Who goes to jail? America’s injustice gap

In an interview with Democracy Now, Matt Taibbi talked about the contrast between the refusal of the federal government to investigate and prosecute corporate crime with the increasingly arbitrary and brutal treatment of ordinary citizens by police and prosecutors.   This is the topic of his new book, The Divide.

How can it be, he asked, that somebody can go to prison for having half a marijuana cigarette in his pocket, yet no executive of HSBC has been indicted for laundering billions of dollars for the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels?

Or that a black man can be charged with obstructing pedestrian traffic, just for standing in front of his home at 1 a.m. when nobody is on the street, yet the federal government lets Wall Street bankers off the hook for the financial fraud that led to the 2008 market crash?

Good questions, and I think we all know the answers.

For a transcript of the interview, click on the following link.


For more about Taibbi’s book, click on the following links:


http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/the_divide_20140418  [added 4/19/14]



[Added 8/28/14]

Here are some of my later posts of Matt Taibbi’s The Divide

Above the law and below it in the USA

Matt Taibbi on impunity for rich criminals

The incentives to ignore due process of law

A predatory business model based on lawbreaking

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4 Responses to “Who goes to jail? America’s injustice gap”

  1. The Grey Enigma Says:

    Reblogged this on The Grey Enigma.


  2. EthnicKonflict Says:

    Mat Taibbi is a great writer, but I really wish he would appear somewhere besides Democracy Now. Democracy Now will turn this into a race issue, white versus black, whereas the issue is really one about the rich versus the poor. I believe that racial focus will only separate the workers and prevent them from working together against the Capitalists. I stopped watching when I had this confirmed by the anchor’s first statement about “people of color.”

    Certainly racism plays a role in criminal injustice and even income inequality itself. But if black people especially — since for many people of color this is not a problem — had money and access to the same caliber of school as white people, then they could pay for or even train from within their own ranks, the lawyers to defend themselves.

    People like the anchors on this segment went through a completely different educational system than these people they are defending. They undoubtedly had access to information and connections that would be enraging for the poor to discover. If they really wanted to help they would lobby to redistribute funding in public education or to start cultural initiatives encouraging academics … leading to jobs that could compete economically with crime for the intelligensia in those areas.

    The point is that I find the reference to people of color offensive because I am a white guy who certainly had nothing to do with criminal injustice amongst certain peoples of color, yet you better believe I am going to get prejudicially blamed for it. Meanwhile the bankers have big plans for me, just the same.


    • EthnicKonflict Says:

      Speaking more about the idea of redistributing funding in public education, it is interesting that if you look at nations who actually implemented such policies, what Prof. Mark Bray calls “shadow educational systems” emerged. So for example in Hong Kong, rich families spend enormous amounts of money on supplemental education. And this is not just for underachieving students. In fact, high achievers in Asia are more likely to enroll in such services. Professor Bray gives an excellent lecture in Egypt about the phenomenon and its continuing evolution into the internet.

      It’s not just a problem in Asian or Middle Eastern countries, either. Shadow Education is becoming a large problem in the UK and even North America. I predict that as formal education becomes more expensive and less effective at qualifying students for future jobs, shadow education will continue to grow and evolve until the rich pay for special education in order to train their kids to perform valuable jobs in skills unavailable or perhaps even unheard of to the poor masses.

      Unfairness in opportunity ardently seeks to defend itself, and racism is merely a good hinge for the machine. It is by no means the sole or even predominate explanatory variable. There are a plurality of variables, all leading to the central problem of great inequality.


  3. Lynda Says:

    Below is a petition created by the family of Cyril Smith. He is serving a life sentence for crimes he did not commit. The case is based on the lies of cooperating government witness that said whatever needed to help their cases. They were charged with the exact same crimes as they claim Mr. Smith committed. They lied several times to the police yet their testimony of lies were all it took to convict Mr. Smith. There was no physical evidence and he was never a person of interest in any of the crimes at the time they were committed. Mr. Smith has submitted an appeal to PA Federal Court as the NY Federal Court has denied his appeals in fear of showing the injustice that was performed. The family needs to media help to bring attention to not only his case but the tons of cases that are based on corruption and intimidation tactics if the Federal Court System. http://www.change.org/petitions/the-innocence-project


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