Two Jails in the Perfect Criminal Justice System

dv766053There seems to be a problem with our criminal justice system when violent and non violent criminals are all punished the same way. The distinction between these two groups of people should be defined clearly. All of those who commit violent crime in this country should be punished one way and those who commit nonviolent crimes should be punished another. This is because our system places all criminals together and it seems that they are successful in turning those who are nonviolent into violent criminals through their punishment.

Punishment and rehabilitation

When it comes to nonviolent crimes like drug trafficking, drug possessions or property crimes that do not use any sort of force toward another should be approached differently for punishment. They should definitely be punished but the nonviolent should not be housed with the violent. These criminals should be given access to therapy during their incarceration to help them defeat the mental issues that have made the act of drug use, or thievery an attractive option. It has been well documented that those who abuse drugs are often dealing with a trauma from their past. It could be abuse or neglect of some kind which made a drug addiction seem like a good idea. It is also true that rehabilitation is going to be the most financially effective manner in addressing these abusers of the criminal justice system.

Punishment Only

A violent criminal who has committed a violent act on the life of another should be treated much differently. Even though there is an opportunity to rehabilitate there is a greater need of the victims and the families of victims to have a feeling of retribution. These people have forfeited their personal right for existence by violating the rights of others. There is a price to pay when one person endangers or takes the life, well being or personal freedom of another.  All violent offenders should be placed in jail and not released until they are proven to be no threat to society if ever.  There are people who commit acts of domestic violence who are released only to commit another act in the future.  Those who commit violence against others need at the least intense therapy but in most cases are going to need to be placed in incarceration in order to protect society at large.

There is a significant difference between these two types of criminals and establishing a criminal justice system that treated them as such would be a fantastic start on the way to justice.

Legalize Marijuana and Save the Country

potinhandThere are thousands of people who are in jail today because of drug crimes they committed involving marijuana. This is a non violent crime that involves a substance that is less harmful to society than legal substances like alcohol. Historically cannabis was a plant that was used to produce many useful products for society, but because of fear of competition from the cotton industry and the paper industry the plant was made illegal in the early 1900’s. There was a misinformation propaganda campaign started against the plant that has not been relinquished to this day. However the positives of marijuana have started to be recognized and slowly but surely the drug is becoming legal.  The problem with this is that many people are in prison for dealing in a substance that is becoming more legal each day. In Colorado the entire state has declared marijuana legal. Here is why this is important.

Money Saved on Law Enforcement

One of the first benefits is going to result from the money that the authorities no longer have to spend on enforcing the marijuana laws, the courts don’t have to prosecute them and the prisons don’t have to house the users of this drug. This alone should be enough financial benefit but it is only the surface savings. The production and sale of marijuana can be brought into the system and the government can regulate the production of marijuana and tax the sale of the drug. All of the money made from the taxation can go toward maintaining the proper enforcement of the law. There is no doubt that legalizing the plant will be a financial boon to the government and the new industry.

Benefits of Cannabis

It has long been noted that the use of marijuana provides patients suffering from certain illnesses and undergoing medical treatments a real relief. This is making a person’s quality of life just a little bit better, but there are other uses for the plant. The hemp plant can help to produce many really valuable substances like paper, medicine, animal feed, clothe, nutritional substance and medical supplies to name just a few. All from a plant that is treated as a poison when the good of this plant far outweighs any perceived negative.

There is a fear today about the use of marijuana because simple minded people are concerned that everyone in America will suddenly start smoking pot if it is made legal. However in places where it is legal there has been no significant uptick in consumption. Marijuana should be legalized in America and the sooner it happens the better we will all be.

Does Justice for All Exist in America?

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Justice is a word that is used all the time in political arenas all over the world but looking at the legal system, some would have to wonder if the true meaning of the word could have ever been used as an adjective for them. Justice is basically defined as one gets what one deserves.  This simple definition really throws a lot of questions into play about how people are treated in this land.  Those with money never seem to be punished while those who don’t have money are at the mercy of the legal system which is proving itself to be far from up to the challenge.

Money Talks

Throughout the recent history of the United States there are many examples about how people with money are treated differently than those who have no money at all. It begins and ends with OJ Simpson. This is a man that was accused of killing his wife and her friend because he was jealous.  Due to his money and celebrity he was able to get away with the crime in a criminal trial. Even though found responsible in a civil law suit, he never served a day for committing two murders.  It is a fact that the defendant had enough money to hire lawyers who could cast doubt on rock solid evidence.  At the same time there were many criminals who were sent to prison for life on much less evidence, no fanfare and media coverage. Perhaps they were guilty or not but the fact that each were treated differently is definitely not equal.

An Eye for an Eye

In the Bible, the justice that God called for was an eye for an eye, and in today’s world that is hardly the case. Big corporations dump poison into the environment and destroy wetlands and nobody is held accountable. The CEO’s and decision makers hide behind the corporation and are often never punished for the wrongs that they committed. People’s lives are ruined as they become sick from toxic waste, but because they have money there seems to be no real way to prosecute these people. Corporations are not held at the same standard as a person, in fact today they are given a lot more freedoms. Since it is believed that a strong business climate will lead to an increase in the well being of others.  Justice seems to be hard to find in the world today, because it seems like there is no situation in which anyone gets what they truly deserve.

Brotherhood of Cops is Unethical!

unethical copsSince the beginning of law enforcement there has been an unspoken code between officers of different precincts, jurisdictions and states that the brotherhood of cops will take care of their own. On the surface it seems like a situation that would provide a much needed perk to hard working public servants everywhere. Unfortunately the result is that nobody should be allowed to live above the laws that they enforce for a living the rest of the time. The minute that the lines of right and wrong are blurred it can become difficult to figure out exactly where the line should be held.

The Exceptions

The problem with the brotherhood of police officers is that once a person starts to apply their own choices to right and wrong it is difficult to stop.  One cop might never give a ticket to any other police officer out of courtesy. If that is acceptable, some people are going to push the limits of right and wrong. Will other minor violations be ignored? Will theft? That is the problem with this type of favoritism, in some cases it will lead to a corruption in the police force and actually make criminals out of police officers.  The hard facts are that police officers should be held to a higher standard than ordinary citizens. They should be the standard bearers not looking for a perk that puts them above the law.

Corruption

The next step from favoritism is corruption because if there is a silent brotherhood then it is a police officer’s job to remain silent regardless of the crimes he sees another police officer commit. This has proven true in many places as the bad behavior of police officers has been caught on video and that has revealed the problems that favoritism can lead to.  The Rodney King incident was one of the first nationwide looks at police officers who were clearly out of line and using their own system of justice and nobody would step in and stop it until there was an outrage over the video. The questions that this brings are large and looming. If the police feel they can get away with beating a prisoner then what else are they doing?

Not all of this behavior can be directly drawn back to the brotherhood of police officers but it should serve as a warning to society that those entrusted with our security need to be held to a standard that is clear and unshakable. Any deviation from the expectation is going to provide a potential for corruption and a punishment of those that are entrusting the police for help in the first place.

Big Brother is Watching You

criminal defense lawWhen it comes to the criminal justice system, nothing has changed more over the past ten years then the rights of a person when it comes to searches and seizures. There has been a huge change from the authorities needing a warrant in order to tap a phone or read a personal email. To today, the government can monitor everything that is written or produced. The right to privacy used to be one of the most prized rights protected by the Bill of Rights, but today, Big Brother can watch you and all that you do with no concern for your rights at all. This is a prime example of how personal rights are being eroded in the criminal justice system.

Illegal Searches and Seizures

It used to be common practice that every law enforcement officer knew that in order to invade someone’s privacy there needed to be a court order or a warrant issued by a judge to do it. In that warrant there were specific items or communications that were described that an officer of the law could look for. The reason it was so specific is that otherwise, it would be too easy to manufacture evidence and frame someone simply because an officer didn’t like the way they looked or what religion a person followed. The system worked hard to protect the individual rights of the people. Now however that has been thrown out the window as the government makes no bones about monitoring each and every communication that anyone sends electronically any time.

This eroding of personal liberties in the criminal justice system may on the surface seem justified as the world is portrayed as a very dangerous place and these measures are meant to protect the citizens. However, it is important that the constitution was written to protect the individual rights of the people from the tyranny of the government. Once citizens start to give up their rights, no matter how justified it is going to be a slippery slope that may not end with freedom.

In the end, there should be no infringement on people’s rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. To usurp these rights because of a passing threat is going to fundamentally change the criminal justice system forever into an oppressive state that denies the basic right to live free. The worst part about the Patriot Act and all subsequent legislation is that it was enacted without so much as a questions from the public.