Over at The Atlantic, a former prosecutor named Bobby Constantino has a piece called “I Got Myself Arrested So I Could Look Inside the Justice System.” It’s oddly riveting. It starts with a description of his former career:
In between the important cases, I found myself spending most of my time prosecuting people of color for things we white kids did with impunity growing up in the suburbs. As our office handed down arrest records and probation terms for riding dirt bikes in the street, cutting through a neighbor’s yard, hosting loud parties, fighting, or smoking weed — shenanigans that had rarely earned my own classmates anything more than raised eyebrows and scoldings — I often wondered if there was a side of the justice system that we never saw in the suburbs. Last year, I got myself arrested in New York City and found out.
In a nutshell, this guy desperately tried to get himself arrested for walking around New York City with a stencil and a spray can (a class B misdemeanor) and had no luck. So he tagged City Hall. With a surveillance camera recording him. Still no luck. He turned himself in. They turned him away. He literally found it impossible to get arrested.
He finally succeeded, spent a night in jail, and went to court. And then just the opposite happened. He was initially sentenced to five days community service until the prosecutor suddenly realized the case file was flagged “no deal.” So he went back to court, and this time they insisted on throwing the book at him. The judge was so pissed off at him that he then doubled the book.
There’s more, and it’s worth a read. A white guy in a suit, it turns out, is practically invulnerable to being arrested. But when he uses this fact to embarrass the judicial system, the judicial system suddenly turns on him with a fury. Welcome to America.