Criminal Justice System: Better or Worse
Can we trust our Criminal Justice System?
When I think of our criminal justice system, I think about the children our law-enforcement puts down. I think about Eric Garner who was suffocating and practically begged to get a gasp of air. Or about the time when a man was shot right next to his girlfriend because of a broken taillight. “Stay with me. We got busted because of a busted taillight in the back,” she said while the man was bleeding to death with the officer pointing his gun at him.
These are only examples of the inhumane things our criminal justice system allowed to happen. From the way I see it, our criminal justice system allows our law-enforcement to mistreat minorities and put them down when they feel they must. Our criminal justice system tends to interpret petty crimes as large ones, which was the cause of mass incarceration. When people are incarcerated, they head into prisons which cause more mistreatment because prisoners feel like they are lesser and tend to forget they are still human. Surely, there are more than a few more examples of unfair justice but these are the major ones that are common throughout the United States. After years of unfair judgment, surely people must start to understand our criminal justice system is broken and ineffective.
Minorities are often mistreated and put down because of the prejudice our law-enforcement has against them. Our law-enforcement singles out a neighborhood thinking that’s where all the criminals reside at. This prejudice idea does not help anyone. It only damages the small community they are targeting. If anything, this idea of singling out a neighborhood full of minorities is counterproductive. If our law-enforcement focuses on one general area, other neighborhoods have a risk of being in danger. What’s the point in serving and protecting if they don’t do their job and divide the patrol system equally and fairly?
The mistreatment of minorities can cause a lot of commotion for the general public to witness because the public will get this idea of a police officer. We tend to see this interaction of minorities and officers often through the photos scattered through the internet, which gave awareness of what is happening in our current world. Because of the mistreatment our law-enforcement had put upon minorities, they lost most of the public's trust. This gives the people the idea that officers should not be trusted. This idea sort of contradicts itself because our law-enforcement is supposed to serve and protect, but people tend to feel that they need protection from law-enforcement. This is something I see often these days. When driving Sunday morning towards church with a friend of mine, we were at a stoplight and dead ahead of us was a Police Car. Our first reaction was “Don’t move and he won’t see us.” I noticed during that time how prone I am to freezing as if there is a bee buzzing around me. I never was stopped and frisked or told that our law-enforcement was not to be trusted but because of the internet and the imagery it provides, I am afraid to interact with them. Even though the overall public is not being attacked by our law-enforcement, they are being affected as much as minorities are. Because of our internet privileges, the world is about to witness and suffer through the knowledge of what law-enforcement can do.
Our law-enforcement interprets the law in one way making a petty crime worth many years in prison. People are placed in prison for many years for things that can be considered a minor crime; possession, forgery, theft, etc. Take Kalief Browder as an example of being charged with a petty crime that he did not even commit. Browder was not able bail out because he was not able to pay the ten grand they wanted him to pay. Most people these days are sitting in jail because of the fact that they are too poor to get out. Our criminal justice system tends to favor rich and guilty people rather than the people who are poor and innocent. Our criminal justice system has become a very dangerous game. It became a game where the richer you are, the more likely you are to win. When people are arrested, they are given the option to admit to the crime they did not commit and go to jail for a few years or go to trial and get sent to jail for 30 years. Kalief Browder had that same option to sign a plea admitting that he did a crime. It was either go to prison for 15 years or go home right then and there. Browder did not want to admit to a crime that he did not do so he rejected the plea. Our criminal justice system basically punished Browder for not admitting to a crime that he did not commit.
I find it unfair how the system became a game where the richer you are, the more likely you are to win. If a rich white person was arrested for a crime like Browder's, two things are more likely to happen. The first thing is that the person will be able to post bail because he has the money. Most likely the bail will be cheap if the officers who arrested the person are prejudiced or not. The second thing that could happen is that the person is not arrested in the first place because he is a white rich person. There are many possibilities why a person is incarcerated in the first place, but it all leads back to how prejudiced our law-enforcement officers are.
People are incarcerated in prisons because of ridiculous reasons but the problem does not stop there. People in prisons are treated unfairly and are often beat down by guards. Kalief Browder was in prison for three years and during that time his mental health began to deteriorate. He would get into fights with other inmates and began to lose hope. I imagine this is how it feels for most inmates. Inmates began to lose hope about ever seeing the world again and they begin to lose their minds. That is why inmates join gangs, so that when it gets rough they have protection. I do not have any knowledge if Browder joined a gang or not but what I do know is that he was alone and this caused him to get beat up by inmates and guards. Remember this, Browder was still young at the time and he was serving time for something he didn’t commit. I could only imagine how having to experience this could be why Browder attempted suicide on several occasions. Browder was in prison waiting for his trial that was promised to him, but after two years the trial was dropped and he was sent home like nothing happened. Two years after released from prison, Kalief Browder hung himself. Browder spent two years in prison waiting for his trial for a petty crime he did not commit. This experience gave Browder the will to not live anymore and after so long coping with this PTSD, he ended himself. The worst part is that this was all for nothing. All of this could have been avoided only if our law-enforcement was not prejudiced towards Browder. If our criminal justice system was effective, Kalief Browder would not have experienced so much for a petty crime he did not do.
One would argue that our criminal justice system is effective because people are breaking laws and our law-enforcement does their job like they are supposed to. An example of a great contribution by our law-enforcement is when two people were arrested for drug trafficking. Supposedly, these two were major players in drug trafficking and I do admit this was a great contribution by our law-enforcement but this can be considered a large crime. When it comes to a small crime, I imagine a 16-year-old boy carrying marijuana. When I think of a large crime, I think of drug lords, human-traffickers, and homicide. I am standing up for minorities who are prosecuted by law-enforcement. People like Kalief Browder who was prosecuted for no reasoning whatsoever. For people who are pulled over and shot because of the color of their skin. For people who are placed in prisons until the day they are finally put on trial. Even if they committed a crime, the years they are placed in prison is ridiculous. Thirty years in prison for a small possession? This is unfair and violates human rights. I do appreciate what our law-enforcement tries to do but it’s obvious that most precincts in the United States did not get the memo for what they are supposed to do, which is to serve and protect. From what I can see, they’re not serving and protecting. They’re violating human rights and criminalizing every minority.
Change for the Better
People are realizing that our criminal justice system became broken and inefficient throughout the years. Our criminal justice system allows law-enforcement to mistreat minorities and prosecute them only because they have the power too. This mistreatment of minorities leads to them being incarcerated for crimes that can be considered criminal. Once these people are placed in prisons, they are treated unfairly by both inmates and guards. This is inhuman how our criminal justice system allows our law-enforcement to treat a group of people differently. Not only it is inhuman, but it's very inefficient because focusing on specific communities leads to other communities being open to danger. Our criminal justice system needs to be changed for the better. Our law-enforcement tends to forget why they are around in the first place. I believe time will tell if things will get better or worse because as new generations come into the criminal justice system, old generations will be left behind and forgotten. If we are to change the criminal justice system, we must understand it first. We need to see both sides of the story. Why does our law-enforcement have a certain perspective of minorities? Why are people so terrified of law-enforcement and the decisions they create? I understand both sides of the spectrum, but do others understand? I encourage everyone to search for reasons why these conflicts occur and ways to avoid being prosecuted. For any law-enforcement or people who are part of the criminal justice system, I encourage you to avoid discrimination and treat everyone more fairly and equally. If everyone treats each other fairly and equally, only then will we have peace in our criminal justice system.