Wow! It's been an interesting couple of weeks. From learning about privilege to discussing the institutionalized racism in cop cars and courts, we're already getting a wide range of knowledge about justice issues! I was reading a few chapters from a book called Statecraft: An Introduction to Political Choice and Judgment (all about political decision making) for my Comparative Politics class and quotes kept sticking out to me as very relevant to our class, so I thought I'd post them here!
1) "The idea of 'positive discrimination' means that anyone who has suffered prejudice or deprivation for some reason that they had no control over-- race, sex, and the like-- ought to be treated more than equally in public policy until they catch up with the norm"(14).
Isn't that interesting? It almost seems appealing, but it has its own odd discriminatory undertones too...
2) "For example, a jury in a criminal case is not expected to make a perfectly neutral, impartial decision. Instead, it is expected to have an initial bias in favor of the defendant, to start from the presumption of innocence. The defendant does not have to prove anything. It is the prosecution that has to make an argument--to prove guilt 'beyond a reasonable doubt'"(16).
I think we sometimes forget that our system operates from a standpoint of "innocent until proven guilty". This was a good reminder for me, and I think it definitely relates to our discussion on racist drug use convictions. If, let's say, a person of color is brought before a judge in a case regarding crack cocaine possession, the jury is supposed to be seeing that person as innocent (regardless of their races, or the race of the person being tried) until the prosecutor proves otherwise (which might be tough if the policing and sentencing was initially racist).
3) "Doctors, lawyers, social workers, military officers, policemen, forest rangers, and other professionals all develop, through specialized training, certain habits of thought and sets of principles for making judgments"(18).
This made me think about police discretion. Obviously, not all police officers are blatantly racist when doing their jobs, but perhaps for those who are, racism plays into a habitual ideology of judgment that has become custom in discretion/pulling people over.
4)"Law enforcement officials should be responsive to the attitudes, customs, and opinions of the community"(33).
5) "...if we admit that prosecutors should be responsive to community sentiment in matters like marijuana use, we must also accept the actions of those prosecutors who enforce the law more severely against racial minorities, transients, or the poor than against the 'respectable' members of the community if that is their understanding of local sentiments and customs"(33).
I was so surprised and delighted to see this example, because it's exactly what we've been talking about. It's interesting to note here that the author suggests that if we accept that prosecutors should do their job according to societal norms and outlooks, then we must also accept the racist and classist society we currently live in (because that is ultimately what is affecting the prosecution). Hmmm...
6) "In appealing to fundamental fairness, we are saying, in general, that the rules should be logically consistent, that like cases should be treated alike and different cases differently"(50).
This also applies to racially affected drug prosecution and judgment in the criminal justice system.
I want to thank you all for making these classes what they are. Everyone has great insights, and I'm learning so so much. Let's continue to do so! :):)
I typed "Jury Selection" into google image and this was one of the options. :P:P