Our criminal justice system is violating our values as a people. A nation that savors liberty now incarcerates more human beings than any other nation on the planet. Like in any other system, it always needs adjustments. We need to have a Criminal Justice System that is effective and that prosecutes individuals in a fair way to ensure that we as a society are able to maintain peace, order, and security. The outcome of a case I read about a Chicago police officer who shot seventeen-year-old shows a broken criminal justice system not just an injustice by a single police officer and it was all based on racism. Too often arrest is not being applied in a way that reflects our belief in equality under the law. As a society, we have to acknowledge when we are locking up these many people with this kind of frequency. Our criminal justice system isn’t broken. The glaring racial inequity is actually a result of how the justice system was designed to work, a system with an undeniable historic connection to slavery that was outlawed a century ago. During the 1960’s, the criminal justice system faced serious challenges regarding racism. Today many fear that racism is becoming a serious issue in our criminal justice system. CBS News poll reported that about three-fourths of blacks said they thought that the criminal justice system was biased against African-Americans and that police were more likely to use a deadly force against a black person than a white person. There are many ways law enforcement can improve by giving better training to help officers deal with situations that escalate too quick so that incidents don’t happen. It is extremely difficult to prove if an officer is being racist because the supreme court requires that you offer a conscious racial bias or some kind of admission in order to even get in the courthouse door. The single most important thing we can do to eliminate racial bias in the criminal justice system is to end the war on drugs. The drug war is responsible for the arrest, incarceration, and branding of millions of people of color as felons. Drug use, abuse, as well as drug dealing, is just as prevalent in white communities as it is in poor communities of color but the drug war has been waged almost exclusively in ghetto communities resulting in what I believe is racial undercast. In a speech, President Obama proposed an overhaul of the criminal justice system. He mentioned how in too many cases the criminal justice system is a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails. He said we needed to minimize the sentencing of non-violent drug crimes. He also mentioned prison conditions and how we should not be tolerating overcrowding, gang activity, and rape in prison. He talked about how we should give formal prisoners who have done their time and are now trying to do the right thing, a decent shot in job interviews and ban the question on job applications that asks if they have ever been convicted of a felony. We should also restore voting rights for those who have served their sentences.
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