The near-zero accountability for police and prosecutors in the American justice system hinders the legitimacy of the system. The job of police officers and prosecutors is crucial to the functionality of the criminal justice system. They have a great responsibility to citizens and also wield great power. However, there is low accountability required from members of the police force and prosecutors.
There have been multiple controversial incidents of unlawful killings and brutality by police officers. In many cases, the officers responsible might not be punished for this or given a lesser punishment than deserved.
The death of George Floyd became a high-profile case that sparked multiple protests nationwide about police brutality. Notably, an early report by the Minneapolis Police Department claimed the death occurred due to a medical incident. However, a video of the incident surfaced and the truth of the brutality that led to the death of George Floyd was exposed. Weeks after the incident, pools conducted revealed that the public confidence in the police is at its lowest ever.
Many protests erupted throughout the country but not solely for that particular incident. Many similar incidents have occurred without justice because of the near-zero accountability of the police force for its actions. The somewhat violent protests erupted because people feared that once again, the police officers responsible would not be held accountable for their wrongdoings.
It’s a fact that less than two percent of police officers responsible for fatal shootings on duty are charged or convicted.
Police officers can easily escape the justice system because they have the protection of social and legal forces. Moreover, the same scrutiny hardly exists when a police officer stands on trial compared to an ordinary citizen.
Prosecutors contribute to the lack of accountability because they are laxer with their duty when a fellow prosecutor or police officer is tried in a court. They become more forgiving and less concerned about the responsibility and accountability of such defendants. In contrast, prosecutors tend to be the opposite of other defenders. They are more brutal with their arguments and push for the jury or judge to hold defendants accountable for their offenses.
Similar to the police, accountability of the prosecutors for the bias in carrying out their duty is low. The double standard in the high level of accountability that law enforcement units hold the general populace compared to the low level they operate on is a problem for the criminal justice system.