Jacob Chansley was the “QAnon-Shaman”, whose story made headlines after he entered the U.S. Capitol wearing patriotic headwear and patriotic face paint on January 6.
The District Court for the District of Columbia sentence, which was handed down by Judge Royce C. Lamberth, was extensively covered. Almost every news media outlet skipped the most dangerous part of the proceedings.
The judge said to Mr. Chansley, “You faced 20 years,” and that he thought he was smart enough not to stand trial. “You did what was right.”
It is the “right thing.” Although it seems obvious, most Americans wouldn’t see the point. In America’s criminal justice system, plea bargains form a key part. Lamberth was open with Chansley and explained why these “bargains”, while they are good deals, is not. Chansley would be facing 16 more years imprisonment if he had insisted upon his constitutional right for a trial before a jury. The government doesn’t believe such a long sentence will be a safety risk. Prosecutors routinely exaggerate hypothetical sentences for prison and hang them above defendants to get them to go to trial. The outcomes of trials are often uncertain and costly.
Chansley could be sentenced almost 6x higher if it were not for the fact that he was a convicted felon. exercising his constitutional rights—The judge acknowledged and celebrated something that was said.
It is not a unique situation for the January 6 defendants.
Carissa Byrne, University of North Carolina law professor and co-author of The Modern Criminal Justice System, says, “We punish people if we try to go on trial. Which is kind of an amazing thing to say outloud.” Punishment without Trial: Why Plea bargaining is a bad deal. “And yet it’s entirely commonplace….Judges are quite explicit that they impose heavier sentences on people who go to trial.”
Lamberth spoke loudly yesterday about the silent part. The problem of plea bargaining is not solved by judges. Since years, the tough-on crime legislators have made laws that enable prosecutors and defendants to be charged with different offenses. This gives the government the ability to use force to inflict grotesque punishments on the accused. You can escape by agreeing to waive your constitutional rights to be tried before a jury composed of your peers and accepting whatever is offered to you.
Hessick states that state officials, prosecutors and judges want to stop cases going to trial, because it is costly. If it were about public safety, would a plea have been offered in the first place? Chansley: CourseThe federal government doesn’t believe that he should be kept behind bars for more than two decades. They wouldn’t have signed the agreement if they believed so.
It was highly political to hold the trials of January 6 defendants. Your feelings about Chansley’s sentence could be influenced by your political pasts. The injustice of plea bargaining, however, isn’t partisan. In fact, plea bargaining infiltrates every aspect of U.S. justice and has an disproportionate impact on those who don’t have the means to pay.
Some argue that the practice violates constitutional rights. For example, Maricopa County Arizona prosecutor don’t try to hide the fact that defendants may be forced to accept plea agreements before they see the evidence or have a chance at a hearing. A warning is given to the defendants about these deals. “The offer has been withdrawn” for those who do not wish to go to their hearing. “Any subsequent officer will likely be significantly harsher.” This practice is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Michael Calhoun (61 years old) was threatened with nine years prison by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office if he sold $20 worth drugs. Police records show that he was never arrested for any violent offense. However, should he ask for a jury’s consideration of the charges against his character, he would be given something “substantially more harsh” than this near-decade long “deal”.
This is the reason that 97 percent American trials end in guilty pleas. It’s not surprising that many people will agree to such plea deals when prosecutors threaten someone with a lengthy sentence and they are concerned about their chances of being acquitted. It includes innocent persons. It also includes innocent persons.
Even guilty defendants are eligible for their Sixth Amendment rights. Because the innocent were not to be detained, strict safeguards were essential for founding fathers. So they made it difficult to convict people—something prosecutors clearly understand and would like to circumvent.