No Prosecution Necessary: The Feminist Movement Has Traded Ideological Purity for Power, Causing the Undermining of Due Process Protections and the Imprisonment of Men without Charges or Trial

By Baskerville, Stephen | The New American, January 18, 2010 | Go to article overview
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No Prosecution Necessary: The Feminist Movement Has Traded Ideological Purity for Power, Causing the Undermining of Due Process Protections and the Imprisonment of Men without Charges or Trial


Baskerville, Stephen, The New American


Liberals rightly criticize America's high rate of incarceration. Claiming to be the freest country on Earth, the United States incarcerates a larger percentage of its population than Iran or Syria. Over two million people, or nearly one in 50 adults, excluding the elderly, are incarcerated, the highest proportion in the world. Some seven million Americans, or 3.2 percent, are under penal supervision.

Many are likely to be innocent. In The Tyranny of Good Intentions (2000), Paul Craig Roberts and Lawrence Stratton document how due process protections are routinely ignored, grand juries are neutered, frivolous prosecutions abound, and jury trials are increasingly rare. More recently, in Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent (2009), Harvey Silverglate shows how federal prosecutors are criminalizing more and more of the population. "Innocence projects"--projects of "a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing"--attest that people are railroaded into prison. As we will see, incarcerations without trial are now routine.

The U.S. prison population has risen dramatically in the last four decades. Ideologically, the rise is invariably attributed to "law-and-order" conservatives, who indeed seldom deny their own role (or indifference). In fact, few conservatives understand what they are defending.

Conservatives who rightly decry "judicial activism" in civil law are often blind to the connected perversion of criminal justice. While a politicized judiciary does free the guilty, it also criminalizes the innocent.

But traditionalists upholding law and order were not an innovation of the 1970s. A newer and more militant force helped create the "carceral state." In The Prison and the Gallows (2006), feminist scholar Marie Gottschalk points out that traditional conservatives were not the prime instigators, and blames "interest groups and social movements not usually associated with penal conservatism." Yet she names only one: "the women's movement."

While America's criminalization may have a number of contributing causes, it coincides precisely with the rise of organized feminism. "The women's movement became a vanguard of conservative law-and-order politics," Gottschalk writes. "Women's organizations played a central role in the consolidation of this conservative victims' rights movement that emerged in the 1970s."

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Gottschalk then twists her counterintuitive finding to condemn "conservatives" for the influx, portraying feminists as passive victims without responsibility. "Feminists prosecuting the war on rape and domestic violence" were somehow "captured and co-opted by the law-and-order agenda of politicians, state officials, and conservative groups." Yet nothing indicates that feminists offered the slightest resistance to this political abduction.

Feminists, despite Gottschalk's muted admission of guilt, did lead the charge toward wholesale incarceration. Feminist ideology has radicalized criminal justice and eroded centuries-old constitutional protections: New crimes have been created; old crimes have been redefined politically; the distinction between crime and private behavior has been erased; the presumption of innocence has been eliminated; false accusations go unpunished; patently innocent people are jailed with-out trial. "The new feminist jurisprudence hammers away at some of the most basic foundations of our criminal law system," Michael Weiss and Cathy Young write in a Cato Institute paper. "Chief among them is the presumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty."

Feminists and other sexual radicals have even managed to influence the law to target conservative groups themselves. Racketeering statutes are marshaled to punish non-violent abortion demonstrators, and "hate crimes" laws attempt to silence critics of the homosexual agenda.

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No Prosecution Necessary: The Feminist Movement Has Traded Ideological Purity for Power, Causing the Undermining of Due Process Protections and the Imprisonment of Men without Charges or Trial
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