When Justice isn’t Justice

Over the last few years, I have had friends who were accused of crimes they didn’t commit. I will give several examples of this throughout the blog. Our criminal system is not always fair. When it works, it’s supposed to work well. Albeit in truth, most of the time, people who have served time, often learn how to be more of a criminal than when they entered.

One of my closest friends has a brother who was incarcerated for a crime that she and many others believe he did not commit. He was railroaded into a confession by the police, never read his Miranda rights, the police failed to follow up on any testimonials that others who had been with him on the dates in question, could have verified his true whereabouts and was therefore imprisoned for a crime that he had an alibi for. They took the word of a minor who was a known pathological liar. Why did she lie? Because she didn’t want him with anyone other than her.

The years have passed and he’s still in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s learned more about criminal activity while in jail than he ever wanted to know. Unfortunately, his story isn’t unique. There are many other men and women who get accused of crimes that they are innocent of and are forced to serve a sentence for not being what someone else wanted them to be.

I have another friend of mine who fell hard for a local hairstylist. She was a customer of his. On occasion, he would send her a card or flowers but never consistently. She seemed to reciprocate his feelings but out of the blue, he was fired from his job and arrested for stalking and harrassing her. Little did we know at the time that his roommate was sending her gifts every single week in my friend’s name. He would stalk her at her job and tell her that my friend had people watching her. Anyone who knows my friend knows that not only would he not have done this, but he couldn’t afford to have people watch this woman.

Instead of doing an investigation into her accusations, his job let him go, and she filed charges against him. It was only after he got an attorney to fight the charges that she backed down. He was able to prove to the attorney he wasn’t guilty but the damage was done. She had helped to ruin his reputation. It’s taken him a very long time to get back on his feet and he should be commended for his ability to change the direction that his life had taken.

What about the folks who have been victims of bullying, police brutality, violence, terrorism, and unethical and immoral attacks? Where is the justice for those folks? I am not going to sit here and deny that our society isn’t plagued with discrimination, racism, social and physical deterrents, etc.. What I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt is that it’s become each one of our responsiblity to ask more questions than ever before.

During my years as a student, I was accused of plagiarism more than once. In high school, my folks had sent me to a private school. They sent me on money that was to have been used for college. I worked my way through at a local Burger King to get a scholarship because I didn’t belong with the kids I was in school with. The girls were mean to me. I had to beg people to let me sit with them for lunch or just go off by myself. I wasn’t the kind of girl the guys were into at that point so I felt like an outcast. I was a sophomore in high school the first time it happened. I had a report that I was so excited about. I had worked really hard on my report and I couldn’t wait to turn it in. The problem is that the report that got turned in was the notes that I had used and the report that I had put together was replaced with a report I didn’t recognize. The school wanted to take action against me. I never really knew what happened after that. Things went about the regular routine but I was always scared from that point on that the work that was submitted wouldn’t be right. To this day I still don’t know what or who changed the report out but it taught me a very valuable lesson. Always double check to make sure no one tampers with your work.

Later I went to college. After taking a break for a lot of personal reasons, I had gone back to school in my thirties to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree. I took a class with a professor who did not like me from day one. At that particular time, the Gay and Lesbian Marriage issue was a very hot topic, I am a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community but I was going through a divorce at the time and noticed that the rules for those in the LGBTQ community didn’t apply the same as a heterosexual couple who was going through a very rough divorce. As it stood at that point in time, a non-heterosexual couple could pretty much just walk away without penalty whereas a heterosexual couple had to go through all kinds of litigation to separate the property. In my mind, the situation wasn’t just. There was no justice for those who had to play by the rules. Fortunately, the laws have tightened on this and it’s a little more in sync for both communities. For the record, I hope no one has to go through divorce. In spite of what anyone says, it’s not a fun feeling for anyone involved. Anyway, going back to the professor, I had a paper that I wrote for him. He flat out accused me of plagiarism. I offered all the notes, information I had and proof I did not plagiarize. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t even give me the consideration to see that I was innocent. I spoke to the Dean of Students and expressed my frustration. I was five days from graduation. He was never held accountable for not allowing me to prove my innocence and I was stuck with a bad grade that I didn’t deserve.

All in all, I have learned over the years that life isn’t fair. There are so many things in our lives that we all get accused of and treated poorly over. The question then becomes what are we willing to do about it?

In truth, it really depends on what a person gets accused of and the situation. If it’s in a school environment, then take it to the Director in charge. If it’s dealing with a job, take it to the highest person that you feel can help you take action. And if you are the person doing the accusing of someone, you better make sure that they really did the thing you are accusing them of. OItherwise, you will come out looking like a bully and an instigator. Before things esacalate into a bad situation, sit the person down in a room with a mediator. Make sure of facts before you tout off things with emotion. Be mindful of your actions and the other person’s responses.

There will always be people who accuse others because they feel it makes them look better. But if we can start asking questions and not just accusing someone without proof, we might just get a little more justice in a world that has become unjust.

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