Wednesday, January 16, 2013


The American justice system works like this: a prosecutor gets a case and then throws the book at the accused and threatens to add more counts unless the accused takes a plea bargain and serves a tiny fraction of the maximum.

More details here.

A lot of people are saying that Carmen Ortiz should be fired for throwing the book at Aaron Swartz and that everything she did--like indicting him on enough counts to potentially send him to jail for the rest of his life--was completely out of whack with the principle of proportionality.

I don't get that. She did what prosecutors do.

I haven't seen many people commenting on the fact that Ortiz offered Swartz a plea of 4 months of jail time. And that was probably not her final offer. My guess is that many people aren't aware of the plea offer or that almost all cases are settled with plea deals, so they think Swartz actually was at risk of serving decades in jail.

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