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Accountability for Judges in the Criminal Justice System

Here’s an article entitled I Set a Defendant Free And Got Blamed When He Raped Someone. This is what the article is about:

A judge explains how he decides whether to release a defendant before trial without bail — and how it can go bad.

I found reading any further into the article was a complete waste of time, but the little bit I quoted above does raise an important point. Pretty much every job includes some measure of accountability based on outcomes. Presumably our betters on the bench should also operate under the same principles. If someone actively sought out a position in which they decide whether defendants get released before trial, it isn’t too much to expect them to be pretty good at figuring out who should be released before trial and who shouldn’t.

I don’t know what the guidelines are – I try to keep my involvement with the legal system to a bare minimum. Still, I imagine a simple rule would be something like this: defendants who aren’t a flight risk, who aren’t a danger to others, and who aren’t likely to be found guilty probably don’t need to be behind bars awaiting trial. Those who are a flight risk, are likely to cause harm, or can reasonably be expected to be found guilty of a serious crime should not be walking around.

If someone can’t distinguish between these sorts of situations reasonably well, it is hard to see how they have any business making decisions about such matters. In fact, it seems pretty immoral not to have such an expectation of those who use the power of the state to make decisions that affect the freedom and well being of the rest of us.

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