"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police who investigate crime and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories..."
This monologue, heard at the beginning of every episode of Law & Order, sets the scene for the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney's office to bring justice to those who've committed heinous crimes and to those who suffer at the hands of the aforementioned perpetrators. However, a question is raised when you consider if the justice meted out is appropriate retribution for the victim? Or, consider what happens in a rape-culture where only 25% of rapes reported lead to arrest. Also consider that 60% of rapes are never reported to the police which skew that original arrest number even further. Where and what is the justice for them?
Another problem facing the criminal justice system today is the disproportionate number of people of color in jail versus the population of whites. Consider these statistics which show, that among, Whites 409 per 100,000 people are incarcerated, that among Latinos the rate is 1,038 per 100,000, and for Blacks it is: 2,468 per 100,000. Clearly the system is failing the very people it claims to represent and dispense justice to.
So, now we have a system that has obvious cracks--imagine a pot, if you will, and continually fill it with water you're preparing to boil. Sure, a little water slips out here and there, but you just add more and more without giving much thought. Now the pot has to sustain the ever increasing amount of water which only pushes out more and more and expands the existing cracks. Still, we ignore the cracks. So they grow, and push, and expand, until the system is irrevocably destroyed and burning, boiling water spills everywhere.
This is our system, and this is our destruction. And the water spilling out manifests itself in the form of protests. For the system's failure to prevent and punish rape, we have the SlutWalks. For the system's obvious racism, we have race riots. These have occurred in the past and we've patched up the pot and continued on. We face these riots now, and must question what we do now. Do we keep the pot? After all, it is an heirloom passed down from our grandparent's to us with the intent that it serves us as it has in the past. Or do we throw it? Can we bear to look at our pride and see the faults we once hid? And while we ponder, water is still spilling and people are still crying out for justice.
Today, the SlutWalks continue. Starting in Toronto, Canada after a cop advised, "Women should avoid dressing like sluts" to prevent rape. Tired of their sexual assaults blamed on them and not the perpetrator, thousands took to the streets to speak out against the misogyny and victim-blaming entrenched in the system. This was last April, and now SlutWalks have cropped all over the United States and even the world as we seek to end the violence and gain the justice so promised to us.
Race riots, a unique yet parallel answer to the system that created these inequalities and the subsequent SlutWalks among other protests, have broken out across the United States, the UK, France, and virtually all other countries in the world. Responding to a system that unfairly targets and penalizes them for the color of their skin; they have seen their liberties of protest stripped away until the last course action that remained was rioting. In a world of bureaucracy, when one's voice is extinguished then how do you have your voice heard?
And in the end, where is the justice? Who has received it, who has dealt it, and did it answer or change anything? Do we keep the pot, call out the kettles--the disenfranchised minorities--on their riots, and move on? Do and can we change and will that finally be the justice we seek?