It may be too strong a statement to say that the “justice” system in the US is broken. If not broken, though, it’s badly bent.
The Bill of Rights guarantees a jury trial to a defendant. Why would such a “right” be considered important by the writers of the Constitution? The jury represents the people. Everyone else in the courtroom works for the government: judge, prosecutor, bailiff. The role of the jury is two-fold: to see that an overzealous prosecutor doesn’t railroad an innocent party, and to see that a dangerous criminal isn’t released on the public through a sweetheart deal between prosecution and defense.
How well is that working? Over 90% of all criminal cases result, not in a jury trial, but in a plea bargain. The criminal is encouraged to plead guilty to some lesser crime, and get a lesser sentence. And when the judge asks the defendant if he was offered anything to get him to plead guilty, both the defendant and the prosecutor commit perjury by denying it.
Well, it’s said that it’s better to let 10 guilty go free than convict an innocent person. Agreed. But how are the innocent people doing?
There have been many cases in the past few years of people who had been convicted of crimes, and who had served a decade or more in prison, being found innocent, either by DNA analysis, by the confession of the real criminal, or some other means. For instance, see this link: http://www.startribune.com/local/north/130094243.html. There are also cases of prosecutorial misconduct. The Duke Lacrosse team is perhaps the most egregious recent example, in which the prosecutor deliberately withheld evidence proving the defendants were innocent. There are lots of examples of both kinds of “justice” failure. No need to cite them all here.
Have any innocent persons actually been executed? I don’t know, but it’s a distinct possibility.
That’s why I say the “justice” system is badly bent, at best, and maybe broken at worst. Too many guilty go free, or get less than true justice would demand. Too many innocent people are convicted, especially if they can’t afford a good lawyer. Moreover, even proving your innocence may leave you bankrupt.
I wrote this book, The Justice Cooperative, in part as a cautionary tale. If the “justice” system isn’t fixed, we may see people getting justice for themselves, by other means. The book presents one way that might happen.
Here are links to some reviews (warning: there are some spoilers in the reviews):
It can be obtained from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Justice-Cooperative-Joe-Martino/dp/1932762000/ref=cm_syf_dtl_pl_8 (there are more reviews there)
Please read it. I hope you enjoy it.