remember, people who had one brush with the law and reformed. I see the recidivists - the people who find jail / prison unpleasant but are not deterred by its threat. It is my most sincere hope that some find their faith and move on to a better life. It's just that I live and work in a cynical world where religiosity is another pawn in the game. And we all recognize this. Arguing that "my client has found God" is seldom an effective argument during sentencing hearings or motions to reduce sentence because everyone in the courtroom has heard it so many times with people whom we all know that we will see back in the system within a year or two of sentence completion.

Thanks to Joshua for pointing me to a thought provoking post.

Dominus Vobiscum

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