Reply To: Warning: Integrity of judicial process at risk

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Chris

Congratulations to Sandy Rozek for a well-written and important article on the integrity and viability of the courts in proceedings involving sex offenders. I hope this gets published in broader forums. As the father of an S.O. whose crime involved looking at photos of underage girls on the internet in the privacy of his bedroom, I have come face to face with the horrors of the “justice” system in the United States. It’s worth pointing out that more than the excessive incarceration, long probation, cruel registration and other restrictions that sentences impose on offenders; such convictions adversely affect the lives of the offenders families and friends as well. This painful reality is another of the country’s easily overlooked “dirty little secrets.”

The national neurosis over everything sexual resists cure because it triggers emotions that overtake reason, decency and common sense when conversations about its symptoms occur. Perhaps it’s guilt that causes people to overlook their own transgressions, weaknesses and sexual hang ups when vilifying others in the name of puritanical indignation. Let’s have a national discussion about why priests molest parishioners, and why rich white guys (and athletic heroes beginning in high school) have gotten away with abusing women since the beginning of time while society looks the other way?

Thus, the social outcry against the human support and compassion by the convicted woman’s co-workers reminds me of the vigilantes who routinely lynched and murdered innocent black men during the course of our history. No one got in their way, because they adopted a mob mentality, which is always unreasonable, uncontrolled, and destructive. I have no doubt that these people thought they were acting with reason to assure justice for the victim. But the accused and convicted and their social networks have rights too, and these deserve an EQUAL level of protection within the system of justice we use in the United States.

The courts have much to repair, and they can begin by taking a sober look at protecting those who exercise their rights. If people can’t do this with protection in courts of law, what future does the country have as a nation of laws, with individual rights protected by a Constitution? We either return to reason and defeat vigilantes, or anarchy awaits.