May 28, 2010

A Unique Notion: Previewing Legislation Before It's Passed

Justin Katz

On Wednesday night's Matt Allen Show, Andrew expressed surprise at the unique notion of attorney general candidate Erik Wallin that he should release his preferred legislation so early that he's not even in office, yet. Stream by clicking here, or download it.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

As a GOP leader, I find Mr. Wallin one of the interesting and impressive candidates for "high office" this year. Fortunately, he is a Republican.

P.S. I cannot comment on the the Allen interview as I not acquainted with it.

Posted by: Scott Bill Hirst at May 28, 2010 10:37 AM

Scott, have you ever heard Wallin speak?

Posted by: Dan at May 28, 2010 6:17 PM

Actually, for anyone interested in substance, there are several audio files of Erik Wallin speaking, paired with the legislation he has proposed available here and here.

Posted by: Andrew at May 28, 2010 8:51 PM

Andrew, why do you suppose Wallin is so against judicial discretion? Does he not believe that individual circumstances should be taken into account in sentencing?

I also wonder what his evidence is that draconian sentencing laws are effective deterrents. Most of what I've read on the subject suggests the opposite.

My question for Scott wasn't referring to hearing a prepared script being read, but I should have been more clear. Thank you for the link.

Posted by: Dan at May 28, 2010 9:36 PM

Attempting to read through your imprecision, I assume your reference to "judicial discretion" refers to the proposal to make revocation of public pensions automatic in cases of a corruption convictions. Are you saying that that is unreasonable? And what circumstances exactly do you think would justify corrupt behavior?

Posted by: Andrew at May 28, 2010 10:18 PM

It's part of the overall pattern I am noticing with Wallin, although that would probably be the provision with which I have the least problem.

I was referring more to his proposed mandatory 15-year minimum sentence without the possibility of suspended sentence. Murderers often go free in less time than that and I wonder what the advantage is in not allowing for even some judicial discretion based on the circumstances. Seems a little, I dunno, harsh, and I'm not a huge fan of mandatory sentence guidelines in the first place (neither are the US Supreme Court or most judges for that matter). California's draconian mandatory sentence laws have brought the state to the verge of bankruptcy, to the point where they are letting people out of their bursting at the seams jails early to save money. Didn't do a thing to solve their crime problems either, since when people get out they are even more hopeless and desperate than when they went in, having been stripped of their ability to hold a job or associate with anyone other than hardened criminals for all that time.

Unless there is some clearly demonstrated extra deterrent effect, I don't see why keeping people in jail for an extra decade or two is better than letting them out if they are truly reformed and ready to support themselves and their families again, instead of letting the taxpayer do it at the cost of millions of dollars. Unless, of course, one is running for Attorney General on a "Hang 'em High" platform that promises the "toughest penalties in the country." That's not usually what people think of when they think of a race to the top.

Posted by: Dan at May 28, 2010 11:08 PM

I think it is high time we have a candidate that will actually put the sting back into the action of someone doing wrong.

This state has been so use to NO action from the AG office that when someone like Erik Wallin comes along and starts to talk tough measures to combat public corruption, everyone is taken aback by his willingness to treat public corruption for what it is, CORRUPTION.

Has Lynch ever publicly acknowledge any public corruption? No. Could be because all the people involved are friends and Democrats?

Keep an eye on Erik. He will be the next AG and maybe this state will slowly change from the "I know a guy" handicap to the "let's go forward within the law" change that we need.

Posted by: Roland at May 28, 2010 11:15 PM

"Keep an eye on Erik. He will be the next AG."

Wanna bet? I'll gladly give you 10-1 odds. Oh wait, that's another victimless crime.

Posted by: Dan at May 28, 2010 11:19 PM


According to the current law, there is no jail time required for a bribery conviction. The penalty is a fine or jail time or maybe both. Given what has been uncovered recently in both North Providence and Central Falls, increasing the penalties so that it is clear to anyone inclined towards the belief that bribery is just da way dat you do business, where you might get away with losing just a little money if you get caught, that this is not the case seems reasonable and an improvement over what we have now.

(This of course all assumes that the state AG will a some point prosecute a local official for corruption, but I gather from your previous comment since you apparently consider public officials taking bribes to be a "victimless" crime, you are not troubled by non-enforcement of existing state corruption statutes. But where did the money that went to Charles Moreau pals to board up houses at wildly exorbitant rates come from in the first place?)

Posted by: Andrew at May 29, 2010 8:43 AM

Andrew, I've noticed that you are an expert at framing issues in a way that is very charitable toward your cause and candidates. If you aren't already a lawyer, you should have become one!

The important issue raised by my original post is the appropriateness of the punishment and the justification for stripping judges of essentially ALL discretion, not whether there is a punishment required at all. 15 years for any public corruption offense without the possibility of suspended sentence makes Ghengis Khan look merciful. I think most people would gladly accept a chopped off hand or ear rather than rot in prison for a quarter of their life. Legal theorists generally consider meaningful judicial discretion to be a positive thing, since no two cases are alike and there are other very important purposes behind punishment than vengeance and deterrence, such as rehabilitation. There is also, as I pointed out, a very real risk that excessive jail times can cost society more than the original crime itself, in effect victimizing it twice and ensuring circumstances that are even more conducive toward crime than when the offender was originally convicted.

I am sorry if I was unclear with my final statement, it was a poor libertarian joke about the nature of consensual transactions generally. I consider public corruption to be a particularly shameful and serious form of harm with a number of victims. Of course, so is bank robbery, which would see somebody released approximately a decade before somebody who, in a moment of weakness arising out of severe extenuating personal troubles, accepted $500 in an envelope from a close friend in a tacit agreement to support an alcohol license. The hard 15-year requirement is particularly troubling in light of the inherently murky nature of many transactions in which public officials engage, simply by the nature of their jobs. This is why public corruption is such a difficult crime to investigate and prosecute in general, relying predominantly on tips or sting operations which fail far more often than they succeed.

Posted by: Dan at May 29, 2010 10:07 AM
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