Posted by: Millard J. Melnyk | May 18, 2015

Our Injustice System

Here are some facts about our injustice system:

  1. We call it a “justice” system. Bullshit.
  2. The only place where we are considered innocent until proven guilty is inside a courtroom during a criminal trial. The only people who consider us innocent until proven guilty are — if we’re lucky — the judge, our defense attorney, and possibly a jury. The state and its prosecution team, on the other hand, are already so convinced we’re guilty that they will expend considerable resources — not to determine if we committed the crime, but to prove that we did in fact commit it. The public basically considers us guilty unless acquitted, which is very different than innocent until proven guilty, and even then they retain their suspicions unless the evidence clearly exonerates us.
  3. How are we considered guilty until proven otherwise? Before we get a chance to “face our accusers” —
    1. If there is any reason whatsoever to think there is even a slim possibility that we were involved in a crime, law enforcement labels us as “suspects”. Suspicion of guilt is a far cry from “considered innocent”.
    2. If law enforcement accuses us of a crime, we are now considered likely guilty. Now we’re even further from “considered innocent”.
    3. If law enforcement arrests us for a crime, we are now considered as highly likely guilty. Guilty enough to be incarcerated for days, weeks, or even years while the state “builds its case” against us before we get our so-called “day in court”, and the disparity between time “in custody” and time allotted to our defense isn’t just metaphorical. If we were actually considered innocent during the time we’re in fact held as if we were guilty, the state would be forced to admit that they imprison innocent people. And in fact the state has been proven over and over to imprison or even execute innocent people, but we let them continue the practice in each new case as if it virtually never happens.
    4. If we are reported in the media as having been suspected, accused, or arrested for a crime, in the public’s mind we are guilty, ranging from likely guilty to highly likely. No one who reads that law enforcement suspects, accuses, or arrested someone believes that the person was innocent. Recognizing an outside chance of innocence is not the same as considered innocent. Considering us innocent would mean that there was no good reason for suspicion, accusation, or arrest.
    5. By the time we arrive in a courtroom to face criminal charges, often sporting vividly colored jump suits emblazoned with the fact that we are wards considered guilty by the state, sometimes shackled, sometimes with our photos having been published by news media, we are visually depicted as guilty. Reasonably humane people would never treat their innocent fellows that way. So, long before being found guilty, the state reduces our rights as full citizens and even as fully human beings to the level of the guilty and parades us before our peers as such.
    6. Managing to get acquitted from criminal charges does not itself declare us innocent. “Acquitted” doesn’t mean we didn’t do the crime but that those who believe that we did do it weren’t able to prove our guilt — which in their minds we retain. They remain convinced, as do others, that we in fact are guilty. Many more remain convinced that we are likely or possibly guilty — not because there actually is sufficient reason to believe this, but simply because people claimed there is.
    7. In short, the “innocent until proven guilty” rule holds (if at all) only in the very specialized circumstance of a court proceeding, and it flies in the face of everything we know about human psychology, communications, and social behavior in every circumstance. The fact that we’re highly prone to quickly attribute guilt is precisely the reason for the rule, and it extends no further than court proceedings. In other words, for all intents and purposes outside of courtrooms, and to a great extent within them, “innocent until proven guilty” is a fable no more real than golden unicorns or flying spaghetti monsters. Bluntly, it’s propaganda. It’s bullshit.
  4. The court system was never positioned to pursue justice. The court system’s basic purpose is (ideally — it often can’t even manage this) to regulate the state’s pursuit of its own goals in legal matters. Legislative branches codify the will of those who can create and affect legislation — which is almost never the same people who end up accused of violating those laws. Executive branches take action in pursuit of that will — rarely against lawmakers or fellow law executors and enforcers, and then only if under extreme duress to do so or if they gain a resulting power advantage. The judicial branch does not control creation of legislation, nor does it control executive/enforcement actions. It simply judges after the fact whether or not the actions of the other two branches are legally defensible. This only happens when those actions are challenged and, again, such challenge rarely comes from the state. If left unchallenged, lawmakers and law executors can and do get away with murder — literally, figuratively, and routinely.
  5. As such, the courts are merely umpires between the Goliath of state power and its victims (formerly called “subjects”, now euphemistically called “citizens”) as the state pursues its agenda, with a rare David successfully standing up to the beast. The courts seek to ensure that the battle between Goliath and its victims proceeds according to rules which, depending on the history of prior judicial decisions, might or might not bear any semblance of justice. This is a contest between a well-organized, well-funded, well-staffed force and, usually, a single individual. Even if enough people band together to form a class-action suit against the juggernaut, it does little to eliminate the obscene power disparity and level the battlefield. If adversarial organizations form that seem capable of rivaling the state’s power, the state writes laws, enforces them, and fights in court to dismantle the rivals long before they become actual threats. Notice that despite all the anti-trust laws on the books and high-profile anti-trust prosecutions executed by the state, there has never been a legal means to rectify the state’s monopoly on governmental power.
  6. All these ways of rigging the system for the state and against the people assure that injustice will, on the whole, result from the judicial process even aside from the issue of wealth. If those accused by the state are wealthy, their chances of being acquitted or prevailing in a suit improve, but the possibility that the state will inflict real and durable damage to their assets, their personal well-being, and the well-being of those they care about is practically certain. If they are not wealthy, the damage is both certain and likely to be catastrophic.

Imagine this: A highly organized, obscenely wealthy gang imposes rules on a community and violates anyone who doesn’t follow the rules. After realizing that now and then the community will revolt citing egregious injustices, the gang appoints an umpire to deliberate after the fact whether its actions conformed to its own rules. Then it congratulates itself on creating a “justice system” and tells the community that this makes the situation “fair”. And, thanks to an indoctrination program the gang calls “education”, the community accepts the system, believing that it is the fairest in the land. And everyone lives happily ever after. Fact or fiction?

Considering all this, here is what I want from you:

Please describe in the specific ways in which our system can be characterized as a “justice system” — not by regurgitating the propaganda about what the systems is supposed to be or supposed to do, but in terms of its actual structure and function.

I dare ya.

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