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Paul Manafort and the privilege of being a white collar defendant

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When former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort walked into the Washington, D.C. field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) early Monday morning to turn himself in, many waited in anticipation to see embarrassing photographs of Manafort in handcuffs, often called a “perp walk.”

But when the videos surfaced, Manafort was cuff-free.

Both Manafort and Rick Gates, a former Manafort business associate and Trump campaign aide who was also indicted on Monday, didn’t have to see images of themselves in handcuffs plastered all over the media; rather, the two were able to portray themselves as calm, cool and collected. This is a privilege awarded to white collar criminals who allegedly commit serious crimes, yet are spared from the embarrassment other criminals face.

Manafort was most likely spared this moment of embarrassment from special counsel Robert Mueller, who issued the indictment against both Manafort and Gates.

The Manafort and Gates indictment was unsealed Monday morning and contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, according to the Department of Justice. Manafort could face a total of 40 years in prison if found guilty on all charges. The violation of a money-laundering statute alone carries up to 20 years.

Additionally, Manafort did not have to pay cash upfront for his release, which is contingent upon home detention and daily reporting. This is a deal low-income individuals in jail for far lesser crimes would love to have. As HuffPost justice reporter Ryan J. Reilly notes: “Who stays in jail and who gets out before trial is often not determined by public safety considerations or by a person’s history and circumstances, but by whether individuals or their family members can come up with a pre-determined amount of money to secure their release.”

Meanwhile, a half a million people sit behind bars because they are unable to afford bail, according to the Justice Policy Institute. Those who can’t afford bail end up paying instead with time behind bars. Of the nearly 750,000 inmates confined in jails around the U.S. at any time, between 60 and 70 percent haven’t been convicted, according to federal data.

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