America’s Two-Tiered System of Justice – One for the Rich, One for the Poor.

Posted By Levi

November 17th, 2013 6:57pm

system of justice

The United States has one of the most unequal societies in the world. Much of the writing on this topic has been, quite correctly, focused on the growing income inequality and the dangers it posed to all of us.

But another important area in which inequality reared its ugly head is in our justice system. Over the years, America has developed a two-tiered system of justice; one that gives out harsh punishment to the poor and powerless and the other gives basically a slap on the wrist to  people of the wealthy class when they commit crimes, especially financial crimes.

Case in point.

Rarely a month goes by without reading about the outright fraud and corruption that the big Wall Street banks have been involved in that led to the collapse of the economy in 2008. Yet many the people that were responsible for this has paid very little for it. Usually, a hefty fine is imposed by the government but no one admits to any crime and no one goes to jail. It’s hard e.g. to keep up with how many times in the past few months JP Morgan Chase alone has been hit with a fine. This one just this week.

Yet, when it comes to poor people, no punishment is too severe even for the most trivial non-violent crimes. This week, the ACLU issued a new report  entitled A Living Death: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses, in which it documents thousands of people who are serving life imprisonment without parole for non-violent crimes. Want to know how petty some of these crimes are? Here are a few.

• possession of a crack pipe
• possession of a bottle cap containing a trace unweighable amount of heroin
• having a trace amount of cocaine in clothes  pockets that was so minute it was invisible to the naked eye and detected only in lab tests
• having a single, small crack rock at home
• acting as a go-between in the sale of $10 of  marijuana to an undercover officer
• attempting to cash a stolen check
• possession of stolen wrenches
• siphoning gasoline from a truck
• shoplifting three belts from a department store
• making a drunken threat to a police officer while handcuffed in the back of a patrol car

Justice Department head, Attorney General Eric Holder recognizes the problem:

Too many people go to too many prisons for far too long for no good law enforcement reason. We need to ensure that incarceration is used to punish, deter, and rehabilitate—not merely to warehouse and forget.”— Attorney General Eric Holder, August 2013.

Twitter: Levianthony123

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