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Friday, August 24, 2012

TNT's "Major Crimes" Norwegian Style

 So I have to say I am impressed with Norwegian justice.  Anders Behring Breivik, an admitted right-wing terrorist who admits killing 77 people and bombing a government building got a whopping twenty one (21) years in prison.  When he gets out he'll be younger than I am today.

The conviction was by a five judge panel (which was unanimous).  He could have been found "insane" but was not in this case.  Had that been the case he would have had his sentence "delayed" until he was "sane."

Now I like some things that go on in Norway - troll hunting for example.

But this sentencing seems a bit light for my taste.

So is this a new trend in the justice systems around the world?

For many years I was a fan of the TNT show "The Closer."  The point of this show was that the "closing" in a given situation was a confession to the police by the murder (at least usually it was a murderer).  The protagonist, Brenda Lee Johnson, pushed the envelope on many occasions to get confessions - not by beating suspects - but by being more clever than they were and manipulating the law to her advantage.

Ultimately she becomes the target of an outside "lawyer" whose job it is to prove she unjustly treated various suspects via a lawsuit against the city.

As the final season of the show closes it morphs into a new show called "Major Crimes."

The idea with this show is that in order to prevent lawsuits like the one Brenda becomes involved with we need to have a team of lawyers and cops on the job when arresting suspects.  The idea is to "save the city money" by getting the suspect to admit their crimes in the presence of a city attorney.  They then go straight to jail without parole or other options they might otherwise end up with had they gone through a trial.

But this new model requires making "deals" to get the suspect turned into a criminal.

The old Brenda shows required the team of detectives to find evidence and close all the loop holes.

The new show has everyone cutting corners in order to get the suspect into the "interview room" with their lawyer so they can be "convinced" to accept a plea bargain.

So rather than having a suspect admit to, say, murder one the new show has them taking a plea bargain maximum on, say, manslaughter.  So instead of life they get eleven years.

Needless to say this does not sit well with the "older" detectives - the murders are getting "off" relative to the respective "proper punishment."

The bureaucrats running the city and police department, on the other hand, like this because its cheap and fast - no trials, no parole, straight to prison.

Now when you kill 77 people one might imagine you'd get life in prison - 77 lives for one life.

I can understand that Norway is not into the death penalty and I have no problem with that.

But to let the guy out after only twenty one years seems rather odd.

Charles Manson got more years and he didn't personally even kill anyone.

This new arrest to interview room to prison model does also kind of seem like a circumvention of the whole idea of a justice system.

So perhaps the "Major Crimes" model (and I know its only a TV show) has already made its way into Norway for Anders Behring Breivik.

Breivik admits what he did and really doesn't seem like the thinks there was a problem with it.

So instead of some reasonable sentence we just get him into the slammer ASAP with a sentence everyone including his lawyer will like.

I doubt, given twenty one years in a Norwegian prison suite (it has three rooms: exercise, sleeping and one for reading and writing), he will change his mind much.

But hey, its a new season...

The only question is "Is this justice?"

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