Justice isn’t fair!
“It’s my way or the highway!”
How often have you heard this saying when parents wish to put their foot down or “stamp their authority” in a household? Children living there understand that they must obey the rules. The homeowner has the power to create rules that may seem unreasonable, but they can insist on compliance with it should you wish to live there.
Now, let’s use this same principle where the laws of a country are concerned. The “powerful” lawmakers (often old, powerful white men) do not go around the country consulting poor, marginalized people before enacting laws. All they care about is ensuring law and order prevails.
Here’s the problem:
Because we live in an unequal society and our personal biases are at play in almost every area of our life, it follows that the laws of the land favour those who make it.
It is almost impossible to be objective when dealing with a Black or Brown accused in court if systemic and structural racism is not understood.
As simple as it may be to understand, there is a difference between a man stealing a cow to feed his family and one who steals the cow to sell at a profit. Logically you would think that the former would receive a lighter sentence, but “reality creeps in” when “Lady Justice” peeks from under her blindfold, sees who is standing in the dock and with prejudice because of socialization and racism, metes out justice.
Michael Steinhardt is an example of this. He is a billionaire hedge fund manager who “handed over” $ 70 million worth of “stolen” art. He was subsequently “banned” from attending auctions or exhibitions of art. Let that sink in!
Colour me blind and point me in the direction of a Black or Brown person or a homeless person who would have this type of privilege of no sentence for theft. I thought that knowingly accepting stolen goods was a crime!
It seems that obeying the law is for those people who have little to no privilege or power.
In that case, justice is not fair!
Justice is not blind!
The scales of justice weigh heavily in favour of people based on class, race etc.
Locally, it would seem that whenever there is a crime that garners national attention, the easiest thing to do is grab the first homeless person throw a slew of charges at them and see which ones stick. Now, I am not insinuating that unhoused people are all innocent based on their status but, I find it lazy that they are the first to be nabbed as suspects.
Sadly, when they are found innocent of wrongdoing or charges against them are withdrawn, there is no compensation for their pain and suffering.
Our justice system needs an overhaul!
Judges and jury members need to understand how racism, privilege and biases are ever-present
in their conscious and subconscious minds when dealing with an accused of a different race or socioeconomic background.
If it remains as is, we will continue to see many more miscarriages of justice and subsequent pardons of primarily Black and Brown people who have been pre-judged when “Lady Justice” snuck a peek at them from under her blindfold.
The number of innocent people in US jails is approximately 20 000. That’s excluding the ones on death row or those who have died or were exonerated years later. I don’t have the statistics for awaiting trial prisoners.
In 2018, South African prisons had approximately 40 000 awaiting trial prisoners. These include those that are too poor or unemployed to afford bail or dont have fixed addresses, so they are “denied bail.”
The justice system is fraught with injustice if you are Black, Brown or poor.