Have you ever seen those movies where the main character is a journalist and she’s working for a fashion magazine or a magazine that mainly talks about dating – she keeps asking her boss if she can write a political piece and they keep turning it down? I am not joking when I say that I feel like that same main character when at the end of the movie she is finally able to write whatever she wants to write about because she proved to her boss that she can handle the political story.
I am finally posting my first piece about social injustice! YAY ME!
I recently watched the Kalief Browder story on Netflix, which if you haven’t seen, I recommend you watch it IMMEDIATELY – especially if you are an American! This story shows some of the really awful things that happen to inmates in the United States. This story is unique because Kalief Browder was only 16 when the story began to unfold. For those of you who don’t know, New York State is only one of two states (the other being North Carolina) that haven’t raised the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old. This means that at 16 years old in New York State you can be charged as an adult for misdemeanors.
Anyway, Kalief ends up getting sent to Riker’s Island (New York City’s jail) and he is treated like absolute garbage by the entire criminal justice system while he is awaiting trial for allegedly stealing someone’s backpack. I don’t want to ruin the entire story but I would like to add that he spends over 3 years at Riker’s awaiting trial and he never ended up being convicted or sentenced.
What is wrong with the United States Criminal Justice System that it is seen as okay to keep someone behind bars for THREE YEARS when they haven’t even been convicted of a crime?!
This documentary really made me think about how unjust our justice system is. This story is probably one of hundreds of thousands that occur where innocent individuals (innocent until proven guilty) are sent to jail to await their trial dates while incurring the horrors of life behind bars. Unfortunately, I think it goes without saying that Kalief was an African American male and the likeliness of a similar situation happening to a white male, especially a teenager, is probably much lower.
At what point is America going to realize that enough is enough? We have to come to an understanding that everyone deserves to be treated equal. No one should ever have to experience what Kalief Browder experienced during his time at Riker’s Island.
From research I did during the time I was in college, we know that mental illness rates are higher in jails and prisons and can even be what provokes mental illness signs and symptoms to begin in individuals. On what planet would we allow a 16-year-old to spend so much time in jail, being beat on, kept in solitary confinement, and even being denied psychiatric care?!?! RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA PEOPLE.
The good news is that Riker’s Island is planning to close, slowly but surely, and New York State is in the process of raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18, something I personally stand behind one hundred percent.
Check out more about Raise the Age here
I don’t know how many of you have seen the documentary 13th, but it is another documentary I highly recommend for those who are trying to get a better understanding of the injustices done to individuals who come in contact with the criminal justice system in the United States. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. Although slavery has been abolished for many years, this documentary shows how the criminal justice system enslaves African Americans, anyway. This is another very eye-opening documentary.
I work with the forensic population and I do see many of these awful stories unfold where African Americans are treated extremely unfairly in the eyes of the criminal justice system. It’s very sad to me that I live in a country where people truly still dislike each other because of the color of someone’s skin. Furthermore, we are still dealing with issues of discrimination towards gender, religion, and sexual orientation, as well. I mean really, it’s 2018 for god’s sake.
I am a huuuuuuge advocate for human rights. I can’t comprehend discriminating against someone else because they don’t look like me or don’t believe in the same things as me. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I was raised to treat everyone equally so I can’t imagine living any other way. Plus, I personally enjoy learning about other people’s cultures and religions, and one of the great things about America is that we have so many different cultures and beliefs right in our own neighborhoods. We have ample opportunities to learn about other people and become educated individuals instead of pushing people away because they aren’t the same as us.
While the criminal justice system does not necessarily target a religion or a culture, per say, there is a disproportionate number of African Americans in the United States’ prisons. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) website states that African Americans are FIVE TIMES more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts. FIVE TIMES?!
I know there are individuals reading this who want to throw other statistics at me right now like how much more likely they might be to actually commit a crime too – but I think that until people have worked with these populations, they are unaware of how skewed the entire system is. To me, it’s not as much about who is committing what crime as it is about how they are being treated by the system. There can be a white individual and a black individual who can commit the exact same crime and get two completely different punishments, as most sentencing is discretionary. This is what I’m talking about as being an issue in the United States. The total injustice that is done by the justice system.
While I truly enjoy writing about my dating and life experiences, things like this put everything into perspective for me. Yes, I am single and the dating world definitely sucks when you’re a young adult, especially online dating. But – there are people out there who have it so much worse than me who shouldn’t.
I regret to say that I know white privilege exists in the United States. It’s disgusting. BUT I love using my voice to help those whose voice goes unheard by this government and the governing agencies. Everyone deserves a chance at the American Dream. It should not depend on who’s family you were born into, what color your skin is, what God you believe in, if you are male or female, or who you choose to love. Everyone deserves the same freedoms.
I know there are going to be people out there that read this who have an opposing view of the situation and I would love to hear your opinions, however – I beg that you please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can talk there instead of taking the chance of getting into a heated debate on my blog!
Anyone else, I would loooove to hear your opinions of this. If you have watched either documentary tell me what you think and if you have not I really suggest you check them out!
With love from my city to yours,