Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Colored Point of View: The criminal justice system in this country is crippled by racial tensions. Blacks don't trust whites, and whites don't trust blacks. As a result both groups can look at the same case and see completely separate things.

This is what happened in the OJ case, and now it has apparently happened in the Michael Jackson case. Through their limited knowledge of the trial, most whites believe Jacko was guilty while most non-whites believe he was innocent.

Everybody knows about this divide. That's why prosecutors in Texas decided to dismiss as many black jurors as possible when aiming for a conviction in a death penalty case. They knew blacks would distrust the white system and would empathize with the defendant, regardless of the facts in the case.

The Supreme Court rightly overturned that conviction, citing the racism in the jury selection. Now I have no knowledge of the circumstances of that particular case, and I strongly support the death penalty. But what the Texas prosecutors did only breeds more resentment from racial minorities, and develops more distrust.

I'm angered every time I hear about a black juror refusing to render a guilty verdict simply because that juror doesn't want to agree with whites. And I get equally pissed off when whites exclude blacks from the process to prevent that from happening, inadvertently making the criminal justice system even more corrupt.

This isn't something I realistically believe can be fixed in my lifetime. But I hate to see any actions that make it worse. And it will be up to the criminal prosecutors to earn the trust of the public at large, not just part of it.


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