So Kalief Browder killed himself. If you hadn’t read about him months ago when he was released, this was a guy accused of stealing a backpack and sent to Riker’s at sixteen. He was kept there for three years awaiting trial, until the sole witness of his alleged theft couldn’t be bothered to keep in touch with prosecutors. People kill themselves all the time, sure, and plenty of kids get shuttled off to Riker’s for things they probably didn’t do, yeah. I don’t know how many are kept there for years without getting a trial, but I hope it’s not often enough to be piled into the common occurrences bin with the previous two. I’m probably wretchedly naive, in that. Browder was offered several plea bargains, none of which he would accept, and I’m sure that’s a rare thing indeed, much as it’d go in the common pile in any place run and populated by sane people. He didn’t sue the shit out of the city, either, which again, would be common pile worthy in sane lands.
The mother says he’d gotten paranoid. The NYT article covering Browder’s death points to prolonged solitary confinement and beatings he received from guards and other inmates. “He was very uncomfortable being around people, especially in large groups.” Of course, it’s also possible (if not probable considering which’d more likely take place in the mind of someone who wouldn’t bend to plea bargains) the kid simply couldn’t –or wouldn’t– reconcile his useless imprisonment with a world that claims to be concerned about justice. They put him on TV talk shows and gave him a MacBook Air when he was released. The Mayor said something mundane about what happened to him being “bad.” The New York Times recommends you read some story about a woman and her cats if you liked their coverage of his case. Nobody involved is going to do anything that’s about following through on their word, or changing their words to reflect their sole priority, which is taking the least expensive option.
And there’s nothing wrong with the least expensive option, in and of itself; energy is conserved over time, it’s the way the world is. People seem to have a hell of a time admitting this and interacting with the environment and one another accordingly, however. I don’t pretend that folks doing one thing and saying another will ever be completely obliterated, but where it’s gotten to the point that “manufacturers of goods” are mostly resellers of crap that doesn’t do or isn’t made out of what’s described, where “professionals” offering “services” are mostly unqualified, unknowledgeable borrowers attempting to “service” their “clients” into handling (in fact or merely in emotional succor) their debts, and where “justice” is a kid rotting away his youth in a cell so that people whose professed job it is to try him don’t have to do some paperwork, you can forget about anything resembling sanity, and the application of the word “people” to the inhabitants of such a place becomes mightily laughable. Is that “too harsh”? Go read about that woman and her cats, the discussion of interesting problems apparently isn’t for you.
Otherwise, the interesting problem here is making the least expensive option the best one, too. There’s no rule proclaiming that the right thing costs extra1. I’d like to live in a world where people are people, and things aren’t falsely represented for the sake of hiding their fears and desires. So far there’s an IRC channel, from which various other “where”s and “what”s sprout. I can’t help but wonder if Browder would’ve been able to get himself into the Web of Trust, or if he would’ve been able to contribute something useful. It doesn’t matter now, of course. But you could.
- Careful not to confuse cost with ease. That you perceive something as being the easy option is an artifact of what you understand, what you don’t, how willing you are to have the wool pulled over your eyes, etc. The consideration here is cost, and yes, there’s a presumption that you’ve got what to spend; if you don’t, you’ll have to fix that before you can reasonably consider costs, there’s no layaway here. [↩]