Driving away from cops now a “violent felony”

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In a ruling that might ruin climatic, banjo-fueled high-speed chases all throughout the United States, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that fleeing the police in a car is, by definition, a "violent felony."

The Supreme Court defines violent felonies as including "burglary, arson," and any other "conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another." The issue basically revolved around whether or not an individual with two felonies on his record could have an attempt to escape police classified as a third to qualify for the mandatory fifteen-year prison term under the Three Strikes law. 

One of the justices noted that four police officers or bystanders are injured for every 100 pursuits, whereas there are 3.2 injuries for every 100 burglaries. The justice did not note whether or not causing Boss Hogg to throw down his hat in fury counted as an injury. 

I really don't think this is absurd as people would paint it — engaging police in a chase of almost any kind is incredibly stupid and often does result in somebody being injured. But the idea that an O.J. Simpson-style low-speed chase along an unpopulated stretch of highway could result in a felony conviction is a little more absurd. There's some of gray area that has yet to be defined here. 

Then again, why do we feel compelled to argue for someone's right to evade the police? Time and time again, I've sat on my couch watching high-speed chases end horribly on episodes of Cops, and yet here I sit thinking that making that act a felony represents some kind of attack on America's sacred outlaw spirit. Has pop culture romanticized the chase scene to the point where we feel it's some kind of defensible rite? Is this another Big Government attempt to neuter the American male and his pursuit of hot, nasty, badass speed? I doubt it — it just seems like common sense. But my knee-jerk reaction was still one of outrage.