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» Clients, Courts, Government Rants, jail » Understanding the System

Understanding the System

The criminal justice system excels at creating frustrating situations. It might be the only thing it does well. I recently ran up against a situation that was not only frustrating, but also a perfect example of a Catch-22.

To get a client released from custody, I needed to get her accepted into an approved rehab facility. She could only get into the approved rehab facilities by doing an intake appointment. The facilities only set intake appointments for people who are out of custody.

Initially, I would encounter similar situations and become angry. I assumed they were caused by incompetence and thought the people in charge would fix it if they knew what they’d done. Although my anger began to diminish as I encountered those situations over and over again, it flared back up when I finally realized that the people in charge often not only knew what they’d done, but did it for a reason.

These days, when I see a Catch-22, I assume some bureaucrat planned it. I’m right more than frequently than you might think. I regularly see just how far the government will go to create an unfair situation that ensures a certain result without actually having to demand that result. Government incompetence, though pervasive, isn’t universal. Sometimes, things that appear to be incompetence are actually cleverness, albeit evil bureaucratic cleverness.

It would’ve been too easy for the government to just say that it didn’t want my client released. We all know that’s what it wants, but people might get upset if it came out and said it. It figured out a creative way around that problem.

Creating a Catch-22 may seem needlessly complex, but it usually gets the desired result. At the very least, it ties up a defense lawyer for a little while, and it doesn’t make it look like the big bad government is refusing to release people who need to be released. It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone except the real human being involuntarily caught up in the system.

I almost feel as if I should be impressed by the irritating creativity the government musters from time to time.

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