Recently there has been a lot of attention on law enforcement and police brutality. While I do want to talk about these issues and even further complications of the history of how the police in the U.S. came to be the military complex that it is today. I would like to take a moment to analyze the justice system itself because I think both sides can agree (Police and Civilians) that the justice system is not working properly.
How is the justice system supposed to work?
In a just society, the police bring in suspects and they are given a fair trial by a jury of their peers. This is the basic premise of the justice system.
You are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law.
This last statement is so important to basic human rights, that even the United Nations adopted it in their Declaration of Human Rights Principles, article eleven, section one (Pennington, 2003).
What happens when a suspect is shot and killed before
receiving a fair trial?
Well for starters it reverses the basic human rights principle to:
“Guilty until proven innocent”
This in itself is a human rights violation. Not to mention you have to ask yourself:
Does the punishment fit the crime?
When you look at the recent shooting in Tulsa. A man was tased, shot and killed. The officers made a similar claim that has been used many cases before this one , which was he did not comply with their demands and resisted arrest (Whichard, & Felson, 2016).
Looking at this at face value. Let’s say he did resist arrest.
The man was suspected of being under the influence of a narcotic.
But even if all of this was true does this justify the death
Another problem with this is that the dead suspects character is now on trial, not the crime he was accused of committing. Even the U.S. Marine Corp, does not train their soldiers to shoot to kill, when engaging the enemy on the battlefield .This indicates a serious issue with how police officers are being trained when engaging civilians.
Compliancy is Rewarded
The justice system is built so that compliancy is rewarded. If you are a criminal and have money, you can get away with the crime. Perfect examples of this can be seen with David Becker and Brock Turner.
In both cases the criminals (not suspects) pleaded guilty to charges of rape and both were set free with minimal to no jail time.
Don't forget Dylan Roof who was taken out to eat by the police, after shooting 9 people at a church prayer group in Charleston, North Carolina.
The message to real criminals is clear. If you commit a crime stay calm, don’t resist arrest and chances are you will be given privileges that are not awarded to suspects who panic. You might even be acquitted of all charges if you have enough money.
The Factor of Race
Notice I did not mention race in any of the articles mentioned. The reason I didn't mention it was because I wanted to use the same colorblind logic, that spurs many people’s assumptions of the justice system. But one look at the articles and you will find that race is a factor in these cases. Arguably perhaps not the only a factor, but definitely an important one.
Studies have found that when race is included as a factor, Whites serve less time for the same offenses when compared to African Americans and Hispanics (Kutateladze, & Lawson, 2016;Mustard, 2001).
Another observation I’ve made is that when these things happen, people of color immediately post the articles and videos on Facebook. While many of my friends that identify as white don’t catch on until a few days later.
When they do, a large percentage of them post anti-black lives matter posts, along with blue lives matter slogans. But this is not going to fix the justice system:
What happens when this is not longer a racial issue?
What happens when justice becomes truly blind and everyone starts to become the victims and taken their rights to a fair trial?
What if these are signs of a Gestapo style police force that is on the rise?
Social Gelo with Angelo
Angelo Ferrer (M.S. Psychology)
Kutateladze, B. L., & Lawson, V. Z. (2016). THE UNDERBELLY OF THE BEAST: MISDEMEANOR PRACTICE IN THE ERA OF BROKEN WINDOWS AND SATURATION POLICING: How Bad Arrests Lead to Bad Prosecution: Exploring the Impact of Prior Arrests on Plea Bargaining. Cardozo L. Rev., 37, 973-1127.
Mustard, D. B. (2001). Racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in sentencing: Evidence from the US federal courts. Journal of Law and Economics, 44(1), 285-314.
Pennington, K. (2003). Innocent until proven guilty: The origins of a legal maxim. Jurist, 63, 106.
Whichard, C., & Felson, R. B. (2016). Are Suspects Who Resist Arrest Defiant, Desperate, or Disoriented?. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 0022427816632571.