The criminal justice system has the mandate of keeping communities and people safe, as well as treating them fairly regardless of the diversity of the diversity in the general population. Therefore, the criminal justice system should not discriminate against gender, sexual orientation, race, or social class. However, the criminal justices system has been rocked by numerous problems ranging from racial inequalities and mass incarceration. In this year alone, there have been rampant shootings of unharmed individuals by police, which is contrary to their duty, which is protecting every citizen. For this reason, I think the criminal justice system is truly engaged in an existential crisis and there is no cause to blame.
According to Ohehir (2016), the country is divided not just by race, but also ideology and culture. For instance, in July, America was polarized by violence, which featured the shooting of two black Americans in cold blood and in ambiguous circumstances. In what was attributed to as retaliation, five police officers were sniper killed apparently by a lone African American gunman. The crisis, which goes beyond racial conflict and political disagreement, can further be attributed to an existential realm. The Dallas shooting made people question the governance of the criminal justice system. In another incident, Baton Rouge police officers shot and killed Alton Sterling, even though a media footage revealed that they had already pinned him down and was immobile, and thus, could not harm them. In effect, this triggered a massive protest because the footage showed that it was unnecessary to shoot him (Lopez, 2016).
In addition, as Branson and Jones (2015) point out, with approximately 2.3 million people US prisons, seven million on probation or parole, as well as one in three African-American men anticipated to be imprisoned within their lifetime. Also, equal treatment, the right to a fair trial, as well as a due process before the law are continuously being violated. As Branson and Jones (2016) point out, it has come to a point where it is not about innocence or guilt, but rather, a matter of race and socio-economic status. According to Bui and Cox (2016), the odds are against blacks and Hispanics, who cannot pay for their defense, as well as racial profiling, were the criminal justice system appears to be biased against the African Americans.
Therefore, this existential conflict is on the verge of destroying the Criminal Justice system. Another problem is the inability of the criminal justice system to control the abuse of illegal drugs. In essence, the justice system has inadequately dealt with the vice and has failed to make a significant impact on the selling, importation, and use of the drugs even after devoting numerous resources in arresting, prosecuting, and trying drug offenders. Also, criminal recidivism is on the rise, which means that the current strategies adopted by the criminal justice system are ineffective. For instance, Deal (2015) reported that in 2013, the state of Georgia was spending 91,000 on each incarcerated juvenile on a yearly basis but still reported a 65% recidivism rate.
As such, these aspects have widely been captured in the media, and thus, it has captured what is really happening in the country. Therefore, the existential crisis does not emanate from misrepresentation or over-sensationalism of the media; rather, it is what is currently happening. The media has the duty of reporting, and thus, the media and the crisis are completely different aspects. The crisis is primarily caused by the dysfunctional and poorly performing criminal justice system, which should be looked at and necessary strategies and ramifications enforced.
Branson, R. & Jones, V. (2015, December). The Crisis of the American Criminal Justice System is Bad News for Everyone. Retrieved from http://www.article3advisors.com/blog/bransonjones
Bui, Q. & Cox. A. (2016, July). Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/upshot/surprising-new-evidence-shows-bias-in-police-use-of-force-but-not-in-shootings.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
Deal, N. (2015, June). How to Defeat the Criminal-Justice Crisis. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nathan-deal/how-to-defeat-the-criminal-justice-crisis_b_7042638.html
Lopez, J. (2016, July). Alton Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police officers. Heres what we know. Retrieved from http://www.vox.com/2016/7/6/12105380/alton-sterling-police-shooting-baton-rouge-louisiana
OHehir, A. (2016, July). Death in Dallas and America's Existential Crisis: Our New 'Civil War' Over the Nature of Reality. Retrieved from http://web.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/death-dallas-and-americas-existential-crisis-our-new-civil-war-over-nature-reality
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