The Judiciary – Singapore vs. USA
Wow. Thats a pretty heavy title. Well, it’s a pretty heavy subject. I’m not going to get into alot of legal details here..just make some observations about the difference between the two and the results of those differences. Also, for my former readers who might think I am a bleeding heart liberal, this is an example of my other side. I hate political labels. They are simply attempts to put us in boxes. I am liberal on some issues and conservative on others. I believe strongly in capital punishment but I think dubya is a criminal and a JERK. Ok, anyway…
I just read today about a woman who was executed in Texas. It had been 18 years since she was convicted of murdering her husband and two children. It took 18 years for her lawyers, under US law, to finally run out of appeals. Now, for the reader who is not from the US, Texas is known for having more executions than any other state in the union. Still, it took 18 YEARS. And the taxpayers paid to keep her alive, with food, medical care, clothing, etc for all that time!
While 18 years is long even by US standards, very few death row inmates are executed within 10 years of their convictions. In the US, anyone given the death sentence has a host of appeals available to them and it can take that long, especially with savvy lawyers, to run through all of them.
In a nutshell, I think that is utter and total bullshit. Get convicted in a court of law, one appeal to make sure the trial was lawful, have that appeal within one year of the first sentence, then carry out the sentence. That makes sense to me.
In the US we have trial by a “jury of your peers.” That is available to anyone arrested for a crime who pleads not guilty. Almost all felons who plead not guilty are advised to go that route instead of having a judge decide the case. Why you might ask? Because the defense attorneys, knowing their client is probably guilty as hell, know they have a much better chance working on the emotions of a bunch of legal laymen than convincing a seasoned legal professional. And it works. Especially if you are a celebrity or rich or both.
In the US, it might be months before a trial gets started after the initial arrest. This is due to umteen motions being filed by the attorneys, delays sought because they need “more time” to peruse all the discover material and build a “proper legal defense” and a bunch of other crap.
In the US, the jails and prisons are so full, busting at the seams, that we can’t fit anymore in them. The result is that many hardened criminals, even repeat offenders, get out early to make room for the constant stream of new arrivals. And guess what! Most of them commit additional crimes once out and get caught and get sent back. The other result is, many “lesser” crimes do not get any jail time at all. Probation and fines…community service instead. The US is so full of criminals that there is not nearly enough space to house them all. Anyone who doubts this just needs to spend a few hours in courtrooms in any major city and see what a zoo it has become.
Lastly (in this post anyway)not all states in the US have capital punishment anyway. Also, some states have passed, repealled, passed, repealled the death penalty (like California) and the criminals that are convicted of a capital crime during the repealled times are off the hook. The result is, you have convicted mass murders like Susan Atkins (I actually went to 7th and 8th grade with her)who was one of the Manson Family and tortured and killed Sharon Tate, who cannot be put to death. The American taxpayers will, instead, pay to keep her alive in prison. And there are thousands like her.
Now, lets talk a little about Singapore. Singapore has the death penalty. The authorities make it very clear what constitutes a capital crime so it should not be a surprise to anyone who chooses to aquaint themselves with the laws here.
Singapore does not have jury trials. This eliminates alot of game playing by attorneys and, from what I have read, if the attorneys try to play games they get harshly scolded by the judge. Apparently there is very little nonsense allowed in the Singapore courts.
Unless there is blatant errors made during the trial, the judges decision is final. If there is cause for appeal it is handled swiftly. Trials do not go on for months on end like they do in the US. Even a murder trial may last only a week. At first, being from the US, I thought that was terrible. Now, after following some of the trials each day in the press, I realize that, without all the attorney crap, everything that needs to be addressed in the court can be addressed in that length of time.
If the accused is given the death penalty, it is carried out swiftly. I think most executions are done within a month of the sentence here. The death sentence is by hanging. Here, in addition to the typical capital crimes, trafficing in certain drugs is punishable by death.
Now, guess what the result of all this is. Yup, you are right. Not alot of crime, safe streets, not alot of addicts out crackwhoring or breaking into cars and houses to get money for a fix, etc.
In conclusion, the criminal justice system in the US is absolutely out of control and the result is that crime is out of control. In Singapore, justice is harsh and swift. Result? An international reputation of safety and security, and after living here for 2 years I can attest to it.
Final thought. Guns are strickly outlawed in Singapore. Even the police can only carry a gun while on duty and have to turn it in at the end of their shift. This makes a HUGE difference in the amount and seriousness of crime here. More later…