America’s Criminal Injustice System

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There is a strange phenomenon occurring in America, and it serves to perpetuate a widening circle of debauchery, violence and mayhem. This strange practice is the glorification of criminals through media sensationalism.

It seems that since the 1970’s and with the advent of feeding-frenzy media exposure of the likes of Ted Bundy, Kenneth Bianchi, etc., mass murderers, serial rapists, and child killers have become the darlings of the mass media.

Often before the culprit is sent away to serve his sentence, there are books written, movies filmed and magazine articles describing in lurid detail the crime as well as minute details of the miscreants demeanor, while magnifying his life as though it needs to be looked upon with fascination and worthy of our attention and consideration.

As a result of this fawning coverage, serial murderers have become so intoxicated with publicity that they are soliciting for national coverage and threatening to kill if their demands for more widespread and thorough media exposure are not met. And the media, hungry to whip up public interest in this sordid coverage in order to sell more newspapers and to boost Neilson ratings, has become an eager partner in the criminal’s quest for attention and fame.

Sadly, criminal behavior in America is not looked upon as shameful or dishonorable as it is in many African and Eastern countries. In these nations, when a person is convicted of a crime, they are never lionized or held up as a spectacle of media hype and fascination. And if their crime is a Capital offense, they are held in confinement until the time of their execution. They are then transported to the site where the sentence is to be carried out without fanfare and usually quickly dispatched with a single shot to the back of the head and buried in a mass grave. Any press they obtain is limited to a post mortem statement or two in the back pages of the newspaper, where their crime is dryly described and the coverage limited to the time, place and manner of their demise. There is no romanticizing of criminals. They receive no book or movie deals. And there is no aura of fascination or cultural approval surrounding them.

There is another facet of this problem, which is often overlooked or ignored by social scientists and criminologists. Especially by those who indict the criminal justice apparatus of the East; for while the methods used there may be criticized as brutal and inhumane they (at least in the majority of these nations) work as a deterrent in reducing crime judging by the lower percentages in the major offences of murder, rape, theft, and robbery in Eastern nations compared to countries in the West.

In the United States, where more of its citizens are locked away behind bars than any other nation on earth, the methods of punishment (although widespread) are increasingly ineffective. Moreover, it is unjust to punish someone for a crime without first removing those factors and influences in the society which prompt deviance or pave the way for it. In America, far from adhering to this golden principle, it seems that every effort is expended to saturate the country with those elements and influences that are guaranteed to lead people astray. Travel down the streets of any large American metropolis and the evidence is overwhelming. There is prostitution, pornography, gambling, drug dens, bars, and liquor stores. In short there is an available roost for every foul desire and a perch catering to every filthy bird. And although, in most instances, the local police make a grand show of trying to stem the tide, the vices are engineered and facilitated from the very halls of political power and command, and bankrolled by many of the nations most entrenched and venerated financial institutions.

Moreover in America, where the national rate of unemployment is between 10 to 20 percent for Whites and as much as 50 percent for Blacks, it is heartless and hypocritical to punish those individuals that are compelled (because of poverty) into crime out of a sense of desperation to survive another day.

Many researchers concur that over 50 percent of criminal behavior is induced by the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the form of wine, whiskey, beer, gin, etc. Yet no sincere effort is made to either curtail or to eliminate this deadly scourge upon the society.

In fact, the seed of most crimes is rooted in impoverishment, immorality and a lack of adherence to higher spiritual principles. Yet this reality is totally ignored by America’s criminal justice system as well as its academic and government bodies and agencies.

Throughout the United States people are warehoused in prison s and jails in a manner that has proven abjectly ineffective to reduce crime or to redeem human beings, and by extension, hazardous and costly to everyone. It places a unnecessary burden on all it’s citizens who finance these modern day dungeons through their tax dollars. And it traumatizes and alienates those who are held within by treating them like wild animals and by separating them from the spouses, friends, relatives and community members who could do the most to provide the necessary support and care to acclimate them back into society.

Even the penologists, psychiatrists, and sociologists that work in these so-called correctional institutions admit that almost all of them are breeding grounds and schools for advanced learning in the methods and techniques of crime and debauchery. And they are roosts for homosexuality, racism, assault, sadism and murder.

There is a historical context that is at the very heart of crime in America. Like Australia, America was initially colonized by tens of thousands of criminals from Europe who were given incentive to go to America, by being released from imprisonment and by offers of land and resources in the so-called New World. They poured out of the dungeons and the prisons cesspools of Europe like frogs in the rainy season and found a haven in what would become known as the United States of America.

The historical record shows that mass murder and wholesale thievery and plunder occurred at an incredible rate, virtually encompassing everyone in the land as either a victim, a protagonist, or, at the very least, a passive participant in the myriad of atrocities committed on the indigenous population and on Africans who were abducted, chained in the filthy holds of ships and transported across the oceans to be treated like chattel and to suffer every cruelty and hellish injustice imaginable.

This legacy of and propensity for crime and violence cannot be smoothed over or hidden with the appearance of civility and sophistication. On the contrary, these tendencies are at the core of America’s national life and form the basis of its enrichment. It is no secret that the wealth of many of America’s most prosperous businesses and corporations can be traced back to profits that were procured either through African/American slavery or by the theft of land and resources from the Natives of North America.

When a crime is committed, the stolen goods sold and the monies invested into so-called legal or legitimate enterprises, it does not absolve the perpetrator or the benefactor of the offense from blame or responsibility, even though they may not be directly connected to the crime. This is especially true when no attempt at restitution or reparation is made to either the victims or the descendants of the victims.

The American tendency to glorify criminals is based in the conscious and/or unconscious connection with the nation’s sordid past. A past that forms an integral part of current criminal dynamics.

It is evident that Americans (far from being ashamed or remorseful) are enamored with their execrable past. America maintains this psychic connection and continues to concoct ideologies and to participate in actions that are designed to inflict even more destruction and bloodshed. The invasions of Panama, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, and the threats and saber rattling against the sovereign nations of Cuba, Syria, Iran and North Korea are but a few examples of America’s arrogance and readiness to spread pain and horror to other parts of the globe. And the blockades of Cuba and Iraq, which resulted in the deaths of scores of innocent people, speaks volumes about America’s criminal and heartless propensity and its insatiable greed at the expense of the weak, the poor and the disenfranchised.

Moreover, America’s fascination and glorification with the perpetrators of injustice is easily detectable with the exaltation of past criminals and oppressors who are canonized as national heroes. Thus, butchers and thieves like Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Andrew Jackson and hypocritical enslavers like Thomas Jefferson are celebrated and presented, as the very best America has to offer. These personages, despite their dastardly lives, are passed off as heroes with noble characters and are propped up to serve as bulwarks for the justification and preservation of crimes against humanity under the banner of White supremacy. Renowned scholar, Amos N. Wilson writes:

“When a ruling regime, e.g., the White Supremacist establishment, persists in maintaining an ideological authority structure in power despite its apparent dysfunctionality (i.e., as measured by its inability to resolve its assigned problems) one may infer from this the possibility that ideological- authority structure’s real, but obscured function may be primarily to help rationalize, legitimate, and maintain the ruling regime’s social order and power relations. It achieves these ends by attempting to define and resolve its assigned problems in ways which do not indict the regime and its operational structure as the probable causes to begin with (because the presence of such may be utilized to actually help to justify, preserve, and empower the ruling regime).” [1]

Apart from the glorification of mass murderers and thieves and the projection of plunderers and exploiters into national heroes, American jurisprudence isolates its citizens that commit crimes (or who are accused of such) and portrays them as unredeemable social malcontents who are created in a kind of vacuum disconnected from the historical and contemporary dynamics of America’s inequalities and fundamental exploitive heritage and infrastructure. And rarely is there any mention or examination of the society that fostered the aberrant behavior.

In America’s prison and so-called correctional institutions, the trend continues whereby millions of people are locked away, stigmatized as encourage-able, and ground up in a brutal, inhumane and ineffectual prison-industrial conglomerate. More often than not, an offender will go through years of contact with police agencies, criminal courts, and penal institutions, only to be let out (once again, his problems unaddressed and unresolved) usually in a worst economic, mental, and spiritual condition than he was when he first started.

In the juvenile systems, millions of youngsters, many barely out of post toddler stage, scream for help through their parents and through their actions. Their cries for help go unheeded until they are brought before the court and prosecuted in the assemble-line type judicial system. They are then caged like wild beasts in an environment rancid with the very conditions that society professes the desire to reform the offender from exhibiting. Upon release the offender faces a veritable obstacle course of impediments which serve to thwart him at every turn from successfully re-entering society, Karl Menninger explains in his landmark book, The Crime of Punishment:

“Unfortunately our crimes against criminals do not cease, when having served his sentence, the offender is released from prison. He re-enters a world utterly unlike the one he has been living in and also unlike the one he left some years before. In a new world, outside from a few uneasy relatives and uncertain friends, he is surrounded by hostility, suspicion, distrust and dislike, He is a marked an ex-convict. Complex social and economic situations that proved too much for him before he went to prison have grown no simpler… His chief occupation for a time will be the search for a means of livelihood, accompanied by innumerable rebuffs, suspicious glances, discouragements and hostile encounters and, of course, inevitably, temptations.” [2]

Moreover, the society that the offender is supposed to be acclimated to is itself not only corrupt, but is the proto-type of corruption and the molder and cause of the criminal paste from which the offender/victim sprung.

In the final analysis, it is as if the universal laws of are totally ignored when it pertains to evaluating the causes of the behavior or the trauma that is visited upon the millions of individuals who are born and raised in the social-economic environment of America. This is especially true when it relates to the perceptions and the treatment of America’s poor and/or non-White populations.

The projection of latent criminal traits upon the darker, poorer members of America has culminated in a litany of State sanctioned crimes and abuses which range from false imprisonment, forced labor, forced sterilization, biological/chemical warfare and other forms of genocide; while simultaneously presenting itself as a citadel of virtue, opportunity and freedom.

Notes:

[1]. Amos N. Wilson, “Eurocentric History, Psychiatry, and the Politics of White Supremacy,” Afrikan World InfoSystems, (1993) p.p. 105, 106

[2]. Karl Menninnger, MD., “The Crime of Punishment,” Viking Press, Compass Edition, NewYork, N.Y. (1969) p. 86

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