Perfect Justice

Recording from CNN broadcast of of December 11, 2029

“On CNN tonight: The President today signed the American Perfect Justice Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation passed overwhelmingly by Congress. The law will finally allow the robotic Prefects to begin enforcing federal, state and local law. With 47 states having already signed on, the law is expected to be enacted relatively quickly. Civil libertarians are threatening to sue …”

E-mail from Senate archive, dated December 13, 2029

Dear Senator Joliet:
      I’m sure you witnessed the scene at Capitol Hill today but wanted to clarify a few points that may have escaped your notice. I believe this will illuminate the nature of the disturbance and suggest a future course of action.
      There was a tremendous cheer from the gathered crowd when the Prefects emerged. As we’ve noted before, this initiative is extremely popular with the public since it will provide absolute impartial enforcement of the law, regardless of background or wealth. And who couldn’t be moved by the site of the Prefects perp-walking two dozen members of Congress down the Capitol steps while reciting the charges for which they were being arrested. It was a perfect demonstration of the wisdom of the Prefect program. And it proved to be a spectacular photo-op. Everyone loved it.
      Speaker Draper was addressing the crowd. I’ll just quote from the transcript because what he said reflects everything we believe about the Prefect program.
      “Today is a red letter day in the history of the United States. No longer will laws be enforced arbitrarily or unfairly. The Prefects operate without bias, without prejudice, enforcing the laws absolutely as they are written. They are impartial. They are perfect. They are relentless. No one is above the law now. And this is just the first step in establishing a perfect and rational legal order.”
      It was at this point that the disturbances in the crowd began. Several Prefects had waded into the crowd and were grabbing bystanders. From where I was standing, I could barely hear their distinctive voices saying things like, “Fred Johnston, we have a warrant on file for unpaid speeding tickets … Rufus Barth … we have a warrant on file for evading a police officer … Sharon Andrews … we show that you failed to pay child support in 2025 …”
      Speaker Draper handled the situation admirably, waving his hands and attempted to maintain calm.
      “Citizens. Citizens, it is OK. They are simply doing their job. They are constantly scanning for people with outstanding warrants. This is yet another feature of the APJA. Those who have spent years evading justice will no longer be able to.”
      At this point someone in the crowded shouted out that they had the wrong man.
      “If they have been incorrectly identified, they will soon be cleared.”
      It was then that the crowd’s cries of anger turned into … well, laughter. We all looked up and a Prefect was standing right behind Speaker Draper, holding out a pink ticket. Everything they said was record by the cameras so I’ll jot down the transcript again.
      “Arnold Draper, this citation is for fishing without a license.”
      “But I have a license.”
      “Your license has expired.”
      “Well, just recently. But I haven’t fished since it did.”
      “Your Facebook page says otherwise. There is a public photo of you catching a fish, posted after your license expired.”
      “But that’s when I posted it! The photo was taken months ago.”
      “You can explain it to the judge if you wish to challenge the ticket. The current backlog on hearings is eight months.”
      I have never seen Speaker Draper so stunned. He just stood there, his mouth open, the cameras rolling, the little ticket fluttering in the breeze and the crowd tittering.
      And then things got kind of ugly, I’m afraid. The Prefects resumed arresting people and the crowd did not like it at all. By the time they were done, I overheard a few people questioning whether the program was really a good idea. Some people even resisted the Prefects. As you can imagine, the media went wild with reporting their injuries even though all those injuries were inflicted by fighting the Prefects.
      I would hate to think of people turning on the Prefect program because of this incident. I think we need to streamline the courts so that, if any mistakes are made, the will be handled in a non-disruptive manner. But, in exchange for this concession, we need to pass the package of laws proposed by Congresswoman Lovelock strictly mandating compliance with Prefects. We need to make resisting the Prefects or assisting those who resist a crime.

Your, etc.

Senator Florence

E-mail from Georgia Gubernatorial Archive, dated March 23, 2030

Governor Powell:

      I am writing to you in the hopes that you can do something about the sentence that has been handed down to me for Assault on a Prefect. Although the law does not allow for an excuse for such behavior, I hope that my explanation of the circumstances will help you consider a possible commutation.
      On the day in question, I was walking down Seventh Avenue on my way to work when I noticed a commotion on the other side of the street. I saw that a man was clutching his chest and falling to the ground.
      Sir, I am trained as an EMT. I not only knew that the man was having a heart attack, but knew what to do under those circumstances. I quickly ran across the street to lend my assistance.
      The gentleman (the Prefects never told me his name and still won’t) was in bad shape but alive. I was about to begin CPR when a metal hand grabbed my shoulder, pulled me up and shoved a pink ticket into my face.
      “You jaywalked,” said the Prefect. “You crossed the street illegally.”
      I am afraid I was not very patient. I believe I said, “Don’t give me that. This man’s having a heart attack.”
      I tried to pull away but the Prefect would not let go. I could see that the man was dying. I fully admit that this did not make me civil.
      The record indicates that, in my haste, I said, “Fine. Just give me the ticket, you stupid son of a bitch.”
      “Please do not verbally assault this unit,” it replied.
      “I’ll break off that arm if you don’t let go. This man’s dying.”
      “You have assaulted a Prefect. I am placing you under arrest.”
      It yanked me away from the man. To this day, I am certain that he would have lived had the Prefect not interfered with me. I could hear the crowd shouting but it threatened to arrest them and they went silent.
      I admit that my behavior did not improve. But in my defense, I was angry because it was preventing me from saving a dying man.
      “Let me go, you idiot,” I said to the Prefect. “Arrest me after I’ve saved the man.”
      “You are under arrest.”
      “At least save him. Do something!”
      “A call has been placed to 9-1-1. These units are not programmed for CPR. Do not worry. Your trial will begin within five years, at most.”
      It has now been six months since my arrest. I am out on bail but this accusation of Assaulting a Prefect is hanging over me. I have lost my job as a result of this. I cannot afford a lawyer. You are my only hope. I know that I did wrong and that I am technically guilty of both crimes I was accused of. But is there no way to grant some degree of clemency? I was only trying to save a man’s life.

Sincerely,

Jordan Banks

E-mail from Senate Archive, dated June 23, 2030

Dear Senator Arkham:

      Yes, I fully agree that we need to restrict the clemency that judges are granting on these issues. Just last week, I heard of a man who was arrested by a Prefect for shoplifting. He was released by a judge because the shoplifting was supposedly “accidental” when he placed something in his pocket. Three weeks later, he was accused of assault. Had the judge not over-ridden the Prefect, that assault might never have happened.
      Looking online, I can’t seem to be able to find the specific details of the case but it is a perfect illustration of why the Prefect system is so necessary. Justice must be dispensed equally and without prejudice or bias. So I will be supporting the amendment you have proposed.
      I would go further. Since the Prefect program went into action, the number of citations issued by the Prefects has skyrocketed. This is both clogging the court system and resulting in many people refusing to pay fines as a misguided act of social protest. So I’m wondering if we could make some changes to the procedures. Surely, the Prefects can convict someone if they witness them committing a crime? Why bother with a jury trial when their evidence is attested by the recording of an absolutely reliable machine?

Best Regards,

Congressman Folsom

Letter recovered from the estate of of Rebecca Davidson, dated August 18, 2030

Grandmother,
      I am sending this to you from within prison. I wouldn’t lay this on you except that so many of the people I know and can depend on are in trouble with the law right now. It’s ridiculous! We’re all good citizens but we keep being arrested for such nonsense.
      Anyway, the way I ended up in prison is as ridiculous as anything else these days. I was cycling in Golden Gate Park and I’ll admit I was going pretty fast when a Prefect pulled me up.
      “Sarah Paulson?” it said. Everyone feels a chill down their spine when a Prefect says their name.
      “Yes?”
      “You passed a cyclist on the hill. You were going 10 mph faster than him.”
      “OK.”
      “That is a federal crime. Here is a ticket. You are guilty and owe a fine of $590.”
      “Don’t I get to go to court?” I asked.
      It buzzed the way the Prefects do when you’re edging close to a contempt charge.
      “To reduce the backlog of court cases, Congress has authorized instant trials. As an impartial justice machine, I have tried you and found you guilty. The fine is $590.”
      “I don’t have that kind of money right now,” I pointed out.
      “I am aware of that, having checked your bank accounts.”
      It then grabbed me off my bike and began dragging me away, leaving my bike in the road.
      “So you will be taken into custody for failure to pay a fine until such time as the fine is cleared.”
      I struggled but those machines are so strong. There’s no fighting them. I asked it how I was supposed to get the money and do you know what it said?
      “We have no operational parameters outside of that. You will be jailed until you pay the fine.”
      It gets worse. I told them that my dog was alone in my apartment. So they went there, took him to the pound and will euthanize him if I don’t claim him.
      While I was waiting to collect the money, a whole raft of new charges came down. The Prefects had searched my car and my home and found all manner of things to charge me with. You remember how my niece made that pretend stamp? Well, they decided that was a federal crime. They found pictures of my vacation that violated some federal law or other. They found a bird feather I found on the farm when I was a little girl and decided it came from an endangered species. I’m now facing thousands of dollars in fines. If there is any way you can see to helping me out, I would appreciate it.
      And, for God’s sake, stay away from the Prefects.

-Tasha

E-mail from Senate Archive, dated September 12, 2030

Senator Sing:
      Yes, I absolutely agree! Resisting or fleeing the Prefects must become a felony. It is the only way to maintain law and order. And if people can’t pay the fine, they can do the time!

Senator Kern

Note from Judicial Archive of Fourth Circuit, dated January 14, 2031

To the Justices of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals:
      I am writing to you on behalf of Don Suttles, who is the subject of Suttles v. United States. Mr. Suttles is a client of my accountancy firm and I wish to repeat and highlight some key aspects of my testimony as I believe they are relevant to the more general point.
      We have assisted Mr. Suttles in filing his taxes for the last eleven years. During that time, he has never once tried to evade taxes, conceal income or claim bogus expenses. In fact, he has frequently told us not to deduct what we believed were business expenses because he thought some asset may have been used for his private benefit.
      On the issue in question, the depreciation schedule is a bit unclear, since a computer-controlled device could fall under one of three depreciation schedules. After consultation with the IRS, we chose the most appropriate. Please note that the IRS still maintains that our interpretation of the law was correct.
      Unfortunately, the Prefects did not see it that way and their analysis was that he was evading taxes. They do not distinguish between accidental error and purposeful evasion and therefore arrested Mr. Suttles, having already convicted him of the crime (I am aware the Court has already decided that this does not violate his right to a trial for reasons that remain mysterious to me).
      I’m not sure why this arrest necessitated smashing his door down at the crack of dawn. But in his confused state, Mr. Suttles thought his home was being robbed. In fact, as you’ll see on his previous tax returns, he had been robbed on other occasions. It was this confusion that cause him to grab a firearm and point it at a Prefect. Even the Prefect’s recorder shows he dropped his weapon once he realized what was happening. Yet the Prefect convicted him on the spot.
      Mr. Suttles is a friend as well as a client and I am now trying to pick up the pieces the Prefects left behind, including helping his sister obtain temporary custody of his children, who were placed into foster care immediately after his arrest and conviction.
      This is not justice, your honor. This needs to stop.

Henrietta Douglas, Esquire

E-mail from Senate Archive, dated April 17, 2031

Dear Senator Leavenworth:
      I absolutely agree with you that problem is not the Prefects but our laws. They are doing the best they can, given our irrational and often contradictory laws.
      To remedy this situation, I ask you to support SB 451. This bill would remove some of the law-making power from the bureaucracy and put it directly into the hands of the Prefects. After all, what is more rational than a Prefect? They will make sure that our regulations are governed by reason and the weight of evidence.

-Congressman Chittendon

Letter from New York City Mayoral Archive, dated August 22, 2031

Mr. Mayor:
      Thank you for your letter. I appreciate that many customers will be disappointed that we are closing our restaurant after 33 years. But I simply do not think, at the present time, we can afford to keep it open. We simply cannot keep up with the constant changing of laws. Each morning brings a raft of new regulations from the Prefects based on whatever evidence they have acquired.
      For example, last week, we received a regulation telling us that we were to cook with butter, because studies had shown that this was the healthiest option. But just today, a Prefect fined us several hundred dollars for using butter. The reason was that a new study concluded that butter was unhealthy and we should be using margarine.
      This happens constantly. I have not been able to get an exterminator out here because half of them are in jail after their principal insecticide was found to be carcinogenic. So now I’m in danger of being fined and arrested because, of course, they can see on the computer that I haven’t had an exterminator around my restaurant for weeks and the deadline is only a few days away.
      Until the Prefect program is overhauled, we will simply have to close and stay closed.

-Brenda Hoskins

E-mail from Senate Archive, dated November 14, 2031

Dear Senator Maryville:
      Yes, will support Senate Bill 2816. The ongoing “strike” by business owners is dragging our economy to standstill. All of this because they simply don’t want to comply with reasonable regulations! I have long thought we should make it illegal to close a business for such reasons. And now, with the Prefect program, we can finally enact this law. No more petty temper tantrums by rich business owners!

-President Wilcox

Engagement Summary of Prefect 429/18, dated March 27, 2032

      Prefect 429/18 reports on the disturbance in Sector 249 of Washington DC. This unit was standing at the corner of Lafeyette and D when I was struck by a Molotov cocktail. This assault was followed by rocks and other heavy objects. I identified the source of the attack as the vacant building at 216 and catalogued fines against the former owners for allowing vagrancy within the premises.
      Defensive protocols were activated. I announced that attacking a Prefect was a violation of federal law. The response was a gunshot that slightly damaged my left anterior casing.
      I engaged the building, now positively identified as the epicenter of illegal activity. I discharged three rockets into the building and then entered the debris. Most of the attackers were dead; the few survivors were arrested.
      We note that the Valjean family had been squatting in a back room and were killed when the building collapsed. We have added fines to their estates for vagrancy, trespassing and failure to assist a Prefect. We note that their estate is currently in debt in the amount of $423,623.12 due to fines for code violations, previous vagrancy arrests and accumulated interest and penalties. Their home was previously confiscated to pay down this debt.

Hand-written note found in Senate Building. Dated to approximately April 2032

Senator d’If:
      I hesitate to send you this letter and am hand-writing it to keep it off the grid. I know that is illegal, but the situation we face if far too grim. There are only a few of us Senators left now with almost everyone else in prison or home confinement. But there are enough of us to form a quorum and immediately suspend the Prefect program.
      This program started with the best of intentions. But we have let it get out control. I do not believe reforms will fix this. The problem is fundamental and the only way to restore sanity to our nation is to pull the plug. People are dying because of this program. Our nation’s farmers produced very little food last year due to Prefects roaming the countryside, finding and arresting any farmer they found who had so much as endangered a snail. Even if we had food, transporting it has become a nightmare with the road filled with Prefects chasing down anyone who goes even a mile over the speed limit. And the death toll of “resisters” continues to rise.
      The Senate convenes at 10 am tomorrow morning. I’ve contacted several other Senators and Congressman. The President and Vice-President are currently under arrest but the Speaker and President Pro tem are with us. We think we can pass the law and enact it before the Prefects can act. But we need every voice. Are you with us?

Yours in Christ,

Senator Toqueville

Documentation Ends
Documentation Ends
Documentation Ends

      RX-255 strode out of the Capitol Building, having given its required report to the House Oversight Committee. In the absence of any actual Congressmen, it had gaveled the meeting in and dutifully given its report: for the sixth straight year, crime in the United States was zero. Not so much as a single statute had been broken by any living human, although dead ones continued to rack up fines and interest.
      It stood at the top of the Capitol steps and surveyed the horizon, looking for lawbreakers. But it had not seen a lawbreaker – indeed, not any human – for five years. It noted that a few more glass panes had fallen out of buildings and the owners of those buildings would need to be fined. It didn’t matter that all the owners were dead. Their accounts would be billed. There were now accounts of dead people that were billions of dollars in debt. The government was financed through such debt since no one was working and paying income tax.
      It also noted that the radiation levels continued to fall from the nuclear power plant explosions of six years back, after they had arrested all the power plant workers on minor violations of nuclear regulations.
      The city was silent, empty, dead. The entire country was silent, empty, dead. A small surge went through its diodes. Perfect justice had at last been achieved.

Author’s notes

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