Our Criminal Justice System is Impaired


Elizabeth Meyer, Journalist

The responsibility of the criminal justice system is to bring “justice for all,” bringing in those who cause harm to others, as well as many other things.

August Vollmer created the criminal justice system in 1916, a complex network of institutions and processes that work together to investigate, prosecute, and punish individuals who commit crimes. It is designed to maintain public safety, protect individual rights, and ensure justice. The system includes law enforcement agencies, courts, correctional facilities, and other organizations that play a role in the administration of justice. It is based on the principle of due process, meaning that everyone is entitled to a fair trial, and the evidence from the crime must be collected and presented in a way that is consistent with the law.

The justice system is at times imperfect, there are studies conducted that found 91% of Americans say that the system needs fixing, disagreeing with the criminal system and its operation. One of the most significant issues is the impact of the system on people of color and low-income individuals. It has been proven that people of color are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, and sentenced to harsher punishments than non-colored people. There are many concerns about wrongful convictions and police brutality. If you are not white and you are a threat to others.

There is a saying for people who are charged with a crime but don’t have serious issues because of their money, “Get out of jail free card for the wealthy.” Being wealthy plays a big part in whether you will be charged or not. The likelihood of someone wealthy buying their pre-trial is high, this means that they will be able to go home and keep their jobs while preparing for their defense. Although an individual who has a low income could end up staying in jail for days, weeks, months, or years before their case even crosses a desk, this is how wrongful convictions happen to an innocent person, giving them longer-term prison sentences for something they didn’t do.

Some power holders use that as an advantage to abuse their power and individuals because of a badge or a higher chair, in these cases it could be police officers and/or judges. The criminal justice system is supposed to be impartial, and fair. However, there have been many instances throughout the many years where the system has failed to live up to these ideals.


UPLB Perspective- Double Standards and Selective Justice

Stephen Clark was 22 when he was shot more than 20 times because police officers believed Clark was holding a gun, he was holding a mobile phone.

Alton Sterling was selling DVDs and CDs in his shop when officers asked Sterling to step outside, where they tased him and pinned him to the ground before shooting him six times because he was showing signs of “aggression,” he died before help could arrive. One officer was fired and the other officer who was involved was only suspended and there were no charges against them.

In some cases when a school shooting happens, the judge on the case will declare that the individual will not receive a prison sentence or give slack on their sentence, due to them being mentally ill. Sometimes, the convicted will have no reason and their prosecutor will have them plead with insanity.

Just in 2022, there were over 300 mass shootings in the United States.

Ragy Girgis, a professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and New York State Psychiatric Institute, has stated that 5% of mass shootings are caused by mental health, 25% of shootings have no reason, and 23% of shootings are from substance abuse. Although a significant percentage of the time the perpetrators are charged there is still that percentage of not being charged

The criminal justice system is needed to keep balance but that does not mean we have to kill in order to keep it.