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Celebrity-status justice strikes again

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Shots were fired and a 17-year-old was killed. Members of the court litigated and a mother buried her son. The sentence was defined but strangely justice wasn’t. On Sunday, April 22, George Zimmerman was allowed to exit the confines of a Florida jail.

After raising only $15,000 ($135,000 short of the original of the $150,000 bond posted), the man charged with murder exited the jail with a somber look and bag of possessions, according to a report from The Associated Press.

“He should probably be in jail,” said DePaul senior Rachel Hetor.

The report also revealed a statement issued by the family of Trayvon Martin declaring they are “… devastated by him being able to walk the streets.”

He may be out and about, but his list of restrictions is rather limiting. A Seminole County Circuit Court judge instructed Zimmerman to observe a dusk to dawn curfew and abstain from the use of firearms or alcohol. Besides these small modifications to his daily routine, Zimmerman must also don an electronic ankle bracelet designed to monitor all his movements.

“It’s kinda sketchy, but the fact that he has a bracelet on doesn’t mean that he’s a flight risk,” said DePaul senior Gina Marquis.

Living without bars could mean little to Zimmerman if he is condemned to the resignations of a murder that took place over two months ago. The Associated Press reported that Zimmerman formally apologized to the Martin family while handcuffed at a bail hearing. He said, “I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. And I did not know if he was armed or not.”

Still, Zimmerman’s level of criminality is not what people are shaking their heads at. Recent depictions in the media have made it apparent that those with some type of celebrity status or strange link to an absurd trend have been blessed by the lenience of the law. These flaws in the system have many questioning the real meaning of American Justice.

“Justice is when everything in society is equal and fair per person. Sometimes justice seems to apply to an individual,” said DePaul junior Veronica Cruz.

One obvious example is former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. After being convicted of trying to sell Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat, he now resides in a prison right outside of Denver. This detention center offers pool, ping-pong and even foosball to minimum-security male offenders.

Let’s also not forget about Casey Anthony, who after garnishing the media spotlight for being accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter, was not only found not guilty, but received interview offers worth millions.

And then there’s Bernard Madoff, who after pleading guilty to 11 federal felonies including wire fraud and money laundering, has said himself that he was treated like a mafia-don in prison, receiving regular spouts of encouragement from other inmates.

Of course, the list doesn’t end there. We could fill books with the list of names of criminals who slide through the corrections system or enjoy it on Easy Street because of their notoriety.

“It’s difficult for anyone with celebrity status to get the same kind of impartial trial that a private citizen would, because so many of us have formed opinions about famous people we’ve never met through their portrayals in the media,” said Amy Merrick a journalism professor at DePaul.

A Stanford University study discovered “press coverage magnifies the influence of voters’ penal preferences on criminal sentencing decisions.” This means that when the media is constantly snapping pictures and scripting stories, elected judges tend to hammer down harsher sentences than if the media did not get involved. DePaul junior Emily Siminson summed it up quite clearly.

“Bogus. Despite the recent visibility of all these inequalities people still don’t care enough to put the pressure on.”

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Celebrity-status justice strikes again