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Good Lord:

The Washington Post reports:

D.C. Council member and former mayor Marion Barry yesterday urged two young men who robbed him at gunpoint Monday night to turn themselves in to police, promising that he would urge authorities not to prosecute them.

"I have no animosities," Barry declared. "I don't even want you prosecuted, really. I love you. Give yourself up. Call the police. . . . I will do all I can to advocate non-prosecution."

Barry, 69, was held up in his kitchen about 9:30 p.m. Monday by two assailants who minutes earlier had helped him carry groceries from his car to his third-floor apartment in Southeast Washington. They pointed a gun at Barry's face and stole his wallet, which contained more than $200, his driver's license and two credit cards, police said.

The thieves apparently knew that Barry (D-Ward 8) was a longtime community leader, a fact that he said made the crime "kind of hurt" because he is well respected by so many people in the city. Barry was not injured in the holdup.

"There is a sort of an unwritten code in Washington, among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend," Barry said at an afternoon news conference in which he described the robbery in detail. "I don't advocate what they do. I advocate conditions to change what they do. I was a little hurt that this betrayal did happen." . . .

Words fail me. Thanks to OpinionJournal's Political Diary for the pointer.

UPDATE: Matt Rustler (Stop the Bleating) points out:

["]Barry vowed not to move from his home in the council district he represents. But he said he will push for tougher gun control laws. Last session he offered a bill mandating a 10-year sentence for those caught with a gun. So far, a hearing has not been scheduled, but Barry hopes to see action on it this year.["] [Link in Rustler's post.] . . .

Marion wants a ten-year mandatory sentence for possessing a gun, presumably in order to further deter possession of firearms in the District, but he doesn't want people who commit robberies using guns to be prosecuted. . . .

Nobody in Particular:
Hmmm... If he doesn't want them prosecuted why does he want them to give themselves up? What would the point in having them turn themselves in to the police? This is both very odd and strikingly insincere — which is what you often get when trying to strike a political pose, I guess.
1.5.2006 12:41pm
dk35 (mail):
I guess I'm not quite understanding EV's motivations for posting this.
1.5.2006 12:43pm
Kate1999 (mail):
I guess I'm not quite understanding dk35's motivations for questioning EV's motivations.
1.5.2006 12:45pm
dk35 (mail):
I'm not questioning his motives. I sincerely don't understand what his point is.
1.5.2006 12:46pm
The Editors, American Federalist Journal (mail) (www):
Eugene,

Is there something in particular in that story that surprises you? Crime in DC? A liberal Democrat appeasing/coddling/excusing criminals? That Marion Barry does his own grocery shopping? What? :)
1.5.2006 12:46pm
Sigivald (mail):
What really makes words fail me is that people in DC evidently do respect Barry (enough to elect him to office after his infamous cocaine-and-prostitutes scandal), for reasons I've never comprehended.
1.5.2006 12:47pm
Houston Lawyer:
He probably just wants his crack back. Mr. Barry is the poster child for term limits.
1.5.2006 12:50pm
just me (mail):
Those poor kids. Each should insist, "The Barry set me up!"
1.5.2006 12:50pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Probably a drug deal gone bad knowing the proclivities of the "victim."
1.5.2006 12:53pm
corngrower:
The point is the people have spoken. Elected and relected a pathetic fool.

A fool that some how thinks they have enough power that they control if a person is prosecuted or not. We call the politicians.

Back in my memory I recall a man that drove his car into the river, saved himself, did nothing to rescue his passenger, left the scene, did not report the accident for hours, and, nothing. GEE politicians being stupid imagine that.

EV's point how would a politician be so stupid to utter such a statement? How bout it you legal eagles? Care to tell me if the victim can refuse to prosecute a crime? Seems to me that ability rest squarely on the shoulders of the state, regardless of the victims wishes.
1.5.2006 1:03pm
John Jenkins (mail):
I'm guessing it's this comment:
There is a sort of an unwritten code in Washington, among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend," Barry said at an afternoon news conference in which he described the robbery in detail. "I don't advocate what they do. I advocate conditions to change what they do. I was a little hurt that this betrayal did happen.
where words fail Prof. Volokh. It's so witlessly obtuse that it's impossible to believe that an elected official whose job it is on at least some level to maintain law and order is the friend of "the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys." He probably should have phrased it that he was one of them rather than their friend, though.
1.5.2006 1:08pm
Argle (mail) (www):
I'm not questioning his motives. I sincerely don't understand what his point is.

dk35 attempts the difficult reverse-double-Volokh on Volokh himself! ("I am just raising this question in all honesty, I don't see how you can construe this as impugning his motives / suggesting gay people want to convert straights / implying that all members of category x drink puppy blood, etc.) Trying this on the master is surely a high-risk strategy.
1.5.2006 1:11pm
Sebastian (mail):
What gets my goat is the fact that later in the article he calls on the city to do something about guns, while simultaneously suggesting we ought to go soft on the criminals. So the guns are the ones causing the crime, and not the people wielding them?

Maybe the reason DC's crime rate is so high has little to do with the guns, which are already largely illegal in the district, and more to do with soft, spineless politicians, like Marion Barry, refusing to treat criminal activity, such as armed robbery, with the harshness it deserves.

What's the point of passing stiffer penalties, or of passing any more laws, when Barry's attitude would indicate he doesn't even want to enforce the laws against armed robbery? If Barry is indicative of the prevailing attitude among politicians in DC, then they are indeed in serious trouble.
1.5.2006 1:18pm
JDS:
If the victim of an armed robbery like this actually does all he can "to advocate non-prosecution," will that influence the police? What does "advocating non-prosecution" mean, anyway? Perhaps Mr Barry is trying a "good-cop" tactic to get these guys off the street.

Advising them to call the police is hardly "advocating non-prosecution."
1.5.2006 1:20pm
Abdul (mail):
Let's give the devil his due. Isn't anyone here impressed by Barry's Christian "turn the other cheek" attitude? This was actually the first time I've read something about DC's most infamous mayor that made a positive impression.

I will grant you that Barry's statement " among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend," is not noble sounding as "turn the other cheek," but Barry comes off a lot better than the typical councilman who, upon finding out his hubcaps were stolen, demands a full CSI team and all Police Department resources brought in.
1.5.2006 1:40pm
Al Maviva (mail):
Perhaps Mr Barry is trying a "good-cop" tactic to get these guys off the street.

Hah. That's high comedy. The only criminal Marion Barry ever got off the street was Marion Barry, thanks to his crack use, largesse gained through general corruption, and his unjust enrichment through tax evasion. Between the feds and his own money making schemes, Mayor-for-Life has never really had to worry about being on the street at all. The sworn enemy of the DC PD playing good cop, indeed...
1.5.2006 1:41pm
J..:
DC is a unique area.

Barry's rise to political prominance was, in very large part, due to being the victim of a violent crime -- being shot (in the late 70s) after a hostile takeover by a group of (hateful) extremists, one of several takeovers and attempted takeovers by that group that day.

His downfall in politics was -- well known.

There has long been a movement in the District to treat crime and criminals as victims. IIRC, it was a GW professor who advocated jury nullification for non-violent drug offenses, where the defendant is (generally) black.

Unrelated: We all have a fun time making pithy comments castigating those we have spent little time thinking about. I'm not sure I see the point in any of it. It does not advance an argument to tease out of conext a comment by a politian you have no respect for on a topic that is personal to them. I guess there is entertainment value in making fun of people for their past sins, but seems rather boring to me.

Comments about the intelligence of Barry here -- or of Kennedy on NRO -- or of Bush on Daily Kos -- really serve no legitmate purpose but lower our discourse while seeking out the cheap thrill.

I suppose, as a off-and-on reader of this blog, I expected a little more. I suppose I was rather stupid to do so.
1.5.2006 1:44pm
Dem:
I'm with dk35: I sincerely don't understand what particular part of the excerpt struck EV and left him at a loss for words.

Some posters seem to be making a lot of Barry's quote that "[t]here is a sort of an unwritten code in Washington, among the underworld and the hustlers and these other guys, that I am their friend." Sure, its a little awkwardly phrased, but he explains what he means the next sentence: "I don't advocate what they do. I advocate conditions to change what they do. I was a little hurt that this betrayal did happen." Maybe you disagree with him; you dislike government programs or you favor incarceration (which, IMO as a libertarian minded progressive, is one of the most expensive and least effective government programs in existence) over rehabilitation. But, I don't think those ideas are out of the mainstream.

Some appear to be upset that Barry doesn't want the guys prosecuted but asks that they turn themselves in. What's so strange about that? Conservatives are supposed to be all about "victims rights" but almost every conservative I know only cares about what the victim thinks if the victim wants blood. If a victim thinks rehabilitation is better than punishment, what's wrong with that? Barry legitimately seems to believe in rehabilitation over punishment. My guess is he hopes they will turn themselves in and he can try to talk to them and get them help. Disagree with his view all you want, but if you've ever argued that the wishes of the victim should be honored (say, in the world of the death penalty), I don't see how you can really disregard Barry's wishes. (Personally, I'm not sure we should ever take a victim's feelings into account in the criminal justice system, but if we do take them into account, it should work both ways.)
1.5.2006 1:45pm
Bisch:
I don't understand why Barry wants them to turn themselves in. What's the point? He got his wallet back sans $200 in cash, but if he's not interested in prosecution what does he want?
1.5.2006 1:46pm
sonicfrog (mail) (www):
If he is suprised that he would get robbed, then maybe he is still smoking crack. This is the same type of person who would be shocked that insurgents would kidnap peace activists in Iraq, or that terrorist would blow up a hospital or a UN meeting, or that the scorpion would sting the frog giving it a ride across the river....
1.5.2006 1:46pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Maybe you disagree with him; you dislike government programs or you favor incarceration (which, IMO as a libertarian minded progressive, is one of the most expensive and least effective government programs in existenc.).

Ineffective at what? The purpose of incarceration is twofold (1) to punish (it's the penal system, after all) and (2) separate the offender from society. It serves those functions quite well. It's only ineffective when you add other goals on top of that which, in a libertarian-minded society, would not be present. What we're talking about is armed robbery, and not even the most fervent libertarians think that should go unpunished. (As an aside, the feelings of the victim just don't matter in criminal law. The D.A. makes that call and can prosecute in spite of the victim's desires, though obviously if the victim's testimony is necessary to make the case and the victim refuses to give it, then the prosecution will be dead in the water.)
1.5.2006 2:10pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Dem,

I am unclear what the D.C. cops are supposed to do with these men if they do turn themselves in, but Barry doesn't press charges.

And can we remember just momentarily that Marion Barry is probably not the only person ever mugged by these thugs? I mean, this clemency is all well and good for him, but I suspect that it will be nastier for other people, who could perhaps not afford to lose $200 out of their wallets so easily.
1.5.2006 2:20pm
Dem:
John Jenkins: I disagree, I think the purpose of the penal system is to reduce and prevent crime.

Yes, long prison sentences can reduce crime, but I don't think it is a very cost effective way to do it. It can cost over $20,000 a year to incarcerate an individual (varies by state but in CA its well over $20k). Don't get me wrong: many offenders belong in prison. But for a large number of offenders (for example most drug offenders), I think we'd be much better off with rehabilitation programs from a cost benefit perspective. Plus, all but the most serious offenders (murder convicts, etc.) will be walking the streets at some point after they are incarcerated. Since we know that, why not focus on reducing the (currently very high) rate of recidivism? I think conservatives (especially conservative libertarians) often get so caught up in the idea that we shouldn't have sympathy for criminals (since they are responsible for their own actions), they ignore cost considerations in criminal justice.
1.5.2006 2:31pm
Dem:
Michelle Dulak Thomson: As I said at the end of my post, I don't necessarily think we should take the victim's wishes into account in enforcing criminal law. I'm not saying I think the police should let the guys go or that Barry should have input into what happens to them (aside, obviously, from the inescapable fact that if he refuses to testify the case would be harder to prosecute).

My point is that if you believe we should take a victim's feelings into account in criminal law (a view traditionally advanced by conservatives), a victim like Barry (who doesn't want the guys prosecuted) deserves the same "victim's rights" as a guy who wants the longest sentence possible.
1.5.2006 2:41pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Dem,

My point is that if you believe we should take a victim's feelings into account in criminal law (a view traditionally advanced by conservatives), a victim like Barry (who doesn't want the guys prosecuted) deserves the same "victim's rights" as a guy who wants the longest sentence possible.

I am unsure about this "view traditionally advanced by conservatives" bit. Is it? I thought the "tradition" of victims' relatives getting to enter statements at the sentencing stage was a pretty recent phenomenon, not nearly old enough to be "traditional." But, of course, IANAL.

I still wonder how the police got wind of this in the first place. Is Barry's position really that the cops must be called when someone is held up at gunpoint, but it would be a mistake actually to prosecute anyone for such a robbery? I mean, did Barry actually call the police? Why? They might have been better occupied pursuing criminals the victim actually wated pursued. What a waste.
1.5.2006 2:56pm
cleek (mail) (www):
I don't understand why Barry wants them to turn themselves in. What's the point?

public humiliation.
1.5.2006 3:01pm
John Jenkins (mail):
MDT, The wishes of the victim one way or another are not legally relevant (though the D.A. may take them into account and many do). Victim Impact statements are of relatively recent vintage and are gross violations (IMO) of the defendant's right to have conviction and punishment assessed as dispassionately as possible.

Dem, you're conflating issues. The purpose of the penal system is to punish. I don't think that drug users are deserving of punushment, so they shouldn't be included in the set of people we're talking about. Armed robbers should be imprisoned. There should be no treatment of any kind for drug users mandated by the government because it shouldn't be criminal activity. That's what I was talking about before when I referred to a libertarian-minded society.

In our system, we've criminalized so much activity that we naturally think some of them are not deserving of punishment, so we have to come up with some alternative (treatment for drug offenders, like you noted). Yes, incarcerating drug offenders is useless, and recidivism is high, but that is not an argument against the system being used for punishment, it is an argument against punishing drug users.
1.5.2006 3:10pm
Justin (mail):
Other than an allegation of hypocracy that seems normal against the position of foolish consistency that would apply here, I don't see anything wrong with Barry's position. Yes, he used to be a drug addict (this is unfortunate, but a different crime than robbery or assault), and from all accounts here he's reformed in that respect. What's wrong with having the courage of his convictions? Here's a man who believes, along with most people who have done the research, that the most important factors in crime levels are quality of life factors, not prosecutorial factors.

I think the Mayor's actions, though admittedly a little odd, are commendable. I do not think its a stretch to believe that these people being shown mercy from Mayor Barry (and notice the mercy requires the robbers to submit) will do more to deter them from future crime than a short stint in jail, and at much less cost to the taxpayers of DC.
1.5.2006 3:18pm
velvel in atlanta (mail):
The former mayor has decided to continue to make excuses for unacceptable behavior. Not a great surprise. He obviously has not considered misprison of felony, nor punishment for antisocial actions. For him to continue his "no more guns" mantra is laughable and if his constituency continues to reelect him they prove that universal suffrage is truly a mistake. But as someone said, "Deecee is a unique place." And the idea of statehood looks mighty bad.
1.5.2006 3:20pm
cleek (mail) (www):
hark, i hear the cry of the North American Elitist!

if his constituency continues to reelect him they prove that universal suffrage is truly a mistake
1.5.2006 3:25pm
Dem:
MDT: By "traditionally" I meant only that the "victim's rights" movement has been led by political conservatives.

John Jenkins: I don't think we're so far apart. I agree with you on drug offenders and agree that we have criminalized too much conduct in this country. Still, I think that the overall purpose of criminal law and the criminal justice system should be to reduce crime and that the penal system should be geared toward that end. In other words, I think that the penal system should focus, as must as possible, on the most cost effective way to keep offenders from re-offending (within constitutional and moral constraints of course [ie, not chopping off arms]). I think that this would likely impact how we run prisons. But, I also agree with you that armed robbers should generally serve a prison term.
1.5.2006 3:30pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Dem,

MDT: By "traditionally" I meant only that the "victim's rights" movement has been led by political conservatives.

I don't think it has, actually; it's been "led" by victims and their relatives. I don't have a dog in this fight one way or another, but I don't think it makes much sense to describe "victim's rights" as a traditional conservative cause when the entire phenomenon is IIRC maybe a decade old, tops.

Incidentally, I see that both you and Jenkins think that armed robbers ought to be imprisoned. Since these were armed robbers, what exactly are we to think of Barry?
1.5.2006 4:05pm
Dem:
MDT: I think Barry has the perfectly legitimate view that a prison term won't help the armed robbers (I assume he'd favor some sort of rehabilitation.) I may disagree (with the idea they shouldn't be imprisoned at all--I think rehabilitation should be incorporated into any prison term) but that doesn't make his comments odd or out of line.

Regarding the "victim's rights" movement--You are such a stickler for terms! I mean that the politicians and think tanks that have pushed the "victims rights" idea have been overwhelmingly conservative. Of course victims lead many of the advocacy organizations and the movement is not very old. I don't see what that has to do with anything other than the fact that I've used some sloppy language while making quick blog comments at work. I think I got my main point across.
1.5.2006 4:40pm
Mucus Maximus:
Yes, long prison sentences can reduce crime, but I don't think it is a very cost effective way to do it.

It appears that certain judges in Vermont agree with you...


Thirty-four-year-old Mark Hulett of Williston, Vt., has been convicted on charges that he "raped a little girl many, many times over a four-year span starting when she was seven," reports Burlington's WCAX-TV. Prosecutors asked for a sentence of eight to 20 years, but the judge gave him . . . 60 days:

Judge Edward Cashman disagreed explaining that he no longer believes that punishment works.

"The one message I want to get through is that anger doesn't solve anything. It just corrodes your soul," said Judge Edward Cashman speaking to a packed Burlington courtroom. Most of the on-lookers were related to a young girl who was repeatedly raped by Mark Hulett who was in court to be sentenced. . . .

"I discovered it accomplishes nothing of value; it doesn't make anything better; it costs us a lot of money; we create a lot of expectation, and we feed on anger,"Cashman explained to the people in the court.
1.5.2006 5:01pm
Mucus Maximus:
Needless to say, I think that judge should be impeached.
1.5.2006 5:03pm
Dem:
MM: I'm not advocating we release child rapists after 60 day stints in prison. I didn't say long sentences are never the best route, only that I don't think they are generally cost effective (given how expensive it is to incarcerate someone and the other options that are available.) Citing that article in response to my point is like bringing up Hitler or China to respond to someone who believes in the death penatly ("see where that pro-death penalty belief leads!") Just because you favor the death penalty in some situations, doesn't mean you agree with using it all the time. Likewise, just because I think the criminal justice system is broken and not cost effective, doesn't mean I want to let child rapists go free.
1.5.2006 5:16pm
Seamus (mail):

Let's give the devil his due. Isn't anyone here impressed by Barry's Christian "turn the other cheek" attitude? This was actually the first time I've read something about DC's most infamous mayor that made a positive impression.



But he *doesn't* take that Christian "turn the other cheek" attitude when it comes to gun possession. (Maybe that's because there's no cheek to turn in the case of firearms offenses, which are victimless crimes.) Kinda strange, though, isn't it, that he wants to forgive and forget when it comes to malum in se, but wants to throw the book at those who commit acts that are merely malum prohibitum?
1.5.2006 5:55pm
K:
Having prosecuted a variety of crimes, my favorite story on the purpose of the penal system is still the man with the traffic ticket who desperately wanted me to agree to reset his trial date or dismiss the ticket. He was moving 1000 miles away, and would not be living in town by his trial date. He also did not want to come back. I offered a reasonable plea deal, which he could've completed that afternoon. (It was, after all, a traffic ticket!) He did not want a deal because he thought there was a good chance his officer would not show up for the trial. After about 40 rounds of "I don't want the deal," "Then come to your trial," "I don't want to come back for a trial," "Then take the deal," the man sighed, looked at me, and said, "You know, your stubbornness about this right before my move is really leaving a bad taste in my mouth about [your jurisdiction]."

I tell you what I told him as I laughed: Punishment ain't supposed to taste GOOD, and I'm not here to hug you.

The purpose of the penal system is to punish. WHAT to punish is determined long before anyone goes to jail.
1.5.2006 6:05pm
Frank Drackmann (mail):
I'll bet Barry just owed those dudes some money for his crack or cocaine or whatever hes into now.
1.5.2006 6:12pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Dem,

MDT: I think Barry has the perfectly legitimate view that a prison term won't help the armed robbers (I assume he'd favor some sort of rehabilitation.) I may disagree (with the idea they shouldn't be imprisoned at all--I think rehabilitation should be incorporated into any prison term) but that doesn't make his comments odd or out of line.

Ooookay. If you say so. Thankfully, I live about 3000 miles away from these thugs, so being mugged by them is at the moment only a theoretical prospect.

Regarding the "victim's rights" movement--You are such a stickler for terms! I mean that the politicians and think tanks that have pushed the "victims rights" idea have been overwhelmingly conservative. Of course victims lead many of the advocacy organizations and the movement is not very old. I don't see what that has to do with anything other than the fact that I've used some sloppy language while making quick blog comments at work. I think I got my main point across.

Again, well, whatever. If you think it's OK to spin a recent campaign for victims of crime to testify at sentencing hearings as a "traditional conservative" cause when in fact it's a pretty new phenomenon and a grassroots one, driven by victims, fine.
1.5.2006 6:19pm
Mucus Maximus:
Citing that article in response to my point is like bringing up Hitler or China to respond to someone who believes in the death penatly

But he said exactly what you said! Punishment costs too much and doesn't work, and we need to focus on rehabilitation. =D

A judge who feels as he does should resign.
1.5.2006 6:26pm
PersonFromPorlock:
K: You seem to have missed the point that the guy with the traffic ticket hadn't yet been found guilty of anything. If you really feel you have some right to punish him before his trial -- indeed, by means of his trial -- then you leave a bad taste in my mouth, too.
1.5.2006 6:39pm
Dem:
MDT: Plenty of people believe in rehabilitation over punishment, and plenty of robbery victims don't think their attackers belong in prison (especially if the attackers come from a difficult background). Just because you or I don't agree with that view (as I've said I stand of sort of a middle ground), it doesn't make the people who hold it crazy.

I'm not trying to "spin" anything. Look at the politicians, think tanks, and scholars who have backed the "victims rights" movement. They are generally conservative. My point is: in my experience, many of the people who back "victims rights" only care what the victim thinks if the victim wants blood. I think that if you favor victims having input on sentencing, you should consider the victim's opinion with equally weight whether they want a long sentence or none at all.

MM: The smiley face makes it all ok. :)
1.5.2006 6:46pm
Julian Morrison (mail):
His attitude can be seen as entirely consistent from the following perspective: he doesn't want his best buddies the thugs to be menaced by gun-owners.
1.5.2006 6:58pm
Dem:
By the way: I wanted to say, now that I saw the gun sentencing part added to the post, that I think it is very very odd to favor a 10 year mandatory sentence for carrying a gun but not want any sentence at all for robbing someone with one.

Also, I personally do not favor prison sentences for simple gun possession.
1.5.2006 7:20pm
Tom Tildrum:
The point of Barry's comment that "I am their friend" is that he was not upset because they were committing armed robbery -- rather, he was bothered that they were committing armed robbery on him. The suggestion is that they left him alone, and in return he left them alone, which fits his later history in office all too well. He may not advocate what they do, but he's only heard to oppose it when he's the victim. Also, his suggestion that he works for societal change to reduce crime describes the early and quite admirable years of Barry's career, but it finds little applicability to his later years in office, when (quite apart from his personal indiscretions) his growing indifference to governance helped foster a lawless, crime-ridden climate in the city.
1.5.2006 8:17pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Dem,

I'm not trying to "spin" anything. Look at the politicians, think tanks, and scholars who have backed the "victims rights" movement. They are generally conservative. My point is: in my experience, many of the people who back "victims rights" only care what the victim thinks if the victim wants blood. I think that if you favor victims having input on sentencing, you should consider the victim's opinion with equal[] weight whether they want a long sentence or none at all.

I don't disagree with you. Of course, the current case doesn't involve sentencing at all, does it? In fact it involves two young armed thugs who will not so much as face nominal jail time because the guy they stuck up happened to be one very inclined to bail such kids out.
1.5.2006 9:27pm
Dem:
MDT: Where do you get that they won't face jail time? Barry said he would urge the DA not to prosecute. The article didn't say they'd follow his wishes. People seemed to be jumping on Barry for saying he wouldn't want to see them prosecuted. All I'm saying is that if you believe in the principle of "victim's rights" (as it seems many VC commenters do from my time here), why trash Barry? Why not show him the respect you would show to a victim who wanted the guys thrown in jail for life?
1.5.2006 11:48pm
Marion's Dealer (mail):
Methinks most of you are missing the point as to why Marion Barry would want to make it so absolutely clear to the two young men who robbed him that he will not press charges.

They are his dealers.

Barry never actually gave up drugs, he was busted just last year or the year before smoking marijuana in his Vette. It's an open secret that the ex-mayor is still getting high, and I know at least one person who swears he is back on the hard stuff (though I'm not sure whether I believe this person).

Anyways, the point is that Barry wants his dealers to understand very clearly that if they are arrested, he will not press charges, provided they do not reveal exactly how they know him. It isn't a wishy-washy, feel-good liberal stance. He's just trying to avoid yet another drug scandal.
1.6.2006 11:04am
Houston Lawyer:
This whole "victim's rights" thing can be taken too far. I recall that the Taliban would give a family member of a murder victim an AK-47. This family member then could, on behalf of the family, either shoot the guilty party or let him go. The victim's views of justice should be irrelevant. Society has its own reasons for punishing crime.
1.6.2006 2:56pm
anon/portly (mail):
Many of the commenters seem perplexed at why EV posted this item, and why someone might consider Marion Berry's statements objectionable.

I consider Marion Berry's statements *extremely* objectionable.

When Berry expresses "hurt" and "betrayal" at being the victim of an armed robbery, and furthermore suggests that an "unwritten code" was violated and that he "is their friend," he is doing more than expressing the usual liberal-politician pop-sociology perps-as-victims kind of thing (which I don't completely disagree with), and expressing *allegiance* with the men who robbed him.

I have exactly the opposite view to that of Berry: he feels wronged, but I see it as a small mercy that these men robbed him, instead of (as I would guess most likely) some helpless woman or old person. I wish every predator in DC would go after Berry and leave others alone.

"Words fail me" was exactly the right comment. Words fail me at many of the comments above. I'm kind of guessing that few Volokh commenters face as high a probability of being a victim of an armed robbery as the typical resident of Marion Berry's city council district. Also I am guessing that they disagree with me about what Marion Berry's continued ability to win elections suggests about the likelihood of future improvements in DC armed robbery statistics.
1.6.2006 11:29pm