Casey Anthony and American Justice

I don’t know whether or not Casey Anthony killed her young daughter or, if so, how she did it or her intent or state of mind in doing it. Unless you’re Casey Anthony or one of a few possible accomplices, you don’t know those things either.

What we do know is that after a month-and-a-half long trial and more than 10 hours of deliberation, a Florida jury of 12 men and women unanimously found reasonable doubt as to Anthony’s guilt of the specific charge: That she intentionally, and with premeditation, murdered Caylee Anthony.

The punditry’s response to the verdict has been lightning fast, but far from unanimous — some believe that Casey Anthony got away with murder, others feel that “justice was done” because the jury rightly rejected the prosecution’s incredibly weak case. I dissent from both conclusions.

I do agree that the prosecution gave the jury no grounds on which to convict — “Casey Anthony is a bad person and her daughter is dead” do not first degree murder prove — but justice remains absent from the scene.

Anthony has already spent nearly three years in prison. So much for a “speedy public trial.” She stands convicted on four counts of “providing false information to a law enforcement officer.” Those counts provide for up to four years in prison as punishment, and were probably thrown in specifically to protect the prosecution against liability for having held her for so long prior to trial, knowing that it had no substantial case on the murder charge. She gets “time served,” the prosecutors get immunity for abducting her and stealing three years of her life.

Why was she held for so long? Probably so that the prosecutors could attempt to bully her into a “plea bargain.” The dirty little secret of America’s “justice” system is that more than 90% of charges are “settled” this way. The defendant pleads guilty to a lesser charge and/or receives a lighter punishment (and avoids the risks of going to trial), the prosecutor notches up another law’n’order resume bullet point (and avoids the risks of going to trial, and the judge works in an extra round of golf instead of putting on that hot black robe and pretending to pay attention.

If you believe that more than 90% of those accused of crimes are guilty of said crimes, this probably sounds like a pretty good way of doing things to you. And you’re probably holding a crack pipe in your hands at this very moment.

The state is the last institution to which any sane person would entrust the duty of meting out justice. The financial and political incentives of government all militate against objectivity and toward bringing as many victims as possible into “the system” and keeping them there for as long as possible. “Tough on crime” is a springboard to political power; “soft on crime” is a steel-jawed trap for aspiring politicians.

Guilt versus innocence? What weight do they carry when placed opposite the prison construction lobby and the police and “corrections” unions, who stand ready to weigh in with money and endorsements for any politician whose line is “more arrests, more convictions, more jails” … or to come down like a ton of bricks on any candidate who suggests, however mildly, that more than two million prisoners and nearly one in every thirty Americans under “correctional supervision” may be overdoing it just a tad?

The Casey Anthony verdict is a faint candle flame in a growing darkness — the darkness of political government, an institution fit only for the eradication of freedom’s light.

Thomas L. Knapp is Senior News Analyst at the Center for a Stateless Society.






Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.