Three members of an anarchist group, the Committee Against Political Repression, were jailed in Washington state based on the suspicion that they had information regarding courthouse vandalism. However, there wasn’t any evidence that they were involved. Instead, they were merely guilty by association.
Two of the these suspects were detained for five months, mostly in solitary confinement, before the judge released them under the belief that they would continue not to cooperate. Still, the third suspect remains in a detention center.
“We’re glad that they are out of prison,” Kristian Williams, a spokesman for the Committee Against Political Repression, told the Los Angeles Times. “They shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
The detention of the three suspects for an overnight stay would have been fair and acceptable if there was evidence against them. However, five months in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day is not right. Solitary confinement for that length, with little to no human contact, can create a psychological injury to the person.
Without proper evidence, people should not be held for questioning, especially if they aren’t being charged. It’s a different story if they are suspected of the crime in question, but people who aren’t can’t be held like this without cause.
There are alternatives to detaining people, like bringing them down to the police station for questioning. If there is nothing holding them there they should be free to walk, with an advisory that they can be contacted again if something changes. It is not constitutional to detain a person because they are advocating their ideals or beliefs. Law enforcement can’t act on assumptions alone.
The government is going against the natural right to assemble peacefully and express one’s opinion or belief to others.
The act of detaining the three members of the anarchist group is wrong and unfair. Why should they be detained simply because they belong to the group? They shouldn’t; there was no evidence placed against these three members, just suspicion that they had information about it.
They were likely trying to punish them for a crime they did not commit, simply by associating them with the anarchist group.
What happened to innocent until proven guilty? These members were assumed guilty and detained. That’s not justice, nor is it constitutional. If you can’t prove they did it or that they know who did, you shouldn’t be allowed to hold them.
Even if the judge did release them, these people had to spend so much time in solitary confinement it could leave possible damages to the mind. It doesn’t change that they were detained in solitary confinement without any evidence.
How can a person be targeted when everyone has natural rights and are protected by the Fourth Amendment?
No matter the suspicion, people should not be detained for the length these two were. The third member is still detained and has not been released. The judge should stop waiting for another trial and error type scenario, especially if the punishment that is expected to be charged on the real criminals is less than five months and not in solitary confinement.
The innocent should not be punished more than the guilty.