This paper covers three points to answer three big questions about the criminal justice system. Firstly, this article will define that the rights of people, free or those awaiting trial, are protected by the same parts of the amendments that guarantee due process. Secondly, the article uses a quote from a congressional committee to explain no matter legal status or where in the borders a person is, they are protected by the criminal justice system.
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Thirdly, it will be clarified how the police departments and criminal justice system are losing the ability to protect the rights of everyone because of civil unrest in the community caused by unfair sentencings between races and police departments warping the laws to imprison minorities with little to no responsibility being taken by the officers accused. This article will use four sources to support the claims that due process is what forces the criminal justice system to provide equality among laws, everyone is protected by the criminal justice system no matter legal status, and civil unrest and distrust in police is causing trouble with the criminal justice system protecting our rights.
The Mysteries of the Criminal Justice System
It is important as citizens or aliens of the united states to understand the rights afforded to us by criminal justice system. The criminal justice system is supported and centered around the amendments and laws set in place. If they (amendments and laws) are ignored or misinterpreted for any other use besides good our democratic system could fall and turn into a totalitarian government. Thanks to our founding fathers, certain assurances are in place to assure the people their rights are protected, no matter location or legal status.
Knowing Your Protection
To know if a person protected under the constitution is as easy as remembering two words, due process. Due process is followed by the criminal justice system because it comes straight from the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eight constitutional amendments. A simple explanation of due process is stated by Crime and Due Process (n.d.), “Due process means that laws must be applied fairly and equally to all people, especially to a citizen accused of a crime.”. Like many of the amendments, over time there have been many interpretations about what kinds of things could be covered under each one, but the general meaning and message of them still rings true when it comes to the people receiving equal and fair treatment.
Who is Left Out?
If you are worried if you are covered under the United States criminal justice system or not, do not be. Everyone living inside the US is protected, but at different degrees depending on citizenship. Full citizens are completely protected by the constitution, while illegal immigrants are only covered under parts of a few amendments. Longley, Robert (December 07, 2018) quotes the Congressional Committee that drafted the 14th amendment when he says:
“The last two clauses of the first section of the amendment disable a State from depriving not merely a citizen of the United States, but any person, whoever he may be, of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or from denying to him the equal protection of the laws of the State… if adopted by the States, forever disable every one of them from passing laws trenching upon those fundamental rights and privileges which pertain to citizens of the United States, and to all persons who may happen to be within their jurisdiction.””
This makes it clear that no matter the legal status of an individual if they reside inside the United States borders their rights are protected.
Protection of Rights, Success or failure?
With an ever-growing amount of scrutiny being brought down upon the criminal justice system and police, the fear that bias and racism are affecting police departments ability to protect our rights is growing. Wallenchinsky, D., & Brinkerhoff, N. (2012, February 04) state that in a study of 58,000 federal criminal cases that the equality in sentencing of blacks and whites was almost nonexistent and that the sentencing time for whites was 60 percent shorter compared to African-Americans. Sentencing problems like this are not helping the divide between the police and the community. To make things worse “that there are officers that will violate citizens’ human rights and civil liberties with impunity and who are comfortable in the knowledge that the system will protect and cover their actions” Hudson, R. (2014, December 30). These two quoted sections clearly explain why there is a growing divide is expanding rapidly. The people are seeing that minorities are getting draconian sentencings for the same crimes of those committed by another race, and it is causing unrest. The police department cannot fully protect the rights of the people when the communities lose faith and trust in them, or when the police officers that swore an oath to uphold the constitution and laws instead manipulate laws and loopholes to use the criminal justice system against citizens.
The amendments of the constitution are in place to protect the people of the united states and others within the boundaries. Due process is an assurance made by the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments for equal and fair treatment to everyone. The constitution, a congressional committee, and multiple Supreme Court cases make it clear that no matter the immigration status of a person within the united, that they have certain protections that are afforded to them from the constitution. The expanding divide between communities of minorities and police departments is being caused by unequal sentencing of the courts and police exploiting loopholes of the law to jail people instead of using the law to protect them. As time moves forward and the criminal justice system functions to protect everyone in the borders, it is important to continue to learn about the rights we are guaranteed, how they are protected, and if the police are still having problems with defending our freedoms.
Crime and Due Process. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2019, from http://www.ushistory.org/gov/10c.asp
Longley, Robert. (2018, December 7). Do Undocumented Immigrants Have Constitutional Rights? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/undocumented-immigrants-and-constitutional-rights-3321849
Hudson, R. (2014, December 30). Police officers who violate citizens’ rights must be punished. Accountability is the only way forward | Redditt Hudson. Retrieved January 12, 2019, from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/30/police-officers-violate- rights-punished-accountability
Wallenchinsky, D., & Brinkerhoff, N. (2012, February 04). Black Americans Given Longer Sentences than White Americans for Same Crimes. Retrieved January 12, 2019, from http://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/black-americans-given-longer-sentences-than- white-americans-for-same-crimes?news=843984
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