Election 2016

36 Questions on the Criminal Justice System for 2016's Presidential Hopefuls

Radley Balko wonders how important criminal justice reform and civil liberties will be in this election cycle.

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Miami-Dade Police

Over at The Washington Post, Radley Balko (formerly of Reason) has a questionnaire for potential presidential candidates examining their stance on various criminal justice and civil liberties issues. As Balko notes, the entry of candidates like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and maybe former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), means criminal justice reform could be a bigger issue in this election than it has been historically, at the very least for the duration of the primaries.

Balko's very first question would probably disqualify a lot of candidates from consideration by voters who take the issues of criminal justice reform and civil liberties seriously. Via The Post:

— The Obama administration has made heavy use of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to investigate patterns of abuse and civil rights violations by local police departments. Would you continue this policy in your administration? To what extent is the federal government obligated to step in when local police and prosecutors are either habitually violating or failing to protect the constitutional rights of citizens in their jurisdiction?

From Albuquerque to Seattle to  Ferguson, Mo., to Cleveland to Newark, NJ the Department of Justice has been relatively prolific in investigating local police departments for systemic civil liberties abuses. Often the DOJ has been too deferential to local PDs and governments in crafting solutions, preferring negotiated settlements to court actions. But it's work that the right presidential candidate could have a plan to build on.

Balko's questions range from civil forfeiture to the kinds of laws potential candidates might consider unconstitutional to their stance on the death penalty. Here's one more on police:

— Last December, Ed Krayewski at Reason magazine proposed creating a "police offenders registry." This would be a master list of police officers who have been caught lying in police reports or on the witness stand, using excessive force, or abusing or intimidating citizens. The idea here is to prevent corrupt and abusive cops from simply picking up and moving to another police department. There of course would be some details to work out about what would qualify an officer for listing on the registry, but generally speaking, do you support this idea? Is it something you would consider asking your Justice Department to create and oversee?

Read the rest here.

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  1. Rotsa ruck getting a candidate to answer thoughtfully any of those questions.

    1. “What is this ‘civil forfeiture’ to which you refer?”

      1. It’s pretty uncivil if you ask me.

      2. Vital funding for schools and communities.

      3. Civil forfeiture is the issue that demonstrates to me the allure of confirmation bias.

        Why? Because I am sure that someone could win the presidency simply by running on a platform of stopping civil forfeiture. Every time they ask you about abortion, Israel, gay rights, etc. all you do is respond with an anecdote of some abuse. Don’t talk about anything else.

        In my brain I’m sure that that pol would win in a landslide because it is such an easy issue. How could anyone justify this?

        Then I realize that my brain is a victim of confirmation bias and if that really happened there would be only too many people who would justify civil forfeiture and my candidate would probably lose because too many people would be worried about other issues and are willing to put up with this abomination to make sure gay people can get pizza on their wedding day.

        1. Definitely.

          There are still tons of people who support the WoD because they believe the government’s reasoning.

          Same thing with CAF – as long as its sold as for ‘getting the bad guys’ and these people never experience it themselves (and even a decent proportion could experience it and still find ways to justify it as an ‘honest mistake’) they’re all for punishing *someone*.

  2. ” Technically speaking, as chief law enforcement officer of the land, you’d be legally obligated to enforce laws on the books that the courts have upheld.”

    citation needed – that is, a citation to someone other than the Supreme Court, which tends to be somewhat biased on these issues.

  3. Fatboy in the foreground is cheating that pushup.

      1. Needs to do more squats.

    1. Trying to stave off the pending coronary episode.

    2. Fatboy has a 40 inch bust,
      you should see him bend and thrust

  4. I need to consider Nate Silver’s polling numbers of tuffgai-on-crime sentiment before passing harsh, merciless judgement.

  5. Good luck getting any candidate to enter that minefield. I thought this one was interesting though:

    Would your solicitor general continue this tradition of reflexively defending all laws and government officials, even if you believe the laws are unconstitutional, or that the government officials are at fault in the case in question?

    I don’t see any other choice, do you? If the solicitor general doesn’t defend the laws on the books, who does? By allowing the executive branch to essentially not defend laws the president doesn’t agree with leads to an almost limitless executive power.

    1. That’s a silly question, unconstitutional laws don’t get passed. Next question.

    2. “Do you believe the President has an obligation to veto bills that he/she/it believes are unconstititonal?”

      “Do you believe the President, through his Solicitor General, has an obligation to defend laws that he/she/it believes are unconstitutional against court challenge to their constitutional validity?”

      I don’t know how you can answer “yes” to both questions.

      1. Does the Solicitor General have a duty to defend laws that the President veto’s and Congress overrides the veto?

    3. I am all for any power that allows a law enforcement agency to *ignore* a law.

      1. eh, ignore *enforcement* of a law.

  6. Good luck getting any candidate to enter that minefield. I thought this one was interesting though:

    Would your solicitor general continue this tradition of reflexively defending all laws and government officials, even if you believe the laws are unconstitutional, or that the government officials are at fault in the case in question?

    I don’t see any other choice, do you? If the solicitor general doesn’t defend the laws on the books, who does? By allowing the executive branch to essentially not defend laws the president doesn’t agree with leads to an almost limitless executive power.

    1. Didn’t you hear me the last time? This isn’t really an appropriate way to conduct an interview, just asking the same question over again.

      1. Yeah, the squirrels that run the website are at it again.

      2. Yeah, the squirrels that run the website are at it again.

        1. heh…

  7. I am impressed with the questions Mr. Balko has chosen, and look forward to reading those he solicited from his readers.

  8. Cake, teh racism, and womyn will be the most important issues this election cycle.

    1. Perhaps. But a *lot* of shit could rain down by Nov ’16.

  9. OT: Is this a troll or not?

    Chicana Chocani
    ?@AngryChicana
    Science is not only gendered; it’s eurocentric, and so dismisses scientific models that favor multi-generational observation and testing.

    Chicana Chocani ?@AngryChicana Dec 22
    Western science favors data over results. Indigenous science favors results. But if they can’t SEE the data, then it’s not “real” science.

    Chicana Chocani ?@AngryChicana Dec 22
    So much Western science research published today show “inconclusive” results. That is science, but indigenous science is not? #eurocentric

    Chicana Chocani ?@AngryChicana Dec 22
    @KilgJack @radicalbytes animals don’t practice scientific methods; they are man-made, and therefore socially constructed.

    1. Impossible to tell. The beauty (or horror) of the internet age is that all kinds of individuals can communicate their insanity for us all to gawk at.

    2. Not a troll. I have a friend who’s sister believes all that.

      1. But did she make $56,293 last month working only 93 hours from her home computer?

        1. Not quite. But she did get a new BMW with an insurance policy from Insurance Panda.

    3. What’s indigenous science? That makes no sense to me.

      1. It’s the kind of science that validates progressive thinking. I mean, Ms. Angry Chicana says it favors results, right?

      2. It’s the “natural” science of peyote smoking Native Americans.

      3. In essence, a certain branch of crazy progressive believes that science is socially constructed by white men in order to uphold white, patriarchal values. This ignores all the scientific discoveries by the Chinese, by north Africans, and by Middle Easterners throughout history (as well as ignoring the fact that the Mayans and Aztecs probably had to have a decent grasp of mathematics in order to build their cities).

        Therefore, since current science is socially constructed, SJW progs can supplant actual objective facts with their feelings and it’s equally valid.

        1. IOW, “derp”

          Thanks for translating!

      4. But if they can’t SEE the data, then it’s not “real” science.

        And your point is …?

      5. Needz moar volcanoz

      6. “What’s indigenous science?”

        I think it is the opposite of what they discovered on LV-426.

    4. Look, she’s teaches science at the college level and has a link to a Wikipedia article proving her point. What more do you want?

      1. MIC DROP!

      2. What more do you want?

        A journalism degree from Columbia?

  10. End immunity and most problems with law enforcement would resolve themselves as the thugs in blue started thinking twice before robbing, raping and murdering those they have sworn to serve and protect.

    1. Christ, you just don’t fucking get it you soiled and unwanted orphan of the Politic.

      Cops killing people is a wake up call to parents.

      The anomalous problem of citizens being murdered by the police can be solved when parents finally start training their kids to respect authority.

      This according to that bastion of Christianized liberty on the radio waves, Herman Cain.

      “If you respect authoritah, there ain’t evah a single reason to pump yo punkass full of lead chunks. Respect the law and live, biatches who don’t pay child support and sell loosies!”

      And all the liberty-loving Christian gents and ladies in the Cain radio land screamed with a unanimous shout of ever-screeching joy sealed on the fluttering wings of jesus-worshipping angelics, “HALLELUJAH! AMEN, BROTHER CAIN! RESPECT THE AUTHORITAHZ AND LIVE, BROTHER CAIN!”

      But, don’t fucking mess with my religion, gov, or we’ll whop yo ass silly.

      1. Nein, nein, nein!

        1. I would be happy if there were only nein bad cop shootings. Unfortunately the total is way more than 9.

          1. Nine hundred ninety nein?

  11. My co-worker’s step-sister makes $80 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of work for seven months but last month her paycheck was $21155 just working on the laptop for a few hours. find out here now
    ????????????????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  12. The Obama administration has made heavy use of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to investigate patterns of abuse and civil rights violations by local police departments.

    He has?

    Oh wait, I get it – sure he’s done a lot of ‘investigating’, but what have *any* of those ‘investigations’ ever actually accomplished?

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