Guest blog entry by MRB (student, world citizen)
At 12:45 a.m. on May 11th, 2004, in Lexington, Kentucky, a woman was leaving her job and turned out onto the main road. As she turned onto the main road, she was struck by another vehicle traveling approximately 81 mph in the posted 45 mph speed limit zone. The woman’s car was pushed across the four-lane road, over a 4-inch concrete curb, and through a wooden fence. Both vehicles continued for several yards, digging out chunks of grass, skimming a manhole, and chipping a small tree stump. The woman died of blunt force trauma while the driver of the other vehicle survived. The woman’s name is Rachael Burns. She was engaged Jack Fritz. She had a life taken from her.
I know what everyone is probably wondering, what legal consequence did the driver of the other car receive for his act of vehicular manslaughter? In Kentucky the average sentence for vehicular manslaughter is 90 days to one year in prison with a four year parole; however the person who struck the woman above did not receive any jail time.
Simple. It was an on duty officer answering another officer’s non-emergency call. The officer did not have his lights or siren on, but he still was considered “on the job”. His punishment was a six month PAID leave of absence. He has since returned to work as if nothing happened.
But something did.
A life was taken needlessly. And had anyone other than a police officer been the culprit, justice may have been served. Instead, we are left with a blatant reminder that the justice system is riddled with double standards, and this example is merely the tip of the iceberg.
Another situation that we witness this double standard for deviants is in the situation of assault. As members of society, it is taught to us that committing acts of violence against another person is wrong and have legal repercussions. Yet, we see and hear about domestic violence or cases of assault all the time in the media. But it seems as though little is being done to prevent this since historically the “victim” has been a woman.
Another thing we here about in the media is police brutality. Despite its media presence, you rarely hear of officers going to prison for it. There may be some minor human resources action against the officer or some legal remedy for the arrestee, but usually only with the cases that happen to be caught on video. However, most times there are no videos and testimonies are the word of the arrestee versus the officer. Whose story is more likely to be believed?
On shows like COPS, you see someone who broke a law, but sometimes they hit that point where they know they are caught and give up. The officers still run in and tackle them like the person is going to fight back. Is this necessary, or does it merely make the situation worse?
The last situation that I leave you to ponder about deals with speeding. Almost everyone has sped at one point or another. I know that I have received a few tickets for speeding, and there are plenty of people who can relate. When an officer is taking radar from the side of the road and he clocks someone speeding, he then has to speed to catch up to them. Basic laws of physics say that for him to catch up to a car traveling at a constant speed (and I say constant speed vaguely for the point of the example), he would have to go faster than the car he is pursuing.
Thus he is also speeding, yet no ticket goes to the officer.
How do we allow our government to have double standards for two members of society? A uniform and badge are all that separate the two people. Both work for a common goal, to make money to support one’s self and one’s family. As equal members of society, everyone is supposed to follow the posted laws, yet we allow some members to be above reproach and unable to be reprimanded.
As a consequence of such a double standard lives do get altered or even lost. Lives like that of Rachael Burns.