In the United States of America the criminal justice system is often weighted far too heavily in favour of the prosecution. City, state and federal prosecutors alike have access to substantial resources that many criminal defendants simply do not have, such as the ability to afford a bail bond and a private attorney. Thus, many people accuses of a crime end up with far harsher sentences than other people do, and many innocent people also go to jail or are even cruelly and unjustly put to death. Dr. John Patrick Keefe II contends that there are several factors which affect the presumption of the innocence that society is supposed to afford to all people . . .
In the criminal justice system in America and elsewhere, Dr. John Keefe II contends that whites fare much better on average than their non-white counterparts. Caucasians often receive lighter sentences This is attributed to negrophobia, an irrational fear of blacks, which the media often unfairly perpetuates and a minority of African Americans and other racial minorities sometimes substantiate.
Blacks, Native Americans and Hispanics often look less like white people do, due to the colour of their skin. The more different a criminal defendant looks from those sitting on the judge’s bench or on a jury, the less likely it is that he or she will successfully secure an acquittal. Why? It is because the jury and judge, in most cases, have to both believe that the criminal defendant is innocent and be able to identify with the defendant. The more that a judge or jury personally identifies with the criminal defendant, the more likely it is that they will vote not guilty. Unfortunately, this same concept of identification holds true not only for criminal defendants but also for those seeking jobs, housing, and in just about every other area of life.
Asians, notes Dr. John Patrick Keefe, often fare as well or only slightly less well than whites, due to their often lighter skin colour and perception of being smart and hardworking. Asians in countries like China and Japan do indeed tend to work harder than many in the American culture, and the value many of them place on money and education makes some whites identify with them easier than they do with African Americans and Hispanics, even though quite a few African Americans and Hispanics work very hard!
While money and race tend to matter much more, John Keefe II notes that American society still tends to sometimes afford some leniency toward criminal defendants who are super young or very old. Younger individuals are often viewed as less experienced and less “set in their ways” per se. Many times American society does not generally judge them as harshly as some who is older that should “know better.”
On this same note, Dr. John Patrick Keefe II also contends that sometimes society treats the elderly in the same manner. Who wants to send a cute little old grandma to jail for the rest of her life? Granted, if grandma brutally murders someone they just might do so, but in general the elderly sometimes catch a break or two.
Dr. John Patrick Keefe II also notes that the criminal justice system also unfairly favours the financially wealthy. Criminal defendants who can afford to make bail and hire an excellent attorney will usually fare much better in the criminal justice system. Public defenders simply do not have the time nor the resources to devote to trying a case like a private attorney can, and the old saying, “Get the best justice you can afford” certainly applies.
Dr. John Keefe II notes that if it is known that a person is Christian in a predominantly Muslim community, or if the person is Muslim or Hindu or Jewish and the judge and/or jury know about it, that this can also come in as believability and identification factors in criminal trials. A person’s religion or lack thereof is a bit more difficult to know about unless there is some obvious attire, beard, or unless the person makes it known to others. However, some people feel very strongly about individuals of other faiths and even atheists and agnostics, sometimes regarding them as “heathens” who are already condemned to some sort of “Hell” in the so-called “afterlife.”
The LGBTQ community has long faced quite a bit of discrimination in many areas of life, and Dr. John Patrick Keefe II notes that the legal arena is no exception. If it is apparent that a criminal defendant is LGBTQ, then he or she may possibly face much discrimination in the legal arena if someone chooses to discriminate against him or her. Of course, if someone who is also LGBTQ is on a jury or serves as a judge, then perhaps it can help the criminal defendant.
Famous individuals sometimes also catch a break. Who does not remember the famous murder trial of an African American man named Orenthal (OJ) Simpson in the early-mid 1990s? Many people did not want to send “The Juice” off to prison, and some people would contend that his fame as a football star and relatively handsome looks led the all-black jury to help acquit him. Of course, an all-white jury convicted him on a lower legal standard a bit later in a civil trial. At any rate, Dr. John Patrick Keefe II still notes sometimes fame can work in a criminal defendant’s favour . . .
Females tend to fare far better than males in the criminal justice system. Of course, this is not always the case, but people tend to be more lenient with girls than with guys. Some people feel bad about giving a female an especially harsh sentence, but John Patrick Keefe II notes that many of those same people would have no problem handing that down to a male accused of the same crime.
Previous Criminal Record:
For criminal defendants with a criminal record, they usually fare worse than those with none. The penalties for criminal defendants with often face stiffer criminal penalties and are less likely to have a judge or jury believe them, says John Keefe II. The cleaner the criminal record you have, the better off a criminal defendant generally is.
Dr. John Patrick Keefe II has always stated that criminal defendants who find themselves politically connected often get better treatment in the judicial system. If a defendant is good friends with a judge, prosecutor, or if he or she is owed a political favour or can get access to one, then the chances of getting the charge dropped, reduced, or at least a reduced sentence greatly increase. Judges and prosecutors who are friends with criminal defendants are supposed to recuse themselves, but this does not always happen.
Sometimes charges are politically-motivated though, so political connections do not always help criminal defendants. Dr. John Patrick Keefe of Oklahoma notes how politically-motivated, trumped-up charges can also take place on otherwise innocent people or people who would never have been treated so harshly. Some industries (i.e., bail bonds, elected official, etc.), are cutthroat and will happily knife another person in the back “just because.”
There are many instances where a multitude of factors can affect a criminal defendant’s chances of justice in American jurisprudence. No one factor affects every aspect of a trial. Many people who are certainly innocent go to jail, just as do those who are guilty. Judges and especially juries can sometimes prove to be extremely unpredictable, as they are only made up of humans.
The important thing to keep in mind, states John Keefe of Oklahoma, is that everyone deserves the presumption of innocence and the benefit of the doubt. Everyone should always be regarded as innocent unless and until proven guilty. Our jails are also filled with many innocent individuals who have found themselves wrongfully convicted and perhaps even sentenced to death. Pre-judging others can prove to be especially harmful and damaging to them, whether they are guilty or innocent.