A fed-up judge condemns the inequities in America’s legal system

In “Why the Innocent Plead Guilty and the Guilty Go Free: And Other Paradoxes of Our Broken Legal System,” [Judge Jed S.] Rakoff reaches far beyond corporate boardrooms to highlight an array of shortcomings within the criminal justice system. His proposed fixes are worthy of consideration but also lay bare a harsh reality: The entrenched interests tolerating the system’s inequities and, in some cases, profiting from the status quo pose significant obstacles to reform. Rakoff realized that America’s “system of justice is failing its mission” after becoming a federal district court judge a quarter-century ago. What’s the nature of this failure? The country imprisons millions of indigent Americans yet routinely allows white-collar criminals to avoid punishment. “To a federal judge,” he declares, the government’s reluctance to hold executives accountable and instead enter into “cosmetic prosecution agreements” with corporations that are repeatedly violated and unenforced “is disturbing … in what it says about the DOJ’s apparent disregard for equality under the law.” Rakoff fittingly cites Pfizer to exemplify his point. The four deferred-prosecution agreements between the pharmaceutical giant and federal authorities from 2002 to 2009 – all devised to prevent future misconduct – failed to stop the company from flouting the law. Through it all, Pfizer’s executives went unpunished, and the fines the company paid represented a fraction of its ill-gotten gains.

Note: For a much deeper analysis and discussion of Judge Rakoff’s highly revealing book by courageous journalist Matt Taibbi, see this excellent essay. Consider subscribing to Taibbi’s excellent work. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the court system and in Big Pharma from reliable major media sources.

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Author: {Want To Know}

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