There continue to be many people who proclaim that rich criminals, even murderers who can afford expensive lawyers, never are executed, while the prison population increases daily with minorities, most of whom are represented by Public defenders or, on occasion, by pro bono associates in large law firms. It is not merely the law itself but the widening gulf between the Have’s and have-Nots- those who manage some sort of white collar crime for which, if punished at all, the perpetrators can languish in country-club jails while the hardcore criminals- turned to crime because they were poor, hungry or uneducated- committed crimes to survive. The law may be impartial, but justice is seldom truly fair.
One must critically examine how justice is defined, historically, and then judge how far we have deviated from its original meaning: “Justice has been defined as the quality of being impartial, the equal treatment of equals, and living in accordance with the natural law and the divine plan. It implies integrity in dealing with others and conforming our lives to facts and to truth” (Gerson and Wehner 2010, para. 3). The authors delve back to ancient Greece for their explanation that in Plato’s Republic, a debate between Thrasymachus and Socrates focuses on the meaning of justice. To the cynical Thrasymachus, “a just man always has the worst of it” – for the simple reason that “justice” is not something intrinsically good but only a pretty word for what is in the interest of the stronger party
One major problem occurs prior to any court appearance: namely, the law enforcement agencies including the police, sheriffs and, since 9/11 the so-called Homeland Security forces. There is more racial profiling and fear on the part of law enforcement so that law enforcement often errs on the part of preserving peace at all costs: “Violence and racism on the part of the police is a problem that affects most if not all countries throughout the world, yet no one thus far has given a unified explanation or a unified solution. In many politically unstable countries, the police are used as a tool for both suppression and uprising” (Aiano, 2009, p. 24).
One has to consider the verb of the question: the verb “treat”. And, for the most part, one can read news stories and watchinevents unfold on television where the law enforcement agencies tend to be far more “respectful” (perhaps more “carefu” might be a better word) with middle class or wealthy Caucasians than with brown, black, and yellow minority members.
The so-called “weak” are nopt the weak one might find in a Charles Dickens novel. These days, the weak are minorities, immigrasnts (legal and otherwise) who enter strange lands with customs they do not understand. This can often cause national or state laws to rule against unsuspecting alient defendants: “When individuals move from one country to another, it can be exceedingly difficult for some to adjust their behavior. For instance, during the sentencing phase of trials sometimes defendants have a stoic demeanor that can cause juries to assume tfiey lack remorse. Having been taught as children not to display emotion even in a traumatic situation, they may appear stoic, even if informed this will adversely affect them. The central question is how legal institutions respond to arguments related to a person’s cultural background” (Rentain and Valladardes 2009, p. 195).
There are raging arguments, in the halls of Congress, in churches, in law schools and in political contests which continue to insist that the law is and must be impartial. And yet, one can see, day after day, that the weak are not always treated equally or kindly or effectively. Again, one must emphasize that the very makeup of the weak has changed from poor whites, to immigrants and minorities whose skills and education and skin color and lack of understanding the native language and customs are often the cause for their being treated unfairly. Law enforcement and justice these days no longer care that this nation was founded by immigrants seeking a fair life and an opportunity to pursue happiness. Justice may be blind, but she is not deaf. Thus, the wealthy can hire legal minds who can affect what Justice hears, even if she cannot see.
Aiano, Z. (2009): “Racism and Reform” Prague:
The New Presence Spring 2009. Vol. 12, Iss. 2; p. 24
Gerson, M. and Wehner, P. (2010): “Christianity, Justice
And the Culture of Life” Human Events website, accessed
Oct. 25, 2010 on www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=39532
Rentein, A. D. and Valladardes, R. (2009): “Culture and the
Justice System” Chicago: Judicature
Mar/Apr 2009. Vol. 92, Iss. 5; pg. 194 – 202