If you do not believe that America’s judicial system needs a complete overhaul, you are uninformed or white and wealthy. For decades the courts have treated the wealthy, and the powerful differently than the working class, low-income, and impoverished Americans. Law enforcement has separate standards for black and white Americans. It has been said often that there are ‘two Americas,’ and today we know that as fact.
Estimates are that by year’s end, more than 1,000 citizens will by killed with the use of a gun, fired by a member of law enforcement. This will mark the third year in a row that this sad and preventable statistic is a reality. Very rarely does the perpetrator receive sufficient punishment for their crime.
Although it is a fact that black men and women are treated more harshly by law enforcement, accounting for the huge difference in population, approximately the same number of whites and blacks are shot by the authorities each year. The Black Lives Matter movement became necessary to reveal the fact that the relationship between law enforcement and the African American community needs enormous improvement.
The truth is that our entire judicial system is to blame. Law enforcement officers are trained in the same manner they were trained 50 years ago. Instead of the focus being community relations, and the use of a lethal weapon the as their last possible choice, academies continue to focus most of their attention on the law and how to use their weapons. In addition, I believe that it is necessary to force every candidate to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before issuing them a weapon of mass destruction.
The courts are a disaster. How many times have you read about a rich, white man receiving minimal or no punishment for the same crime committed by a low-income black man who received the maximum penalty? To this date not a single banking executive has been charged with their crimes for intentionally creating the foreclosure disasters of 2008 and 2009. The truth is that one of the men who profited most from the situation is now Trump’s Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin.
Americans who have great wealth can afford the best attorneys. Cases are brought before judges whose jobs are frequently elected positions. These same ‘high-priced’ attorneys are employed by firms which donate thousands of dollars to the reelection campaign of those same judges.
The United States has 4.4 percent of the world’s population, and 25 percent of the world’s known prisoners. Prior to their incarceration, the average income of these individuals was just over $19,000 per year. For women, it was lower at $15,500 per year. Rich people don’t go to prison.
If you still doubt the facts, consider the case of spoiled rich kid Ethan Couch. This Texan was intoxicated at 16 while driving his Truck in 2014. He slammed his vehicle into four pedestrians, killing all four. The judge gave him the penalty of ‘rehabilitation’ and two years probation. When a video revealed that he violated the terms of that probation by becoming intoxicated, he was ordered back to court. His mother took Ethan to Mexico, to avoid further punishment. He was returned to the United States and is now serving a two-year term in jail. That’s right; two years for killing four people without any display of remorse.
America can do better in multiple areas, and judicial reform must be at the top of the list. Why should a nation which claims to pride itself on freedom and human rights have the largest prison population in the free world?
This is insanity, but under Jeff Sessions as Trump’s Attorney General, the prison population will grow. His goal is to incarcerate men and women who use marijuana in states which passed legislation to make it legal. Sessions’ actions have proven that he believes all African Americans should be in prison. Is it possible that he is a white supremacist? There is no doubt about it.
Please re-post; thank you.
Op-ed by James Turnage
Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey
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