Sunday, September 22, 2013

Crime and Punishment, Part 1

A couple of things (not counting but maybe not unrelated to the new Pope’s turn toward inclusiveness – what Frank Bruni in this morning’s NYT called “a refreshing example of humility in a world with too little of it”) got me thinking about crime and punishment, forgiveness (or not), how our criminal justice system deals with offenders, and whether the results are equitable, or rational, or based on sound premises.

This was the first.  Alan Rosenthal, of the Center for Community Alternatives, passed along this petition in support of compassionate release for nearly-74-year-old attorney Lynn Stewart, who is dying in prison of stage 4 cancer.  As Alan noted:
I have had friends and clients who have died in prison, separated from family and loved ones. The very thought that we allow this to happen is shockingly inhumane and deplorable in a “civilized” society.  Beyond politics and personal disagreements, this is about humanity - our humanity . . . What I [] ask is that you each, in a time of quiet reflection, ask yourself if anyone should be left to die in the darkness and loneliness of prison.  
New York City attorney and fellow NYSACDL member Paul Layton went on to note that:
Even if one disagrees with Lynn’s politics and abhor the conduct that led to her conviction as I do, it was in my opinion, a travesty for her sentence to have been enhanced and more importantly, Lynn would sign for you because she believes in standing together as lawyers for colleagues.  I know her family and they are warm wonderful people.  I know Lynn and she is warm and courageous and took cases and fought them and gave ‘em hell.  She was a great lawyer and remains one of our Bar's heroic warriors.  So I signed, and consider setting aside any differences of opinion regarding her politics, as I did,  to stand with her family and with one of our own. We can afford compassion, which has become rare in some circles, but remains the touchstone of the criminal defense Bar.
The petition can be found here:

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