Today, like every day, was sentencing day in Fulton County criminal court.  In courtroom 4F, three young men were each sentenced to five years in prison for their unprovoked, homophobic attack of a much smaller, young gay man.

With 98% of criminal cases settled with a plea rather than going to trial, prosecutors sometimes use the sentencing hearing as a mini-trial: expert witnesses, criminal records, slow motion video of the crime.  The whole enchilada is then topped off with a thirty minute closing argument.

The prosecutor’s script is well worn.  He will ask for the longest sentence he thinks he can win, and then go about building his case for it. Unlike the guilt or innocence phase, where the prosecutor must prove that the defendant committed a certain act, in the sentencing phase, the prosecutor must show that the defendant is a terrible person.

So to prepare, the prosecutor pulls together all the evidence he can muster to show that the person facing sentencing is a horrible person, that the crime he committed is the essence of him, that it is too late for him to change, that his apology was fake, and that whatever life is lost by locking him up for five, ten, or fifteen years isn’t worth that much anyway so go ahead and lock him up.

I usually have a simple and deep dislike for prosecutors. Today, though, watching this middle aged Black man in a suit and tie work his way through his 20 minute closing argument, I felt a bit of sadness for him. How awful it must be to sit down to write up condemnations of your fellow man. And then to have to inhale all of it and get yourself to where you believed it truly and deeply in order to deliver that condemnation in open court.

What does that do to a person?

Queerfit is…oy, I want to say something hortatory here about doing the opposite, about pulling together all the evidence you can find to show that the people around you are good, great, awesome people; that the essence of them is the best thing you’ve ever seen them do; that whatever it is about them that makes you glad for them to be in their lives, you wish for more of…

But still a wee bit sad, not just about the prosecutor, but about the whole, mean, stupid criminal justice system.

See you at queerfit tomorrow morning anyway. 10:00. Don’t be late. Or I’ll prosecute your ass.