STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Floyd Mayweather Deserves Solitary Confinement?
By Staff News & Analysis - June 13, 2012

So Floyd Mayweather Jr. doesn't like jail. As heavyweight champion Joe Louis said when he was told that an opponent didn't like to get hit in the body, "Who do?" – New York Daily News

Dominant Social Theme: Jail is a learning experience.

Free-Market Analysis: The New York Daily News is out with an article critical of boxer Floyd Mayweather for wanting to serve his three-month jail sentence at home.

Mayweather was convicted for hitting the mother of two of his children, Josie Harris, in front of them. He could have received 34 years based on felony charges – apparently for confiscating his children's cell phones and perhaps removing other property from the Harris household.

Since Mayweather probably supports Harris, it would seem that a 34-year sentence would be rather steep and, in fact, he didn't receive anything near that.

But in the Daily News article, and several other articles as well that have just appeared, there is a palpable sense of self-righteousness that is somewhat surprising. Here's some more from the article:

With his client just 12 days into a three-month jail sentence on domestic battery at the Clark County Detention Center, Mayweather's lawyer, Richard Wright, filed an emergency motion on Monday to have the 35-year-old pound-for-pound king finish his sentence under house arrest.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal got a copy of the 35-page motion, which paints Mayweather as a man who is more than just a little homesick. Wright said the boxer's physical condition is deteriorating with the stress that he's under while in jail and his boxing career is in jeopardy …

You don't want to make light of Mayweather's situation, but it is jail. It's supposed to be an unpleasant place.

Mayweather is learning a tough lesson, one that many people of privilege and great wealth often learn the hard way. When you go to jail, you lose many of the privileges and luxuries that you took for granted — such as being able to go to the 24-hour fitness center or having your chef prepare you a healthy meal anytime you want.

This is the penalty for being guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend in front of their children in September of 2010. The bigger lesson here is: Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

The problem with this sort of rhetoric is that it deals with the justice system as an established fact, whereas we would argue that the US justice system – and justice throughout the West – is irreparably broken.

In the US, for instance, there are some six million prisoners – maybe more as no one seems to know exactly how many. The system itself is gradually being privatized so that prisoners are being turned into a kind of slave labor. Violence, rapes and over-crowding are part of the normal prison scene, as is abuse by wardens.

Incarcerating people is one of the few growth industries that the US as a country now has. And as more of the system is privatized, the pressure builds on legislators for even longer sentences – and builds on judges to utilize those sentences.

The US "war on drugs" has put millions of users in prison for ingesting substances that may only be harmful to themselves. And many white-collar crimes like "insider trading" are highly dubious from an economic standpoint. In the case of insider trading, Congress apparently exempted itself from the law.

More and more activities are being criminalized. People can go to jail for not paying bills or falling behind on alimony. People can go to jail for being mildly intoxicated or even for not immediately obeying the command of a belligerent police officer. Overwhelmingly, jail is a primary destination for US minorities, especially young, black men.

Tasers are being used far too frequently on victims such as people with diabetes, pregnant women, children and senior citizens. Almost every day new stories are published about people dying from the use. They seem to involve the use of an alternative deadly force.

One of every three Americans has some sort of criminal interaction with the legal system before he or she is 25. And we've pointed out that a system in which the state provides for every part of the legal process – and pays for it – is anything but a just or impartial one.

The solution is one that will happen sooner or later anyway. As the system degrades and its lunacy expands, private justice will gradually emerge once again as it has in the past. Private justice – negotiated between the two parties in question (or with a third party) – was the norm in human interactions for tens of thousands of years.

The elaborate and intrusive justice system of the past 100 years is neither stable not sustainable. Unfortunately, these articles, written in a gloating tone, tend to reinforce the legitimacy of that system and its injustices.

The faireness and righteousness of the US criminal justice system is a kind of power elite dominant social theme. The top elites that want to run the world need to do so via the levers of government. The more state-involvement in laws and law-enforcement the better. It is this elite paradigm that drives the West's ever-more authoritarian tendencies.

What Mayweather did was wrong, no doubt. It is not right for a man to hit a woman, especially in front of children. He seems to be a troubled person in many ways but that does not mean the system that placed him in jail and threatened him with a 34-year sentence is either just or appropriate.

It would be helpful to the cause of civil liberty and social justice generally if influential sports writers could discover the US penal system more often than just when high-profile athletes are incarcerated.

Prosecutor Lisa Luzaich was quoted in one article as asking the court to refuse Mayweather's request.

"Where did he think he was going," she asked the court Tuesday, "the Four Seasons?"

After Thoughts

No one would mistake the US's criminal justice system for the Four Seasons.

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