There is a very strong feeling that the justice system is unjust in many different areas. The Supreme Court's decision, a few months ago, to overturn parts of the Voting Rights Act, 1965 – considered by many as the centerpiece of the landmark civil rights legislation of 1964 – still generates debate. This week, Hilary Clinton weighed in her views and disagreed with the Supreme Court.
Recently, too, the repercussions of the Stand your Ground and similar legislation have proven to many that such legislation harms one and favors another segment of society.
Even the predicament of Edward Snowden who found himself – most ironically – seeking asylum in a repressive country while fleeing from a country seen in the eyes of the world, as the bastion of justice, is indicative of some sticky aspects of the justice system. The very congress that was the architect of the legislation is divided when it comes to its implementation, and so is the nation.
Still, nowhere are the flaws more eloquent than in the whole process of sentencing and incarceration. Different sentencing rules operate for different defendants in the same offenses. The result is an increasing prison population of minority groups.
It is, therefore, welcome news that the Attorney General has decided to roll back the sentencing guidelines brought about by the Reagan-era drug laws. Indeed, these laws have not proven to provide any solution to the problem of drugs. On the contrary, taxpayers continue to bear the enormous cost of the prison inmates, estimated at $80,000 per person every year!
Even at that cost, justice is not seen in the justice system. As Virgil (70-19 BCE) wrote in Aeneid “Surely as the divine powers take note of the dutiful, surely as there is any justice anywhere and a mind recognizing in itself what is right, may the gods bring you your earned rewards”.