The goal of this discussion is to allow you to analytically and creatively examine the unit’s concepts. Through productive discourse with your classmates, you can expand your thinking to consider other points of view and experiences, and challenge each other to see different analytical perspectives. To do so, it is important to write clearly, give reference or context for your examples so that they are understood, and include citations for the source of the points that you make. Use evidence based claims to support your positions and use a sociological perspective when constructing your posts.
Reflect on the film 13th. Describe how many institutions operate in conjunction to produce unequal criminal justice outcomes. What did you find most interesting and why? What policy changes do you think would make the system more equitable?
Jess (peer 1)
Although I had previously watched 13th when it first aired on Netflix, watching it again still invoked the same emotions of anger and sadness. This documentary film basically goes over all of the racial disparities embedded in our criminal justice system that deliver harsher punishment sentences to Brown and Black men compared to White men for committing the same crime. One focus is on the film Birth of a Nation which brought to the screen a perfect criminal in the image of the Black man. It was an extremely racist and stereotypical portrayal of the Black man as a dangerous and animalistic rapist who terrorizes White women. The movie served to confirm the greatest fears of the White population and set the example for centuries on what a criminal is supposed to look like. This has led to Brown and Black men being overrepresented in the media as criminals and super-predators and therefore educating and convincing the public that these men are responsible for the crime in this country.
The issue of mass incarceration began in the 70’s with President Nixon’s War on Drugs, into the 90’s with President Clinton’s Crime Bills, and is still visible today with the mass incarceration of over 2.3 million people. Politicians, immigration law, law enforcement, global corporations, and prison industrial companies all profit from keeping the prisons filled and ensuring that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Police arrest Brown and Black men for crimes that they did not commit and they are sitting in jail, not because they have been convicted of an actual crime, but because they simply are too poor to get out. What is most interesting to me is that this was specifically embedded in the structure of the Constitution. The 13th Amendment states that we are a free people, unless convicted of a crime, and this is the loophole that is being used against people of color. We need to elect leaders that are going to focus on prison reform and rehabilitation. Felons, even after they have paid their debt to society, cannot get a job or even vote. There is a part of the film where the young man states that in order to fix this system of racial caste, we must re-humanize people of color. When we can get to a place where all lives have value and all people are treated with dignity and respect, only then can we have a truly free nation.
There are three main components that make up the criminal justice system: law enforcement, courts and corrections. Law enforcement includes policemen, which are a civil force in charge of enforcing laws and public order at a federal, state or community level. State police have the authority to enforce statewide laws. Once a crime has been committed the case eventually goes to court. The judicial system is divided into federal courts and state courts. Once one is convicted they go to the corrections system, or in other words prison or jail. The thing I find most interesting is how they treat every case differently. Of course this must be done because some measures or more intense than others. Some may go to the U.S. supreme court depending on the matter while others will stay at the lowest level. The policy change I don’t agree with is the rules that an officer may make, or any other law enforcement worker. It seems like those in power follow a different set of rules than those who have a regular 9-5 job. It seems as if the one and power may get a slap on the wrist while another person might receive harsh punishment.