Civil society flourishes when its people – young or old, black or white or brown – can trust that justice will be dispensed without fear or favor.
The United States is only about 5 percent of the world’s population, but it is home to 25 percent of the world prisoners. The American criminal justice system presently is broken, and an example of justice run amok. The system has deteriorated to a point whereby innocent people are being imprisoned even with the lack of sufficient evidence. For the real criminals, punishments are often not commensurate with the crime. Presently, many non-violent offenders serve more time behind bars than murderers, rapists, and armed robbers. Consequently, the criminal justice system does more harm than good – destroying lives, shattering dreams and crushing hopes and aspirations for happiness.
Under normal circumstances, obeying the law is enough to shield anyone from trouble. Unfortunately, the current dispensation is hardly normal and being careful in private or public life does not insulate against being caught in the cobweb of the numerous laws and regulations that are the hallmarks of the criminal justice system. Unwarranted arrests, police brutality and senseless prosecutions are a commonplace to the extent that the country’s legal system is teetering dangerously towards a precipice.
To say the least, in America, the fear of prosecutors is the beginning of wisdom. Prosecutors have enormous power and discretion to pick and choose who goes to jail and who does not. They take to the extreme the dangerous impulse to punish perceived offenders – real or imagined. Although, lawmakers can do more to remedy the situation, because of political expediency, the legislative arm of government continue to enact laws and regulations that criminalize harmless acts.
There is no justification for mass incarceration; it can no longer be defended morally. A rational approach to the criminal justice system in America might someday be possible but not anytime soon given the interplay of politics and business within it. Nonetheless, the fact that criminal justice reform is now part of America’s political discourse underlines its importance, and no one is more qualified to talk about it than one who lived through it for nearly four years.
Every chapter of this book increases the reader’s understanding of critical factors undermining the efficient functioning of the justice system. American Justice Inc.: Rogue Criminal Prosecution in an Era of Mass Incarceration, is a product of my experience with the U.S. criminal justice system. It is also a concept of the knowledge I gained from many that I met in prison – guilty and innocent. This book communicates clearly and presents the most compelling arguments yet of how government prosecutors and their cronies use crazy laws, plea bargain, false witnesses and other unwholesome tactics to oppress its people. The issues, disturbing though they are, alone could not have been enough reasons to write this book if they had been the exceptions and not the rule. They are institutionalized; have become the culture. With so many locked up, the United States has become a nation that feeds on its own.
This account is a summary of my personal experience and observation of the American criminal justice system. This book will impact useful information and benefit the readers in a significant way. It will also remind me that every day that I live in freedom, many languish in captivity. It is my hope that telling my story will shed new light into the dark alley of the U.S. criminal justice system, raise public awareness and stimulate a discussion of the cankerworm that has eaten deep into the fabric of the society.