Charlie Stross wrote:
> There's another issue that the US is notorious for: inflexible and
> draconian law enforcement.
> Example: suppose I smoke a joint in public. Posession of Cannabis, a
> schedule D controlled substance, is illegal here (in Scotland). Maximum
> sentence for posession is a £2000 fine (roughly US $3000) for a small
> amount -- prison sentences for larger quantities. But *in practice*
> if I smoke a joint in public and a police officer notices, one of two
> things will happen: they'll ignore it, or they'll take it off me, throw
> it down a drain, and formally caution me that if they see me doing it
> again they'll charge me.
> Now, I have a distinct impression that there is *no* facility of leniency
> in US law enforcement today. That is, a police officer who turns a blind
> eye to a trivial offense is going to be in fear of their job (at best);
> that there's a positive requirement that *all* offenses be prosecuted to
> the hilt. This may be a reaction to selective under-enforcement earlier
> on in your history, but from the outside it looks frighteningly
> totalitarian. What is justice, without the prerogative of mercy?
Mercy is the job of the judge, generally. A cop will be as tolerant in
inverse relation to the number of witnesses and how busy he is. If he
knows you, you might slide with a pot posession in most places. In some
like San Francisco, cops just ask people to go smoke at home.
The problem with cops being lenient is that no two cops are equally
lenient, so common perceptions of the law vary. For example, my
ex-girlfriend was supposed to have gotten my car inspected for me, which
she didn't, and I never noticed the sticker had not been updated. 6
months later I got stopped coming home from camp on Sunday evening by a
state trooper, was given a ticket, and told to drive the car home and
get it inspected the next day. The next day I am driving it to the
garage to be inspected and got pulled over by a town cop who didn't give
a crap about what the state trooper told me to do, he wrote me up
another ticket for driving an uninspected vehicle. Explaining the
situation to the judge gets me off on the second ticket.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon May 28 2001 - 09:56:40 MDT