The entire purpose of government is justice. That’s what I think. Government falls under numerous headings, of course, but in every case, an action that does not lead toward justice leads toward injustice.
The level of economic equality, as measured by the Gini Index, provides an approximation of justice.
We are the richest country the world has ever known, yet ours is among the least equal of the 34 OECD countries, which means we are also among the OECD countries with the least justice. Our Gini score has been steadily worsening for half a century. The reason is that the people with the most money and power are trying to make it that way.
A government action
that does not lead toward justice
leads toward injustice.
We’d like it if racism was something in the past. It ain’t so.
Every two or three days violent, racist white cops murder another unarmed black person. Every day, people, especially black and Latino men, begin long prison sentences for something that is treated very differently in the civilized countries. Criminal justice in the US is a growth industry. For-profit prisons that several states set up because they had too many prisoners have sued because the state wasn’t sending them enough prisoners to be profitable.
We spend more on prisons than on education. Sentences long ago passed the point where their duration could be justified. Most of us know that our percentage of imprisoned people is greater than the number imprisoned by the Soviets or by South Africa at the height of their abusive reigns. Many young people are imprisoned for life without parole for relatively minor property crimes, or for being addicted, which should be treated as an illness. A fourth or more of the imprisoned are mentally ill, and many of them get no treatment at all, thus virtually guaranteeing that they will return to prison not long after they are released. Most of us know that an unacceptably large percentage of black males will be jailed at some time in their lives, often unjustly. Even more will find themselves trapped into dealing with the criminal system in some way, often for something inconsequential such as a traffic stop.
Criminal justice in the US is a growth industry.
African-Americans have been telling us all along that racism has never gone away, that it remains rampant, only slightly improved from the violent days of Jim Crow in the Old South. Recent events, especially in the South, have proven their point. The system is very, very sick. White racists are everywhere, including Congress.
Obviously, major changes must be made to the legal system. Fortunately, President Obama is pressing for some of them, but much more than a few changes to the criminal justice system are needed. Major changes in social justice and equality are also needed.
Changes in criminal justice
are secondary to social justice.
For a long time I have believed that changes in criminal justice, while important, are secondary to social justice. Property crimes are without question more common where lack of opportunity kills hope for a better life. Improvements in the criminal justice system cannot make up for the economic inequality that has grown like a societal cancer for half a century. The minimum wage, which millions are forced to endure, has created rising poverty, with no way to escape, even by working two jobs.
Obviously, all these things need immediate attention and reform. Nobody should lose their life because a white cop gets a hair up his ass over skin color. Nobody working full time should be trapped in deep poverty.