Due Process: What’s Next for Defendants

Assembly Line Booking

     In theory, it is a good practice that all cases be investigated thoroughly. However, that is not found to be the actual practice. Some have coined this blatant disregard of the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments as ‘Assembly Line Justice’. I have witnessed the booking system take place. It’s clear that the officials are overworked but it is also evident that most defendants are not regarded as people but rather faceless numbers that must be processed and sent away.

What happened in Ferguson

    Oftentimes we are asked to allow them the opportunity to pursue a thorough investigation while the officer may continue their life as normal. As was the case in 2014, when Michael Brown was shot by an officer. This is something that regular people are not afforded. Instead, they sit in jail, sometimes for years, before an investigation is started, if it ever happens. Not everyone is allowed a thorough investigation. Iinstead, they are held in jail without a speedy trial. The few that are allowed true due process are usually those who were hired to uphold the law. Officers seem to consistently be above the law in ways that everyday citizens are not privileged.

Swift Justice Does Not Make it Fair

   It has been the case that when defendants are finally given their time for their hearing, they’re given a hefty bail that does not match their crime. Typically petty crime is met with a bail that the defendant cannot afford because they lost their job while waiting for a hearing. A hearing they should have had months ago. Usually, by the time they are standing in front of the Judge to hear their crime and pending bond, they don’t get an opportunity to plead their case. This is supposedly so that due process can happen, but frequently the Judge has already been biased against the defendant and it doesn’t matter if there is sufficient evidence to convict. They have already decided to do so. It’s become a show of “Meet them, Greet them, and Plead them”. Due to the Judges not withholding their biases and inadequate counsel and targeted harassment, many of these defendants are pressured to plead guilty even if that is not their truth.

Are we supposed to accept Defendants becoming cattle over petty crimes?

   Defendants that do not receive their right to due process have become a new form of cattle. Trading freedom of the free world, for one of the chains with a very bleak outlook on where they go from here. Not many can afford their new lives, not that they could afford to live in the free world before. Most petty crimes are committed due to the need for shelter or food, because they were one paycheck away from being homeless. That could be any one of us now. We must come together and ensure that defendants are given their opportunity to defend themselves and have a thorough investigation like their officer counterparts.

What is Due Process?

   Due process is when a person has a right to maintain their innocence until actually being convicted of a charge via jury or judge trial. It means that an individual has the right to be considered “not guilty” until they are actually found guilty by a jury of their peers. But this is not something that happens here in America. Most tie guiltiness or not guilty on a grandy jury indictment. They make the assumption that because a person is indicted that must mean that they are guilty. When this couldn’t be further from the truth. Due process was used for the purpose of avoiding this from becoming a part of our criminal justice system. Sadly, officers get more due process because whenever there is an incident that involves a police officer we are asked to “give them an opportunity,” or to “not pass judgement” until all the evidence is reviewed and made public. Yet as regular citizens, we are not given this same respect or process. Immediately, when someone is charged with a crime, they are automatically assumed to be guilty. The assumption is that the Police did a thorough investigation. However, there have been many cases that the police have investigated that have gotten beaten in trial. In addition to this, we have also found that even police are not exempt from sometimes expounding or expanding the truth when it benefits their interest. The District Attorney's office, who's supposed to be the second form of verification and investigation, destroys a person’s credibility because “they can.” And Judges who are supposed to be impartial find themselves not being able to hear over the noise that the police or District Attorney’s office makes. This means that a system that is supposed to be unbiased is not designed to be so because without due process there's only guilt when a person is charged with a crime.

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