The System is Not Broken: It Does What It Was Designed to Do

Guy Nave
Momentum
Published in
5 min readMar 14, 2022

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Photo from the Atlanta Black Star

I am so tired of hearing people talk about a “broken” criminal justice system. Recent developments in Oklahoma have people once again talking about “fixing” a broken justice system.

In Oklahoma (as in many states), the primary way of paying for the justice system is by fines and fees. The state depends on the offender to pay for the so-called justice system.

While I agree with the op-ed writer that the criminal justice system in Oklahoma is unjust, it is not “broken.” It does exactly what it was designed to do.

While I am not opposed to criminal justice reform, we need much more than reform. We need a new justice system altogether.

We need a system that is actually designed to ensure justice for ALL people. Our current system was never intended to benefit all people.

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney stated more honestly than anyone the intent of the American justice system.

In March of 1857, the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Taney, declared that black people were not and could never become citizens of the United States.

The case before the court was that of Dred Scott v. Sanford. Dred Scott was an enslaved black man who had lived in the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin before living in the slave state of Missouri. Scott sued for his freedom and his case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Taney wrote in the Court’s majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. According to Taney, the framers of the Constitution believed that blacks “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect…

Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, “all men are created equal,” Taney asserted, “it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . .”

As offensive as Taney’s comments might appear, Taney’s assertion is correct. The American justice system was never intended to serve and/or protect black people.

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Guy Nave
Momentum

I LOVE thoughtful and challenging engagement! That's why I read and write on Medium. If you enjoy the same, keep in touch. I always respond.