Fandango’s Provocative Question this week is about our system of justice:
Do you believe, with respect to the judicial system (or systems) in place where you live, that justice is, indeed, blind? Why do you feel that way?
Very relevant question for today, I would say! I think that, unfortunately, the system of justice in the U.S.A. is not blind. It’s corrupt, it favors the rich, and is now being bent to the whims of a corrupt, inept president. Two of the justices on the Supreme Court, in my opinion, are not qualified to sit on the highest court in the land. (If you’re wondering, here’s a hint: neither of them is Gorsuch, in spite of the unethical way in which he got confirmed.) One of them is a sleazebag and the other has conflict of interest issues and doesn’t seem to do much on SCOTUS. Both of them have possibly criminal or at least sexual harassment charges in their backgrounds. And although in both cases, some of the the victims testified, they were not believed. At least not enough for the Republican Senate, in both cases, to hesitate in confirming the nominee.
So I don’t have the highest respect for the Supreme Court as I should have, and have had in the past.
Referring to the justice system where I live, Illinois (or at least Chicago) has long had the reputation of being corrupt. However, one really excellent thing happened here about a decade ago, and it was during the administration of a Republican governor (who later went to jail for other charges). Law students at Northwestern University examined the cases of several men on death row, cases in which the evidence of their guilt was shaky. All of these condemned men, I believe, were black, (but if not all, a majority of them were).
The law students researched the cases and looked for additional evidence or looked at evidence that had not been examined at the time, and determined that these men were, in fact, not guilty. These men were on DEATH ROW, to be executed for crimes they didn’t commit! The death penalty is cruel and unusual punishment and should not exist in a society with an imperfect justice system.
Having proved their innocence, these men were released from prison. Great thing, but they had all spent many years in jail and they were no longer young. What kind of future awaited them on the outside? But at least justice was served in the end.
However, the best thing to come out of this is that the death penalty was suspended in the state of Illinois and this “suspension” is still on the books. I actually remember Gov. George Ryan with respect for having done that, in spite of his other, less respectable, deeds.
I do not think justice can be “blind” as long as a disproportionate number of people in prison are black, some convicted on crimes as mild as possession of marijuana (when it was still illegal). When young men – including teenagers – are put in jail for petty crimes, they “learn” from other prisoners and from the situation they are in. Is it any surprise that many commit crimes again when they are released? Nearly every job application asks the question, “Have you ever been imprisoned?” or some version of this, and since most applications are done online these days, you cannot leave the answer blank. So either you lie or don’t get hired, never having a chance to explain your circumstances to the employer.
Justice is not blind when too many people are sent to prison where they become bitter and angry. Justice is not blind when crimes white suburban kids can get away with with a warning for the same petty offense that gives inner city people of color prison sentences. Justice is not blind when courts favor the rich over the poor. Justice is not blind as long as the United States of America has the archaic, barbaric, and unnecessary practice of the death penalty.
However, what we are seeing today is “justice blinded” – justice corrupted and manipulated by people with power to benefit themselves and their friends. There is a new book coming out written by Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, that details many of his and his family’s shady and illegal dealings for decades. If he loses the election in November, will he ever be prosecuted and put in jail for the crimes he committed as president or before? Who knows, but I wouldn’t bet money on it.