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  • Bishop John C. Parks

Obama, Righting the Wrong? It's a Start.

The criminal justice system was created by our country's Founding Fathers to afford all U.S. citizens the right to a fair trial by a jury of their peers. Prior to this system of justice, the peers of the alleged criminal decided the penalty for crimes - which normally resulted in the death penalty. Even though our existing criminal justice system is far better than public lynching by an angry mob, there are some serious issues that require urgent attention.

Looking from a distance, the criminal justice system is driven by three major absurdities that create racial discrimnation for people of color.

1. Lawyers' selection of the jurors determines the outcome of cases and not neccessarily the evidence. Consequently, law attorneys and prosecutors work to strategically seat as many jurors who are baised toward their cause. A bias jury will usually lean toward whichever bias that caused their selection.

2. Those who have money are afforded the opportunity to hire high paid and high profile lawyers. Unfortunately, those who cannot afford a lawyer are doomed for a trip to jail or prison. Wherefore, many trials result in the alleged criminal receiving a charge of a felon and a long sentence. There is a disproportionate number of people of color who receive long sentences for felons or misdeamors.

3. The sentencing timeframe created by laws for the felons are as harsh as the laws for sentencing first degree murder. Wherefore, many who have created a minor crime are given long sentences at the discretion of the judge.

Most of this racial discrimmination would be prevented if the "too many" stop breaking the law. The nature of some people leans toward making bad choices that break the city, state or federal laws. Of course, the criminal acts should stop and people should get a grip. However, the time served should be based on the crime committed and should be fair across the board.

In the closing months of his Presidency, President Obama is working to address this issue of racial discrimination caused by the present criminal justice system. He is working to release over 2,000 inmates by reducing their time served. The President is also making it part of his agenda for his remaining months, and even has some Republican Presidential candidates agreeing that this is a major problem. Whereas this is a noble jesture and a start, it falls far short of addressing the issues stated in this blog. Also releasing 2,000 individuals is more topographical than solving for the problem of thse incarcerated with long sentences. The full corrective action required to resolve racial discrimination would require the major overhaul of the criminal justice system. Who in present times has the fortitude to make this a priority? Can it ever be remedied before the return of Jesus Christ?

It is my hope that we can one day get away from photo Ops, Presidents worrying about their legacies, politicians trying to pacify us, and civil rights leaders not taking seriously the responsibility of protecting our equal rights under the law. Racial discrimination should take its rightful place alongside illegal immigration, the economy, terorism, and the hot topics of the day that are preventing ALL America from being truly great. #letstalkaboutit


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