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Trump’s Arrest in Georgia Exemplifies a Dual-Tiered Justice System

Trump’s Arrestin Georgia Exemplifies a Dual-Tiered Justice System

Trump’s Arrest in Georgia Exemplifies a Dual-Tiered Justice System

Parallels emerged between LaShawn Thompson and the former President, Donald J. Trump, as both faced legal charges in Fulton County, Georgia, and underwent processing at the Fulton County Jail, commonly known as the "Rice Street" facility. However, this commonality is where their interactions with the criminal justice system converge.

On a Thursday, under the scrutiny of televised cameras, Trump's motorcade accompanied him, and with the escort of armed U.S. Secret Service personnel, he traversed the procedural motions of documentation, fingerprinting, and posing for mug shots, seemingly akin to a VIP gaining entry to a nocturnal establishment. The entire process, from paperwork to jail exit, consumed a mere 24 or so minutes. His physical attributes were recorded as 6-foot-3 in height, weighing 215 pounds, with "blond or strawberry" hair color. Quickly, the recently designated Inmate No. Po1135809 was airborne on his private jet, reiterating his assertion of innocence.

Conversely, the scenario took a tragic turn for LaShawn Thompson post his detention at Rice Street. Regrettably, he breathed his last at the age of 35 during his incarceration at Fulton County Jail, where a span of three months had transpired. His autopsy revealed multiple factors contributing to his demise, encompassing dehydration, malnutrition, untreated schizophrenia, and a severe infestation of insects, including lice and bed bugs, afflicting his body.

The attorney representing Thompson's family distressingly recounted that he was "consumed alive by insects and bedbugs." Notably, Thompson faced a misdemeanor charge.

In contrast, Trump grapples with a 41-count felony indictment for racketeering offenses, entailing four distinct criminal cases pursued by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and recently, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. The Fulton County case, however, marks Trump's initiation into the routine procedures of fingerprinting and the probability of a "mug shot." Furthermore, Trump is subjected to release conditions that encompass bail.

Significantly, Trump was not subjected to identical processing as other defendants within the purview of the DOJ criminal cases or the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. Absent were the prerequisites of bail or bond in those instances. Plausibly, the distinction in Georgia's approach stems from the deference shown to Trump by the New York and federal systems due to his prior executive leadership, a deference that Fani Willis, in her role as the Fulton County District Attorney, does not extend.

Alternatively, the divergence could be attributed to Trump now facing a cumulative total of 91 criminal charges. Irrespective of the rationale behind Georgia's decision, Trump and his supporters perpetuate the narrative of his being persecuted for political reasons and assert the existence of "two systems of justice": a lenient one for liberals and a harsh one for conservatives. This narrative, however, stands in stark contradiction to reality.

In our nation, the genuine duality in justice pertains to the privileged and affluent experiencing one system, while the marginalized and economically disadvantaged navigate a fundamentally disparate one. Both systems yield varying degrees of justice, either through conviction or acquittal, yet solely within the latter—reserved for those bereft of influence and affluence—does the very system metamorphose into an instrument of chastisement.

A police officer in Antioch, California, succinctly articulated his perspective on a suspect who bore the brunt of police canine attacks in a text message: "i (sic) feel like this is the real punishment compared to the soft DA." This incongruity is not the intended modus operandi.

The procedure involving a criminal defendant must remain precisely that—a procedural affair—marked by safety and compassion for each defendant presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The process of arrest and charging should not be misconstrued as retribution for any individual. The much-discussed "perp walk" offers an emblematic instance of society's predilection for pre-conviction chastisement.

The spectacle of parading a charged individual for public humiliation traces its origins back to the procession of French monarchists en route to the guillotine. Ironically, this tradition was modernized by Trump's co-defendant, Rudy Giuliani, who orchestrated the procession of Wall Street defendants through a scrum of media, pre-notified by the police for optimal publicity, bolstering Giuliani's own career.

Similarly, the practice of publishing mug shots online, particularly those of celebrities, exemplifies another facet of pre-conviction castigation. Acknowledging the issues related to disseminating mug shots, including the propagation of racial biases, many news organizations have ceased incorporating mug shots in their narratives.

Nevertheless, conspicuous practices like perp walks and mug shot exhibitions might potentially serve as deterrents, revealing that even the affluent and influential can be held accountable. In certain instances, such as the apprehension of dangerous serial killers—e.g., the Son of Sam murderer in New York or the Night Stalker killer in Los Angeles—the imagery of perp walks and mug shots also affords reassurance to the public concerning their safety. However, this reassurance falters when it comes to inhumane jail conditions and transgressions committed by law enforcement officers.

Inhumane circumstances prevailing in jails, whether for detainees awaiting trial or serving sentences, coupled with brutal treatment meted out by law enforcement, encompassing instances of sexual assault and harassment, diverge from the realm of the criminal justice system. Or, at the very least, these aspects stand as unendorsed elements of the sanctioned criminal justice system. Investigations into facilities like Fulton County Jail by the DOJ and human rights organizations, facilitated by public records requests, uncovered an array of problems, including overcrowding, inmate fatalities, excessive use of force by officers, structural deficiencies, outbreaks of lice and scabies, and inmate malnutrition. In one outbreak of 2022, the Southern Center for Human Rights documented that "100% of inmates in one unit suffered from lice, scabies or both," and 90% exhibited malnourishment.

The ongoing proliferation of cases against Trump—and, more recently, his co-conspirators—demonstrates the system's ability to subject even the mighty to accountability. Nonetheless, these cases also cast a spotlight on the atrocities—undeniably appalling—endured within our criminal justice framework by those lacking the shelter of affluence, influence, and power. Ultimately, long after the images of Trump, Rudy, and their ilk fade from memory, society's legacy will hinge on how it treated individuals like LaShawn Thompson—a judgment that will define us as a collective.

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