Atlantic County, NJ Prosecutor Jim McClain broke his silence on the Ray Rice assault case Wednesday. According to the Press of Atlantic City, McClain said:
“Even if they disagree with why I did what I did, I just want people to know the decision was made after careful consideration of the law, careful consideration of the facts, hearing the voice of the victim and considering all the parameters,” he said. “I want people to have confidence in this agency, even if they don’t agree with everything we do.”
Rice was charged with third-degree aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury. Third-degree charges — especially for someone like Rice with no criminal record — carry a presumption of no incarceration.
To result in a second-degree aggravated assault charge, a crime has to involve “serious,” or permanent, bodily injury. There is no first-degree charge of aggravated assault.
“People need to understand, the choice was not PTI versus five years’ state prison,” McClain said. “The choice was not PTI versus the No Early Release Act on a 10-year sentence. The parameters as they existed were: Is this a PTI case or a probation case?”
Confidence in this agency? Is Mr. McClain making a joke?
Let me see if I have this straight. An NFL player with a multi-million dollar contract punches his wife-to-be in the head so severely that she is knocked unconscious. Reading some of the boxing literature on knockouts, the force of the punch causes the brain “to smash against the inside of the skull, near the base of the skull” from inertia. Being knocked out may also involve a concussion and other brain injuries.
The Association of Boxing Commissions consider this such a severe injury that boxers are given a minimum 60-day medical suspension from all boxing activity when KO’ed. Remember these are trained athletes who are engaging in a sport that involves hits to the head and body and not a young mother.
So my question for Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain is this: please explain how Shaneen Allen, a young mother with an unblemished criminal record and certainly no record of violence, who made an honest mistake due to a misunderstanding of the law and which hurt no one, is more of a menace to society than a coddled star athlete with anger management issues who inflicted serious bodily injury on a woman. The latter was given pre-trial intervention while the former is facing up to 10 years in prison even though she, as well, could have been given pre-trial intervention save for your intransigence.
To paraphrase Shakespeare, something is rotten in the state of New Jersey.
And lest readers think that Gov. Chris Christie is blameless in this whole affair, it was Christie himself who appointed McClain to be the County Prosecutor two years ago. Christie was criticized at the time over the quality of some of his prosecutorial nominations including McClain. We can see the basis for that criticism now all too well.