To be fair, it must be Blind.
Justice must be blind to be fair but that does not necessarily mean it is. In a country where those accused of crimes are supposed to be considered ‘innocent until proven guilty, this is often not the case. We must question whether those upholding the justice system can truly be impartial and understanding of those whom they serve. Blind justice is the idea that those in power will look at the facts of a case and what can be proven to be true versus considering their own biases.
Is our current system blind or power-hungry?
In truth, it is a power grab for many. For reference, I have personally heard attorneys say that they do not want to anger Judges and District Attorneys due to fear of future repercussions. These figures must remain impartial because any hint of bias may end in someone wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. Part of this can stem from the fact that DA’s and Judges may want to make a name for themselves as being stern, but they lean deeply into preconceived notions of the accused. This can lead to harsher sentencing than the crime calls for or than others have received in the past. It can also lead to those who are supposed to be impartial, to become very partial, bias and distribute justice unfairly or from a place of bias due to their own preconceived notions or their misuse of the power entrusted to them. We have seen many cases like this and continue to see a system in which requires policy changes, yes, but also needs a heart change as well. I have seen where DA’s and Judges have literally chosen not to follow the facts or not to do what they know to be right or fair because of their personal experiences also working together. I have literally heard judges say they didn’t see a reason for doing something but because the DA would ask for something they would grant it when there is no reason for it. Forgetting that every decision they make directly impacts a person’s life and livelihood
What does this mean for justice and how can we combat it?
Of course, this can be the fault of social mores that lend themselves to worse sentences for poor minorities and may not be the true intention of the Judge or DA to persecute based upon this. This does mean that justice is viewed through a lens of whom is more deserving based on things that might not have a bearing on the choices surrounding the crime. This can be combatted with diversity training that shines a light on the biases that those who uphold the law maintain through their actions. Anyone dealing out justice on behalf of The United States must understand what motivated the crime and which part of a person's history relates to the crime they are being persecuted for. This can limit some of the implicit biases that lead to unfair sentencing. Also, a person’s past should be considered but from both perspectives. For example, if a person has been considered a “non-violent” offender in their past and gets accused of a violent offense then their past should not be the motivating factor in rather or not they are trustworthy or not.
Efficiency is power.
In holding DA’s and Judges accountable for their biases, we can also combat wasted resources. This will be done by making the speedy trial process more efficient instead of the back and forth regarding things that do not pertain to the crime. These things tend to color the accused in a light that may lead to unfair sentencing and end with them doing more time behind bars than necessary. Judges and DA’s often use their power in an abusive way when they are upholding their biases. In changing this, we can see a decline in the quest for power that makes sentences unfair. For Justice to be as unbiased as we say she is, we need policy changes, people in place who understand that sometimes the victim is not the one listed on the paperwork as the defendant and make sure that they review cases with an eye for knowing the truth versus being a strict and hardliner Judge. To enforce a fair and just law system, there cannot be personal bias and the law cannot be dictated by one's feelings. It must be thorough and look at a person from the eyes that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. When we fail to do this, then we fail to uphold our constitutional duties as a society and be critical of who is elected to serve. Justice must be blind if it is to be fair. And justice must be forgiving if it is to be righteous because we all serve a God who forgives and gives opportunities.
Submitted by: Shaun Smith, President, and CEO, BlackPush Inc.
Shaun Smith is the President of the nonprofit BlackPush Inc. He is dedicated to making an impact in the lives of those he meets. He is the Associate Pastor at Created Light Ministries in Dallas, GA.