Watering down justice


by Karen Topakian

Rarely in one day do the scales of justice swing so wildly. Today seems to be the day.

The first item comes from my home state of RI where Rep. Ucci, a Democrat from Johnston, wants to make it a misdemeanor for state officials to knowingly overspend their budgets. According to his press release, violators would be punished with up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine, rather than simply face workplace punishment.

Rep. Ucci argues that criminalizing bad budgeting will encourage thriftiness. His critics disagree with him and deem it unenforceable.

And here’s why, if the RI Public Transit Authority has to spend more money on overtime to accommodate the increased demand for ferries and buses, it’s off to the hoosegow for the director.

The other side of the scale involves the US government. According to a draft report, the Justice Department will not recommend criminal charges against Bush administration lawyers, who wrote secret memos approving the torture of terror suspects. Instead they will recommend that two of the three attorneys face possible professional sanctions from their state bar associations.

In the Ocean State overspending one’s budget could earn you a pair of metal bracelets. Break international law, the Geneva Conventions to be exact, at the worst, you will get disbarred.

Moral of the story: waterboard with impunity but keep a calculator on hand to watch the cost.


  1. There’s a great comic strip called Candorville in which WW II is ending in 2009 and the question of the appropriate sanction for Japanese torture of American POWs is being decided. http://tinyurl.com/dlzabm. It pokes a lot of holes in the hypocrisy of so many folks on this important human rights issue.

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