On Tuesday, Timothy Masters, who spent nearly 10 years of a life sentence behind bars was finally exonerated for a 1987 murder he did not commit. Thanks to DNA testing (and a great deal of perseverance) he is a free man. This happened in the city in which I live. In regards to the case, District Attorney, Larry Abrahamson said, “America has the best criminal justice system in the world; however, no system is perfect.” Well there’s an understatement.
The best criminal justice system in the world?! We certainly have the largest, and most overcrowded. I read his quote in the paper this morning and I have thought about it all the day. Perhaps he was referring to the rights Americans have, in which case, I wholeheartedly agree. I love living in a country where its citizens cannot be persecuted for their religious, political and sexual preferences; that we have access to the law and the right to a trial, etc., but imperfection continues to run deep within this system. So is it really the best in the world?
If we had the best criminal justice system in the world . . .
- Prisons wouldn’t be at a 200% capacity
- The U.S. Supreme Court wouldn’t have deemed California prisons as “cruel and unusual punishment,” a violation of the 8th Amendment
- Inmates, both male and female, wouldn’t be getting raped everyday
- The U.S. wouldn’t have the highest incarceration rate in the world
- Prisons like Folsom wouldn’t have a 70% recidivism rate
If we had the best criminal justice system in the world . . .innocent people wouldn’t be executed. The list goes on and on.
Is the U.S. criminal justice system as good as its gets? Should I just shut up and appreciate we have what we have and accept these imperfections?
Quotes like this, especially from those in the field, merely shows the public that there is nothing wrong with the system—only that it’s not “perfect.” Until lawmakers start acknowledging the problems, our penal system will continue to be far from perfect.
You can read about Tim Masters and his case HERE.
June 30, 2011 at 9:32 am
“Until lawmakers start acknowledging the problems, our penal system will continue to be far from perfect” I couldn’t agree more. Great post.
July 2, 2011 at 5:05 am
I too have followed the Masters case for years – even borrowed some aspects for a mystery I’m working on. In my opinion, our justice system is broken and sadly in need of repair. Great post and thanks for making us think about this.
July 2, 2011 at 8:42 am
Great post, April. I think the prison system falls under the “out of sight, out of mind” category for many of us. If we don’t have a reason to educate ourselves, we aren’t aware of what’s really going on
July 3, 2011 at 7:53 am
You’re exactly right, Jenny. The public doesn’t see what is happening inside jails and prisons, so fixing the system is certainly not a priority.
July 9, 2011 at 10:31 am
The problem is that the system is run by humans, and humans sometimes make horrible mistakes. In some cases, those humans are single-minded and more interested in making a political name for themselves than they are in pursuing justice. Guilty people go free, and innocent folks go to prison. We can surely do better, but only if we pay attention, participate, speak up. We can’t just go about our own business and hope for the best.
July 11, 2011 at 7:01 am
You’re absolutely right, Pat.