Power and Criminal Justice

Peter Schaffer: Well, it depends who the person in power is.  I mean, you know, the Supreme Court are very powerful people and they influence the system in infinite ways, usually ways that, you know, I don’t agree with, or I should say recently in ways that I don’t agree with.  But I mean people in politics can change the law.  I mean there are people that are- there are in rare instances people in power that donate to organizations that help the criminal justice system, but I think that’s- usually in the criminal justice system when we think of someone in power, it’s usually someone that’s gonna affect our clients negatively. 

Question: What are the most unfair sentences?

Peter Schaffer:  Well, I mean in my case, I think that in the federal system there are mandatory minimum sentences that congress has come along and said we don’t want to give a judge discretion in certain cases and that we don’t care who the individual that’s arrested is; if they’re found
guilty of a particular crime, they must serve this minimum sentence.  I think those are particularly unfair.  I think that people that are charged with crimes and receive inadequate defense, you know, you hear horror stories about people that have death penalty trials in other parts of the country where the trial lasts a half a day or a day and, you know, the trial lawyer fell asleep or didn’t do very basic things.  There’s a lot of unfairness going on.

How judicious is our judicial system?

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