Law in Contemporary Society
I’m working at an anti-human trafficking organization this summer, and keep reading reports on officials and bribery. Although the fact that bribery occurs didn’t really surprise me, the level of organization did – if your caught trafficking in country x, the bribe is y. It is almost part of the institution in some countries, complete with options (if you pay a you get out now, if you pay b you’re charged with a lesser crime). When I talked to a co-worker about this, they told me that this organization has become increasingly common – but didn’t exist in such a formalized way until 20-30 years ago (depending on the country).

I had thought of this problem as isolated to developing countries – due to a lack of organization and structure individuals could ask for, and receive, bribes. It now seems, however, that this isn’t the right way to look at the problem – organization and structure are actually facilitating bribery and corruption.

This in turn led me to the problem I was hoping someone here might have some input on – ‘bribery’ (if you can even call it that) in the United State’s legal system. In the U.S. we have a far more organized and structured law enforcement system. Bribes occur rarely (or at the very least, less than in developing countries). However, we also have a legal system built around lawyers – some of which are better than others. The services of some lawyers – most often the ones that win cases, likely costs more than the services of less successful lawyers. This isn’t bribery in the standard sense, but it has the same impact – those that can pay get off at a higher rate than those that cannot pay.

So the question I’ve been grappling with – if organization and structure don’t necessarily stem bribery (in this loosely defined sense), is our legal system really as fair and balanced as it asserts it is? Can differences in lawyer costs be looked at in this way (and should it)?

-- MichaelPanfil - 12 Jun 2009


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r2 - 07 Jan 2010 - 21:42:18 - IanSullivan
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