The US Justice System is a ‘Laughingstock,’ But Not For the Reasons Trump Says

As readers no doubt know, this week New York City experienced its worst act of terrorism since 2001. Using a rented vehicle, a man authorities believe had been influenced by Islamic State propaganda sped down a bike path, striking a number of people. So far eight have died as a result.

Wasting little time, President Trump logged onto Twitter to not only condemn the attack but to make sure to politicize the incident to further his own agenda. First, he explained that, since the suspect was an immigrant, that this justified his aim to restrict immigration.

Since then, Trump has also raised another angle. In apparent frustration, the president said at a Cabinet meeting that the United States’ criminal justice system is “a joke and a laughingstock.”

As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day, and though Trump’s conclusion is reasonable, how he arrived at it is more than a little flawed.

Speaking with regard to how terrorism trials are handled in the U.S., Trump argued that “we need quick justice and we need strong justice, much quicker and much stronger than we have right now.”

Later, Trump took to Twitter to expand on this:

Somewhat ironically, experts including former federal prosecutors explained that Trump’s tweets would actually make it more difficult to secure a death penalty conviction. That is because before the trial would begin, prosecutors will have a more difficult time assembling a jury pool that is demonstrably not tainted.

This aside, what is particularly concerning is Trump’s views on the criminal justice system in this country. There are a number of flaws – enough to fill several books – that could justify calling it a “joke.” However, the fact that terrorism trials are not done overnight is not one of them.

False convictions are one major problem that plague the court system. Estimates show that as many as half a million innocent people are currently incarcerated. This can come about for various reasons, including false confessions, inaccurate testimonies and plea bargains.

Another major issue is found with the way sexual assault is handled. Even when victims do what authorities say to do, including the often traumatizing act of putting together a rape kit, justice is not pursued. Many kits are assembled and then put into storage where they are examined years later, if ever. It is believed that across the country there are 123,000 untested rape kits; other estimates place this figure at around 400,000.

Then there is capital punishment, which President Trump seems so keen on utilizing in a swift manner.

Beyond the moral implications, state execution is problematic for another reason: It changes nothing. Death row sentences do not deter future crime and they, for obvious reasons, do not serve to rehabilitate. There is a reason the practice is non-existent in most developed countries with the major exceptions including China, Iran and Saudi Arabia – nations not exactly known for respecting human rights.

Trump’s insistence that the process of conviction and death row sentencing be accelerated is undeniably reminiscent of the notorious war on drugs begun by Philippine authoritarian leader, Rodrigo Duterte. This campaign has resulted in the rise of death squads in the Philippines which carry out vicious executions of individuals suspected of participating in the illicit drug trade, sans trial. Monitors say that this has resulted in thousands of deaths.

Perhaps unsurprising is that President Trump has displayed admiration for the bloodthirsty Duterte.

Yes, Mr. Trump, the U.S. criminal justice system deserves to be called a “laughingstock” – but not because it fails to punish people. If the president truly understood the realities of the system as it is today, he would know that, if anything, the opposite is true.

Photo Credit: Dominique Pineiro / Wikimedia Commons

29 comments

Kathryn I
Kathryn I21 days ago

Trump would do well for himself to take a good long look in the mirror, when it comes to who the "laughing stock" actually is! And it ain't the DOJ either!

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I24 days ago

Relative to Trump, indeed, ignorance is bliss, since HE'S the laughing stock of the entire World. Expedite, Mueller!!

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Glennis W
Glennis W27 days ago

Interesting article Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W27 days ago

The USA just gets worse everyday Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W27 days ago

Thump is an Imbecile Thank you for caring and sharing

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Brian F
Brian F28 days ago

If your the DNC that rigged the elections against Bernie Sanders, or Hillary who the WikiLeaks emails showed was too close to Wall Street for the 21 million dollars they paid her, their is no justice. Their is no price to pay when the Democrats break the law.

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Cruel J
Cruel J28 days ago

Let's laugh him right into prison.

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Kathryn I
Kathryn I29 days ago

Before it's over, Trump will receive a "good taste" of just how sobering the Justice System truly can be, which will not be in his favor. Thanks for sharing

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Freya H
Freya H29 days ago

Sometimes it seems as though everything about this country is a laughingstock. Our two-tiered "justice" system that treats people of means well but shafts the poor. Our ludicrous amount of spending on the military while roads crumble and bridges are unsafe. The ultra-rich making money hand over fist by dodging taxes and sending jobs overseas. We are headed straight for a meltdown.

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Janet B
Janet B29 days ago

Thanks

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