Aircraft technicians and mechanics must fill out detailed paperwork for any work performed on a plane or engine, including repair, replacement of parts, or changing fluids — and then sign the work-performed document, noting they were responsible. The reason for the extensive reporting is to have a detailed record of what was done and by whom at what time, in case of a problem or accident. Because mistakes in repairing or maintaining aircraft can have fatal consequences, absolute precision, accountability and responsibility are needed.
Many lines of work require equal responsibility and accountability, such as medical procedures, structural engineering, etc. — again, where mistakes can be fatal. There are also glaring omissions, such as those charged with public safety, where mistakes can result in death. Several large U.S. cities have seen a huge increase in crime — most often in cities with “woke” prosecutors and judges. If a dangerous felon is released from jail before serving his or her full sentence and then goes on to kill or rape someone, those judges, prosecutors and others are seldom held responsible or even identified.
If a surgeon makes a mistake and accidentally kills a patient, the patient’s relatives can sue for damages in compensation for their loss. But if a judge or prosecutor makes a mistake by prematurely releasing a dangerous felon who kills someone, the courts normally do not allow the victims’ relatives to seek compensation from those who made the bad decisions.
There are business executives who are sitting in jail because their companies made products that unintentionally killed someone. The argument is made that those executives failed to put in place proper precautions and oversight, and therefore bear personal responsibility for the deaths of those who used the product. Given that logic, should not those in the criminal justice system, who are responsible for the early release of someone who has a high probability of being a danger to law-abiding citizens and then kills someone, also be held personally responsible for the deaths caused by “an obvious danger”?
Judges, prosecutors and others in the criminal justice system are normally required to take an oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws they are responsible for enforcing. If they fail to do so, they are engaged in dereliction of duty. Yet “woke” prosecutors like New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg announce whole categories of crimes they are not going to prosecute, which has the effect of putting the entire community at risk — but nothing is done. If the chief financial officer of a large company suddenly announces disagreement with legally required accounting procedures and statements and is not going to report to the IRS, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the stockholders, as required, he or she would be fired and possibly serve jail time. The double standard is glaring.
Those of us who advocate more decision transparency and responsibility by those in government often hear the argument that requiring the names of those who actually make the decisions affecting individuals in the judicial system and regulatory agencies be made public would endanger the lives of those who make the decisions. My response is, “Welcome to the real world.”
Those in many lines of work, including private sector lawyers, investigative and other journalists, and even athletes (who displease fans), receive threats. Lord Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer under British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died this past week, became aware that many environmentalists were overstating the immediate danger of global warming based on the evidence. He wrote a number of powerful pieces on the need to bring better science and balance to the debate. Because he had dared to question the environmental orthodoxy, he suffered huge abuse and many death threats. But he did not try to hide under some sort of “sovereign immunity” or use an anonymous name. No one is forced to be a judge or prosecutor, or advocate an unpopular cause — so having many unhappy with you is part of the territory.
If someone with a long rap sheet for violent behavior is let out of jail without serving a full term for their bad behavior and then goes on to injure, or worse, to some citizen, does not the public interest in the right to know who made the bad decisions trump any desire for privacy by those who made the bad decisions? High-profile “woke” DAs do receive much publicity for their bad decisions, but since many of them are ideologically driven, they love the publicity. But in most communities, the judges and prosecutors who allow bad apples to go free would probably would be uncomfortable if the bad apple raped the daughter of someone at their club — particularly if it were known that the “Honorable” was sloppy, or careless, or just used poor judgment in releasing the attacker.
More sunshine on those directly responsible for allowing the criminals to roam free would likely increase peer pressure for better behavior. Shunning was an effective technique in many towns in early America for controlling bad or irresponsible behaviors — including those of government officials. “Daddy, why are we no longer invited to the parties at the club?”
• Richard W. Rahn is chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth and MCon LLC.
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