One of the friends having dinner with us yesterday was a lawyer that used to be a Public Defender in NY. Of all the many interesting stories she had to tell, one struck me as the perfect example of all that is wrong with The System.
Once she had to defend a homeless man who was accused of stealing a candy bar from a drugstore. Since he had breached a non-trespass order from a previous similar incident, the prosecutor was asking for a 3 year prison sentence. Regardless of the fact that the accused was mentally ill AND a diabetic who could not afford medication and was trying to control sugar levels with candy intake.
At the same time there was a another trial going on: a “white-collar” criminal who had raided a pension fund, leaving thousands of people with nothing to live on after they retired. All the prosecution was asking for was a large (but not to him) fine.
All this in an age when socioeconomic inequality is sharply rising.
In Spain, where political and white-collar corruption is sadly rampant even as unemployment rises above 27%, we have had our share of those extremely unfair cases (from Roldan to Rato).
While knee-jerk reactions to unusual exceptions are not a good way to conduct politics, we owe it to ourselves to make sure The System never becomes an excuse and mechanism for injustice. Specially social injustice.