Tag Archives | Justice

Why Do People Defend Unjust, Inept, and Corrupt Systems?

Corrupt Legislation

Detail from Corrupt Legislation. Mural by Elihu Vedder (1896).

Via ScienceDaily:

Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in — a government, company, or marriage — even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust?

A new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, illuminates the conditions under which we’re motivated to defend the status quo — a process called “system justification.”System justification isn’t the same as acquiescence, explains Aaron C. Kay, a psychologist at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, who co-authored the paper with University of Waterloo graduate student Justin Friesen. “It’s pro-active. When someone comes to justify the status quo, they also come to see it as what should be.”

Reviewing laboratory and cross-national studies, the paper illuminates four situations that foster system justification: system threat, system dependence, system inescapability, and low personal control …

Read more here.… Read the rest

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Who Will Protect the Protectors?

“What bullsh*t, Liam.  If your lot really thought they [i.e., the police] were part of the “99%”, you’d be doing something to protect them, too,” Sorcha Nic Congail

Well, it has to be admitted that my cousin Sorcha has a point. A powerful point. Not the sort of thing that I would have been inclined to explore on my own unbidden. But that’s what friends are for, I guess. To prod you along some paths you would never have even considered, left to your own devices.

Here’s where the hole ugly mess began:

Photo, allegedly of the dog Parrot moments before being shot to death by police.

I received a copy of this photo last weekend from an FB friend and as a dog lover was immediately horrified.  As a kid I grew up with dogs — lots of dogs.  Probably the best, most loving and loyal animals on earth. I’d long ago come to see dogs as man’s natural companion and most trusted comrade.… Read the rest

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Was 14-Year-Old Executed By South Carolina Innocent?

George-Junius-Stinney-Jr-commonsThe saddest part is that I’m not 100 percent certain that something like this could never happen again today. Raw Story writes:

Over 67 years after 14-year-old George Junius Stinney Jr. was put to death by the state of South Carolina, he may soon be cleared of the crime that people familiar with the case say he never could have committed.

A lawyer and an activist both told Raw Story recently that new evidence will show that the black boy could not have possibly murdered two white girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and seven-year-old Mary Emma Thames.

Stinney, the youngest person to receive the death penalty in the last 100 years, was executed on June 16, 1944. At five feet one inch and only 95 pounds, the straps of the electric chair did not fit the boy. His feet could not touch the floor. As he was hit with the first 2,400-volt surge of electricity, the mask covering his face slipped off, “revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth.”

Less than three months earlier, Stinney, who had no previous history of violence, had been accused of the crime after he admitted speaking to the girls when they stopped by a field in Alcolu where he was grazing his cow to ask where they could find maypops, a type of flower.

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Troy Davis Executed in Georgia

Troy DavisReports the AP via CBS News:

Georgia executed Troy Davis on Wednesday night for the murder of an off-duty police officer, a crime he denied committing right to the end as supporters around the world mourned and declared that an innocent man was put to death.

Defiant to the end, he told relatives of Mark MacPhail that his 1989 slaying was not his fault. “I did not have a gun,” he insisted. “For those about to take my life,” he told prison officials, “may God have mercy on your souls. May God bless your souls.”

Davis was declared dead at 11:08 ET. The lethal injection began about 15 minutes earlier, after the Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour request for a stay. The court did not comment on its order, which came about four hours after it received the request and more than three hours after the planned execution time.

Though Davis’ attorneys said seven of nine key witnesses against him disputed all or parts of their testimony, state and federal judges repeatedly ruled against granting him a new trial.

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West Memphis Three “Plead Guilty”, Freed After 18 Years

the-west-memphis-3-may-be-released-25932-1313766108-1The trio of teenage friends were accused and convicted of several child murders in Arkansas in 1993, with the evidence more or less amounting to their interest in heavy metal music and dark-colored clothing. DNA evidence since confirmed their innocence, turning them into a cause célèbre as symbols of legal injustice, ’90s-era hysteria over provocative music, and, more broadly, the human tendency to scapegoat outsiders. The Los Angeles Times writes:

The three men known as the “West Memphis 3,” who have been imprisoned for 18 years for a notorious 1993 child-murder case, have won their freedom in an Arkansas courtroom.

In an agreement with prosecutors, Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley and Jason Baldwin pleaded guilty to the murders of three 8-year-old boys in May 1993, but are able to claim they are innocent, an arrangement known as an “Alford plea.” The three men were released Friday after serving sentences of 18 years plus credit for time served.

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‘Kids For Cash’ Judge Gets 28-Year Prison Sentence

ap_Mark_Ciavarella_nt_110818_wgPennsylvania Judge Mark Ciavarella jailed teenagers for minor offenses (e.g. satirizing a teacher on Myspace) in return for over $1 million in kickbacks from the area's for-profit youth prison. Mother Sandy Fonzo alleges that Judge Ciavarella is only "the tip of the iceberg" in a practice that is occurring across the country. Fonzo's star-wrestler son, whom Ciavarella sentenced, committed suicide after spending six months imprisoned among violent offenders as punishment for being caught with a marijuana pipe. In her words, "Judge Ciavarella is proof that for-profit incarceration cannot happen." The Kids For Cash scandal involved more than 30 state and local government officials and contractors, says ABC News.
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The Blue Eyes Of Terror Challenge The World To Respond

473px-Anders_Behring_Breivik_(Facebook_portrait_in_suit)Move over Osama bin Laden—I know you already have had in the physical sense —because you now have an emulator who borrows your tactics and inverts your ideology.

Anders Behring Breivik, is Norway’s candidate for the new world’s top living evil-doer and terror supremo having admitted to killing 93 young people and blowing up buildings in Oslo.

While Bin Laden castigated crusaders, Breivik salutes them in a 1518 page manifesto of madness. And his lawyer has rationalized his murder spree in a similar way to those who defended Al Qaeda as defending Islam.

The two are almost carbon copies. The Norwegian posted videos on You Tube while Bin Laden relied on TV communiqués.

One was killing in the name of Islam, the other in the name of Christianity.

Foreign Policy reports, ”Breivik’s lawyer said that his client admitted to the killings, but rejected ‘criminal responsibility.'” He described Breivik as being motivated to carry out the attacks by a desire to force radical change on Norwegian society.… Read the rest

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An Environmental Advocate Faces Jail Time For Peacefully Derailing The Government’s Auction Of Utah Land

Photo: Nodar Kherkheulidze

Photo: Nodar Kherkheulidze

Environmental hero or another illegal tactic of a peaceful activist? Jurors are often told that they must come to a verdict based on the law and not their moral conscious. Should DeChristopher get a 4 1/2 year prison sentence, or should his trial lead to a reconsideration of the law? AlterNet reports:

Tim DeChristopher is scheduled to be sentenced in a Salt Lake City courtroom by U.S. District Judge Dee Benson on July 26. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $750,000 fine for fraudulently bidding in December 2008 on parcels of land, including areas around eastern Utah’s national parks, which were being sold off by the Bush administration to the oil and natural gas industry. As Bidder No. 70, he drove up the prices of some of the bids and won more than a dozen other parcels for $1.8 million. The government is asking Judge Benson to send DeChristopher to prison for four and a half years.

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For Women, Darker Skin Tone Means Longer Prison Sentences

X63248-02Racial bias in our criminal justice system isn’t a binary matter, with different treatment for blacks versus whites — rather, a new study suggests that it is a sliding scale, in which severity of punishment increases proportionally as skin color becomes darker. Via the Root:

Villanova researchers studied more than 12,000 cases of African-American women imprisoned in North Carolina and found that women with lighter skin tones received more-lenient sentences and served less time than women with darker skin tones.

The researchers found that light-skinned women were sentenced to approximately 12 percent less time behind bars than their darker-skinned counterparts. Women with light skin also served 11 percent less time than darker women.

The study took into account the type of crimes the women committed and each woman’s criminal history to generate apples-to-apples comparisons. The work builds on previous studies by Stanford University, the University of Colorado at Boulder and other institutions, which have examined how “black-looking” features and skin tone can impact black men in the criminal-justice arena.

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US, Russia, China Faulted For ‘Serious Deficiencies’ In Rule Of Law

Protesters clash with riot police on 7 November 2007 during Georgian demonstrations. Photo: Diaoha, Georgia Today

Protesters clash with riot police on 7 November 2007 during Georgian demonstrations. Photo: Diaoha, Georgia Today

How well has America upheld ‘justice for all’ this year? Via Solidarity Institute:

An annual survey of the rule of law around the world released Monday sees weak protections for fundamental rights in China, “serious deficiencies” in Russia, and problems with discrimination in the United States.

Sweden and Norway scored highest on the World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, which ranks countries on such key areas as whether the government is held accountable, there is access to justice, rights are protected and crime and corruption is prevented.

“Achieving the rule of law is a constant challenge and a work in progress in all countries,” said Hongsia Liu, the executive director of the project, which was funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

He said the index was “not designed to shame or blame, but to provide useful reference points for countries in the same regions, with comparable legal cultures and similar income levels.”

[Continues at Solidarity Institute]

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