Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Plea Bargaining & Torture

Got my first multiple-recycled e-card yesterday; an e-card received by someone, forwarded to someone else and subsequently forwarded to a distribution list. Priceless! Also one from someone who has sent his e-card to his entire Outlook address book and had forgotten I was in it.

There’s a competition to determine what to do with the branches from the Holy Thorn Tree in Glastonbury, which was cut down last week by vandals. Hay suggested they should be shoved up the arses of the vandals, if ever they are caught.

Been thinking some more about the fact of Americans trying to do a plea bargain with Bradley Manning – the WikiLeaks leaker. It is alleged that in return for implicating Julian Assange, Manning will be offered a reduced sentence.

Plea bargaining is nothing more than a fix for a judicial system that is creaking at the seams; it avoids the need for a jury trial (something which is guaranteed in the American constitution) speeds up the entire process and reduces cost in the process. Well over 90% of American legal cases are settled by plea bargaining – which inadvertently skews conviction statistics, as people are usually convicted of a lesser crime than the one for which they were arrested.

A similar expedient to plea bargaining was instituted by the European legal systems in the middle ages for the same reasons – it was called torture to obtain a confession. It was introduced due to the system not being able to cope with the number of full jury trials that were needed and the problems associated with collecting evidence.

As a form of coercion, plea bargaining is, in all but name, the same as torture. The degree may be different, but the kind is identical – the use of state-sanctioned coercion to obtain a confession. When it is used to implicate possibly innocent individuals its use is a blatant abuse of judicial power by the state and morally reprehensible.

It is interesting to note that trials by combat and ordeal were introduced as a means of making God the judge of legal cases, for it was argued that God was not only infallible, but would not allow an innocent person to be found guilty. Obviously those who developed this innovative method of legal arbitration had never read their Roman history and the story of the lions and the Christians – or indeed the biblical story of Jesus himself, who set a bit of a precedent.


  1. shoved up the arses of the vandals indeed - but obly after a fair trial by jury.

  2. Alan: No - any old Vandal will do. Even a Visigoth if necessary.

    A Happy Christmas to you too!

  3. I always recycle the electrons I use, it helps me feel positive about the negative impact they have on the environment.