I was watching the news the other night and a local jury was in deliberations deciding the fate of an accused murderer. In the thirty second clip, it was mentioned he was accused of killing women and kids and I thought they mentioned they were related to him. He did this over four years ago. Why does it take so long? So much for a speedy trial.
I know many of these delays are due to the inability to gather evidence or information. It takes time to depose people and create a viable defense (or prosecution), but it shouldn’t take that long. But it does, so something is clearly wrong.
This justice delay is not new but most of us don’t pay much attention to it since it doesn’t involve us, but we should. It is another example of government inefficiency. It is also another example of class difference. There have been discussions and some actions about eliminating bail for accused criminals. Most of the headlines concerning these actions are extreme in nature. Either how a poor accused criminal is able to go back to work to support his family due to this miscarriage of justice being eliminated (the inability to hold an accused criminal due to a high bail amount) or how a similarly poor accused criminal went out, after being released, and committed another equally heinous crime. It is all about spin.
Our justice system, including jury trials, needs a reset. We need innovation in the Judicial Branch too.
The victims need to see justice with speed, compensation and justice. I appreciate the accused has rights and this is as it should be, but we need to bring the proverbial pendulum back to the victim. We have a lot of technology available to us today and we need to start using it. There are too many ifs and buts, but we need to get these issues sorted and send a quick and clear message to criminals. If you do the crime, you will pay a price. If it takes months, or years, for these trials to take place, it sends the wrong message.
Prisons are overcrowded, expensive and not really helpful as crime deterrents (look at recidivism). For some gang members, prison time is like a merit badge. If someone commits a crime, what does the victim want? Personally, I want to be compensated for my damage and I want to know the criminal will be punished, not receive a merit badge. Punishment does not always have to be prison. He can paint my house, mow my lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow or some other task. Taking someone’s Saturdays for a whole year may prove more of a deterrent. I want it to happen quickly. Too often, the victim gets left holding the bag. Yes, the criminal may go to jail, but the victim is literally left with the bill.
You want to steal my car, great, pay me for a new one. I don’t care if you go to jail, but I want my car back. If it’s gone, fine, buy me a different car, but I want something comparable. I don’t want to have to sue you in civil court to get it. It should be part of the criminal resolution. Just as with other policy shortcomings, the Judicial Branch has its own problems. It too needs a healthy dose of common sense. It won’t happen without a demand from the people and Legislative changes. I hope people start to pay attention.