Sunday, May 10, 2015

Alter the Justice System?

In an article published in the NY Times entitled, “2016 Candidates Are United in Call to Alter Justice System,” Peter Baker outlines how more than 20 years ago, the Democrats and Republicans “were competing to show who could be tougher on murderers, rapists, and drug dealers.”  In the process, “sentences were lengthened and new prisons sprouted up across the country.”

Peter Baker suggests that the current presidential candidates are now “competing over how to reverse what they see as the policy excesses of the 1990s and the mass incarceration that has followed,” including policies that resulted in a “system that has locked up a generation of young men, particularly African-Americans.”  Peter underlines that their focus is “on overhauling the criminal justice system,” and that this “represents a profound shift in American politics.”  He adds that today’s candidates “have concluded that previous leaders went too far.”  Quoting Mr. Michael Waldman, “there’s a competition for reform and to take on the issue of mass incarceration. It’s really unheard-of in recent decades.”  Peter points out that although they approach the issue from different perspectives, “they share a consensus about the goal.”

Wow!  I don’t believe it!  The Democrats and Republicans are agreeing on something!  What’s even harder to believe is that they have a consensus on the goal!  But wait a minute.  This is all fine and good, but there still remains a problem…

There is no question that some folks currently in prison deserve to be there, while others who have be incarcerated don’t deserve to be there.  However, we must stop to ponder about those who deserve to be in prison but aren’t!  Is the reform going to address that reality?  I doubt it!  “Why,” you ask?  No amount of reform is going to change the fact that people with power, influence, and money always have and will continue to (literally) get away with murder!  Furthermore, many lawyers and politicians are the biggest criminals and crooks alive!  Do you think that they will do anything that will increase the likelihood that they will wind up in jail?  For sure!  And I have a bridge to sell you!

All of this is to say that nothing will ever change the disparity that exists within any legal system until any and everyone is treated equally; in other words, no one should get preferential treatment of any kind.  Will that day ever come?  I don’t know, but I doubt it.  Until the day that any justice system reform does so, all I can do is…blame it on fast foods!

- B. J. T. Pepin