Justice for all

“True freedom requires the rule of law and justice and a judicial system in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others.”

Jonathan Sacks

We have a broken Justice System.

The concept of justice being blind, and each person brought to trial treated equally is one of our more disturbing social myths. The deaths of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, among others, are prime examples of the problems with the system. But there are others, we incarcerate more people than anywhere else in the world (see chart below.) But the problems do not start with the police or the prisons, they begin with us, the lawmakers, and represent changes in our society that we need to rethink. We are not safer because we imprison more people than any other country in the world. We need to fix the problems in the system to address the causes of the cycles of violence rather than locking away the perpetrators.

What are some root causes of violence and imprisonment?

There are many root causes that have led to high rates of violence and incarceration. Some of them are:

Justice for all

“True freedom requires the rule of law and justice, and a judicial system in which the rights of some are not secured by the denial of rights to others.”

Jonathan Sacks

We have a broken Justice System.

The concept of justice being blind, and each person brought to trial treated equally is one of our more disturbing social myths. The deaths of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor, among others, are prime examples of the problems with the system. But there are others, we incarcerate more people than anywhere else in the world (see chart below.) But the problems do not start with the police or the prisons, they begin with us, the lawmakers, and represent changes in our society that we need to rethink. We are not safer because we imprison more people than any other country in the world. We need to fix the problems in the system to address the causes of the cycles of violence rather than locking away the perpetrators.

What are some root causes of violence and imprisonment?

There are many root causes that have led to high rates of violence and incarceration. Some of them are:

racial biases and inequities

inequities

hopelessness

The laws are not black and white; the police, prosecutors, and judges all interpret the laws.

equal access to housing, education, and health care

Mental health treatment

the lack of legislative bipartisanship to fix the problems

Where do we as citizens start?

Two key elements that we can work on right now are our legislators and prosecutors. Get the statistics from the court system and see if there is a bias.

“If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the police officers, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected — those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! — and listens to their testimony.”

James A. Baldwin.

What Is Justice?

The Cambridge dictionary defines justice as “fairness in the way we deal with people.” That seems like a simple concept. But justice is not the same today as it was in the Modern Age (1910–1980), as defined in a Psychology Today Article entitled “Justice or Just Us.” During this period people knew who they were. There was structure, family, security, identity, and stability. The Post-Modern Age (1980-today) is considerably different. There is more confusion, a lack of structure, and incessant choice. We have moved from family, to individualism, from ours to mine and yours, and to I’m right and therefor you are wrong.

When we think of justice, many of us think of this image. A judge blind to who we are and our economic position in life where truth and lies are weighed on the scales of justice to arrive at a just solution. This interpretation has changed in recent years. It is clear now that justice is not blind. If we are poor or an ethnic minority, they treat differently us than if we are rich and white. This is even true in areas where the ethnic minority is the majority.

What is the Justice System?

We make the US Justice system up of several components:

Lawmakers-A new spirit of awareness in our laws leading back to blind justice, compassion, and equality. It does not mean we write laws to enforce and enable certain groups. Laws are for the benefit of all.

Law enforcement- Weed out the rotten apples. Each Officer must be accountable for their own actions. Engage more in community dialogue and oversight.

Judicial/Court System- Make the system work the same for everyone.

Pretrial

arraignment

trial

sentencing

Corrections- Make the system a system of teaching those who will learn how to be a participant in society rather than an outcast from it.

Each of these components of the US Justice system requires a new vision and measurements for success. Lawmakers should have to cancel two laws for every new law they make. Let’s simplify the system, so we try to keep people out of the prison system. Rachel Barkow in her book, Breaking the cycle of mass Incarceration, states that our Jails and prisons are not places where people are learning to solve their problems they are learning new skills that often result in the breaking of new laws upon release, leading to a new incarceration.

Top 5 issues with our Justice System From toptenz.net

Mandatory Sentencing- the 3 strikes and you’re put away for a long minimum time. These laws can lead to punishment that is cruel.

We have 5% of the world population but 25% of the world’s prison population. They overcrowd our prisons, provide universities of criminal behavior, and do not teach inmates the skills they need to survive in the outside world.

Lack of compassion for criminals who become terminally ill while in prison. They cannot get the level of care they need while incarcerated.

Sentencing children to life in prison. We are the only country that does this.

The Death penalty. This doesn’t really solve anything. And we have found instances of innocent people being sentenced to death.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

How can I get involved in the fixes?

Speak out. Take a risk. Talk to your legislators. Examine your local justice system and speak out against out against problems. Suggest to the police that dialogues begin with disparate groups within your community to create a new level of understanding.

Sit in on trials at all levels of the court and see if you think justice is being served and if not try to influence the fixes.

Change your view from me and them to us. It will surprise you, how things look from this different view.

Support those in the community who speak out against injustice.

Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.

Set up a community mentoring and employment system for released inmates. Help them reintegrate into society.

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

Frederick Douglass.

Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.

Louis D. Brandeis

the lack of legislative bipartisanship to fix the problems

Where do we as citizens start?

Two key elements that we can work on right now are our legislators and prosecutors. Get the statistics from the court system and see if there is a bias.

“If one really wishes to know how justice is administered in a country, one does not question the police officers, the lawyers, the judges, or the protected members of the middle class. One goes to the unprotected — those, precisely, who need the law’s protection most! — and listens to their testimony.”

James A. Baldwin.

What Is Justice?

The Cambridge dictionary defines justice as “fairness in the way we deal with people.” That seems like a simple concept. But justice is not the same today as it was in the Modern Age (1910–1980), as defined in a Psychology Today Article entitled “Justice or Just Us.” During this period people knew who they were. There was structure, family, security, identity, and stability. The Post-Modern Age (1980-today) is considerably different. There is more confusion, a lack of structure, and incessant choice. We have moved from family to individualism, from ours to mine and yours, and to I’m right and therefore you are wrong.

When we think of justice, many of us think of this image. A judge blind to who we are and our economic position in life where truth and lies are weighed on the scales of justice to arrive at a just solution. This interpretation has changed in recent years. It is clear now that justice is not blind. If we are poor or an ethnic minority, they treat differently us than if we are rich and white. This is even true in areas where the ethnic minority is the majority.

What is the Justice System?

We make the US Justice system up of several components:

Lawmakers-A new spirit of awareness in our laws leading back to blind justice, compassion, and equality. It does not mean we write laws to enforce and enable certain groups. Laws are for the benefit of all.

Law enforcement- Weed out the rotten apples. Each Officer must be accountable for their own actions. Engage more in community dialogue and oversight.

Judicial/Court System- Make the system work the same for everyone.

Pretrial

arraignment

trial

sentencing

Corrections- Make the system a system of teaching those who will learn how to be a participant in society rather than an outcast from it.

Each of these components of the US Justice system requires a new vision and measurements for success. Lawmakers should have to cancel two laws for every new law they make. Let’s simplify the system, so we try to keep people out of the prison system. Rachel Barkow in her book, Breaking the cycle of mass Incarceration, states that our Jails and prisons are not places where people are learning to solve their problems they are learning new skills that often result in the breaking of new laws upon release, leading to new incarceration.

Top 5 issues with our Justice System From toptenz.net

Mandatory Sentencing- the 3 strikes and you’re put away for a long minimum time. These laws can lead to a punishment that is cruel.

We have 5% of the world population but 25% of the world’s prison population. They overcrowd our prisons, provide universities of criminal behavior, and do not teach inmates the skills they need to survive in the outside world.

Lack of compassion for criminals who become terminally ill while in prison. They cannot get the level of care they need while incarcerated.

Sentencing children to life in prison. We are the only country that does this.

The Death penalty. This doesn’t really solve anything. And we have found instances of innocent people being sentenced to death.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

How can I get involved in the fixes?

Speak out. Take a risk. Talk to your legislators. Examine your local justice system and speak out against problems. Suggest to the police that dialogues begin with disparate groups within your community to create a new level of understanding.

Sit in on trials at all levels of the court and see if you think justice is being served and if not try to influence the fixes.

Change your view from me and them to us. It will surprise you, how things look from this different view.

Support those in the community who speak out against injustice.

Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.

Set up a community mentoring and employment system for released inmates. Help them reintegrate into society.

“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

Frederick Douglass.

Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.

Louis D. Brandeis

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