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Inequality in America’s Criminal Justice System

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    Inequality is everywhere especially in countries like America and inequality affects many things even our criminal justice system, a system made to be fair. But we can fix these problems, one step at a time. You, as individual can donate to organizations fighting for your cause, getting involved in local government, and just spreading the word can help reduce this problem. We, as a society can help reduce/fix this by creating social movements, getting politics, and addressing our criminal justice system of being biased against certain factors. Again, inequality is a major injustice people have to face and it is even worse because a system, we, Americans made to be fair is not and is affected by inequality but it can be fixed and a positive change can take place.

    Inequality in America

    Everyday people are judged and scrutinized due to being different, whether these harsh judgements are based on a person’s race, socioeconomic class, or gender, inequality is everywhere including in our (America’s) own justice system. The Collins Dictionary (n.d) describes inequality as, “the difference in social status, wealth, or opportunity between people or groups.” The effects of inequality in our criminal justice system and our society in general are quite major in countries such as our own, the United States. According to author, Richard Wilkinson of CNN’s (2011), “Why inequality is bad for you — and everyone else”, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, violent behavior, and the lack of literacy and math skills are all effects of socioeconomic inequality. As stated previously these effects are major in countries like the United States, the researchers at CNN say, “Most of these problems (drug abuse, teen pregnancy, etc.) are between twice and ten times as common in countries like the United States, Britain and Portugal, which have large income differences compared to countries with smaller income differences like the Nordic countries or Japan.”

    America’s Criminal Justice System and its Battle with Inequality

    The Correctional Officer Organization (n.d) states, “Unlike in most countries, the United States criminal justice system is not represented by a single, all-encompassing institution. Rather, it is a network of criminal justice systems at the federal, state, and special jurisdictional levels like military courts and territorial courts. Criminal laws at these levels vary, although these are all based on the US Constitution.” America’s Justice System is made to be fair, but like many things in our society it is effected by people’s judgements of others and inequalities, such as race, gender, and socioeconomic class. In an article by Destiny Lee (2017) ( a college student studying Business Administration) who did a newsletter on former female inmate, Piper Kerman, called, “Inequality in America’s Criminal Justice System”, factors such as races will affect how harsh your sentence will be and how likely you will be arrested for your crime. Another factor is your economic status, which will help you or the state to see if you can afford your own lawyer since Destiny founded out that, “Eighty-percent of people who are accused of a crime are too poor to hire their own lawyer to defend them in court.” These inequality factors affect the fairness of our criminal justice system. The newsletter also states, “In the past, the injustice between races was not as visually present, but the segregation was immediately apparent the first day Piper spent in prison.” In Mrs. Kerman’s words, “The correctional officers kept the dorms segregated and these separations became named, the ghetto, Spanish Harlem, and more.” which we later found out causes overpopulation and overcrowded jail cells and prisons. Sadly, race and socioeconomic status aren’t the only biases in our system, gender also has an effect on our justice system as Piper addresses that there is a, “fast-growing percentage of incarcerated women, a 650% increase compared to the 400% increase in men in prison over the last few decades.” Piper also makes this following comment about America’s legal system, “The way that America’s legal system handles cases with women is further evidence of the inequality that exists within the system. Women’s involvement in crime is primarily driven by mental health, substance abuse, or sexual and physical abuse. Because of these factors, women are often forced to commit crimes out of fear for their safety. However, because of the relationship and ratio of correctional officer to prisoner, incarcerated women are very often subjected to abuse in prison as well.”

    How to Reduce Inequality in Our Justice System, a Person’s Duty

    We, not only as a society but individuals must fix our bias and fairness of the lack of equality in our criminal justice. You must research the problem, using research and evidence not only gives you credibility but also shows your dedication to wanting to fix the problem. One thing, you as individual can do to fix this problem is to get involved in your local government, address the problem of inequality in our criminal justice system and urge action to take place in fixing it. Another thing you can do is donate to an organization fighting for a similar cause or for the same one, and if there isn’t an organization out there to stopping inequality in America’s justice system make one. Steps as the previous two above are suggestions by a guest contributor of Claremont Lincoln University’s ENAGE program (2016). The biggest thing is to get out in the world, educate people about the problem we have in our justice system and spread the word, personal development causes social development.

    How to Reduce Inequality in Our Justice System, Society’s Duty

    We, the society must fix this problem of inequality in our criminal justice system or us as individuals will be effected by these unfair injustices, which in return will affect us as a society. The society must come forward and state that we have a problem, that our justice system is corrupted by biases and factors of race, gender, and socioeconomic class just as the Future Children of America (2018) did in “Reducing Justice System.” People create society, so people must act for society to act. Society can create social movements, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom which are both examples of people, society creating movements to fix/change a problem. Another way for society to fix/reduce inequality in our justice system is once again being active in politics and voting for government official to help make a change. Addressing our court systems, legal processes, even our prison guards of being biased against certain factors, such as economic status, race, or gender can help society reduce inequality in American’s justice system.

    Concluding Statement

    Inequality is a big social injustice that has affected our criminal justice system, but it isn’t as big if we can reduce and fix it over time. There are many ways to fix our corrupted system be it donating to an organization or getting involved in politics (local or federal). But the only way for us to reduce and fix this problem is by individuals to take action to cause society to take action. We must deal with this problem or it will only get bigger and bigger. Inequality has affected many things in our society including a system of fairness and un-biased opinion but it can be fixed, by you, your community then by our society.

    Citations/References

    1. Inequality [Def. 1]. (n.d.). In Collins Dictionary. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/inequality
    2. Wilkinson, R. (2011, November 6). Why inequality is bad for you — and everyone else [Web log post]. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://www.cnn.com/2011/11/06/opinion/wilkinson-inequality-harm/index.html
    3. U.S. Criminal Justice System. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://www.correctionalofficer.org/us-criminal-justice-system
    4. Lee, D. (2017, March). Inequality in America’s Criminal Justice System. MSP Newsletter March 2017. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://odi.osu.edu/msp/msp-newsletter/msp-newsletter-march-2017/inequality-in-americas-criminal-justice-system.html
    5. G. (2017, July 16). 4 Easy Ways to Create Social Impact Right Now (4 Tools That Can Help) [Web log post]. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://www.claremontlincoln.edu/engage/social-impact/4-easy-ways-create-social-impact-now/
    6. Laub, J. H. (2018). Reducing Justice System Inequality (1st ed., Vol. 28). Princeton, NJ: Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from https://futureofchildren.princeton.edu/sites/futureofchildren/files/media/vol28issue1.pdf.

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