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Op-ed

The Main Issues With Our Justice System

What is the point of our legal system? To bring justice? Is justice for all possible? There are many factors that can skew our justice system to be inequitable.

Would a black man living off of welfare get as much fair justice as a white CEO of a big, influential company?

One of the factors that plays a substantial role in our justice system today is race. Practically everyone involved with the justice system, whether it be jury members, judges or lawyers, can be racist, which will impact their decision making even if the suspect is not at fault. A person’s life could be jeopardized because someone did not like their race.

Another factor that skews our justice system is the public defense. Everyone has a right to a lawyer, therefore if you can’t afford one, you get a public lawyer. However, public lawyers are underpaid and overworked and they lack time and resources to create an adequate case against the prosecution. They can handle up to hundreds of cases at any given time, therefore lacking focused representation due to the small amount of time they have to work on each case.

The 3 strike laws are laws that require a person guilty of violating both a violent felony and two other previous convictions to serve a life sentence. However, these laws have many flaws. For instance, let’s look at the following hypothetical scenario: a 19-year-old in high school decides to vandalize a store but gets caught. That’s his first strike. Then, he decides to shoplift a watch from a store but gets caught. That’s strike two. He decides he doesn’t want to get into anymore trouble, so he stops. But ten years later, he’s at a bar, gets drunk and intentionally breaks someone’s nose. Not a very big crime, but that’s his third, violent strike. Now he is in prison for the rest of his life. If people like this go to jail, what happens when they are put in the same cell with a person who committed a triple homicide? 

When looking at the big picture of our prison and justice system today, you may be thinking how you can change such a huge thing. Donating to websites like the Innocence Project and the ACLU may seem like a small effort, but it can go a long way. Your donation could be the one to save a life. I encourage you to check out these websites and try to get involved.

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