Truancy Laws

In the United States children’s education is very important. Truancy laws however, have gotten out of hand. Truancy laws regard the amount of school children must attend. Breaking these laws can result in parents and children serving jail time. Many professionals are beginning to believe that these laws are unfair and outdated. The individuals whom are usually arrested for truancy are children in unhealthy living situations and poor communities. For many children in the system, school isn’t an immediate priority. Some kids have taken the roles of the parents in their household and are unfortunately to preoccupied with having to find basic supplies to live, then focusing on their education. These children begin skipping school because they can’t go to school and that’s when the law are implemented.

In our system today there are many outstanding warrants on current adults from when they skipped school as children. This is astonishing to me. While I grew up in an area where I didn’t have to worry about going to school, I can’t imagine the amount of pressure on juveniles in these types of positions. I think our government should have a more effective way on how they treat truancy in America. Instead of continuously arresting and put fines on these children and parents in need of help, the government should be using their energy to help them. By helping children in difficult situations explore different educational paths we can help reduce the incarceration rate of juveniles.

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Three Strikes Law

The “three strikes” law came to light in the 1990’s when crime rates were through the roof. This law states that the sentencing for an individual whom has already been convicted of two or more violent crimes is significantly increased. While this law seems to have a logical reasoning on ways to lower violent crimes being committed, there are many issues people have with it.

The main argument that many people have, in disagreement with this law, is that it doesn’t let the punishment fit the crime. In the constitution it is important that the punishments fit the crime committed. For example, if I was to steal lipstick from a convenience store, cutting off my hand would be a wildly extreme punishment. The idea of committing relatively minor offenses repeatedly and not being charged with an outrageous punishment like life in prison is called “proportionality”. “Proportionality” is represented in the Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It basically states that we can’t use excessive punishments for the crimes committed. When thinking about this and the three strike rule, the supporters of this law believe that since the crimes have continuously been committed, more retribution is required to further deter the criminals. While individuals whom don’t support the three strike law (myself included) believe that once a criminal has committed a crime the court should focus their attention on giving a fair sentence to that specific crime.

By knocking out this law we can better follow the Eighth Amendment. Following this Amendment more closely will help many individuals whom are being sentenced years in prison of an astray of mild violent offenses like bar fights.

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Juveniles Falsely Confessing

Juveniles are very easily coerced into false confessions by police officers. When police officers are convinced that the juvenile they have in front of them is guilty they use brain washing techniques to force a confession out of them. Unfortunately, this causes many juveniles to be wrongly convicted of crime. Police officers will talk to the juveniles like they are friends and tell them they wrong information. Since juveniles don’t realize what is happening there usually isn’t a lawyer or parent present in the room with them. Talking to the police officers the juveniles are told that the only way to be safe is to confess to a crime. The police force tells them things like; “we already know you did it you might as well confess”, “regardless if you did it or not you won’t be in trouble so just tell us the truth”, or “your mom already knows you did it and isn’t mad”, etc. These types of comments and interrogation methods are harmful to juveniles. By confessing to crimes they didn’t commit juvenile’s lives are ruined as they end up serving lengthy prison sentences.

Knowing their right to an attorney is something that needs to be embedded in every juvenile’s mind. By asking not to be questioned without an attorney present can save so many kids lives. While the police continue to use this tactic to solve crimes, we need to continue to stand up for the juveniles in our system.

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Public Urination Laws

It’s not uncommon for individuals to be forced to urinate in public places, but do you realize the punishment you can receive as a result? Public urination is disgusting but everyone has had to do it at least once in their life. Many people don’t realize that is a very illegal act. In many states public urination can result in an individual having to register as a sex offender. This type of punishment is pretty outrageous in my opinion because everyone has urinated in public.

Registering as a sex offender has an immense amount of negative effects on a person’s life. Some of these negative effects are; not being able to live within a certain amount of feet from a school, not being able to work with children, having to warn your neighborhood that you’re a registered sex offender, having your address on a website, etc. These types of consequences are important in offenses that involve sexual assault. However, public urination shouldn’t merit this type of punishment.

I believe public urination should be reviewed along with the punishments that follow it. The criminal justice system has a habit of harshly punishing small offenses, while not acknowledging large ones and it has to change.

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Victim Blaming

No matter what bad thing happens to you, you can guarantee that someone will inevitably blame you for it happening. For example, if a branch falls on your car, its likely people will say, “well it’s your fault for parking under the branch.” Victim blaming is used in our everyday lives and its prevalence in our criminal justice system is horrendous. We specifically see this type of behavior revolving around victims of sexual assault. Like I have mentioned in previous posts, men aren’t held to high enough standards when it comes to sexual violence. The court system repeatedly will blame the victim for anything they can, in sexual assault trials.

Victim blaming has been explained by human psychology in the past. The Just World Hypothesis is one reasoning behind why individuals tend to continuously victim blame rather than help the victim. The Just World Hypothesis is a belief that the universe is morally fair and everyone gets what they deserve. The idea that the universe is morally fair is a comforting thought to many which is why victim blaming is so prevalent. Instead of accepting the flaws of the universe people are more in tuned to construct reasons why something occurred. For example, if someone stole a bike of someone’s porch, it’s easier to blame the owner of the bike for not putting it in the house rather than blaming the thief.

Victim blaming is causing individuals to not feel comfortable enough to report crimes that are happening to them. It is important that our mentality on victim base crimes lays less with, “what did you do to deserve that” and more with helping the victims.

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Police Brutality

One of the most talked about issues in our criminal justice system today is police brutality. Police brutality is police officers using their position of power to be overly violent on random individuals. While media attention shows this directly in correlation with African American men, police brutality is all over the country. This has struck fear in the citizen’s eyes. Citizens in our country feel more intimated and scared by police presence rather than protection. This is extremely disheartening because majority of cops in our society are nondiscriminatory and are very helpful.

I believe it is important to show the public the positives that police officers do on a daily basis. By doing this I believe individuals will be less hesitant to ask for help when they’re in need. When it comes to police brutality I think we need to implement some type of training program that will help reduce the amount of police violence on citizens.

Some solutions that have arisen from the panic of police brutality are forcing police officers to wear small cameras on their uniform. I think this has been a very good initiative in the right direction to monitoring the actions of our police force. While this has been a positive there are still police officers out their abusing their power and discriminating groups of people. I believe that our fight with police brutality won’t be over until we can say that there is no discrimination in our justice system.

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Letting Rapists Walk

While drug users are taking over our prison system, rapists are walking off with minimal punishments. In our court system today judges have more sympathy for white rapists than African American men with possession charges. One of the most famous cases that proves the level of privilege white men have in our court system today is Brock Turner. Brock Turner was a swimmer at Stanford University who raped an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. As horrifying as this crime is, Brock Turner was only sentenced to six months in prison. Going through the news it is guaranteed that you will find a disturbing amount of cases just like this one.

In our system today we need to force rapists to serve much higher sentences. By holding rapists more accountable of their actions, we can than help fix the rape culture in our country. It is beyond repulsive that women are being victim blamed for men’s actions. Every time a man gets away with rape, it reinforces how little power the criminal justice system actually provides women. During rape trials women are put on the stand and slut shamed by the defendant’s attorney. Women are more often told by people of higher power to keep their mouth shut when they are sexually abused.

It is time for the government to give women their power back. We need to focus our attention less on the way women dress and more on the way we prosecute sexual assaults. By continuously letting rapists walk free we are encouraging more sexual assault crimes to happen. Not only do we need to deter men from committing such horrendous acts, but we need to educate boys on how to properly treat women.

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Crack vs. Cocaine Debate

The criminal justice system undoubtedly targets people of color. Nothing describes this type of discrimination quite like the crack vs. cocaine debate. Crack cocaine is a very addictive drug. Powder cocaine is seen as a powerful drug but isn’t as big of a priority as crack cocaine is in the eyes of the government. The criminal justice system has come out to say that crack cocaine is 100 times more dangerous and addictive than powder cocaine. This immediately caused individuals to look down on poor communities. However, science has come back saying that crack cocaine and powder cocaine produce identical effects to the user and chemically they are basically the same drug. When this science was presented to criminologists they stood by their decision of the 100:1 punishment ratio. Even stating that even though the drug produces the same effects, they aren’t the same. I don’t know about you but that doesn’t make any sense to me. Criminologists have put their blinders on towards the science of this topic and it has resulted in the discrimination of poorer neighborhoods.

Since crack cocaine is a cheap substitute for powder cocaine in our society, it has flooded poor communities. This has caused us to directly discriminate individuals of color because it is their neighborhoods this drug is flooding in. While the wealthy white teenagers are buying cocaine as a party drug and seeing no consequences, African Americans are targeted for crack cocaine and are sentenced to 100 times harsher punishments.

Realizing the discrimination in the 100:1 punishment ratio should be more important to our criminologists. Instead of putting on blinders to the scientific evidence at hand, they should have the drugs punishments match. The punishments revolving around crack cocaine should diminish down to meet powder cocaine. Continuously ignoring this issue is fueling the amount of racism and discrimination in this country.

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Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Mandatory minimum sentencing is a common term used in the criminal justice system today. One thing you need to know about it is how unfair it is in correlation with drug usage. Many of our government officials have experimented with drugs in the past, including presidents! Drug experimentation is not uncommon in teens and young adults, but yet some young live have been ruined because of it. Mandatory minimum sentencing is a set amount of time an individual must spend behind bars because of their use with certain drugs. While this sounds logical, it has been taken out of hand. Some examples of this today are; driving someone to a drug deal can result in life in prison, get caught with cocaine three times can result in life in prison, and dealing marijuana with a gun can result in a life sentence. While all three of these types of crimes are bad, I don’t believe the punishment fits the crime.

The sentences from mandatory minimum sentencing are too long compared to other crimes. One example on how unfair this type of sentencing is, is Weldon Angelos (pictured below) famous case. This man Weldon Angelos was selling marijuana. He ended up selling the drug to an informant whom told the police he had a gun on him during the drug deal. This resulted in Angelos being convicted and having to serve over 50 years. Breaking this down in comparison to other crimes he received twice as much time as second-degree murderers, plane hijackers, and bomber. He was only 25 years old at the time. This is mind boggling to think that dealing marijuana with a gun on your person can receive more prison time then individuals whom murder people.

The system need to get rid of minimum sentencing in order to balance out the system. Mandatory minimum sentencing is ruining the lives of nonviolent offenders and it isn’t okay. By decreasing these drastic charges, we can help fix the justice system. As well as the lives of many.

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