Where’s the Deterrent?

This story, from the CrosSwords blog, is appalling.

Apparently, the District of Columbia held an innocent man in its jail for 670 days after a judge ordered him released.

The man’s lawyer says the reason was “sloth and incompetence.” The District has settled a large sum on the victim. The AP coverage of this I found in the Wahington Times said nothing about what happened to the employees who allowed this to occur. This Washington Post story contains more details but also neglects to discuss disciplinary action.

Government payouts of cash are nice for the victim (who might well have preferred to have two years of his life back), but are no deterrent against future wrong-doing. Governments raise their money through taxes. If you or I (anyone except the very rich) had to pay someone a large sum because we had treated them unfairly, we’d feel it. Government doesn’t feel it.

Addendum: More searching found a different Washington Post story about this case (“Warnings Of Wrongful Jailing Went Unheeded,” by Carol D. Leonnig); one that does discuss who was at fault in more detail, and what happened to them as a result.

Very, very little happened.

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