Hate Crimes Legislation = Virtue Signaling

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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James Alex Fields, Jr, was convicted of first degree murder last December, for deliberately ramming his automobile into a crowd of counter-protesters at the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In the attack, Heather Heyer was killed and dozens of other injured, and some of them will bear the physical scars of that for life. The jury recommended a sentence of life in prison plus 419 years, and the judge accepted their recommendations, though formal sentencing is not scheduled until July 15th.

Simply put, Mr Fields will spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars.

And now there’s this:

Driver in deadly car attack at Charlottesville white nationalist rally pleads guilty to federal hate crimes

James Alex Fields was at the Unite the Right rally when he killed anti-racism activist Heather Heyer, 32.

By David K Li | March 27, 2019, 4:15 PM EDT | Updated March 27, 2019, 4:48 PM EDT

The man convicted of murder in the deadly car attack on counterprotesters at the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, pleaded guilty to federal hate crime charges Wednesday in order to dodge a possible death penalty.

James Alex Fields Jr., 21, from Maumee, Ohio, pleaded guilty to 29 of 30 charges against him. The 30th charge, which included a possible death sentence, was dropped. He’s been ordered to return to court on July 3 to be sentenced.

The single charge in Count 30 was brought under a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. It had accused Fields of racially motivated violent interference with a federally protected activity — counterprotesters using the public streets and sidewalks of Charlottesville — and carried a possible death penalty.

Susan Bro, Miss Heyer’s mother, did not oppose the plea bargain arrangement which spared Mr Fields a possible death sentence. “There’s no point in killing him,” she said. “It would not bring back Heather.”

Since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976, there have been only three executions carried out by the federal government, two in June of 2001, and the last on March 18, 2003. There are currently federal prisoners under capital sentences, and at the rate the federal government has been executing prisoners, three in the 32 years since federal law allowed new capital sentences, it will take until the year 2691 to execute them all.

So, I have to ask: with the federal budget deficit at $779 billion for Fiscal Year 2018, and a projected deficit of $897 billion for FY 2019, why did the federal government waste a single penny prosecuting Mr Fields, knowing that he’d never be executed even if he had been sentenced to death, and knowing that he was going to spend the rest of his miserable life — and he’s only 21 years old now, so that’ll mean until 2078 — locked until in Virginia?

The Fields case demonstrates the folly of hate crimes legislation. Mr Fields was tried and convicted in the Old Dominion for his actions, being convicted of one count of first degree murder, five counts of aggravated malicious wounding, three counts of malicious wounding and one hit and run count for injuring dozens of others with his vehicle. There was no need to determine whether he hated his victims, and no need to drag the federal government into it.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia Thomas Cullen said his prosecutors kept victims and their families regularly updated on plea-bargain talks — and that he needed ultimate approval from Attorney General William Barr to finalize his deal with Fields.

“Attorney General Barr sent me a letter on Friday authorizing and directing me not to seek the death penalty pursuant to the plea agreement,” Cullen told reporters.

How much money did Mr Cullen and his office have to spend on this futility? If the decision to accept the plea bargain arrangement had to go up to the Attorney General, then the money spent was not totally within the Western District, and nothing has been achieved that was not already achieved in the state court.

Hate crimes legislation is, in the end, just virtue signaling. The federal government has now said, officially, that Mr Fields was a bad, bad boy, and we strongly condemn his actions and his depraved mental state . . . but that’s all that they’ve done. Mr Fields won’t spend one more day locked up than he would have before.

Mr Fields murdered someone, and injured more than a dozen other people. It is his actions that we should penalize, and that is already being done. We shouldn’t waste time and money just to signal how virtuous and noble we are.
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