Why the U.S. Criminal Justice System Needs Reform

The change Gen Z wants to see with a new administration in office

Taking office at a crucial time in American history, President Joe Biden’s administration faces urgent social, economic, political, and environmental issues. More than any other generation, Gen Z uses social media as a platform to promote these essential issues. The Lance wants to use our platform to raise awareness about the issues that matter to our generation and that we hope President Biden will prioritize in his first 100 days.

On December 9, 2020, Brandon Bernard, a 40-year-old African American male, was pronounced dead at 9:27 p.m. after being executed by lethal injection of pentobarbital. Bernard had been on death row for over 20 years, all for a crime he did not commit. His execution left people outraged, as they saw his unfair sentence as an act of racial injustice. Gen Z hopes that the Biden Administration immediately works to reform the system so that no more victims suffer like Bernard did.

A breakdown of why Bernard’s execution was unconstitutional and should have been reconsidered (Nicole Sigismondi)

To prevent the executions of future innocent victims, the Biden Administration must follow through with its plan of passing “legislation to eliminate the death penalty at the federal level” and instead serving individuals “life sentences without probation or parole.” 

The Trump Administration did nothing to change the disparities that had already existed regarding the death penalty. In fact, executions increased, as “10 inmates [were] executed in 2020 alone” in comparison to the three federal executions that occurred under the Bush administration. The former president also denied a stay of execution for Bernard when his lawyers requested to analyze the case again before his set date. The Trump Administration was quick to execute Bernard, as well as other death row inmates before its term ended, due to the former president’s “intense commitment to the death penalty.”

The number of executions per year increased under the Trump administration. (The Economist)

The lack of action taken to prevent these avoidable deaths bothers Gen Z because it is part of the larger issue of racial injustice that is so important to many of us. In countless cases, there are people dying just because of the color of their skin. We can’t stand the fact that we live in a society where criminals aren’t fairly punished, and that is something our generation wants to see changed. 

With a new administration in office, we hope that Joe Biden’s plan will be implemented, and that the US takes a step closer to fixing its broken system. In the meantime, we can educate ourselves by learning more about the death penalty and informing ourselves on current death row inmates.