Feb 27, 2015

Lady Justice Sides With Cash: Legal Bias Against Low Income Persons

One thing we can all hope for is equal treatment under the law. If I kill someone, I hope that I will be thrown in jail just like the next guy. This consistency allows lawbreakers to know what the punishment will be, and hopefully this will persuade them to be not break the law. There are obvious human and systematic flaws in this system. I can speed down the same road day after day with no troubles, but one day just like any other I get pulled over and given an expensive ticket. This leads to the trouble I see with many drivers: they're not afraid of breaking the law, but rather they're afraid of seeing patrol cars on the road. The biggest flaw, however, with the punishment system is the effect of money. The lawbreaker with money faces lower punishment than the man without money. In an insignificant example lets look at our speeder: a $200 fine for a person who works for minimum wage is a larger punishment relative to wealthy gentlemen receiving the same. A more significant and important situation is one where a person's money allows them to receive a smaller absolute punishment. Money can allow us to purchase better legal help; money increases freedom, and this is not justice.

The justice system is ran like a for-profit business instead of on the principles it is supposed to be founded on. Another acquaintance of mine was found guilty of an assault with little evidence against him. The case rested solely on the persecutor's narrative. The defendant couldn't afford a lawyer and the liberal government in BC at the time had cut legal aid so he wasn't even given a lawyer to defend him. A relatively recent news article claims that most legal aid funds don't even go into legal aid. We don't actively consider that we may one day need legal aid. The rich don't think about this - they can hire better lawyers if need be anyhow. There's no demand for funds going into legal aid. The people that need it are deemed unimportant.

If lawyers have this make-or-break it power, then there is something wrong with the system. The textbooks are too complicated. People with low literacy skills flood jails. In the end the rich and the educated have more freedom. A potential solution is to nationalize lawyers and have the state assign them, but most competent lawyers would all move to more lucrative countries. A more practical solution would be to have an open source of information on the web that is easily accessible by everyone.

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