Saturday, April 15, 2006

SOUND OFF: PRISON CONVICTIONS

Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who runs the Bristol County House of Corrections in Massachusetts, does not believe that prisoners awaiting trial should receive different treatment than those convicted of crimes.

"I don't make the decision why they're sent here," Hodgson told The Boston Globe. "It's not our place to say whether they're innocent or guilty."

But public defense attorney Colleen Tynan told The Globe that to suggest that pretrial detainees "have asked for the incarceration they're facing because of their pretrial detention is really to exaggerate the position these people find themselves in."

As a result, she fears, their rights may be violated.

Do you think that, because prisoners awaiting trial are presumed innocent until proven guilty, they should be treated differently from other prisoners who already have been convicted?

Post your comments below by clicking on "COMMENTS" or send them to
rightthing@nytimes.com. Please include your name, your hometown and the name of the newspaper in which you read this column. Readers'comments may appear in an upcoming column.

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rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.

6 comments:

yawningdog said...

I'd have to know, different in what way?

Anonymous said...

The law says innocent until proven guilty. The answer is right there in front of you. Is there something mysterious here? But then again, Massachusetts doesn't operate under the same rules as the rest of the country anyway - they think this is Russia.

Shmuel said...

I'm with yawningdog. Are we suggesting that the accused can't be mistreated, but that convicted criminals can? What exactly is at issue here? As it stands, this sounds like a purely hypothetical question in search of an application.

Anonymous said...

I agree with public defense attorneyColleen Tynan. Assuming the defendant has entered a plea of NOT guilty, anyone can be arrested for anything but guilt or innocence has not yet been decided. Therefore, the defendant has not lost any constitutional rights and should not be treated like he/she has. For example, a man is arrested for a high-profile pedophile offense. While in the tank awaiting his preliminary hearing, other inmates stab him to death. A DNA test later exonerates the defendant.The proper protections could have prevented his death.

From: Tom Guzzetta
City: Mission Viejo, CA
Paper: Orange County Register, 4-17-06

Anonymous said...

The 6th Amendment guarantees us a "speedy and public
trial," the right to confront our accusers, and be
told "the nature and cause of the accusation."

We are even guaranteed an "impartial jury" in the
"district where the (alleged) crime" was committed.

That's five philosophical assumptions of INNOCENCE.
The detainee should DEFINITELY be treated differently
from a convicted felon.

Until you are convicted, you are NOT a criminal, so
the Sheriff is simply being an SOB to treat detainees
as if they were criminals.

This is an excellent question to consider and I'm glad
to see it in this post.

Today, we have a president in Washington who claims to
have a legal right to detain ANYONE for ANY REASON for
as LONG AS HE DEEMS APPROPRIATE. The Jose Padilla
case, where a an American citizen detainee has been
held now for 3 years WITH NO CHARGES YET FILED, is
probably a test case to see how much the regime can
get away with.

If the regime gets its way, we ALL will be subject to
the same treatment-endless incarceration without a
trial or even any charges filed. This is the way
Stalin, Hitler and Mao operated. And it's happening
here!

Unless the Supreme Court, or better yet, THE PEOPLE,
yank the short chain of the president, and bring him
back under the parameters of the Constitution, there
may very well be no more difference between suspects
and criminals in America. i.e., we will be a
full-bore dictatorship.

Don Hull
Costa Mesa, CA
Orange County Register

Anonymous said...

HAH! I don't know what it's like where you are, but in Windsor, Ontario, in Canada the accused who are found guilty have it made due to the time they spend "waiting" for trial. What they do here, particularily if they're "young offenders" (who are at times caught right in the act!) is sit in the jail and delay their trial until the judge they want (who is known to be a pushover for them) is sitting. (This their attorney's have knowledge of because of "lists" which are published or dispersed in advance). Then, they are assured that not only will they be given a "tap on the wrist", by their "chosen" judge, but that the minimal time they may be sentenced to serve will be diminished by the Two for one credit they receive for sitting in the jail!!
This can, and has, enabled some, who should have been sentenced to prison time, to serve their "sentences" in the "kiddie camps" these misguided judges send them to. Some are able to end up serving, for a violent assault, as little as 1 additional day after their two for one time is considered! No wonder they continually delay their trial. I wish that we could elect our judges so that they were accountable to the electorate as yours are. Then, we might actually see some justice.

Gail Liles
Windsor, Ontario.
I read the column in "The Windsor Star"

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