A Three-tiered Justice System

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryThe whole legal drama with former President Donald Trump is a stark reality reminder that there actually is a two-tiered justice system in the United States. One for the wealthy, famous and well-connected, and the politicians on the one hand, and one for the rest of us on the other. But I will argue that we have in fact a three-tiered justice system. One for all the powerful and well-connected, one for those who can afford lawyers, and one for the poor, working class and virtually destitute. In the third category, justice is questionable at best. If people are accused of a crime, they might get a public defender. Normally, such a person will not have the training or resources to defend their client as they would like to. Against a powerful prosecutor with all of the powers of the state behind them a defendant stands little to no chance of winning or being cleared even if they are innocent. Even of something as minor as a traffic or parking offense means a defendant stands little chance of justice.

Recently, we have seen how certain people spent years rotting behinds bars for something they did not do because they did not have the lawyers or resources to help them since they were simply too poor for help. One very small example is the case of Ray Krone. In 1991, Krone was convicted for the murder of Kim Ancona in Arizona. He spent 11 years in prison before finally being found innocent by DNA evidence that showed he was not there. But even if someone is guilty of a crime, the punishments a person of a lower class can be worse than those who are of a higher class. Take the example of an African American lady named Kelley William-Bolar. She used her father’s address to get her two daughters into a school district so they would not go to a public school where they could be harmed. Williams-Bolar admitted her guilt in court, and was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of $30,000. Contrast that to the case of the well-known actress Felicity Huffman who was found guilty of mail fraud and conspiracy to get her daughters into college by false test scores. Huffman got two weeks in jail.

Yes, as the old saying goes, money walks and money talks. It is a sad commentary of how the justice system is beginning to leave something to be desired. I have heard the saying, “if you do not want to do the time, do not do the crime.” Yes, but the other caveat is that lawyers can keep you out of jail if the price is right. Let us just say I am now having some very serious misgivings about how the justice system is performing these days, especially in regards to finding the innocent truly innocent. No justice system is perfect, but in my view for everyone to be equal before the law, sometimes extra effort should be put into the system to help those in most need receive justice no matter how poor they are.

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