By Ron Lee
America suffers from a rush to judgment. We judge on appearances; don’t say we don’t. We judge on feelings. We judge on bias, and gossip, and belief. And almost all of us judge on what we think are the facts, which are presented to us by a mainstream media whose agenda is to serve whichever side is more powerful. For years, it was the public; and the media would expose government corruption up to the highest levels. Now, it’s the government; and the media, in general, obfuscates for the government, telling the people what has been pre-approved for public consumption and what the government has determined people should believe.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in criminal cases when a person is arrested or charged and their name is reported not as the allegedly guilty party but as the one who in fact committed the crime. This reported presumption filters into the public perception and throughout the intended jury pool. If you stand accused, the rush to judgment is that you are guilty.
Inside the justice system we have officers who rush to judgment about individuals who happen to be in the wrong place at the right time for the officers to arrest. Many seem to be fueled by a “blood-in-the-water” appetite to arrest (and abuse). Anyone who stands in the way of their “authority” is a target. These officers often perpetrate the biggest of frauds on those they are supposed to protect and serve, by arresting them on trumped-up crimes like resisting arrest and/or obstruction of justice. However, when an officer does stand on the side of the law and of the people, their “brothers in blue” often ridicule them right out of the force. If you aren’t on “their” side, you are one of “them.”
The typical prosecutor is one of the most willing to rush to judgment. Prosecutors look at arrested individuals and force-feed stacked charges to them. They relay a sense of dread and never-ending incarceration to the accused in hopes to pry a plea deal from them. Regardless, if there is evidence of innocence, they strive to convict the one who stands accused. And it works: 95 percent to 97 percent of every person in the U.S. charged with a crime takes a plea deal. Of those 3 percent to 5 percent who don’t take a plea deal, 63 percent to 78 percent (depending on the offense) are convicted at trial. The perception, with such high “conviction” rates, is that those charged are always guilty. But it’s a false perception based on a system that seeks conviction rather than justice, promotes an agenda of persecution rather than the prescribed notion of “innocent until proven guilty.”
Recently, President Obama has been lauded by the mainstream for justice system reforms, and in part for commuting the sentences of 46 nonviolent offenders. What a joke. There is no reform, nor will there be. The system will stay broken. And 46 people are a drop in the bucket to thousands who plead because they were blackmailed into it, even though they may be innocent.
One thing that could help is this: If you are charged with a crime and you are innocent, don’t take a plea deal! Fight and scream out loud to everyone who will hear you: “I am innocent!” Only then will some people look up from their haze and listen instead of rushing to judgment. And just maybe, we can demand accountability.
For the last 12 years Ron Lee has spent his time helping US~Observer clients with his no-nonsense investigative reporting style. He also designed the look and feel of the US~Observer website and newspaper.