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  • Feds Begin Pressing Charges

    Posted by Dan from Madison on June 28th, 2020 (All posts by )

    It took a bit, but the Feds have begun the process of charging, and hopefully, if guilty, incarcerating those responsible for criminal activity during the riots of the past few weeks. One notable case was worked here in Madison – the arrest of this person was what sparked the riots last week. If you read the indictment of this person, he was extorting local businesses and, in general, being a total and complete nuisance. Enjoy your time in club fed, dude.

    A different person that I know was recently charged with a federal crime, convicted and sent to prison – this case got me interested in federal cases and from my bit of research, it appears to me that at least 99% of those cases end up with plea deals or convictions. In other words, if you are charged by the feds, from what I have been reading, there is likely a lot of good evidence against you.

    I am happy that this is happening. I grew up in Rockford, IL and I was always amazed that the Chicago and State of IL legal folks couldn’t ever get anyone prosecuted for all of the bribes, kickbacks and other nonsense in Chicagoland. Only the feds would do it. Seems like a similar deal is happening with the new rioters.

     

    32 Responses to “Feds Begin Pressing Charges”

    1. Mike K Says:

      DC juries are going to be a problem, especially for black defendants.

      Greg Craig used this situation to be acquitted from charges that would have sent any Republican to prison.

    2. Benson Says:

      As to the fact that cases before Fed courts Result in 99% Plea deals: it has a lot to do with the DoJ has almost limitless resources in time and money to use against anyone, anytime. See General Flynn .
      In Lawyer World of billable hours world time is money; in defendant world, time is months/ years of stress and worry.

    3. Bones Says:

      One of the differences between State and Fed cases is how the cases come to be charged. A State or Local officer arrests the perp and files the case with the DA. In many cases, he or she goes on to the next case, and on and on. There’s usually a big load. If the case isn’t put together at the beginning, it can be difficult to do follow up, when the workload is heavy. This isn’t always the case, but it often is, especially in big cities, see: Chicago. The DA may choose to prosecute of not, but the defendant is in jail, (or out on bond), and there’s pressure to follow through.

      In the Fed system, the Special Agent investigates the case, establishing more than probable cause, (he better prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt), and they “sell” it to the US Attorney’s Office. Not every case gets accepted. The Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) looks only for the “cream”, those cases which are guaranteed winners. Sometimes, the AUSA will take a case that looks good to them but needs some work, and will put in the work. They often will look for potential high profile cases, and are guided by supervisors and by the US Attorney who set guidelines. Every US Attorney/Judicial District is different. What goes in one might not in another. Even if the case is absolutely solid, if it’s not the flavor of the day at the USAO, it won’t go.

      Also, Agents are supposed to work significant investigations, and have (mostly) the time to make that happen, they also have the resources that the locals don’t. Often those good cases that the AUSA won’t take get “offered” to the locals, who may of may not take them.

    4. Dan from Madison Says:

      Bones – interesting stuff thanks.

    5. Bones Says:

      Oh, and also, Dan…

      I enjoy hearing about the goings-on in Mad-town. I went to school there and grew up south of you some ways. It’s like old home week.

    6. Jay Guevara Says:

      I believe that there is no parole in the Federal prison system: you do every minute of your sentence.

      (smiles)

      If that’s not true, please don’t disabuse me of that belief. It warms the blackened cinder where my heart used to be.

    7. Dan from Madison Says:

      Jay – true there is no parole per se, but there is time off the sentence for good behavior. From my research it looks like most serve around 85% of the time sentenced. I think I there is an exception for the more serious crimes.

      I also did some research into the federal sentencing guidelines but lost interest. It is complicated and simple at the same time.

    8. MCS Says:

      The nature of the crime also governs just where the sentence is served. The lawyers fire bombing the police in NYC won’t be spending time in club Fed. Probably at least medium security that look like real prisons and for a long time. They might even qualify for the jackpot of maximum security which probably applies to anything terrorism related.

    9. Roy Kerns Says:

      “tanstaafl governs” stands out in the OP and in the comments above. Limited not only by $, but by time, prosecution and penal system alike make choices about procedure and penalty.

      Consider, eg, Jay’s comment about parole and Dan’s about time off. If the system offers no carrots for cooperation but only a stick demanding obedience, what one would expect to result does (as demonstrated repeatedly in history, as evident in the outworking of 3 strikes laws and truth in sentencing attempts). Failure to buy cooperation with benefits means increasing the meanness of the system to both keep inside the meanies and to control them. Bigger fences, more layers of fences, single cells rather than dormitories, more guards,…none of this is free.

      100% of the sentence (truth in sentencing) removes the possibility of the (not relatively, but significantly) less expensive carrot of time off for cooperation. To balance this obvious (but apparently counter intuitive) collision, many states ended up reducing the total time for a given crime sentence such that it worked out as if they had a longer time with time off for good behavior: time of imprisonment (time inside) the same in both cases, but the latter less expensive for the system.

      Meanwhile, what the victim really wants never happens. Instead of having to pay via taxes for the incarceration, the victim wants restitution. Simultaneously, what the victimizer both needs and wants does not happen either. Instead of earning a clean record via restitution, where debts get cleared, the prisoner does zip at zero pay (or, per 13th Amendment, slave wages from which the victim gets nothing), dehumanizing the prisoner, and emerges at the end of time served as a second class citizen.

    10. Jay Guevara Says:

      Sorry, but I must strongly disagree.

      Instead of having to pay via taxes for the incarceration, the victim wants restitution.

      How does one make restitution for a murder? A rape? An assault? Child molestation? Sure, restitution can work for embezzlement, but not these or most other crimes. How does a drug dealer make restitution, and to whom?

      Instead of earning a clean record via restitution, where debts get cleared, the prisoner does zip at zero pay (or, per 13th Amendment, slave wages from which the victim gets nothing), dehumanizing the prisoner, and emerges at the end of time served as a second class citizen.

      The criminal IS a second-class citizen, and should be, as he is worth less than citizens who have not blotted their copybooks.

      The last thing ex-cons should “get” is a clean record, because they don’t have a clean record. Hiding their record is not the answer. Others need to be aware of their past transgressions, so that embezzlers don’t get hired in financial institutions, and child molesters don’t get hired by daycare centers. Recidivism is all too common, and it’s not just because ex-cons can’t get jobs. Convicts convicted of rape not uncommonly rape again when they get out; their employment status clearly no bearing on their malfeasance.

    11. Gringo Says:

      Jay Guevara
      Convicts convicted of rape not uncommonly rape again when they get out; their employment status clearly no bearing on their malfeasance.

      Let’s look at what the Department of Justice says. Bureau of Justice: Press Release: RELEASED SEX OFFENDERS WERE THREE TIMES AS LIKELY AS OTHER RELEASED PRISONERS TO BE RE-ARRESTED FOR A SEX OFFENSE.

      The BJS study tracked a representative sample of prisoners released in 2005 in the 30 states that were responsible for 77% of all state prisoners released nationwide and examined their arrests through 2014. An estimated 7.7% of released sex offenders were arrested for rape or sexual assault during the 9-year follow up period, versus 2.3% of other released prisoners.

      It is not surprising that released sex offenders would be more likely to be arrested for a sex offense compared to other released prisoners. But it probably would come as a surprise to you and many others that in the nine year followup period after release, only 7.7% of released sex offenders have gotten arrested for rape or sexual assault. Seems to me you had better rethink your assumptions.

      Ditto your cavalier assumption that there is no relation between employment status and further offenses. No, having a job is NOT a guarantee that someone will reoffend, but having a job makes it less likely.The less isolated, the more ties to others, the less likely to reoffend. Among those ties to others would be a job. Do the research. That doesn’t mean that one should forgive an unemployed sex offender who reoffends.

    12. Gringo Says:

      Correction:
      No, having a job is NOT a guarantee that someone will NOT reoffend, but having a job makes it less likely that someone will reoffend.

    13. MCS Says:

      Jay Guevara’s statement is at most a mild exaggeration depending on what numerical value you assign to “not uncommonly”. Compared to the population in general 2.2% in nine years is huge, let alone 7.7%.

      I agree that a job is key to reducing recidivism but far short of some sort of guarantee. The people that populate our prisons by and large aren’t like you and me. Their decision making process and their perception of risk are defective. Some will learn to fake it but they’re like an alcoholic, always in danger of falling off the wagon.

    14. Jay Guevara Says:

      It is not surprising that released sex offenders would be more likely to be arrested for a sex offense compared to other released prisoners. But it probably would come as a surprise to you and many others that in the nine year followup period after release, only 7.7% of released sex offenders have gotten arrested for rape or sexual assault.

      Arrested.

      What proportion of reported rapes or sexual assaults result in an arrest?

      How many rapes has the average rapist perpetrated before being arrested?

      Only 7.7% get re-arrested? Sounds pretty low, huh? The rape rate in the US is 27/100,000 people, or about 14/100,000 males. Double it to allow for the inclusion of children and the elderly. I make the rape rate for the population as a whole as 0.014%, – so previously convicted rapists are 550 times more likely to rape again than the average man. Would you accept a rapist ex-con to live in your house with you and your wife, given those odds?

      Ditto your cavalier assumption that there is no relation between employment status and further offenses.

      You sharpened my point. I was speaking in reference to rape and to a lesser extent, murder. I think we can agree that for serious violent offenders, the relationship between employment and further offenses is pretty tenuous.

      No, having a job is NOT a guarantee that someone will reoffend, but having a job makes it less likely.The less isolated, the more ties to others, the less likely to reoffend.

      You’re implicitly assuming those who with jobs are less likely to reoffend because they have jobs. How do you take into account selection bias? That is to say, those who seek out legal employment are self-selected to be less likely to reoffend.

    15. Kingsnake Says:

      Roy Kerns … no symp for perps. Bread & water in the Hole. Maybe think about that before committing crimes, particularly felonies. Not interested in rehab or recovery, only keeping predators away from productive society where they will only predate again. And again. And again. And again …

    16. Mike K Says:

      From my research it looks like most serve around 85% of the time sentenced. I think I there is an exception for the more serious crimes.

      Unless pardoned or sentence commuted by Bill Clinton, as he did with a convicted terrorist now serving on the board of the BLM funding arm.

      Susan Rosenberg was identified as the vice chair of the Thousand Currents board of directors on the charity’s website until Wednesday when the page was taken down after the conservative think tank Capital Research Center detailed her involvement with a communist terrorist group that had carried out bombings in New York and Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s.

      Rosenberg’s involvement with the May 19 Communist Organization, which carried out its bombing campaign to create a contrast to former President Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” campaign promise, earned her a spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, according to The Washington Examiner. She was arrested in New Jersey in 1984 while unloading 740 pounds of stolen explosives and a sub-machine gun from a truck.

      Rosenberg was released from prison in 2001 after having her sentence commuted by Clinton, serving 16 years of her 58-year prison sentence.

      She avoided being charged with murder for the Brinks robbery because she was in prison. She is not in prison now. hint, hint.

    17. Bones Says:

      There is no parole in the Fed system. As Dan noted, an inmate can get 15% of time cut off for “good behavior”. The Bureau of Prisons, an agency of the DOJ is the sole determiner of what constitutes good behavior. Most inmates will get it.

      Yesterday we discussed the very high percentage of convictions in the Fed system, many of those convictions are actually pleas. Pursuant to a plea agreement, a defendant can get credit for acceptance of responsibility, if there is a mandatory minimum sentence, (common in drug cases), the defendant can get a “safety valve”, a lifting of the mandatory minimum for interviewing and discussing the crime with law enforcement. The safety valve also shaves off another couple of points on the Sentencing Guidelines. The defendant can gain significant relief for providing “significant assistance to law enforcement”, usually by snitching to the Feds about co-conspirators which leads to other arrests, etc…

      Michael Flynn and his situation were not part of the discussion here, but if you look at Flynn and the plea deal given the things discussed above, you can get a sense of why someone would plead guilty to a crime they didn’t commit. I know two people who did just this. One of them called it “economic guerrilla warfare”. The Fed’s can bankrupt you while you prove your innocence, or you can fold and save your funds and livelihood and get a deal that’s probably not too bad. Flynn was given assurances (which hold little weight), that he would get no time served for his guilty plea. It was certainly a wake-up call when the sentencing judge called him a traitor. Definitely a clue that the assurances of no time in jail were worthless.

    18. Dan from Madison Says:

      Bones – wouldn’t one want those reassurances of no jail time in writing or is that not how this thing works?

    19. Roy Kerns Says:

      Jay, Kingsnake:

      Kingsnake, your “no sympathy” position as expressed in your short summary has powerfully appealing features. For instance, it straightforwardly insists that there must exist an obvious direct correlation between crime and penalty. It accepts the perception that the current system is too soft on crime. It promotes stiff, unwavering, unmodified sentences as a correction. It seems simple.

      I’m neither a lawyer nor an accountant, merely an aware observer (10 years on the executive board of a prison ministry). Those two professions would, however, not deny my observations, but put sinew and muscle on them, and make them not only walk thru but trample the simple solution of your position.

      Prisons are not cost free. The uglier society makes the prison, the more it costs to build, staff, and run. Single celled solitary confinement costs a lot more than dormitory quarters. (If you think I err, Google is your friend. Find your state’s data on annual costs per inmate at maximum security prisons vs minimum security prisons vs county or city jails. Then note that even the lower of these costs exceeds, in some states by whole number multiples, annual wages earned by unskillled labor.) The longer the sentence, the greater the cost. Which society, not the prisoner, pays.

      Justice is not cost free. Several of the comments (cf, eg, Bones’) above observe how the converse of this is so: keeping one’s freedom has cost/benefit factors such that plea bargaining occurs even by people who are actually innocent. On the other hand, the prosecutor has to decide which cases to expend finite resources on. That limit on resources, including his time and especially the availability of court space and judges, is what leads prosecutors to plea bargain. Since the prosecution can probably win most of the cases, the prosecutor has to decide which cases are important enough to go to court (the idea usually gets expressed as something like “a conviction and penalty which sends a message”.) The prosecutor would send everyone to prison if this were easy and free. Makes the prosecution record look good. And those meanies deserve to go to prison. Meanwhile, the overcrowded prison system, which violates laws so badly (read treats prisoners like the caged animals in those late night TV commercials begging for money) it gets successfully sued, urges restraint. Also meanwhile, although it costs society to run prisons, some make a living from operating those prisons. They want lots of long sentences. And no restraints on what they do in order to inexpensively restrain captives. Or how they use them. Shawshank Redemption, while a visual string of cliches, portrayed what makes those cliches common knowledge. Watching the watchers so that something like Shawshank’s fiction does not actually happen drives the costs up.

      If you read me as rejecting society holding meanies accountable, you have not understood. At all. Instead, I’m asking people to count the costs of the paradigm they want to use. Who argues that any and every crime demands a life sentence, on bread and water, no less? Instead, folks come up with a spread of lengths depending on the crime. I won’t even attempt to struggle through the absolutely absurd variety of sentences imposed for what appear as identical crimes. But I can tell you where that variety comes from. Sorting through sentencing guidelines, especially when having a maze of enhancements, soon becomes not esoteric, but bizarre.

      Worse, I infer from comparing crime rates and incarceration rates that prisons don’t work as well as advertised.

      That last is what leads me to favor something which would restrain crime: holding meanies responsible. Demand that they make right their wrong. Restitution.

      Jay seems to allow that as a possibility for some crimes. He cited embezzlement. How about another eg, car theft. If a thief had to pay for the car, for the cost to locate the thief, the cost to prosecute, lost time due to not having one’s car, the cost for a rental car to use until a replacement was obtained, plus the cost of an additional car, folks might leave their cars with keys in. “Wait, wait,” comes the objection. “What if the thief refuses to repay?” OK, says the judge. You wanna scorn law? Your position will destroy society. You choose death? “No, no, hold on. I’ll repay. But how? I got no resources.” You got you, replies the judge. You have put yourself into servitude. Your victim has a right to your sweat, your labor. You apparently cannot manage your life. Your victim has an interest in your being productive. Your victim will take on the management task. When you have repaid your debt (nB to the victim, not society), you will have developed skills, have a grubstake, and are welcome as one who pays their debts. You will know that theft won’t provide an escape from responsibility. It will cost you, not someone else.

      What, replied Jay, about other crimes? How can restitution work for assault? Insurance companies tell how to resolve this question. Think about workers comp cases. What, then, about murder, or rape, or molestation? Two answers. First answer: capital crimes can result in capital punishment (nB not long prison sentences at the victim’s expense.) Second answer: consider insurance companies again. How do they handle wrongful death?

    20. Mike K Says:

      If crime actually paid, restitution might make some sense.

      I was talking to a prison guard who was joining the Army Reserve. We talked about why so many women guards get involved with prisoners. He said prisoners are the most manipulative people he has ever seen. Women guards keep falling for the BS and some get murdered. Others get involved, then get blackmailed.

      White collar crime might make restitution possible. The general run of prisoners are where they belong.

    21. Jay Guevara Says:

      What, replied Jay, about other crimes? How can restitution work for assault? Insurance companies tell how to resolve this question. Think about workers comp cases. What, then, about murder, or rape, or molestation? Two answers. First answer: capital crimes can result in capital punishment (nB not long prison sentences at the victim’s expense.)

      CAN result in capital punishment, but generally do not, and certainly not for decades after conviction.

      Consider two famous murder cases in Britain:

      1. Ruth Ellis, murdered her fiance on 10 April 1955. Trial began on 20 June 1955, hanged 13 July … 1955.

      2. James Hanratty, whose murder victim was found on 23 August 1961. He was arrested on 11 October, 1961. His trial began on 22 January 1962, he was convicted, his appeal to the Law Lords (typically a one-day appeal) was rejected, and he was hanged on 4 April 1962.

      Now THAT is how to make capital punishment effective.

      There are offense for which money cannot compensate.

      Furthermore, on a fundamental philosophical level, the offended party is NOT the victim, but rather society.

    22. MCS Says:

      As the original post says, a lot of people are going to find out the hard way what federal defense lawyers cost. I’d bet high 5 figures to 6 for any sort of trial. I bet Bones knows.

      I had my truck stolen in January. I assume it was well on its way to its ultimate destination before I noticed at 6:30 AM. Whoever stole it probably does it as his living and may have made a few hundred dollars. If they had driven it down and parked it in the police chiefs spot, it might have been recovered, as it was, I simply made a phone report and got a letter from the police last month asking if it was still missing. Not exactly CSI. The chance of anybody recovering more than pocket change is nil.

      I doubt the thief is smart enough to stay out of jail indefinitely but the probability that I’ll have any satisfaction is the about the same as my becoming King of England.

      Prison is what advanced societies adopted as an alternative to mutilation and capital punishment. I believe under Sharia it’s possible for a murderer to buy off the family of the victim.

    23. Mike K Says:

      I had my truck stolen in January. I assume it was well on its way to its ultimate destination before I noticed at 6:30

      A friend of mine, who lived in a gated community in Orange County, heard the alarm in his Porsche go off one evening. He walked outside and encountered some guys loading his Porsche into a truck. One of them pointed a gun at him and told him to go inside and wait 30 minutes before calling the police.

      So, he went inside and waited 30 minutes.

      There was an epidemic of Porsche thefts in Laguna Beach about that time.

      Another friend in Tucson had LoJack installed in his car. He came out and discovered it stolen. He went to the cops and they turned the LoJack on. The car was already 60 miles into Mexico.

    24. Bones Says:

      Dan,

      In response to your question, Federal judges can do just about whatever they want to do. They can ignore mandatory guidelines and sentence the defendant to much less time. They can sentence outside of the guidelines. All they have to worry about is an appeal to the Circuit Court.

      In a plea agreement, the parties agree to the charge to be pleaded to, and the appropriate sentence range, including a recommended sentence. In the majority of cases, the judge follows the recommendation. One, it clears the case off of the docket, and two, it reflects the parties coming to agreement which tends to preclude an appeal, since everyone is, well maybe not happy, but content enough with the result.

      That said, nothing is in stone until the sentence is handed down and the appeals have run out.

      And maybe not even then.

      As to the cost of defense lawyers mentioned above, yup – expensive. Unusually, if you are indigent, you can get a lawyer provided by the court at no cost. IMHO the best defense lawyers practicing in the Federal system today are the Federal Public Defenders in each District. That’s all they do. They aren’t making money doing wills or working on a trust for you. Every day they’re defending people in the same court system. They know the judges, the AUSAs, the law, and they tend to mostly be “True Believers”, although they get jaded by seeing the heinous crime that their clients commit. They know the good Agents and the bad ones and use that to their advantage.

      P.S. I can’t believe this thread has gone on this long… Kinda cool.

    25. Dan from Madison Says:

      The thread has gone on long because it is an interesting subject. Your comment above is also very interesting re the good and bad agents and Federal Public defenders. I hope to never have to deal with any of this.

      Side note, my mother once served on a Federal Grand Jury – six months. She said it was super interesting, but didn’t like a lot of the very ugly, violent things she saw.

    26. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      MCS: “Prison is what advanced societies adopted as an alternative to mutilation and capital punishment.”

      Slight adjustment — Prison is what wealthy societies adopted …

      Which raises the very interesting question of what we are going to do as we let the Political Class carry on down the road of impoverishing most of us. Currently, it takes multiple taxpayers to support one criminal in jail. There are lots of other things most of us would rather do with that money — especially since jail does not appear to be either an effective deterrent against crime or an effective method of reform. As our society gets poorer, the stress of paying for an ineffective justice system can only increase.

      In earlier times, banishment was a common punishment for lawbreakers. Only two centuries ago, the richest country in the world — England — shipped its criminals to Australia. Perhaps the practical answer will be to set up an area to which criminals could be sent to fend for themselves — perhaps some area in Northern Canada?

      The necessary corollary would be much simpler laws with brighter lines. Cross those lines, and you lose your citizenship and get a one-way ticket to the Banishment Area with no possibility of return. The resulting unemployment among lawyers would be a welcome bonus.

    27. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      Gavin Longmuir:

      Keeping in mind my reputation for not being the nicest of persons, how about using Johnston Atoll [16° 44′ 13″ N, 169° 31′ 26″ W] whose actual land area is 1.03 sq. miles and is about 750 nautical miles away from Hawaii? Highest average altitude is about 30 feet, although Spring Tides and passing tropical storms may reduce that somewhat, perhaps temporarily by more than 30 feet.

      It has been used as a “naval refueling depot, an airbase, a nuclear and biological weapons testing site, a secret missile base, and a chemical weapon and Agent Orange storage and disposal site.” It was contaminated by all those activities and is constantly monitored for that contamination spreading.

      I suspect as a banishment site, it would be self-clearing and could be continually refilled. Note that I made no mention of logistics.

      ;-)

      Subotai Bahadur

    28. MCS Says:

      “Minneapolis Park Police say a child was sexually assaulted overnight Thursday in the ever-growing homeless encampment at Powderhorn Park, where neighbors have vowed not to call law enforcement in the wake of the George Floyd protests.”

      https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/jun/29/child-sexually-assaulted-in-powderhorn-park-where-/

      Who’d believe it could happen in such an enlightened enviroment?

    29. ErisGuy Says:

      I’m sure this season’s Leftist rioters will be as severly punished as the Chicago 7. Or 8.

    30. red 3215 Says:

      Subotai,

      If Johnson Atoll is not available, perhaps Kodiak Island.
      They can compete with the bears for top predator role.
      Perhaps film it as a reality series–“Strictly Come Eating”

      Red

    31. Faith Says:

      Roy Kerns,

      I have red ice running through my veins instead of blood, and my philosophy towards criminal punishment is ‘hang ’em all and let God sort them out’, then ‘dig em up and kill them again, harder’.

      So yeah, pretty tough on crime.

      But you made some very good points in your argument. While you haven’t changed my mind, you’ve given me a lot to think about.

    32. Roy Kerns Says:

      Glad, Faith, to have provoked thought despite the truncated sketchiness of the argument I presented.

      We know, of course, that “hang ’em all” can serve as no more than an indication of one wishing to get serious. That is, we know from history that making every transgression a capital crime did not work. Nor, for that matter, do we think every crime worthy of death (tho if we’re the victim we might, for a while at least, entertain nasty, even murderous thoughts). We sorta easily agree that we can compare and contrast various meanness and should differentiate between their seriousness and the appropriate penalties. Eg: kiting a $30 check vs robbing someone at knifepoint vs rape vs assault and battery vs arson vs DUI vs DUI where someone is killed.

      Put another way: we know that there must exist not only a standard of justice, but a way to make wrongs right where the meanies pay, not the victims.

      For more food for thoughtful exploration of that idea, see Gary North, Victim’s Rights. A bit dated (last century) if one thinks only of when it was published, but still current in content.

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