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The Problem with Our Justice System

You return back to your home and find your partner dead. Naturally, you call 911, hoping to save their life. When they arrive, instead of helping you, they arrest you for the crime of the second-degree murder of your boyfriend. This is what Kimberly Long had to go through. She was stuck in jail for eleven years until they realized the evidence holding her there was unreliable. Having two children, she couldn’t even protect them from the dangers of the world as those same things were trapping her. After over a decade, she was finally freed, living the life she deserved. But why? This story may sound crazy but, this happens many times. Innocent people are often convicted of crimes they didn’t commit, losing months or even years of their lives for something they didn’t do. From things like racial to gender biases, people can be targeted and not believed. It’s a shame how easily someone innocent can be charged. This happens too many times for comfort, and it needs to be stopped.  

Many arrests have been made for errors such as mistakes in DNA testing or wrong evidence. Even being at the wrong place at the wrong time can bring grave consequences. Joseph Sledge was charged with the murder of Josephine and Aileen Davis in 1978. Hairs from an African American male found at the crime scene were found at the crime scene. He had escaped prison a day before the murder due to a fight and the police believed that he was connected to the murder. There was nearly zero evidence linking him to the crime, yet he was arrested. He was freed in 2015 after redoing DNA testing and seeing that he was not connected to the crime. Many others have also been arrested due to bad motives, being framed or just even being them.

In terms of arrests due to racial bias, it is very prevalent. 47% of all exonerations are African Americans even though the entire African-American population makes up only 13% of the United States. Black people are more likely to be arrested for a crime that they didn’t commit compared to their non-Black counterparts. Not only that, people with disabilities are nearly 44% more likely to be arrested than someone without them. Due to mistreatment or not knowing how to accommodate someone with disabilities, they may see their behavior as “suspicious” or even “criminal”. Yet even with this, it is looked over, and only very little fight against this. 

Lastly, these situations hurt the victims and their families of them heavily. Let’s go back to Kimberly Long for a minute. She and her family had to fight for years until her release to bring her back home. It was a grueling and devastating thing to go through and most families that have similar situations to this have to go through the same thing. It is very mentally, emotionally, and even sometimes physically damaging to them. Even put yourself in the shoes of the Victim’s family. Finding out years later that the person you thought killed someone you loved was not the person and the true killer is still on the loose would be terrifying. The despair of finding this out would be agonizing. This is why this should never happen.  We should fight to avoid these situations at all costs. Cracking down on the biases and errors that even cause these will be the first step. We need to combat these unjust ways as you never know if you or someone you know could be next.

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