Is the US Criminal Justice System Corrupt?
If a person were to be asked if they feel that black Americans are more harshly treated by police, his or her answer would most likely be yes. According to Discover the Network, that is an answer common to 84% of the US population. The reason for that statistic is the fact that although blacks make up a mere 12.6% of the US population, they account for 32.5% of all convicted rapists, 55.5% of all robberies, and 33.9% of all aggravated assaults nationwide. Victims of violent crime are much more likely to identify a black person as the perpetrator than a white person.
Such was the case with Jamie Bain, a man who was arrested and sentenced at 19 years of age with the rape of an 11 year old boy. Bane was innocent, however, the boy's uncle immediately accused him when his nephew told him the person who attacked him was black. Bain spent 35 years in prison and was only released after DNA tests proved his innocence. Jamie Bain is one of the best examples in showing racial bias when it comes to crime. LA congresswoman, Maxine Waters, states that the color of a person's skin dictates the harshness of the sentence, eligibility for probation, and the entry to treatment/rehabilitation (source:discoverthenetworks.org). In addition, 80% of people convicted of a crime, this number mostly made up of black Americans, receive a public defender, someone who is often paid far less than the prosecution (source:alternet.org).
Prosecutorial misconduct is another rampant flaw within the US criminal justice system. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, over 2,074 inmates in federal prisons are serving life sentences for non-violent crimes. This is attributed to the tireless efforts of overzealous prosecutors. In the US, prosecutors are judged and evaluated based on the number of people they have convicted. This encourages the prosecution to overlook the defendant's motivation and the severity of the crime and rather paint an elaborate and unrealistic picture of the defendant in order to seem heroic when he or she is convicted. In addition, the unbiased method of trial by jury is often not put in use. It is estimated that more than 90% of federal cases are prosecuted until conclusion (source:libertyblitzkrieg.com). Although the prosecutors themselves may not be corrupt, the system that places that much power in their hands and motivates them to convict as many people as possible is unfair and ineffective in separating dangerous and violent criminals from first-time offenders who admittedly made a mistake.
As long as there is no distinction between these two types of criminals, the justice system cannot be fair. Stigma and bias must be placed aside in order for the justice system to truly be blind. In addition, it is necessary to take into consideration the defendant's rights and not simply convict in order to satisfy the victim's desire for revenge or the prosecutor's desire for a respected career. Racism and prosecutorial misconduct are the main flaws and unfortunately are extremely common within the US criminal justice and lead to wrongful convictions and unnecessarily long sentences. There has been talk of reform and attempt to change laws so that they reflect current society and not the decades in which they were made. But as long as that reform is not in place, the US criminal justice system is corrupt.
Written By: Kimeko Neil, United States
Important books on Amazon
The American System of Criminal Justice : For any Criminal Justice major, this is a must have book
The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Does not, and How to Fix It
Hispanics In The U.S. Criminal Justice System
Encyclopedia of DNA and the United States Criminal Justice System
Search and Destroy: African-American Males in the Criminal Justice System
Edited by: Rajesh Bihani ( Find me on Google+ )