Our ‘unjust’ justice system
To the editor:
This oxymoron describes the truth behind our justice system across America and even more so in Virginia. Whether a person is Caucasian or a person of color, it is unequal across the board. There is a double standard, a class system, in the justice system. Those of affluence and notoriety (actors, song artists, politicians, etc.) never face the consequences of crimes that middle- to low-income people face.
I have witnessed this locally and from TV coverage of those in high places. Our governor took a laid-back view of a politician caught smoking marijuana in a parking lot, saying he would lose a good number of his staff if he fired someone caught with marijuana. A former president spoke publicly of having used cocaine and could do so without consequences.
For over a decade, I have worked for expungement for non-repeat, ex-offenders of non-violent, non-sexual crimes in Virginia. Over half of the states in the United States offer this. In Virginia, it doesn’t matter if it is the 18-year-old who gets caught with marijuana and is convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, this is never erased from his/her record.
Hiring policy in every professional career prohibits hiring of anyone with a drug conviction. Ex-offenders are denied rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for a lifetime in Virginia. Earning a high degree will not open doors to gainful employment, housing, etc. Is this not “cruel and unusual punishment”? Every bill that I have gotten introduced into the General Assembly is tabled yearly in the Courts of Justice Committee. I want help to get a referendum on our ballot for citizens to get expungement legislation passed in Virginia.
Those who represent us fail to exemplify Christ with their “no forgiveness” stance. Let’s take action now.