Our Criminal Justice System

We have a criminal justice system that makes very little sense; we lock up people, sometimes for many, many years, and then expect them to know how to make a life for themselves after they are released. We lock up people for victimless crimes, such as taking drugs or paying for sex, yet we allow others to go free when they destroy lives in legal ways, such as ruining their reputation, firing them for petty reasons, or sleeping with their wife. We act as if the lives of other people are less important than our own by allowing rouge prosecutors to file charges they think will stick simply because someone fits a certain profile.

We have judges who sit in judgment who are no more qualified to judge anyone than is anyone else, yet we allow them to send people to jail. To jail, can you imagine that?

Most people cannot imagine what jail is like; to have your freedom taken from you; to be locked in with other people; to lose years of your life. Who are we as a people, when we can so easily take away the life of another? Who are we, but a group of peers sitting on a jury, or watching from afar in judgment, just sure that we must be right, for no better reason than we believe we are.

We’re sending a whole generation of black men to jail, ruining their lives, and spending an awful lot of money to hold them when that money could have been spent in ways that might help them to see that their lives truly are as valuable as anyone else’s.

We condemn the poor to live in their misery and then judge and condemn them when they don’t conform to our expectations. We fail to differentiate between a young man who moons his girlfriend’s mother one evening, and one who molests little children, labeling them both sex offenders, for life.

We spend millions punishing young people for abusing illegal drugs, but then spend millions more underwriting the development of pills that allow rich older men to have sex past their prime.

It makes so little sense, to rehabilitate or punish; is either really a choice? Shouldn’t the choice be whether we continue on with a system that favors the rich and punishes the poor, versus changing the system so that it’s more fair to everyone?

Shouldn’t the question be, is it possible to eradicate poverty, at least in our own country? Or to maybe make it so that every child in this great country of ours finds the same conditions when they go to school, rather than poor kids going to school in rat traps while those lucky enough to be born into better families in better neighborhoods find sparking clean, bright buildings chock full of the latest equipment, furnishings and books?

Shouldn’t the question be, why have we let things go on this way for so long?