karl_lembke (karl_lembke) wrote,

When Prosecutors Run Amok

This column describes a case that should embarrass everyone who was involved in prosecuting it.
At Patton Middle School in McMinnville, Oregon, students created something called "slap butt day." On one such day in February 2007, according to The Oregonian (July 22, 2007): "Two boys tore down the hall of Patton Middle School after lunch, swatting the bottoms of girls as they ran -- what some kids later said was a common form of greeting. But bottom-slapping is against policy in McMinnville Public Schools. So a teacher's aide sent the gawky seventh-graders to the office, where the vice principal and a police officer stationed at the school soon interrogated them."

A police officer interrogated them?

"After hours of interviews with students," The Oregonian continues, "the day of the February incident, the officer read the boys their Miranda rights and hauled them off in handcuffs to juvenile jail, where they spent the next five days."

Two seventh-graders were read their Miranda rights for butt-swatting?

And hauled off to jail for butt-swatting?

And kept in jail for five days for butt-swatting?

This is worse than a bad joke; it is actually sick.

And it gets worse. The seventh-graders were not permitted contact with their parents for 24 hours, they were brought into court in shackles and jail garb, and they were strip-searched four times.

The case made the news in the Oregonian, and was picked up on Dennis Prager's radio program. A defense fund was established for the boys, and yesterday, all charges were dropped.

Work is now underway to get the D.A. disbarred.

A few days ago, I responded to a rant in the Washington Post, in which the Bush Administration was accused of giving itself carte blanche to commit war crimes. The authors' "reasoning" was that since an executive order barred procedures intended to humiliate, people running our detention centers were free to engage in practices that actually humiliate people, even though the purpose was to do something else.

I'd love to challenge everyone who believes that line of reasoning to contribute to the defense fund for the boys cited in the articles above. The vast majority of the population would consider a full strip-search a humiliating experience, and therefore, by the reasoning in that op-ed piece, the equivalent of a war crime.

However, I expect to hear only dead silence from that quarter.

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