When the United States was founded, it based its criminal justice system on a principle that was uncommon at the time. This principle was the idea “innocent until proven guilty.” In contrast, other societies required that the accused present evidence of their innocence. If the accused failed, they were condemned. This guiding principle has allowed the U.S. Criminal Justice System to be an example to other nations of a fair and honest system. With all its good, the U.S. Criminal Justice system still has its flaws. The following are three areas that really need to be fixed in order for true justice to be served.
Law is complicated. The common citizen live their lives without even knowing the basic governing laws of their country. As such they can be caught totally unprepared to face prosecution in court. Without representation they are as good as convicted. Although the government is required to provide a defense lawyer, these lawyers are underpaid, underfunded, and lack resources. In contrast, the most expensive law firms have overwhelming resources that can give a huge advantage in criminal defense.
In addition, the concept of bail is inherently unfair. For a poor citizen accused of a crime, a bail set at even a few hundred dollars can be totally out of their capacity to pay. On the other hand, there are many wealthy individuals that have paid bails set at hundreds of thousands of dollars without batting an eye.
It unfortunately still happens. It is estimated that since 1989, 2471 mistaken convictions have been overturned. The sentences amount to a combination of more than 21,725 years of prison time that should never have happened. The effect on the lives of these individuals is devastating. They live in horrible conditions, their reputation is ruined, and their life plans crushed. Even if the statistics say that it’s a rare occurrence, we still need to improve.
There are many cases in which victims are punished by the Criminal Justice system. In some cases, individuals are forced against their will to participate in illegal activities. Sometimes someone assists a crime without their knowledge. These people can sometimes be punished for things they aren’t responsible for.
We should not be satisfied with the status quo. If we work to change these problems, we will find that our communities will become safer and happier.
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