The Criminal Justice System

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David Cole wrote, "our criminal justice system affirmatively depends on inequality" (5). Cole has substantial grounds for making this statement. Race and class have long been issues in the criminal justice system, but does the system "affirmatively depend on inequality?" Does the criminal justice system depend on the disparities of the people that it serves? American justice is supposed to be blind. Despite this there have been many disparities in the justice system due to racial, social class, and economic reasons. "Absent race and class disparities, the privileged among us could not enjoy as much constitutional protection of our liberties as we do…" (Cole 5). The case of Gideon v. Wainwright can be used to illustrate this point. Cole summarizes the case: Clarence Earl Gideon, a penniless Florida man, down on his luck and charged with breaking and entering a poolroom, claims that although he can’t afford a layer, he has a constitutional right to have a lawyer appointed by the state to defend him. When the Florida trial court denies his request, [Gideon] represents himself, and is convicted. From prison, [Gideon] sends a hand-written note to the Supreme Court asking it to hear his case. …Abe Fortas [is appointed] to argue Gideon’s case, and then [the Court] rules that the Sixth Amendment guarantees indigent defendants the assistance of a lawyer in all serious criminal trials. On retrial, with a lawyer paid for by the states, Gideon is acquit...

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