Donald Trump is not a victim, despite flaws in the criminal justice system.

The rule of law applies to everyone, without exception.

The American justice system is built on the promise of fairness and equality for all, a promise that has been put to the test during the tenure of former President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is currently confronting numerous criminal charges that are linked to his involvement in election interference and business dealings.

Following any news about Trump, it is predictable to witness the ensuing chaos. He consistently throws insults at judges, prosecutors, investigators, and their agencies, resorting to an aggressive and unprecedented approach to rally his already disgruntled base of supporters.

Insulting or threatening the criminal justice system wouldn’t be of any assistance to our defense if we were to face criminal charges.

Trump isn’t entirely wrong

Trump claims to be a victim of a witch hunt orchestrated by Democrats and his adversaries. He compares his suffering to that of Alexei Navalny, Jesus, and Black people.

The claim is absolutely ridiculous.

However, he is not completely incorrect. The legal system can indeed be unfair at times, although not in the manner that Trump implies. Moreover, it is important to note that this unfairness does not primarily affect individuals such as Trump and others in his position.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking action to confront the surge in crime during spring break, warning that those responsible will face consequences. In a strong show of force, state troopers have been deployed to enforce order and maintain safety. However, some have raised questions about the potential impact on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

It is important to note that Trump has invested a substantial amount, around $50 million, in securing top-notch legal defense. This stark contrast highlights the significant disparity between Trump and those who face difficulties and must accept whatever outcomes the justice system presents them with.

Money and influence have the power to delay, compromise, or completely crush the usual lawful process.

Americans who find themselves facing criminal charges often feel like they are entering a losing battle if they lack the financial means and connections to secure proper legal representation. Unfortunately, many of these individuals end up being represented by overworked court-appointed attorneys who may not have the experience or resources necessary to mount a strong defense. This disparity in resources can often result in an unfair disadvantage for those without money and influence.

There is ample evidence to suggest that, more frequently than we would prefer to acknowledge, individuals who are truly innocent have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. This is not due to political reasons, but rather a result of other factors.

According to the National Registry of Exonerations, nearly 3,500 Americans have been exonerated since 1989, after enduring over 31,000 years of wrongful imprisonment. These staggering statistics undeniably highlight the dire need for reform in our broken criminal justice system. It is evident, and I believe many would concur, that significant changes are necessary to rectify this systemic issue.

Look to the stories of individuals like Temujin Kensu, formerly known as Fredrick Freeman, and Ray Gray, both from Michigan, to truly comprehend the extent of legal persecution faced by marginalized citizens.

Estimated 25,000 to 30,000 people wrongfully imprisoned

Kensu and Gray are two individuals who, like an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 others, find themselves serving lengthy prison sentences in the United States for crimes that there is substantial evidence to suggest they did not commit. Shockingly, according to the Innocence Project, a minimum of 4% to 6% of the entire prison population in the country is comprised of individuals who are, in fact, factually innocent.

In 1987, Kensu was found guilty of murder in Port Huron. He was convicted for the broad-daylight shotgun killing of 20-year-old Scott Macklem. Macklem was walking away from a classroom building on the campus of St. Clair County Community College when he was tragically shot.

According to multiple witnesses, Kensu was reportedly hundreds of miles away at the time of the murder. However, despite the lack of evidence, he was convicted based on a theory presented by prosecutor Robert Cleland. The theory suggested that Kensu, who had no money, a pregnant girlfriend, no job, and relied on food stamps, somehow managed to charter a plane, travel 450 miles to commit the murder, and return without being detected.

When Kensu successfully persuaded the federal court that errors and detrimental actions committed by the prosecutor, his drug-addicted attorney, and corrupt police officers warranted his release or a new trial, the appeals court dismissed the ruling made by federal Judge Denise Page Hood. The innocence claim of Kensu was restricted by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.

Kensu, who is now 60 years old, continues to languish in prison, suffering from a serious illness and finding it impossible to convince the governor to grant him clemency.

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Released after 48 years in state prison

Raymond Gray, a man who spent over 48 years in state prison, was convicted in a bench trial for the robbery and murder of a drug dealer in 1973. The conviction was based solely on witness testimony, despite his family and one of the robbery suspects testifying that Gray was at home during the crime, busy styling the hair of one of his barber customers.

Gray was the only one charged and convicted for the robbery, even though police reports mentioned two male perpetrators, one of whom was armed with a pistol. Surprisingly, the judge chose not to believe the testimony provided by Gray’s relatives.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office only agreed to release Gray if he pleaded guilty to some aspect of the crime.

Wrongfully convicted deserve protection and help

The justice system’s shortcomings have resulted in billions of dollars being awarded to the wrongfully convicted and their families as compensation for their suffering. It is staggering to consider the potential cost to communities if the nation were to recognize and provide damages to all the victims who have been affected by these known flaws in the system.

Many people are left wondering why the Constitution hasn’t fulfilled its promise to them, as they witness unjust actions within the criminal justice system.

In a disappointing move last year, Justice Clarence Thomas, leading the right-wing majority of Trump’s Supreme Court, once again rejected innocence claims. The current administration is now hoping that this very same Supreme Court will come to their rescue and prevent any criminal prosecution.

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The rule of law aims to ensure that every individual is granted equal rights and protections. It is our responsibility to turn this promise into a tangible reality.

Perhaps, in light of the absurdity of Trump’s baseless accusation of unfair treatment, it is time for us to reflect upon the genuine injustice within our criminal justice system. It is high time we implement much-needed reforms and enhancements to safeguard ordinary individuals like us from undeserved punishment.

Bill Proctor, a former reporter, producer, and anchor in metro Detroit, has dedicated his career to investigating wrongful convictions. After spending four decades in broadcasting, he decided to start his own firm focusing on this important cause. In his column, originally published in the Detroit Free Press, Proctor shares his insights and expertise on this critical issue.

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Our criminal justice system is broken, but Donald Trump is not a victim.

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