Friday, February 13, 2009

You've Been Summoned

Keith got a jury duty summons in the mail the other day. Of course, he forgot to ask at work whether they pay for jury duty or not, if not then he can be excused due to 'extreme financial hardship'. They need to put a box asking to be excused 'because you just don't give a crap about criminals anymore.'

I used to be a pretty liberal person who believed in justice for all and due process and all that, but since living in this city where crime is so prevalent and murders and shootings happen on a daily basis, my liberal views on giving everyone a chance have become quite narrow. Stick them all in jail and don't let them out again.

But, our jails have become so overcrowded and the state budget so depleted that we're going to be giving 'non-violent' criminals a bunch of get out of jail free cards. Some court somewhere has decided that the overcrowding in the jails is cruel and unusual punishment so these jails are going to have to let criminals out early to relieve the overcrowding, and since the state can't pay for all of these criminals anyway, even un-overcrowded jails will be letting criminals out early to save money.

What a concept! Let thousands and thousands of criminals out of jail into a state that has no jobs for them and can't pay for parole officers to keep track of what they are doing once they get out of jail. As it's been argued, these criminals can now go back to their lives of crime and won't have to worry about being put back in jail, since there's no room for them in the first place.

So, what's the point of serving on a jury if there's no place to put the person charged with the crime if they are found guilty? Sounds like a time and money waster to me.

I have this feeling that it's hard to find people in these parts who are qualified to serve on a jury since you seem to get summoned every 2 years or so here. I know I've been summoned twice, the first time I called the auto number each night and never did have to actually go in, the second time I was excused since I'm self employed, and I think this is Keith's second time, his first time he was excused because his job didn't pay for jury duty. Even stepdaughter Kelly has been called twice, and she hasn't lived in Kern County in over two years. We send her the summons and she sends it back to them with her Nevada address on it, saying she doesn't live in the county anymore. This last one she got they sent back to us wanting more proof, as in a copy of her Nevada ID or a utility bill that shows her address. I wonder what they would have done if I had just sent the summons back to them marked 'not at this address'. Put out a warrant for her? Googled her to see where she is?

Anyway, I just don't have much faith in the judicial system anymore, and yes, I've done my time on juries, back when I really felt that it was my civic duty to be a fair and impartial juror. My last jury service managed to waste an entire day of sitting in the jury room until about 3pm when we were all checking our watches thinking we'd be excused soon and they rounded us all up to go to a courtroom. Another time I got onto a jury only to have the case settled out of court the next morning after the accused realized 'hey, I think they mean business here, and I'll be convicted anyway, so I might as well cop a plea.' These days I just don't care that much about criminals getting a fair trial as I used to, there are just so many of them out there.

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