America’s Justice: Broken and Rotten

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The novelist Raymond Chandler once said, “The law isn’t justice. It’s a very imperfect mechanism. If you press exactly the right buttons and are also lucky, justice may show up in the answer.” This sounds like an overview of the current fundamentally broken and rotten American justice — one that goes far beyond what the justice system might legitimately seek to address, while often accusing people of unfounded charges in morally indefensible ways. It makes us wonder: shouldn’t the core of the ideal be a social world in which all people can stand in legal equality and freedom from tyrannical power?

The Racist Core Under the Shell of the Rule of Law

Not all Americans feel the effects of the dysfunctional American justice system equally, and only the marginalized and politically disenfranchised bear the brunt of this injustice, especially people of color.

A ridiculous example – the Shreveport, LA ordinance had made it illegal to wear saggy pants. During the 12 years it was on the book, 726 people were arrested for violating the law – 96 percent of them involving black men – until police shot and killed a man named Anthony Childs while trying to arrest him for wearing saggy pants, then the law was finally repealed.

The constant and indiscriminate expansion of the law by legislators in high places and the failure of the judiciary to refuse to enforce unreasonable regulations has led to a system in which the judiciary can judge non‐​morally‐​wrongful conduct that poses no real threat to others or society. Moreover, in this system, police are also more likely to stop, search, and arrest people of color. Blacks are more likely than whites to experience use of force or gunfire by police. A black man will face harsher charges than a white man when arrested for the same crime. White defendants are 25 percent more likely to have their principal initial charges dropped or reduced to a lesser crime than black defendants. Racism has even created hierarchies within the black population, with lighter-skinned blacks often receiving more lenient sentences than darker-skinned blacks.

Another program that has stirred great controversy and been scrapped is the Trump-era “China Initiative” program led by the Department of Justice,started from 2018 in the name of “ crack down on perceived spying and theft of American academic research for China’s benefit”, while ended up with intense racial profiling and sloppy legal work. Nearly 75% of the suspects have been proven to be far from economic espionage, and many charges ultimately dismissed as wrongful prosecutions. For the Department of Justice, the China Initiative is nothing more than a pretext to justify violating the constitutional rights of Asian Americans. It fueled intolerance and prejudice against Asian Americans at a time when assaults and hate crimes against Asian Americans have skyrocketed.

When will the U.S. justice system truly act out of national security concerns, rather than applying lower standards in investigating and prosecuting criminal conduct, or viewing people of racial, ethnic or familial ties to Asia and Africa in a way that deepens harmful perceptions?

Who is the legislation for?

A study by Princeton University Professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Professor Benjamin I. Page looked at more than 20 years of data to answer a simple question: Does the government represent the people? Their finding is disturbing: 90 percent of the number of Americans for or against any idea has no impact on the likelihood that Congress would legislate it.

The one thing that does have an impact? Money. While the views of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have a “statistically insignificant impact,” the economic elites, business interests and those who can afford lobbyists still have a significant impact. The wealthy interests get what they want, and the rest of us pay the price.

According to the CDC, more Americans died from gun-related injuries in 2020 than in any year on record – 45,222. The number includes a record number of gun murders and a near-record number of gun suicides, 54 percent of the total. Even though law enforcement officers overwhelmingly oppose carrying guns without a permit: it makes their jobs harder and puts their lives – and the lives of the people they are sworn to protect – at risk; even though Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, has repeatedly warned that the new gun laws necessarily mean more guns in public places, more danger to people. “The data shows that the relaxation of permitless carry laws has led to more gun violence and there’s no evidence of any protective factor. And remember every data point we look at is someone deceased,” Gun lobby-supporting politicians are still shamefully putting primary politics ahead of public safety, and new pro-gun laws are still spreading across the country, in as many as 25  states, soon to eliminate background checks as well as make it legal to carry concealed firearms without a permit. The consequence will be a rise in gun violence across the country, more devastation for their constituents and the law enforcement officers they pretend to support.

But no one will care about that. The American justice system is inherently rotten and broken, not because we can’t find solutions to our problems, but because of political decisions that legitimize the process. Justice system in America will not bring you justice and security, it will only make you pray that you are lucky enough.

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