Kristeen Hernandez aka Lady2Soothe Follow @OurVoicesEcho
In the United States criminal justice system is not represented by a single, all-encompassing institution. Rather, it is a network of criminal justice systems at the federal, state, and special jurisdictional levels like military courts and territorial courts. Criminal laws at these levels vary, although these are all allegedly based on the US Constitution.
The federal criminal justice system handles cases national in scope: treason, espionage, assassination of top-level government officials, among others. Meanwhile, state criminal justice systems handle crimes having taken place or, in certain situations, have evident involvement in the state. The same process goes for the criminal justice systems within special jurisdictions.
The wheels of law enforcement are supposed to start grinding when a crime is detected. Detection takes place when law enforcement body receive a report from the victim or a witness, or catch the crime perpetrator. Thereafter, the law enforcers allegedly verify the information furnished and proceed with the investigation. But as we’ve seen time and time again, evidence of innocence is irrelevant.
Law enforcement duties allegedly include: arresting suspected offenders, gathering and preserving evidence, establishing the motive, and completing police/arrest reports by stating results of the investigation. Responsibilities should but rarely include: upholding the rights of offenders (although the majority of law enforcement officer’s do not), victims, and witnesses; and they are supposed to conduct police procedures within rules prescribed by law. However a 2006 FBI report admits White supremacists have a significant presence in law enforcement. The system was born in White Supremacy. It is soaked through and through with White Supremacy. The police who serve this system have no more legitimacy than a KKK lynch mob.
At the federal level, there is a law enforcement body designated to cover particular areas of criminal law. i.e. the Department of Homeland Security, which addresses the problem on human trafficking. Another would be the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which is made up of agencies like the FBI who have police powers over crimes of significant nationwide impact such as terrorist acts.
Meanwhile, state and other local-government police organizations vary in structure, as well as in names. However, the mission should be the same as the others’: to enforce laws, maintain peace and order in the communities they serve, and provide their constituency’s safety and security. However law enforcement doesn’t have to serve nor do they have to protect. Regardless of what’s painted on the side of police cars, for the past 30 plus years the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled “police officers at all levels of the government have no duty to protect the citizens of this country. It is the job of police officers to investigate crimes and arrest criminals” so to even remotely believe all cops serve and protect is a lie! They only protect the government and don’t care about regular citizens.
Cops were invented during 2 separate periods in time….the 1st was to keep the people from overthrowing the crown while it’s soldiers were out pillaging and raping for more gold, silver and land for crown riches… 2nd was to keep the slaves from killing the slave masters.The origin of the modern US police organization was the “Slave Patrol” The first formal slave patrol was created in 1704 and had three primary functions: (1) to chase down, apprehend, and return to their owners, runaway slaves; (2) to provide a form of organized terror to deter slave revolts; and, (3) to maintain a form of discipline for slave-workers who were subject to summary justice, outside of the law, if they violated any plantation rules. Following the Civil War, these vigilante-style organizations evolved in modern Southern police departments primarily as a means of controlling freed slaves who were now laborers working in an agricultural caste system, and enforcing “Jim Crow” segregation laws, designed to deny freed slaves equal rights and access to the political system. Early US police departments shared two primary characteristics: notoriously corrupt and flagrantly brutal.
Today law enforcement hasn’t changed much. Police are government-sponsored street gangs whose only functions are 1) to funnel people into an increasingly for-profit justice system, 2) to extort funds beyond the scope of taxes and reasonable fines, and 3) to force civilian compliance with police and governmental measures regardless of constitutionality with threats or the use of violence and murder.
Progress produces fear in the oppressor in the form of the loss of power, and they retaliate. Every little gain is met with greater pushback. Police violence provides a twisted form of entertainment and Officers have FUN when they shoot, kill or at the very least beat people. Dishonorable cops feel entitled to dispense “street justice” largely because enough Americans have historically displayed a high collective tolerance for government-authorized police violence and killings.
Whether it’s through emotional immaturity, tactical incompetence, outright belligerence or the inability to separate personal problems from their job they are the ones creating situations and circumstances in which people are being deprived of their constitutional rights because they’re not held to the same standards as civilians, they operate under policy not law; this is the difference between legal and lawful. They’re even going so far as arresting people for criticizing law enforcement on the internet. Being awake, conscious and having an opinion is dangerous. How does it feel to be a criminal?
The Fraternal of Police is the single most adamant opposition to police accountability and reform. Instead of working with Black communities to address concerns they’re defending violent cops, blocking criminal justice reform, and promoting divisive Blue Lives Matter bills to mock the real pain…. blocking real solutions for police reform and undermining the justified demands of Black communities with their hateful rhetoric and policies like Blue Lives Matter laws.
Government has flooded social media with videos of “nice guy” cops playing basketball with kids, interacting kindly with community members, having a barbecue with Black people, and they have even hosted “hug a cop day” events in which people gather to hug police officers, as the police dance and act goofy. These are obviously staged PR stunts. Whose interests does this heartwarming police propaganda serve? Does it decrease the level of police violence? Does it increase accountability? Does it lessen the power of the police? Does it increase the strength of communities? No, it does not. These barbecues and hug a cop events are not community initiatives, they are police initiatives, which happen on police terms in the interest of protecting, perpetuating, and expanding police power. It is disempowering for those of us who have been victims of police violence to meet with our oppressors on their terms for heartwarming propaganda events because even the nicest, friendliest cop will brutalize, arrest, and jail me if he is ordered to, and he has the full power of the state upholding him in doing so.
A cop might have “good intentions”, but these good intentions don’t change the fact they’re a part of an institutionalized system. Policing isn’t a question of individualism. It is not as if a random individual gets a gun, a badge, a police car, and a blue uniform. The police are a highly organized institution with systemic power. The institution of modern day policing as stated above evolved from the slave patrol system. Enslaved Black bodies were the foundation of the American economy, as enslaved Africans were more valuable than America’s industrial capital combined. To suggest there are good cops is like saying there’s good slave patrols or good colonizers. If you are only “anti-police brutality” you’re simply saying you think slave patrols are good just as long as the those slave patrols doesn’t beat anybody.
“There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.” ~ Montesquieu, French political thinker and philosopher (1689-1755).
TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE LEO RELATIVES: Your POLICE OFFICER is not gonna come home and admit he kicked the shit out of some kid….or tell you, “yeah, I didn’t tell on a brother officer”. I’m sure your he never comes home and says I gave tickets to 10 Black guys today and warnings to 20 White guys. Your Police Officer may actually be a cop with integrity, then again maybe he only works White neighborhoods. Or he’s never been in a position to do anything more than hand out parking citations or write speeding tickets. Maybe your police officer hasn’t been one to raid wrong houses shooting residents, killing bystanders with stray bullets, shoot first and ask questions later, inflict brutality and great bodily injury or death, speed though town hitting pedestrians and causing major accidents killing or maiming passengers because no matter how grave and allegedly regrettable, it’s deemed collateral damage by officials; thereby reducing and/or justifying the perception of culpability. Police commit murder and walk away with impunity, exempt from punishment, free from the consequences of their actions. So to those people who have LEO relatives I have one question “Shouldn’t good cops be the people most outraged by police brutality?”
The adjudication of a criminal case involves court processes. In plain terms, adjudication refers to the legal process by which a judgment is pronounced by the court to the parties in a case. As with the law enforcement component of the criminal justice system, the courts are organized at federal, state, and special-jurisdiction levels.
PRETRIAL SERVICES: The adjudication process starts when the law enforcement body has submitted the police/arrest report to the prosecutor. The prosecutor, in turn, determines whether or not the incident will prosper into a criminal case, in which the suspected offender will be charged with the crime. It is not uncommon for the prosecutor to drop or dismiss charges altogether, for reasons that include: lack of evidence and weak police investigation. It is the prosecutor who takes the side of the victim , or as is a majority of case, no victim other than the government and, accordingly, the state (society or community), which the crime has also affected. But it’s more uncommon for the prosecutor to completely ignore evidence, such as pre-trial justice; citizens routinely show up for mug-shots with black eyes, and bruises not present at the time of arrest.
ARRAIGNMENT: If the prosecutor decides to press charges against a suspected offender, the adjudication process advances to arraignment. During arraignment, the suspect is read the charge/s filed against him or her. With the aid of a Defendants who is stuck with attorneys who lack the time, resources, or ability to zealously represent their clients as guaranteed by the Constitution, legal counsel especially if it’s state appointed legal counsel spends less than 10 minutes reading the file and speaking with the suspect who is now a defendant and enters a plea of either guilty or not guilty.
BAIL: Bail was originally created to keep high risk offenders from missing their court date or being a potential danger to society. Now it is being unjustly used as an indicator of wealth not risk. 500,000 un-convicted Americans are in limbo and waiting in jail for days, months and sometimes years to see a judge. The majority isn’t even high risk, violent offenders -they just can’t afford to pay their bail. Pretrial defendants make up 60% of our prison population. The US spends $14 billion a year to keep those 500,000 people in jail because the median bail bond amount nationally is almost a full year’s income for the typical person unable to post a bail bond.
TRIAL: The arraignment progresses into trial to determine the guilt of the suspect (if the not-guilty plea was not entered). In the event of a guilty verdict, the offender is convicted and the court will determine the sentence.
A trial is characterized by an argument which has two sides: the prosecution and the defense, but since the public defender is an employee of the court, it’s generally a one sided argument. An overzealous prosecution, inadequate defense resources and a pattern of racial bias and exclusion. On the one hand, the prosecution represents the interests of the victim and in effect, the society (or state) the offender is suspected to have violated. On the other, the defense asserts the innocence of the offender and often makes less than half-hearted attempts to get the offender acquitted, but is open to plea deals to push thru as many “suspects” as possible to fulfill their quota.
A trial often results in an appeal, in which the disadvantaged side (prosecution or defense) will try to shift the advantage. In this instance, the case is elevated in a higher court, which either upholds or overturns the earlier decision. However getting an appeal takes months and months and if the defendant, now an inmate is indigent and cannot afford a private attorney, they’re pretty much shit out of luck.
SENTENCING: A court conviction corresponds to a sentence, which is the penalty imposed on the offender who has been found guilty as a result of the preceding trial. The sentence is meted out by the judge, who follows prescribed guidelines, standards, and limitations in punishing convicts.
If convicted the suspect/defendant may get a stiff fine, but more than likely if the suspect/defendant is a person of color i.e. Black/Indigenous/Latinx a severe jail sentence is imposed.
66% of Black defendants were prosecuted for felonies, while 69 percent of Whites were prosecuted for felonies; Among Blacks prosecuted in urban courts, 75 percent were convicted of a felony, while 78 percent of Whites were convicted of a felony and 3) The average state prison sentence received by Blacks convicted of a felony was five and one half-years, one month longer than their White counterparts. Yet among Black defendants convicted of a felony, 51 percent received a prison sentence, as opposed to 38 percent of Whites.
One could, however, draw a vastly different conclusion regarding the role of race in the criminal justice system because Blacks/Indigenous/Latinx tend to get substantially longer prison terms than Whites convicted of the same crimes, even when the Black person is a first time offender and the White person a second- or third-time offender. For murder Blacks serve 91.7 months versus 79.8 months for Whites; for rape, 55 months for Blacks versus 43.9 for Whites; for kidnapping, 41 months for Blacks to 37 for Whites; and for robbery, 37.4 for Blacks to 33.3 for Whites.45
DEATH PENALTY: Generally, United States laws permit the death penalty for convicts who have committed heinous crimes, although the practice of capital punishment is on a case-by-case basis.
In principle, the Federal Death Penalty Act of 1988 sentences to death all offenders convicted of homicide. But in practice, capital punishment is more an exception than the rule. For example, most of the convicted terrorists on death row have yet to be meted out their sentences.
“An execution is not simply death. It is just as different from the privation of life as a concentration camp is from prison. It adds to death a rule, a public premeditation known to the future victim, an organization which is itself a source of moral sufferings more terrible than death. Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punish a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict a horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, had confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.” ~ Albert Camus, French writer and philosopher.
DEPT. OF CORRECTIONS
The third component of the criminal justice system is corrections. While it implies reform and rehabilitation, corrections encompass all sentenced offenders, including those who are on death row.
Federal and state criminal justice systems hold “corrections” as the replacement for “penology” that many find harsh and unforgiving. In any case, the corrections component manages incarcerated convicts and those who are conditionally released, as well as those who are merely slapped with punishments that do not require imprisonment but who need supervision anyway.
The corrections network includes publicly run and privately operated institutions, along with the personnel and other stakeholders, and its administration is supposed to adhere to lawful standards. The process should involve reform and rehabilitation programs to prepare eligible convicts for reentry and reintegration into society as free individuals, however the majority do not.
Between 1972 and 2007, the nation’s imprisonment rate more than quintupled—increasing from 93 to 491 per 100,000 people. The number of prisoner-years per murder multiplied nine times. Prisons that had housed fewer than 200,000 inmates in Richard Nixon’s first years in the White House held more than 1.5 million as Barack Obama’s administration began. Local jails contain another 800,000. The current system of criminal law and enforcement has grown obese.
The US treats people as less than human and puts them in literal cages, intentionally inflicting harm and suffering on them and then expect this will somehow improve them. It’s nonsensical, immoral, and counterproductive.
Researcher/Chronological Archivist/Writer; and member in good standing with the Constitution First Amendment Press Association