I was listening to a conversation about justice in America. It was mentioned that Roger Stone, given his wealth and connections, walked into his arraignment and walked out a free man awaiting trial. His bail of $250,000 was set, he reached in his pocket, paid it, and walked out the door.
Riker’s Island is a jail that sits on an island in NY’s East River. It is not a prison, it is a facility where those charged, like Stone, are sent if they are unable to meet their bail. It can hold 15,000 inmates and is the 2nd largest jail/prison in America. Most of those in Riker’s have not been tried but are awaiting trial. They could be locked up for months and in the meantime, unlike Stone, end up with their jobs gone, their cars repossessed, their family’s destitute, children put in foster care, etc. They will probably suffer complete financial collapse even before their guilt or innocence is determined.
This isn’t just a NY problem, it is also a Highland County problem. Most of those sitting in city and county jails are awaiting trial and have no way to carry on their normal lives until the trial date. Furthermore, most are not hardened criminals. They may be enduring this because they got caught with a joint or a simple open container.
We like to talk about Americans being treated equally and the eyes of Justice being blind. Well, bullshit. To disprove that all one has to do is open their eyes and look around. There could very easily be someone in your own family who is currently rotting away in a jail awaiting trial for a low dollar, non-violent, victimless charge.
There is so much wrong with our criminal justice system and before we can rave on about being the land of the free, we need to come up with some serious answers.