What to Punish?

rheimsWhat to Punish?

Faced With Overcrowded Prisons, Chicago Considers Ending Felony Arrests For Prostitution | ThinkProgress

Elected officials in Chicago are calling for a moratorium on felony charges for prostitution to reduce overcrowding at Cook County jail. The jail now houses 10,008 detainees and is likely to exceed the maximum capacity of 10,150 soon. In a news conference Wednesday, several county commissioners pointed to the law’s disproportionate focus on non-violent felonies like prostitution …

Faced With Overcrowded Prisons, Chicago Considers Ending Felony Arrests For Prostitution | ThinkProgress

Punishing prostitution as a felony, a serious crime, makes it difficult to protect prostitutes from rape, beatings and exploitation. It makes a profession that has successfully resisted all attempts to stamp it out an regulated mess where disease and other kinds of crime feature regularly.

It is probably wisest to even go further than Chicago, and make prostitution a ticket style offense like a traffic stop, removing imprisonment even in the county jail as an option.

It seems to me that we gain little by severely punishing prostitutes and can cut our criminal justice costs significantly by a more reasonable regulation of the field.

James Pilant



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An Abraham Lincoln Story for the New Year, 2012


A certain rich man in Springfield, Illinois, sued a poor attorney for $2.50, and Lincoln was asked to prosecute the case. Lincoln urged the creditor to let the matter drop, adding, “You can make nothing out of him, and it will cost you a good deal more than the debt to bring suit.” The creditor was still determined to have his way, and threatened to seek some other attorney. Lincoln then said, “Well, if you are determined that suit should be brought, I will bring it; but my charge will be $10.”

The money was paid him, and peremptory orders were given that the suit be brought that day. After the client’s departure Lincoln went out of the office, returning in about an hour with an amused look on his face.

Asked what pleased him, he replied, “I brought suit against ——, and then hunted him up, told him what I had done, handed him half of the $10, and we went over to the squire’s office. He confessed judgment and paid the bill.”

Lincoln added that he didn’t see any other way to make things satisfactory for his client as well as the other.


This story is from Alexander K. McClure’s collection of Abraham Lincoln Stories entitled: Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories.  It has long ago passed into the public domain.

James Pilant

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Business Ethics in History – Abraham Lincoln

… An old acquaintance in Illinois, having organized a bank under the new National Bank Act, wrote offering some of the stock to Lincoln, who replied with thanks, saying he recognized that stock in a good national bank would be a good thing to hold, but he did not feel that he, as President, ought to profit from a law which had been passed under his administration. “He seemed to wish to avoid even the appearance of evil,” said the banker.

Carl Sandburg’s

Abrahm Lincoln – The War Years, 1861-1864

Page 344

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Just For Fun – Rich Whitey On Ballot In Illinois!

From the Chicago Sun-Times

The last name of Green Party gubernatorial candidate Rich Whitney is misspelled as “Whitey” on electronic-voting machines in nearly two dozen wards — about half in predominantly African-American areas — and election officials said Wednesday the problem cannot be corrected by Election Day.

The misspelling turned up on touch-screen machines in 23 wards overall. Whitney’s name is spelled correctly on the machines’ initial screens showing all of the candidates’ names, but it is misspelled on review screens that later show a voter his or her choices, said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections.

This is the actual “Rich Whitney.”

This is a serious problem. The misspelling could endanger his chances of winning the election. However, since he is polling currently at 2%, the danger may be small.

(It might knock him down to 1.8% in the general election, a true landslide.)

James Pilant