A Paper about Criminology

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A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours – Mother Jones
A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70
Border Crossers in 2 Hours
The rapid-?re Streamline system is designed to deter immigrants from coming back.
B R YA N S C H AT Z J U L . 2 1 , 2 0 1 7 6 : 0 0 A M
Immigrants who crossed the border illegally are processed at Border Patrol headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, in 2012. Ross D. Franklin/AP
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On a scorching June morning, nearly 50 immigration detainees shackled at the feet, the waist, and the wrists shu?e into the
federal courthouse in Tucson, Arizona. Inside the courtroom, they sit down in rows of seven. Some are in street clothes, others
in blue jumpsuits. They’ve all been strip-searched before reaching the courthouse. They’ll be strip-searched again after being
sentenced. Many will be strip-searched once again before they get to the federal prison where they will serve their sentences

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours – Mother Jones
before being deported.
The men are here to be funneled through Operation Streamline (OSL), a fast-track prosecution program that charges and
sentences as many as 70 border crossers in this courtroom in a single day. They have agreed to plead guilty to the crime of
entering the United States illegally, knowing that it carries a predetermined prison sentence followed by mandatory
deportation. Typically, the whole process is over within a couple of hours. Critics call it “assembly-line justice.”
Inside the courtroom, Judge Eric J. Markovich tells the defendants what to expect. “It is my understanding that after meeting
with your attorney you have all decided to accept the government’s plea offer,” he begins. Under federal law, ?rst-time illegal
entry is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in prison. It’s a felony for repeat offenders, carrying up
to two years’ prison time. However, Streamline’s plea agreements reduce all felony reentry charges to misdemeanors, and cap
prison sentences at 180 days. “It requires you to plead guilty to the misdemeanor offense, serve the amount of prison time
stated in your plea agreement, and the government will dismiss that more serious felony against you,” says Markovich. He
adds, “You are giving up your right to appeal or challenge in any way the duration of your sentence.”
The immigrants listen to a Spanish translation of the judge’s
remarks on headsets. If they speak an indigenous language,
they may have a hard time understanding what is happening.
“There is no individualized
sentencing. It feels like ‘McJustice.’”
Five detainees are brought before the judge. With the docket
in hand, he begins questioning the ?rst man in line. “Mr.
Hernandez-Solorio: Sir, are you thinking clearly today and are
you pleading guilty voluntarily of your own free will?” he asks.
“Si, señor.”
“Other than what’s in your plea agreement, have any promises been made to you to get you to plead guilty, or have you been
forced or threatened to plead guilty?”
“No, sir.”
“Do you understand the charges against you and the maximum penalties of your plea agreement?”
“Yes, sir.”
The defense attorneys stand behind their clients. One fans himself with his paperwork. A half dozen or so US Marshals and

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours – Mother Jones
Border Patrol agents have their faces in their phones, are quietly telling jokes, or are zoning out entirely.
“Is it true that you are not a citizen or national of the United States and on June 11 of this year you entered the United States
near Douglas, Arizona, without going through a port of entry?” Markovich continues.
“Yes, sir.”
“And sir, how do you plead to the misdemeanor—guilty or not guilty?”
“Sir, your sentence is the 60 days you agreed to and the felony is dismissed.”
The questioning takes approximately one minute. Markovich looks at the next man in line, then at the docket, and says, “Okay.
Mr. Galaviz-Armenta. Sir, are you thinking clearly today and are you pleading guilty of your own free will…”
First launched in southern Texas in 2005, Streamline began as
a part of a zero-tolerance policy enacted by President George
W. Bush that required illegal border crossers in certain areas to
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has
directed prosecutors to “develop a
set of guidelines for prosecuting…
?rst-time improper entrants.”
be sent to federal criminal courts rather than civil immigration
courts. Anyone the Border Patrol picked up in a targeted zone
near the border could be sent to Streamline; it didn’t matter if
it was their ?rst entry or their fortieth. Under President
Barack Obama, the program ballooned. Criminal immigration
prosecutions doubled over his two terms, accounting for more
than half of all federal criminal prosecutions last year. In the 2013 ?scal year, federal prosecutions of illegal entry into the
country peaked at more than 90,000.
In 2014, Streamline began focusing solely on reentry cases. In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sought to reverse that
policy, directing prosecutors to “develop a set of guidelines for prosecuting…?rst-time improper entrants.” In June, Sen. Jeff
Flake (R-Ariz.) urged Sessions to restore Operation Streamline’s previous “zero tolerance” approach, complaining that the
Obama administration had “sought to water down its deterrent effect.”
Whether Streamline deters people from trying to cross the border again is debatable. “The stated purpose is to deter people
from entering the United States,” Markovich later tells a group of observers who visited his courtroom. His tone suggests he’s
not entirely convinced. “If you read criminological, clinical studies of how people think, deterrence comes much more from
the certainty or the probability of getting caught, and much less the gravity of the sentence,” says Joel Parris, a defense attorney
who regularly represents Streamline clients. “For the average guy coming from Mexico, fear of the Border Patrol is not near as
much as fear of the cartels. I don’t think there’s a signi?cant deterrent effect there, given the real pressures that these people
Back in the courtroom, Markovich continues with the same questions, receiving the same answers, until the ?rst group of 22
detainees is complete. Some are sentenced to 30 days in prison. Some get 60, others 90. A few get 180 days, indicating that
either they had illegally reentered the country many times or have a criminal record in the United States. A second group of 24
detainees is made up of men who were caught entering the United States for the ?rst time, most within the past day or two
during an unusually brutal heatwave. In return for pleading guilty, they will receive a sentence of time-served and will be
deported. Before wishing them luck, Markovich warns them that this will go on their record; the next time they’re caught, they
will get federal prison time.
“There is no individualized sentencing,” says Grant Bashore,

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours – Mother Jones
an assistant federal defender in Tucson. “A sentence is
imposed that is negotiated prior to the defense lawyer even
“I don’t think there’s a signi?cant
deterrent effect there, given the
real pressures that these people
being appointed to the case. It is negotiated by a prosecutor
and a Border Patrol o?cer, looking at a ?le and determining,
‘This is a fair number for this guy.’” In Tucson, the federal
prosecutor in Streamline cases is Chris Lewis, a Border Patrol
employee who has been deputized to represent the
government. He wears an olive green sports coat that’s the
same color of Border Patrol uniforms. “The defense lawyer’s function becomes a simple pitch that says, ‘You’re crazy if you
don’t take this deal, because otherwise they’re going to prosecute with a felony and you’re going to end up doing more time,’”
says Bashore. He says this system is “demoralizing” for defense attorneys. “It feels like ‘McJustice.’”
Defense attorneys get a half-hour with each Streamline client before court begins. It’s a lot more than what they used to get,
and it is su?cient to explain the procedure, says Parris. But it’s nowhere near enough time to address the complexities of some
defendants’ individual experiences. “Compared to what I’ve seen before, it is better. I don’t feel like anyone is railroaded,” he
says. But, he adds, “It’s an expedited process. If mistakes are to be made, it’s when you’re going fast. Judges can get used to
sentencing people as if they are units in a box.”
Immigrant advocates say the Streamline system is not only impersonal, but unnecessarily harsh. “We had one woman who was
prison for a month after being in Streamline,” recalls Joanna Williams, the director of education and advocacy for the KINO
Border Initiative, a humanitarian assistance organization that operates on both sides of the US-Mexico border. “She came to us
and she still had bruises on her wrists and on her legs” from the shackles. “She asked them to loosen the chains, and they
tightened them more.” Williams says that many Streamline defendants are bewildered by the experience of being treated like
criminals. “They don’t understand how they’re in a federal prison with somebody who has been selling drugs on the street.”
Strip searches are particularly humiliating. “It’s a group of them all being strip-searched at the same time. In Mexico, they’ve
never been naked sometimes in front of even their own family. There’s so much shame associated with nudity, especially
people from small towns.”
Advocates also worry that refugees are getting caught up in the Streamline system and being deported before they receive a
“credible fear” interview, which is required by US and international law to determine whether they may seek asylum in the
United States. A 2015 report by the Department of Homeland Security’s O?ce of Inspector General also raised this concern,
arguing that putting asylum seekers through Streamline “may violate U.S. treaty obligations.”
Recently, Williams received a tip about a man in Streamline who had asked for asylum at the port of entry in Tijuana. “He was
?eeing persecution and was with his whole family. A CBP [Customs and Border Protection] o?cer said, ‘You know, the judge is
tired of all these things and doesn’t want to hear it. You should go back and apply for a tourist visa.’” The man went back to
Mexico, unsuccessfully applied for a tourist visa and then tried to cross the Arizona desert only to be detained, sent to
Streamline, and charged with illegal entry. “So he now had a misdemeanor,” says Williams, which will make it harder for him
to request asylum if he ever tries again.
No one involved in Streamline seems optimistic that the system will be improved anytime soon. “I look at the future of
immigration now and there are dark days ahead,” says Markovich after court ends for the day. “This isn’t going to go well. Even
under Obama you couldn’t get anything done on immigration. The next few years are going to be bad.”
Mother Jones was founded as a nonpro?t in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn’t fund the type

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours

A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours – Mother Jones
of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.
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A Day in the “Assembly-Line” Court That Prosecutes 70 Border Crossers in 2 Hours

The case for life for Nikolas Cruz | Editorial – Sun Sentinel
The case for life for Nikolas Cruz | Editorial
School shooter Nikolas Cruz appeared in a Broward courtroom Wednesday to face an arraignment on 17 counts of murder and 17 counts
of attempted murder.
By Sun Sentinel Editorial Board
MARCH 17, 2018, 8:15 PM
hen you consider the cold-blooded way in which he massacred 17 students and staff at Marjory
Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland — shooting some of them again and again, even once
they were down — it’s hard not to look at Nikolas Cruz and wish Florida still had Old Sparky so we could say:
Fry him.
When you hear about the 17 people who were shot but survived, and those who witnessed hell on earth while
hiding for their lives, it makes you think lethal injection is too good for Cruz.
And when you imagine the anguish suffered by so many families who will never get to talk to their loved one
again, never get to sit across from them at dinner, never get to dance at their child’s wedding, you can
understand why State Attorney Mike Satz this week announced his intention to seek the death penalty for Cruz.
Yet for their sake, and that of our community, we encourage the injured and the victims’ families to seriously
consider the offer on the table from Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. That is, in return for taking
The case for life for Nikolas Cruz | Editorial – Sun Sentinel
the death penalty off the table, let Cruz plead guilty and be sentenced to 34 life terms with no possibility of
We don’t pretend to grasp the depth of despair facing those who were shot and those who’ve lost a son or
daughter, a sister or brother, a grandson or granddaughter, a nephew or niece, and with them, the light in their
lives. We grieve with and for them. And it’s terrible they now find themselves in the position of having to help
weigh whether someone else should live or die.
But as they wonder how they’ll ever get through tomorrow, the legal process has gotten underway. And unless
Satz hears a unified voice from the victims — the same kind of unified voice they mustered in Tallahassee to
push passage of an imperfect bill that brought about the state’s first gun restrictions in decades — it’s our
opinion the state attorney will wholeheartedly pursue the death penalty, as he regularly does, and “let the jury
Satz had no choice, really, but to file that notice. If prosecutors are considering the death penalty, state law
requires them to say so within 45 days of a defendant’s arraignment. And as Satz said a week after the shooting:
“This certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for. This was a highly calculated and
premeditated murder of 17 people and the attempted murder of everyone in that school.”
Politically speaking, Satz had to do it. When the state attorney in Orange County refused to seek the death
penalty for someone who killed an Orlando police officer, Gov. Rick Scott removed her from the high-profile
case because “she will not fight for justice.”
More than that, Satz is an old-school prosecutor, first elected in 1976, who not infrequently pursues the death
penalty, often to force plea deals. How could his office maintain such an approach if he failed to pursue death
for one of the nation’s 10 worst mass murders?
Most importantly, Satz, who isn’t speaking publicly about the case, is there to prosecute the person who shot 17
people and killed another 17 families’ loved ones. It would be wrong for him not to entertain the death penalty,
given the carnage, the ruthlessness, the premeditation, the confession, the hurt and the pain. Plus, the survivors
and victims’ families need time to sort out what they want.
On that, you will get no argument from Finkelstein, whose office is representing Cruz, at least until a court
determines whether his inherited assets disqualify him from being represented by a taxpayer-supported lawyer.
Finkelstein pulls no punches on Cruz. He says his client is guilty of “the worst criminal act that has ever
occurred in Broward County. What 9/11 was to America, this will be to Broward. Nothing comes close.”
The case for life for Nikolas Cruz | Editorial – Sun Sentinel
Within days of the massacre, Finkelstein surprised the nation by announcing his client would plead guilty in
return for taking the death penalty off the table.
“You’re never going to hear us say he’s not guilty,” Finkelstein told us. “But we can’t walk in and say “guilty,”
because the next thing you know, he’s executed. It would be malpractice to plead guilty. But we’re not going to
insult people’s intelligence and say he’s not guilty.”
So at Wednesday’s arraignment, Cruz stood mute when asked his plea. Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer entered
a “not guilty” plea on his behalf.
Finkelstein wants to be respectful of the families. That’s why you don’t see anyone from his office on television.
“I do not want to be in the living rooms of these victims’ families. The last thing they want is to hear from the
lawyer representing the person who killed their child.”
The case has rocked the public defender’s office, too. “There’s so much pain here, I can’t get through it without
crying. I have conversations with my lawyers. We’re crying. We’re shaking. Everybody is shaken. This is an
awful thing. … When I go home every night and sit in my TV room with my wife, and my daughter calls, there’s
a hole in my soul because I know they’re not getting that phone call.”
At the same time, Finkelstein hopes the families will start a conversation about the best path forward, not for
Cruz, but for themselves.
“What we’re trying to do is walk up to a table backwards, gently, and so quietly put an idea on the table, that if
it’s acceptable to those who are hurting, here’s the idea.”
The idea is to have Cruz, 19, plead guilty, in return for life in prison without parole. The families would get their
day in court at the sentencing hearing. They’d get to tell him what he’s done to them and what they think of
him. After that, he’d be sent to a maximum security prison in north Florida, where he would live out his life in a
concrete snake pit filled with rapists, robbers and murderers.
“It will be a miserable experience,” Finkelstein says. “There’s a pecking order in jail society and those on the
lo …
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