I have jury duty this week. I do not know if I will even have to go in, let alone whether or not I will have the opportunity to deliver these remarks in this form, but here they are as I have prepared them:
Your honor, my sense of justice does not reduce to law passed by a preponderance of wealthy white men against everyone else.
My sense of order does not reduce to the preservation of hierarchy, the protection of the wealthy against everyone else.
My sense of security does not reduce to the mass incarceration and brutalization—a larger population, both in aggregate and in proportion than any other country in the world—of nonviolent drug offenders or the stigmatization of the poor simultaneous with the pardoning of the rich who kill and injure many more, who cause far greater damages.
You do not want me in this court today or in the future. This court upholds a social order that has kicked me when I was down and never yet released its hold, whose behavior towards me can only be compared to that of a schoolyard bully but with the lifelong consequences that no matter how much education I acquire, I am unlikely ever to enjoy the opportunities which you and counsel take for granted; there is no end in sight to the structural violence you commit against me and against millions of others. The more I learn about this system, the deeper an understanding I gain of the sheer hypocrisy and unmitigated gall with which you call me in. Anyone who voluntarily participates here is a willing accomplice to criminal injustice. I stand instead for justice which is in absolute contradiction to law and could never knowingly vote in good conscience to uphold law at the expense of justice.
- Steven E. Barkan, Criminology: A Sociological Understanding, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006); International Centre for Prison Studies, “World Prison Brief,” http://www.prisonstudies.org/info/worldbrief/wpb_stats.php; Jeffrey Reiman, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison: Ideology, Class, and Criminal Justice, 7th ed. (Boston: Pearson A. B. Longman, 2004); Ben Wallace-Wells, “How America Lost the War on Drugs,” Rolling Stone, March 24, 2011, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-america-lost-the-war-on-drugs-20110324; Philip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil (New York: Random House, 2008).↩