July 23, 2005

What did we ever do to Father Drinan?

I 've never had anything against Robert F. Drinan, S.J., even looked up to him in the past. Sadly, he can't make some otherwise valid points about the problem of over-incarceration without getting off a drive-by slur against p.d.'s:

The quadrupling of prisoners in the United States in one generation has occurred silently and surreptitiously, with no mass protests. A few civil-rights groups have complained, but hundreds of thousands of suspects have been allowed by their public defenders to plead guilty and to serve extended sentences in jail.

"Allowed"? Bless me, Father, but some of them may have sinned. Drinan's a Jebbie and a law professor no less, and ostensibly politically close to many of us who do the p.d. thing down here in this broken stacked-deck system, so Professor, I'm listening: what might be the alternative to "allowing" our clients to exercise the choice of pleading or going to trial? Shall we set everyone for trial, even the people who want to plead? Shall I put you down for being on jury duty every day until you die?

(some days I just want to tell my liberal and progressive allies, "be quiet and let me do my work in peace.")