An example of systemic injustice that I read about in the news was the federal execution of Brandon Bernard. Mr. Bernard was sentenced to death in 1999 for his part in a carjacking and the murders of a couple. In 2018, evidence was discovered by the police that proved he did not commit the murders, however he did burn the bodies, an attempt to cover up the crime (McCullough, J). After this evidence was presented to the courts, multiple jurors changed their mind about his death sentence (McCullough, J). Leading up to his execution, thousands of people called, emailed, and tweeted support for the Supreme Court and former President Trump to reverse the decision of Mr. Bernard’s execution. Here is a twitter thread that educated and raised awareness to tens of thousands of people on Twitter: https://twitter.com/wilsonality/status/1336344699561521153?s=12
Mr. Bernard was executed on December 10th, 2020. Bernard’s attorney, Robert C. Owen, released a statement after his death and called for systemic change; this statement can be found from this tweet https://twitter.com/mikebalsamo1/status/1337211256856596480?s=12.
His death was an example of how the death penalty disproportionately affects the poor and minorities. The United States is among a list of countries that uses the death penalty to punish the poor and minorities. People who are poor have a more difficult time affording a good lawyer, making it more likely that they will be receive a death sentence (Penal Reform International). Minorities have endured this systemic injustice for many, many years. In the year 2000, 18 prisoners were to be federally executed; of the 18 prisoners, 16 of them were either Asian, Hispanic, or African American (ACLU). This is systemic because both minorities and the poor are not receiving as fair of a sentence as White people or people with a higher SES. This systemic injustice can relate to what we learned in class about the Master and the Slave. In this situation, the Judicial/Prison System is the master and the minorities, and the poor are the slaves. To change this wrong to be righted, we as a society need to demand prison reform and aim to abolish for-profit private prisons. We also need to demand fair trials for everyone regardless of a person’s gender(s), sexuality, race, and ethnicity.
ACLU. (n.d.). Race and the death penalty. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.aclu.org/other/race-and-death-penalty
McCullough, J. (2020, December 10). In rush of FEDERAL executions, Brandon Bernard and ALFRED Bourgeois were put to death for Texas murders. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.texastribune.org/2020/12/10/brandon-bernard-alfred-bourgeois-executions/
Penal Reform International. (2015, November 19). The death penalty: Myths & realities. Retrieved February 07, 2021, from https://www.penalreform.org/resource/the-death-penalty-myths-realities/