The truth about our system
While it’s true that our criminal justice system works most of the time for most of the people, when it does fail, it does so at the expense of liberty and even life, and with devastating, life-altering consequences for the victims of injustice and their loved ones. In fact, American criminal injustice arguably affects hundreds of new victims directly and indirectly, to varying degrees, every day. Ultimately, when the system fails, the true perpetrators remain at large. To put it in perspective – if correcting injustice of this scope was as profitable as finding a cure or treatment for a disease that affected a comparable number of people, private industry would be spending hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars addressing this problem. Sadly, absent any profit motive, injustice in the U.S. remains the equivalent of a state secret.
While both are present, the system is not fatally flawed and riddled with corruption. To the contrary, the system is fundamentally sound, but it is also in desperate need of long-overdue safeguards that are responsive to well-documented issues that continue to fail our citizens with epidemic frequency and devastating consequences.
- Wrongful Convictions
- Coerced Guilty Pleas
- Inconsistent and Disproportionate Sentencing
In all wars, there is collateral damage – and the war on crime is no different. But all of our commanders in the field, be they military generals or attorneys general, share an obligation to implement safeguards that limit and avert unintentional and incidental damage. In this case, the damage is to our own citizens and it must be prevented and minimized wherever and whenever possible. Our politicians and policy makers have considerable work to do before the nation begins to even approach the possibility of this obligation being met – and until that happens, we are all potential victims of injustice. Collectively, we can bring about needed change.
From time to time, actual or perceived miscarriages of justice dealing with a high-profile victim can cause us to lose sight of the unyielding expectation we should all have to see these flaws eliminated. The recent divide and public outcry on both sides of the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case is a good example. Sir William Blackstone said it best “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer“. We should all hope that the level of energy, passion and attention this single case has seen, be one day given to the known and correctable flaws that have and continue to exist within our system, victimizing innocent defendants by the hundreds daily… that will be day that marks the beginning of change that all Americans will benefit from – it is hard to imagine anything more patriotic than living up to the promise of due process, a right that our brave soldiers have sacrificed so much to protect.