The Unpayable Debt To Society

The United States has reached the logical conclusion of the tough on crime mentality. This country has become so tough on crime that even a wrongful conviction and ruin somebody’s life:

Simmons, at the time a contract systems analyst making $90 an hour, was arrested in Seattle’s University District in 2006 and charged with selling crack as well as resisting arrest. He was convicted of the drug-dealing charge and sentenced to a year in prison.

Three months after his conviction, though, the King County deputy whose testimony led to Simmons’ conviction, James Schrimpsher, was fired for dishonesty in a different drug case. That the deputy was being investigated for lying at the same time as Simmons’ trial had not been disclosed to Simmons’ attorneys.

Simmons insists he didn’t sell drugs and believes he was profiled. Save for a marijuana possession charge from the 1990s in Tennessee, he has no criminal convictions before or since. Regardless, he served the full prison term at the Washington Corrections Center in Shelton, plus a year of probation when he got out.


What’s alarming about Simmons’ story is that his drug-dealing conviction was eventually stricken from the record. He was retroactively exonerated in 2010 because the testimony that convicted him was no longer considered credible. Yet he struggles to get a job because the story stalks him on the Internet.

Based on the job offers Simmons has received he’s a very capable individual. What he was original charged with, selling crack, wasn’t even a crime (because crimes require victims). But now, even after he has been exonerated, he cannot get a job.

Sadly this is exactly what the tough on crime crowd wanted. In their pursuit of an impossible goal, a society free of crime, they demanded harsh punishments be issued. The politicians, always happy to take up the cause of fear mongering, acted on these pleas and passed harsher laws. When the new harsher punishments failed to bring about Nirvana the the cycle continued. Now we’re at a point when anybody who has been incarcerated, regardless of the offense, is nearly unemployable.