I am writing to you
with regard to the article on Paul Butler in the 4/19 Washington City Paper (“Innocent Even if Proven Guilty”). While I can almost agree with where his theory of jury nullification is coming from, I cannot agree with the theory itself.
What Butler is advocating will surely lead to a tremendous Pandora’s box of troubles for the justice system in this country. I fear that we have focused far too much on the rights of the accused (and convicted) and not enough on the rights of the victims. If juries let criminals go solely because someone feels they are needed in the community, what about the victims? Especially if the victims ended up murdered—they were at some time needed in the community, too. Does the victim or the victim’s family not have a right to see justice?
I don’t see this as a racial issue, but a human issue. As human beings, we have to take responsibility for our actions. What message are we sending to the victims of crimes, and worse yet, to our children when we advocate the release of “nonviolent” criminals, white or black? Also, by setting criminals free because of their race, doesn’t that in some way dehumanize them—take away their God-given right to make choices?
As for drug-dealing being a nonviolent crime, I find myself in a moral quandary. I suppose the dealing itself isn’t a violent act, but the consequences of the thousands of drug deals that take place in this city each year are devastating. Violence isn’t the only social ill we need to deal with, but for some reason that seems to be the hot buzzword when talking about crime. We need to hold all people responsible for their actions—violent or not, regardless of race. It just takes a quick stroll around D.C. to see why.