Letters to the Editor

Poor are targets of injustice

I am wondering if our Constitution has any meaning whatsoever. We are guaranteed a speedy trial and representation by a lawyer if we can’t afford one. But the state of Louisiana, for example, has 52 public defenders to handle 20,000 cases. The state can hold anyone who can’t afford bail for two years awaiting trial and some plead guilty even if they are innocent in order to be released. You cannot appeal a guilty plea, so if something happens later for which you are guilty, your record will assure a much more severe penalty. Because of this, only 5 percent of arrests result in a trial. How can it be constitutional?

The federal government pays local governments for drug arrests so the motivation is to target the projects rather than better neighborhoods who have more political power, even though drug use is pretty even throughout our society. You might think there was not drug use at all at Duke University. Note that government stopped taking people to jail for opioid abuse in white rural areas. Instead, they now provide help.

The net is to make blacks and Hispanics appear to be criminals to the rest of our society. In fact, the poor are targets of injustice. Paying $30,000 a year to hold a possibly innocent man is a big waste of money, so even Republicans should support some major change in how we do our business.

Larry Bumgardner

Durham

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