Like most current events and issues America faces, our criminal justice system is the most corrupt. I feel like we should change it to the criminal In-Justice system. This is scary because criminal justice plays a major role in society and affects us all.
First, let’s start with the prison system in America. These prisons are so overcrowded and filled with people convicted of non-violent crimes which are mostly drug-related. The population of all prisoners in the U.S. is more than Los Angeles and New York combined! That’s only scratching beneath the surface. These prisoners are treated so inhumanely and most of them suffer from mental illness and are not getting any treatment. They are just rotting away in their filthy, empty jail cell more like a cage while their whole well being continues to rot.
The sanitary conditions and mistreatment make us the worst prison system in the world to ever be thrown into. There are no windows in any of the cells, no one listens to anyone’s proclaim of innocence or honors any of the constitutional rights we’re supposed to be given such as the right to counsel and our right to a fair and speedy trial.
Do you know how many people are in prison for crimes (murder) they didn’t commit? I don’t even want to think about the ones that were never saved and ended up dying there or given the death penalty for someone else’s crime. Or how about the ones that were saved but didn’t leave jail for years later? Some decades later?
No compensation in the world could help fill that void the judicial system did to them by missing out on all those years with their family and their life. They finally walk out of that cage not even knowing what a cell phone is, never mind sending a text message or the Internet. They missed out on everything from holiday gatherings, graduations, weddings, birth…etc.
Some of these people were in there for so long just because they were caught with drugs. Talk about something so innocuous. These people should be offered intervention and psychiatric and substance and drug abuse treatment/counselors, that way they could improve their lives and not return. So many people are treated like dogs as if the filth, squalor and gang fights isn’t enough, they get thrown into solitary confinement 23 hours a day! Only one hour to see the outside. Most of these people might not even have done it but no one fails to listen to them or give them their constitutional rights as promised. For blacks, it’s even worse. They are slapped with worse serious sentences; given a harder time.
This society is a disgrace and makes me ashamed to be an American. Discrimination is still widespread, and I have no faith in the police or judicial system. Police abuse their power in every facet and continue to get away with it. They’re all connected to the prosecution and judge so no one will listen to your cries of injustice of these disgusting cops. They’re all in on it to lock you up. The amendment of a fair to a speedy trial is more of a farce than anything else. Most of these defenders are given plea bargains and forced to take them even if they didn’t do it just so they could return home sooner. They want the case solved so due to the defendant’s desperation, they know there is a good chance they will plea out in order to put the case to rest.
The police make snap judgments by making sure you are convicted and if you don’t have the money to hire a competent attorney than you are screwed. The dud of an attorney will just watch you sink. How about those “interrogations”? It’s more like manipulation and abuse to force a confession out of a suspect who nine times out of ten is actually innocent. They lock them in a small room with no food & water for hours at a time while screaming at them and harassing them right up to their face.
Finally, after being deprived nourishment and rest and being locked up in a room with no sign of life on the outside for nearly 24 hours, they finally confess to a crime they didn’t even do just for the sake of this torture ending. A lot of these victims are young teenagers, the detectives especially love to take full advantage of these naive youths. A lot of people can’t believe suspects confess to a crime they didn’t commit. Well, if you think about it for a moment: We are all humans, so think like a human. If you are being deprived food, water, locked up for hours at a time like a dog while being yelled at and literally harassed to your face for almost 24 hours, you don’t think you would finally confess just for this havoc to end? The right response but most people don’t know this is to say they want an attorney and refuse to speak. There is nothing they could do about that, because if you don’t and start talking, whatever word you utter to them will be used against you.
This is a heated topic for me because I have a genuine and long-term passion for the law. When I was in college I was determined to become an attorney. I had previously interned at the Westchester County Attorney’s office in the abuse and neglect division. I had a minor in pre-law while in college and was preparing for the LSAT but halfway through the prep class I became dissuaded. I ended up going down a different path into teaching.
My desire that propelled me into law is the same I thought of in education: I wanted to make a difference in this world and change a person’s life. How many professions are there where you could make a positive impact on someone and this world? I love to read and write. I am outspoken when I feel like there is an injustice or unfairness. I found there to be a fine line between law and education. I had the opportunity of seeing firsthand how disadvantaged and underprivileged this society is. I had taught for several years as a substitute and the majority of that was in the inner city schools of NYC. It is unfortunate that these children do not have the support and encouragement they need in order to lead a bright future.
Most of these children do not speak any English nor are getting any support from ESL teachers like they deserve. These classrooms are filthy and filled up to over 30 kids with only one teacher. As the school year resumes in the fall, teachers end up getting even more kids later on with barely any room to place them. There are cursing and physical violence. There have been times where I was afraid of being physically assaulted and the administration couldn’t care less.
Most of these principals don’t communicate with you at all, you are assumed to know what is expected of you. One principal never even looked my way let alone acknowledging my existence. I was teaching first grade and there was a boy who was physically violent and I attempted to seek help to help remedy the situation. I saw her in the hallway without even knowing if she was, in fact, the principal. “Are you the principal?” She looked at me with a mean look in her eye. She was in my classroom earlier in the day and walked in speaking to the kids without any indication of the position she held. “Yes, I am.”
I knew from the tone of her voice she did not want to be bothered. After I let her know of the boy stabbing another girl with a pencil she immediately brushed me off saying that’s what he does, I have to deal with it. I have become so overwhelmed and dissatisfied with teaching that I want to use my master’s in education in a different direction. I still love education and working with people. I would love the opportunity to segue into the nonprofit sector. My passion for helping people and making a difference in society will never cease. The law still and education both still interest me. Below I have written my passion and thoughts of law and the judicial system:
When someone is arrested for a crime and taken to trial we say “innocent until proven guilty”. This may be written somewhere in fine print as to how we should proceed by determining someone’s fate but in actuality, it’s not done like this. This may be a matter of opinion and people may not agree with me but sorry to sound blunt and nasty but if you do not agree with the system being flawed you need to get your head out of the sand. I could go on and on naming high profile cases that have had unfair verdicts from celebrities to average people who have been publicly shamed just because they may not have been a saint and may have engaged in promiscuity or have cheated on their spouse. In that case, all of us would be thrown in jail then. How many people commit adultery and engage in debauchery?
Unfortunately once the defendant’s past and how they live their life comes to light the jury is now tainted and biased. This is why a lot of times the case gets moved to another county. You can’t forget the prosecution’s main role in this too. They have a field day with this one. When they hear a defendant was cheating on their spouse they blow it out of proportion and make a big scene of it in court. They call all witnesses to help validate their claims that this person is heartless and cruel. The prosecutor does such a good job that the jury now believes the defendant had to have done it. I love to say that being a lawyer is similar to acting. Trial attorneys are trained to make a big show and use their acting skills in order to manipulate the jury into believing them.
Before I move forward with a well noted and powerful example I would just like to say that I don’t believe every law enforcement official are cruel and callous and do not care. There are many cases and crimes where justice is served and good hearted, altruistic attorneys, judges and police officers do exist and make it their mission to never quit until the case is solved. Some of these selfless officials let these cold cases take over their life as if it has happened to them.
They have so much sympathy for these innocent loved ones who are suffering to have these murders solved because they have families and children of their own and couldn’t imagine the grief they are going through.
There are plenty of not for profit/pro bono lawyers that band together and do everything in their power to fight for convicted criminals who are in prison for a crime they did not commit. These altruistic attorneys fight with every fiber of their being without receiving a dime to retry these unfair cases where the whole trial was flawed from the beginning. These guardian angels receive nothing in return other than the reward of knowing that they saved a life; an innocent life of a person who was unfairly convicted of a murder and paid for a crime they never committed in the first place. In some instances they saved a life by stopping an innocent person of being executed; sentenced to death. There is no bigger tragedy and miscarriage of justice than that.
Unfortunately, there’s still a great deal of injustice and enough greed still present that makes American society as a whole still undergoing a crisis.
Let me take a recent example that I feel touches upon this beautifully: The Michael Peterson case. His documentary was just aired on Netflix called The Staircase: He is a wealthy novelist whose wife was found dead on the bottom stairs. He was the one who found her and frantically dialed 911. The moment the police department got there they were sure he definitely killed her, it was not an accident. Although he had the finances to hire a prestigious and competent legal team, he was still committed of the crime. Another point I am now bringing up is what if the person did it but there is not enough proof to commit him or her of the crime? That is where “innocent until proven guilty” comes in. This is not always the case. Michael Peterson is a brilliant example of all of this. He ended up spending all of his money on lawyers that by the time he got out he was destitute. He has a huge extended family that stood by his side from day one. He was fortunate that he had all those people to offer him food & shelter.
The medical examiner and coroner could not say with 100% certainty that his wife’s lacerations on her head were due to a fall or if he hit her with a blow poke they claim he had in his house. Now maybe he did do it. The jury thought so and convicted him twice. The point is that how could you seal a man’s fate without the most important pieces of the puzzle (forensic evidence)? It turns out years later Michael was finally granted an appeal because it was found out that the catalyst of throwing him into the fire was blood spatter analyst Duane Deaver.
He had given false expert testimony in his cases and many others saying the blood spatter shows they did it. After one man was exonerated for the crime, Michael’s lead attorney David Rudolf was able to appeal his conviction. Now maybe Michael really did do it but my point is that if there is not enough evidence to verify if this person in question did it, how could they be convicted? It turns out after reopening Michael’s case, other people on the forensics team admitted they lied too on the stand.
Another forensic expert whose testimony was also thought to be credible admitted that she really had no idea how his wife Kathleen could’ve gotten those lacerations on her head either. Even David Rudolf said on camera that maybe Michael did do it but we really have no idea because there is not enough proof to back it up. We will never know what really happened on the bottom of the stairs.
It’s unimaginable to think this way if you try to put yourself in the shoes of the victim’s loved ones. Kathleen Peterson’s sister was so adamant that Michael did it that it also turned out that her relentlessness to making sure Michael was kept in prison also tainted the judicial system. When Rudolf reopened the case and found so many other documents that were never seen before, he found evidence stating that she was in on it with the other attorneys to have the experts lie. The biggest blunder yet was the blow poke.
Remember how I said when law enforcement came on the scene they did not want to be wrong? Well, it turns out the police recovered the blow poke at the crime scene in the garage and even took a picture of it. They never said anything, they just continued to lie and say it was missing. But they still had the audacity to accuse Michael of killing Kathleen with it! How could you be so cruel and make up a false accusation responsible for taking away something priceless like a person’s freedom? After all that time when Michael was being tried his children were running through home videos of Christmas trying to remember where that blow poke was. They claimed they haven’t seen it in years. They finally recovered it in the garage. The prosecution was so adamant that he killed Kathleen with it although the blow poke was never found. Now all this time later after new evidence is discovered, it turns out this “missing weapon” wasn’t missing at all but kept under wraps. The police didn’t want to be wrong and wanted the case to be solved so they decided to “choose” the murder weapon to be the blow poke.
Another part of this case that I had mentioned before: After he stood trial it turned out that he was bisexual and committing adultery. The prosecution dug so deep and found evidence on his computer of him joining gay sex sites of men dressed in the military that they even called one of the male escorts on the stand. This case gained so much publicity that the press blew it out of proportion too. The D.A. did a great job to manipulate the jury into thinking he wanted to kill his wife because she had just found out about his homosexual adultery. It was also discovered that Michael lied for years saying he was injured during the war, when in fact he was not. He never fought in the war.
This case became more about his character than the physical evidence itself. The only other thing that was discovered that leaves you scratching your head is that years before in Germany a woman also was found on the bottom of the stairs. Michael was the only one around too but it was ruled an accident. She was a friend of Michael’s named Elizabeth Ratliff and her children he ended up adopting said that she was suffering from dizzy spells. They are staunch supporters of Michael’s innocence. It is quite perplexing and odd that this could’ve happened before but could you really punish someone on mere coincidence if there is no undeniable physical evidence that leads to the contrary?
Combine this coincidence and his hedonistic and clandestine life, you get his inevitable conviction.
There are so many cases like this that are based only on circumstantial evidence but yet lead to a conviction anyway. Or how about ones that are so clearly obvious with physical evidence? The OJ Simpson case is a great example. I don’t want to go into it since it has become a cliché but there was a plethora of physical evidence. Justice is flawed and that is a shame.
There are many unfair verdicts and trials and a lot of it could be bought if you have the money. An example of greed is the case of “Affluenza”. A rich boy named Ethan Couch was found drunk driving and killed four people. His attorney appointed a psychologist in order to make up a phony claim as to why this happened which was because of his entitled lifestyle. His parents left him home partying in his mansion for days at a time and wanted to blame his actions on his neglect and indulgences. All he got was 10 years of probation while another boy who was poor that committed the same crime received 20 years in prison.
Needless to say, I feel like the criminal justice system is an oxymoron.