Over incarceration, police violence, and undeserved sentences/unfair trial.On

Over the past few years, my interest in criminal justice has grown tremendously. What sparked my interest was social media and documentaries. Being able to see what is happening in the world from millions of people’s’ perspectives through first hand or second hand experiences has opened my eyes to a lot of things that aren’t portrayed in the news or elsewhere, and expanding my knowledge on the topic has been something I am quite passionate about. Because of these discoveries, I am very interested in the flaws and the injustices of the Criminal Justice System. Some of the things that really caught my attention are mass incarceration, police violence, and undeserved sentences/unfair trial.On December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution was set in place. This amendment states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This amendment freed the slaves, but had a loophole: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime.” This meant that it was technically legal for the government to require people who have been incarcerated to perform labor for economic gain. After the Civil War and the slaves were freed, slave owners knew this would lead to a huge downfall in economy, and suddenly African Americans were being arrested en masse for minor crimes such as vagrancy or loitering and they then had to provide labor, as if they were slaves all over again. This was only the start, the first prison boom, so to speak. The prison population was mostly flat until the 1970’s. In 1970 the US prison population was at 357,292. Nixon was president, and his focus was on “the war on the crime and drugs.” Drug addiction and drug dependency were treated as a crime issue instead of a health issue, and this caused many black people to be imprisoned for low-level offenses such as possession of marijuana. The prison population rose from 357,292 in 1970 to 513,900 in 1980, and 759,100 in 1985, and in 2000 it was over 2 million. America has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners, and out of the 2.3 million people who are in prison in the US currently, about 1 million of them are African American.Many Americans support the thin blue line. We all want good officers to succeed, and we are aware that the sacrifices law enforcement make for us are often overlooked and underappreciated. Police violence and brutality statistics should not exist, but they do because some officers abuse their privilege. According to https://vittana.org/42-shocking-police-brutality-statistics,  In 2016, 1,152 people were killed by police due to varied circumstances. The most common form of police misconduct in 2010 was excessive force. 61% of police officers say that they don’t always report serious abuse that has been seen by other officers. 52% of police officers report that it is common for other law enforcement officials to turn a blind eye to the improper conduct of other officers. As reported on https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/, Fewer than 1 in 3 people who are killed by law enforcement in the US are unarmed. 69% of the victims of police brutality in the United States who are African American were suspected of a non violent crime and were unarmed. Despite all these facts, there are proven solutions. Some police departments have adopted some of the following use-of-force policies to reduce the number of citizens killed and since have killed fewer people. 25% fewer killings by police departments after officers were required to use all means before shooting. 25% fewer police killings after police departments require all use of force to be reported. 22% fewer killings after bans of chokeholds and strangleholds. 9% fewer police killings by police department’s after rule of duty to intervene if another officer uses excessive force. 8% fewer killings after restrictions of shooting at moving vehicles. 5% fewer killings after requirements of warning before shooting. However, not many police departments have really enforced these rules, but I do believe that if they did, a lot of positive change would come out of it.My last topic is sentencing. Many people in the U.S. still get unfair sentences for more minor offenses. At least 67 people are incarcerated and will spend life in prison for possession of marijuana, while it is now legalized and the marijuana business is doing well and providing many people with jobs. If a person is selling less than 50 kg of marijuana, the minimum incarceration is 5 years. Meanwhile, a rapist’s sentence, on average, is around 9.8 years, but actual time served is around 5.4 years. In my opinion, selling weed should not have the same sentence as a rapist because what that dealer did will never equal the damage and trauma that a rape victim will feel for the rest of their life. Not to mention, most people accused of rape are never found guilty. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, around 97 of 100 accused rapists avoid punishment. In 2013 in Montana, a teacher was ordered to serve 30 days in prison for raping one of his students. She was 14 years old, and she committed suicide during the trial. Only then was his sentence changed to ten years. You might have heard about the Stanford freshman who was caught “on top of a half-naked, unconscious woman behind a dumpster.” because his crimes had witnesses, He was charged with three sexual assault related felonies and convicted on all counts. His maximum prison sentence was 14 years, prosecutors recommended six, he was sentenced six months, then was out within 3 on parole. These statistics are unjust and absolutely unacceptable, and not a high enough price to pay for the distress and torture the countless victims will have to withstand, especially knowing that their rapists will be back out on the street with other potential victims soon enough.Overall, I enjoy learning about Criminal Justice and would like to expand my knowledge on the subject as much as possible. The world is changing every day and we must keep up, but it is also the same in a lot of ways from the past that we must work on. I look forward to this class and how being in it can help me understand more of what I don’t know and how I can make myself useful in the society we live in.

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