Friday, 07 May 2021

Kishineff: The criminal justice system is not on trial

I keep hearing, in the media and from elected officials, that the criminal justice system is on trial in the Derek Chauvin trial.

No, it's not. I have heard this so much over the last couple of weeks. It might sound nice, because if the system were on trial, there would be a resolution, there would be accountability for 500 years of genocide, slavery, cruel policing laws, atrocious immigration laws and more. But it's not.

During the trial, evidence will be heard relating to one murder. The court will be subject to the same set of standards and laws that have always systemically favored white people with money, and police officers especially so. The court will not hear arguments about the system in general, or relating to other cases. The Judge MAY make a statement after the trial that indicts the system, but the Judge will have no authority to sentence anyone other than the accused, or change the system in any way other than the case itself setting any precedent that it might.

Security has already been increased around the trial, because if the Judge does not sentence Chauvin harshly enough, or worse let's him walk away, there will be chaos and anger. The system will be guilty of being racist, of being sexist, of being classist and of being ableist no matter what the court rules.

And even if the court rules against Chauvin, even if he is sentenced to life, he will be a token prosecution, a scapegoat. The criminal injustice system isn't going to change without changing the laws and without accountability, so that those who refuse to enforce existing laws are exposed and dealt with.

If the criminal justice system really WERE on trial, it would be found guilty and sentenced to replacement.

Jason Kishineff lives in American Canyon, California.

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