ACLU director speaks on "Law and Order"
Jay Miller, executive director of the Illinois Civil Liberties Union, spoke before a Social Science Society forum Jan. 16. He spoke on the topic of "Law and Order" presenting the ideals and goals of the ACLU.
Mr. Miller opened his talk by stating the many ways of breaking the law and the many ways of achieving order. For example, the Southern governors who have been blocking school desegregation since 1954 are breaking the law. Slum landlords who use lead paint and allow their buildings to fall into disrepair are violating the building code and breaking the law; however, these crimes are, "an orderly way of breaking the law," stated Mr. Miller, "as opposed to the violent crimes,these orderly crimes often go unnoticed."
In opposition of the many ways to break the law, many ways of achieving order also exist. Freedom and justice, however, are not essential for this order to be achieved. A trademark of Communist and totalitarian societies throughout the world is their extreme orderliness. In such countries, no turmoil exists and crime remains at a very low rate. Mr. Miller stated that the United States can have both law and order without justice and freedom, but it is not enough to have law and order alone.
The American legal system and America's police force were also discussed. The American Constitution, providing every citizen certain safeguards when he is brought to trial, was also discussed. Many times, it is the rich alone who are aware of these safeguards. Syndicate hoodlums have the best lawyers money can buy and, consequently, receive only a light sentence or acquittal.
Poor people of the U.S., however, cannot take advantage of these safeguards because of the law and legal system. They are also unable to hire a lawyer who knows and understands the law and the citizens rights within it. Mr. Miller recommended the hiring of more capable public defenders to help alienate this malfunction of our legal system.
The legal system also, according to Mr. Miller, discriminates against the poor in other ways. Poor are often unable to pay their bail no matter how low it is, because they cannot come up with enough cash. As a result, they often get put into jail for several months while their cases comes up--in direct violation of the right to a quick and speedy trial, guaranteed in the Constitution.
Our police provide, according to Mr. Miller, surprisingly good law enforcement in light of the fact that their training and self-respect is far below that of most European police. British police, in contrast to American police, treat disorders with restraint and self-control. Consequently, police morale is much greater than in America.
Following his speech on "Law and Order" Mr. Miller answered questions from the audience.... One student asked him about the rights of a high school student. He stated that the Supreme Court has ruled, on several occasions, that the freedoms guaranteed all citizens in the Constitution do not apply solely to those over twenty-one years of age.