LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||28/JAN/2006 1:41 PM|
|Assunto:||count ... Two|
Fabricio is on the right track, but it's more complicated than that.
Let's talk probation first. You commit a crime. Let's say you steal a jacket out of a car. In California this is called "burglary from a motor vehicle" or "BFMV". You have no prior record, you have a job, your boss likes you, etc. However, you have also been smoking marijuana. You could be sentenced to prison for the crime. In view of the positve things in your life, however, maybe you should be given a second chance. (Also remember that placing you in jail is going to be VERY EXPENSIVE for the government, and it's unlikely that the victim will receive any money to pay for the broken window, the missing jacket, etc. Prisons are so crowded that if a new prisoner comes in, an existing prisoner must go out. This means that there is an emphasis on keeping only the violent criminal in prison and doing all possible to keep others out.) So, the judge puts you on probation. As conditions of probation, you are required to report to the probation officer, make restitution to the victim, spend the first 60 days in jail, obey all laws, and attend anti-drug abuse counseling. Your term of probation is 36 months. All goes well for the first five months, but then you start missing payments to the victim, you miss some appointments with the probation officer, and you're convicted on a charge of possession of marijuana. In your BFMV case, you are returned to court and punished with 30 days in jail because you have violated probation by not complying with all terms and conditions of probation including: (1) not making restitution, (2) not reporting as ordered, and (3) committing a new offense. (You don't have to be convicted of a new offense to be punished for committing it. The punishment is based on the police report, not on the conviction. If the police report says you had 50 grams of marijuana, that is sufficient for you to be punished for violating probation in your existing grant.) Six months later you abscond. You stop reporting to the probation, you stop making payment, you stop anti-drug counseling, and nobody knows where you are. Three months later you are arrested. You can be punished with additional jail time or you can be sentenced to state prison (the very thing the court was trying to avoid doing.)
Now you're in prison. You behave yourself. After a while you are permitted to leave prison on parole. (Note that the word "parole" comes from French and it means "word". You are giving your "word" that you will behave.) The length of parole varies from state to state. I believe that in Calfornia the maximum term of parole is only one year. In other states, if you are sentenced to eight years in prison and are paroled after five years, you will be on parole for the remaining three years. In California, I don't think this has been done for years. Your home is considered to be an extension of your prison cell. Your parole agent (sometimes called "parole officer") can enter and search it and/or you at any time with or without a warrant. If you stay out of trouble, after 12 months you are released from parole. If you don't behave, you can be returned to prison for all or part of your remaining sentence.
I'd like very much to learn about the counterpart of probation and parole in Brazil. I've read a few things in local newspapers, but it's still unclear to me.
My personal opinion is that the criminal justice system in the USA could be much better than it is. If you commit a crime, there is little chance that you'll be arrested. (This is true anywhere, not just the USA.) If you are arrested, there is little chance that the district attorney (public prosecutor) will accept the case. (He wants cases that he is confident he can win in a courtroom.) If you go to court, there is a good possibility that you will not be convicted due to technicalities, the victim disappears, etc. If you are convicted, there is little chance that the maximum sentence will be pronounced. Much of this, in my opinion, is related to economics. It's cheaper to send someone to a very good university than it is to send them to prison. (I heard one fellow say that instead of punishing someone for stealing a car, it would be cheaper to buy him a new car and keep him out of jail/prison.) There is great pressure to protect the rights of the criminal, but how about the victim? A neighbor was about 90 years old when she lost over $20,000 in a residential burglary. The criminals were ordered to repay her about $50 per month. So...by the age of 123 she would have most of her loss recovered. Yeah, right...
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