if you go into a retail store, such as walmart, and take something without paying for it, that is shoplifting. pretty obvious. you may serve a few days in jail before you plead or do a brief period of probation. however, if you are caught by a loss prevention officer/rent-a-cop at most major stores, they make you sign a trespass form where you agree not to come onto their property for a set period, usually several years. if you come back, thats a trespass. not really a big deal, another minor offense with similar consequences as a petty theft. if you come back and shoplift again, they call it a burglary. silly zzoner, a burglary is NOT breaking into someone's house at night to steal their shit. simply put, burglary = trespass + intent to commit some other crime.
so, my clients may go to walmart and steal something small, like a lighter, or some necessity, like diapers, food, or tide pods (my clients LOVE stealing tide pods for some reason) and end up facing 2-6 years in prison and a felony conviction on their record. now, i cant imagine a jury is going to find that that fact pattern is actually a burglary but ive honestly never tested it; most clients dont want to sit in jail for several months and risk going down on a felony. the way it usually plays out is this: client is charged with a petty or low-level misdemeanor theft and a mid-level felony burglary. the da "mercifully" offers them a plea to a misdemeanor theft, but a higher-level one. so client goes from facing 0-6 months in jail, likely serving a few days if any, to facing 6-18 months jail. they usually get probation, but many cant make it work and end up serving some jail time, and its gotta be at least 6 months, usually 9-12.
now thats what i call justice
theres also a bar in town that is well known as a spot to buy stolen stuff. if youre there on a saturday afternoon you can gets all sorts of shit dirt cheap. my clients are always surprised when i mention it because they dont realize that im actually something of a dirtbag myself
are my clients right to blame me for their troubles, at least on some level? dont worry about making me feel worse about myself or anything, and judging by the response to the thread yall dont think so, but its something ive struggled with for a while.
my ex, an ML, was a public defender in california for a while, before transitioning to private criminal defense. shed come home from 10 to 12 hour days 5 or 6 days a week, crying and exhausted about a third of them. whether it was the caseload (often over 150 active cases), or the particular facts of a clients case, or a judge, or a sentencing, it seemed to slowly grind her down. it also seemed to be most prevalent with the leftier people in the office, as the occasional conservative or, more commonly, the centrist, just didnt have that empathic connection with a client. they didnt do much face to face with their clients, they didnt much care for post-conviction relief, etc. anyway, as a lay person, i found recommending gideon's army very helpful for getting across the situation to other uneducated but sympathetic lay people. it opens with a PD getting the good news that a client is eligible for a pre-trial diversion program. if completed successfully, his charges will be dropped, and he can go home. she calls her client's partner, who informs her that she cant afford bail, meaning he cant get out of jail, meaning he cant attend the program, meaning hes going to trial or pleading out. the PD hangs up the phone. imagine this happening every day and thats basically the life of a public defender. i dont have much else to add, but thank you for your service to the people and for the thread.
Edited by JohnBeige ()
the job does grind you down; luckily i showed up pretty jaded to begin with. watching folks just cycle through the system is disheartening to say the least. the main thing i struggle with, though, is the folks struggling with addiction in the treatment court. ive had a handful die from overdoses and so many who get out of jail to inpatient treatment and run off. i know rehab has its problems but its a chance to avoid jail or prison. we often give folks 3, 4, or even 5 chances and its depressing how many dont take them
california just passed SB10, ending cash bail, bail bondsmen, dog the bounty hunters. but as an advanced settler state, the bail system was replaced with a questionnaire, to be evaluated by prosecutors, for pre-trial flight risk / defendant freedom. the questionnaire is itself structured to keep more people in jail. now you can't buy pre-trial freedom directly, your class position is still evaluated by the prison system (do you have a job? was the victim a drug addict? etc).
is it possible to game the questionaire?
looking for work in accounting, any job tied to the prison system (in this field) seems to pay significantly less than similar jobs outside of it, like almost half as much. is there a lot of turnaround among low-level clerical workers in the legal system or do the benefits of working for the state outweigh them?
i wouldnt be surprised if they churn through them pretty quick. prisons are by and large really depressing places to be. while im sure the office spaces are largely indistinguishable from most featureless cubicle-filled office spaces, they're usually in the middle of nowhere and there's the process of entering the facility through razor wire-covered fences and metal detectors. at least in my state, most prisons are in the middle of nowhere and are the main employers for the towns where they're built. its probably not hard to get folks to work for less cash than in an urban center because that's the only option and cost of living is so low. of course, that often means they move away after not too long. all that being said, you may have hit the nail on the head as far as benefits go. its a stable job with health care and a retirement option. with the gutting of industry in small towns, that's pretty attractive - at least in the beginning
i have a friend from high school who works as an accountant for a private prison company. i dont think he gets paid particularly well since he still lives with his parents but i dont like to talk about his work the once or twice a year i see him