The Criminal Justice System is a structure which consists of various bodies and authorities such as Courts, Judges, Defense Attorneys, Police and bodies such as correctional facilities, penitentiaries etc. The main purpose of this system is to provide justice to the aggrieved person who has been wronged by another person. It works to punish the person who has committed a crime thereby violating the rights and autonomy of other being. The U.S criminal system is not a single set of agencies and bodies. Rather it is divided into State and Federal Criminal Justice System where the state system deals with the crimes committed within the state boundaries and the Federal System is concerned with the crimes committed in multitude of states.
United States may proudly boast about how efficient their justice system is and how it is one of the most efficient in the world but the truth is not what it seems. There are numerous problems in the system including gross injustice, petit apartheid and false and baseless incarcerations.
The term ‘Petit Apartheid’ was coined by Geroges-Abeyie in order to describe a face of racism. This term is used to describe the discrimination dealt by the minorities such as Blacks and Hispanics in US where they are treated differently with the whites. This can be seen from the fact that whenever a crime is committed, it is the people of these minorities who are Prima Facie suspects. The gravity of the situation is evident from the fact that African Americans are six times and Latinos are 3 times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterparts. Drug arrests in US are an everyday business, they have increased substantially from 3,20,000 to 1.6 Million according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Another shocking statistic is that the incarceration of Blacks for these drug offenses is two to eleven times that of whites. Besides that, Blacks and Hispanics remain in prison and penitentiaries for substantially longer time that the whites. In fact, they receive sentences that are approximately 10% longer than those received by whites. Judges sentence black convicts to 20% more jail time than white people who committed the same crime.
One of the most famous cases where blatant injustice was committed against Blacks and Hispanics was the Central Park Joggers Case where four African-American and one Hispanic children were framed by the New York Police Department(NYPD) after which they were incarcerated by the court for 6 to 14 years for the rape of a white woman named Trisha Meili. In this incident five children namely Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Antron McCray and Yusuf Salaam were falsely accused of rape of Trisha meili who was jogging in the central park in New York and was found unconscious and injured behind the bushes. The NYPD interrogated the five children, harassed them into confessing a crime they never committed and finally succeeded in putting them behind the bars. All five of the accused were given maximum possible sentence ranging from 6 to 14 years by Judge Thomas B. Galligan who was accused of favouring the state at that time as he often used to give judgements which were conducive to the state. The five men later sued the New York City for which they received record $41 million settlement in 2014.
The criminal justice system is filled with a plethora of flaws, corruption and mismanagement. The state can and will do anything just to make sure that the minorities such as African-Americans and Hispanics bear the burden of a crime they never committed and that they are heavily punished for something they have got nothing to do with. As a matter of fact, even the whites are as much vulnerable if not more to the inadequacies of the justice system. The criminal justice system is doing the exact opposite of what its name stands for. The problems and flaws in the system need to be addressed as soon as possible to make sure that justice is served at the earliest and that the innocent is not made to take the fall unnecessarily.
Just like U.S, the Indian criminal justice system is divided into hierarchies with Supreme Court being the highest Judicial body and High Courts being lower in the hierarchy. The lowest in the criminal justice system in India comes Sessions Courts.
The situation in India is different than in U.S in that access to courts is prevented to the people due to their financial situation and not because they belong to a certain race or section of the society. There are certain ‘external factors’ such as monetary, cultural and geographical impediments which disable people to have access to justice. A study found that there was a 2.5% chance of High Court decision being appealed to the Supreme Court, but since the proximity of these High Courts to the highest court was far off, the cases couldn’t reach there.
Then there are ‘internal factors’ such as delays in courts, technical difficulties etc which make it even more difficult for the aggrieved to get the justice he craves for.
Thirdly, there are ‘quality factors’ which is also a cause of concern in the U.S justice system. These factors are caused by arbitrary decision making by the courts, on the whims and fancies of the judges who pronounce their judgment without the presence of any substantial evidence. The trend of conviction of accused on the basis of circumstantial evidence is prevalent in both U.S and Indian criminal justice system.
One of the most prevalent barricades to expeditious justice in India is the problem of pending of cases. Even in the highest court of the country, there are more than 60,000 cases pending. There are around 3 crore cases pending in all the courts in India. One of the reasons for this is the deficiency of appropriate amount of judges in the courts. If this problem is somehow solved, the cases would be solved at the right time. This would prevent the violation of the rights of the under-trials who are left to languish in prison even though his guilt is not proven.