From Plessy v. Ferguson to Meyer v. Nebraska, to Korematsu v. United States, the criminal justice system the fight for the civil rights of minorities has improved greatly. However, when looking at the statistics and rates of sentencing and incarceration over time, the
American prison systems encompass all three spheres of criminal justice: law enforcement, judiciary, corrections. Within this system, a massive problem exists. America is known as the “mass incarceration nation” (Hamilton, 2014, p. 1271). Comparatively, the United States encompasses the majority of global prisoners, yet the population is nowhere near that proportion. Just how “free and equal” is this system? Since Gideon v. Wainwright, the racial divide in the criminal justice system has grown, which is contradictory to its intentions. The American criminal justice system has failed to provide the justice and protections it promises. There are many injustices caused by the mass incarceration of American citizens, especially those of minority descent. More harm is done by incarceration to the individual, their community, and the nation, than if other forms of justice were used. The criminal justice system is divided, with racial and income disparities defining the nation in way never intended.
His article, “Putting a Price on Justice,” displays the rates and statistics of the elevated incarceration rates. Johnson Lero correlates the statistics with the increased cost of America’s prison system. He argues that there are numerous solutions to decrease both the cost and rates. There are many prisoners incarcerated that are nonviolent and are facing charges just like a violent prisoner. Lero states that this is happening because most judges, who do not pay for prison, are elected in office and avoid taking any risks that can harm their reelection. The judges conclude to send any possible threats to prison. The judges also do not pay for prison and Lero presents a solution that if each county had to pay for the prison, the nonviolent criminals could face other charges than being imprisoned. With less individuals being incarcerated creates a lower cost for prison. Johnson Lero’s article is useful for a research paper through the use of presenting issues with our current prison system and creating other solutions that can be beneficial to everyone. This article is also useful to support an argument in contradiction of America’s prison
Within the criminal justice system, officials abuse their power. The officials of the justice system have a duty to protect and perform their duties with unbiased decision making. The abuse of power jeopardizes people’s lives who are not able to sustain oneself and their families. Some people do not understand that poorer people find themselves in jail more and once a person is released, that person is subjected to return to jail for the amount of money owed to the state. There are many obstacles for the poor, especially those of color. People of color are treated unfairly in the justice system, from the arrest, the sentencing, and the release. The criminal justice system is supposed to be just but that is not the case. The criminal justice system allows for the police, public defenders, and judges to bend the laws and not be punished for their actions or that apologizes can fix the wrong that has been done. This paper will discuss the abuse of power from the justice system and the solutions to rectify the damages.
Over the past years, it have been obvious, that jailhouse lawyers have increased the number of lawsuits filed by prisoners. In the year of 1980, prisoners filed 12,395 petitions of civil rights claims and in the year of 2000, prisoners filed 24,463 petitions of civil rights claims, in the Federal Courts, by State prisoners.(Mays & Winfree Jr, 2005, pp.304). Jailhouse lawyers have helped inmates file these petitions against the Federal Courts, in the favor of other inmates challenging their conditions of confinement. The conditions of their confinement seems to be, prisoners way for wanting to receive a sentence reduction, sometimes, a release from prison. On the other hand, prisoners tend to use jailhouse lawyers to file petitions that
Throughout the riveting and eye-opening memoir, Just Mercy, by influential lawyer Bryan Stevenson readers are given a real insight on the predominance of racial minorities on crime sentencings. He opens up on the taboo topics of prejudice and sentencing the poor and weak simply because it’s convenient. This is re-affirmed through New York Times article by Shaila Dewan, “Court by Court, Lawyers Fight Policies that Fall Heavily on the Poor,” where she point blank states “[the justice system] is waging a guerilla campaign to reserve what they consider unconstitutional practices that penalize the poor.” In addition to both of these sources, the video “Keeping the Poor Out of Jail” by Kassie Bracken and Jessica Naudziunas, two Harvard law school students, upholds the same beliefs about inequality as they take on local justice systems and current policies targeting the poor. Although the fourteenth amendment states no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws poverty remains to be an exception to some degree. Those living in poverty lack the same equality as the rest of the US, not being given fair chances in trials or overly punished for their lack of resources. There needs to be an improvement in our justice system so we can eliminate the injustice on the impoverished, whether it be a more involved state-provided lawyer or an adequate, unbiased, and
Mass Incarceration is a growing dilemma in the United States that populates our prisons at an alarming rate. Michelle Alexander is a professor at Ohio State University and a graduate of Stanford law school. She states in her award winning book, The new Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness “In less than thirty years, the U.S. penal population exploded from around 300,000 to more than 2 million” (Alexander, 6). These young men and women are unable to afford a decent lawyer because they come from such a poverty-stricken background. Men and women are at a financial disadvantage in our justice system. Lawyers and attorneys cost a fortune and most people can just simply not afford them. Others plead to their charges because
Although the United States composes a mere five percent of the world’s population, it holds twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners (13th 0:01-0:05). In recent years, mass incarceration, or the practice of arresting vast amounts of people, has become a relevant issue within the United States. As rising amounts of individuals, primarily minorities, are arrested, for both serious and petty crimes, government spending on jails and inmates has undergone a drastic increase as well. The large sum of money that has been directed toward correctional facilities has initiated a great amount of controversy, as many believe that it should be used to cover the rising cost of education instead. Since the majority of inmates are currently minorities,
The Justice System is a topic that has stirred up a lot of controversy throughout time. Is it fair or is it not? Throughout hundreds of years, people have been treated justly and unjustly by this system. In this paper, I will only be discussing my opinion on America’s justice system. However, there are many other Justice Systems that I will not get to discuss. America’s Justice System is made up of 3 parts. The Law Enforcement, the Adjudication, and the Correction. The Justice System was created to control crime and punish those who commit illegal actions. Without this system, our country would crumble and fall. Although it has been unfair on numerous occasions, we still should respect the law.
Following the refusal of a counsel to represent him during his trial, Clarence Gideon, an individual convicted of pilfering a pool room in Florida, was found guilty and sentenced to prison for five years. At the time, the trial judge refused a counsel due to the state law of Florida that declared the utilization of a counsel for impoverished individuals who committed a capital offense. However, Gideon believed he was well endowed with the right to be represented by a counsel, for “his conviction violated the due-process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (Lewis 7).
In his book, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson writes of cases where the defendant was wrongfully condemned because their attorney did not do their job correctly. In some cases, this behavior extended past the original trial, all the way through any appeals available to the client. Stevenson continues by discussing how the trials were either clearly biased, or evidence was blatantly ignored. Yet often, the attorney either submitted a brief attesting to no appeal, or simply neglected to file an appeal by the deadline. Their clients not only did not receive the fair trial that our constitution mandates, but also lost any chance to take advantage of the fail-safes that were built into the legal system. When these ineffective defenders were eventually disbarred, no investigations were launched to revisit their past cases in search of legal malpractice. Instead, any cases directly impacted by their conduct were left as they were- with unfairly convicted people sitting behind bars. While the Equal Justice Initiative does what it can to help find justice for people who deserve it, they must be contacted by, or on behalf of, the victim of injustice. There are few programs to help individuals with mental illness or those without knowledge of the initiative, even though these are the people who need guidance the most.
Jonathan Simon is a dean and law administrator, centering on the study of law and society at the UC Berkeley School of law. He’s best known for writing for his work on the role of crime and criminal justice in leading contemporary societies. Simon’s most recent work included a book called “Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America”, which was devoted to his mother, Marlene Bragman Simon. She was quite passionate towards serving to alleviate social problems and in search of social justice. Mass Incarceration on Trial gives a shocking impression towards Simon’s disagreement that the representation of a war on crime has converted entirely to the public existence in the United States. An issue in which I believe has gotten out of hand by the political candidates; especially when they regularly oath to be tough on crime for all the wrong reasons. Simon’s main claim is to demonstration that the causes of mass imprisonment and overall incapacitation has completely worsened in the prison community. Milestone cases in which the Coleman v. Wilson, Plata v. Davis, Coleman-Plata v. Schwarzenegger, and Brown v. Plata explored the main development in jurisprudence and glimmer of hope brought upon the protection of the Eight amendments. The cases that challenges California disciplinary
Wainwright case was a landmark in the evolution of the criminal justice system as well as the evolution of person rights. Although it is a common phrase, the fact “innocent until proven guilty” is not always enforced in the criminal justice system. This leaves room for people awaiting trial to endure mistreatment, whether they are guilty or not. The mistreatment of these people can sometimes leave room for an innocent person be charged due to the lack of resources provided. Before the Gideon v. Wainwright case, it was not common practice for courts to appoint attorneys for the defendant. Although it was easier to charge someone with a crime they committed without a lawyer present, it also left room for innocent people to be convicted of crimes they did not commit. This also raises the question of: is it worth innocent lives to catch the majority of guilty criminals? The sixteenth amendment states that “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to …have the assistance of counsel for his defense”. Due to the fact that it is not explicitly stated that the court is required to provide the defendant a lawyer, it was hardly common practice to do so. After the Gideon v. Wainwright case, it became more common for the court to appoint lawyers to defendants. This change in practice continued the positive evolution of individual rights, even those being convicted of
At one point the United States Court System paid no attention to inmate complaints and concerns. However, that changed when the Supreme Court took an interest in prisoner litigations. Lawmakers finally began to see inmates as American citizens who still were afforded certain liberties according to the United States Constitution. Once perspectives began to change about the prisoners and their rights, petitions addressing the violations of inmate’s civil liberties started to flood into the courts. The American court system is aware that prisoners do have some rights, but they would naturally be fewer than free citizens (Carlson & Garrett, 2008). The limitation of rights is mandatory to sustain security in prisons or jails. The federal government stepped in and
In Stephen Bright’s article, “The Death Penalty as the Answer to Crime: Costly, Counterproductive, and Corrupting” Bright asserts that capital punishment does not work because it is racially biased, the quality of the lawyers and attorneys supplied by the state to poor defendants is unfair, and that the law system currently in place does not accomplish its true goals. Bright defends his claim with logos and ethos by examining the opinions of judges and district attorneys, and by describing experience within the fields of human rights and law himself in order to persuade the reader to take up more cases for those on death row. Given the language used in this article Bright is writing to an audience with intermediate to professional experience within the field of law, and a willingness to adopt a new idea on the constitutionality behind the death penalty.