We all know that people are falsely accused of crimes every day in America. Yet, when we see or hear a news story about someone who has “allegedly” committed a crime, most of us assume that the person is guilty. Then, we cry out for justice even before we’ve heard the other side of the story.
It is human nature to want to bring justice to victims. But when the criminal justice system gets it wrong, the opposite happens. The law creates a new victim, the innocent person who was falsely accused or convicted, or even a guilty person who is punished too severely. Sometimes the system also re-victimizes the original victims by pursuing cases that victims want dropped, or by using their statements without their consent. The recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings remind us that people’s judgements are influenced as much by personal beliefs as they are by evidence. This is exactly why it is so important to uphold the presumption of innocence when people are accused of crimes and are facing a loss of their freedom.
Intermountain Legal has represented both criminal defendants and victims of crime and has seen how the system often falls short or goes too far, unintentionally creating more harm than good. Because of this, our firm has created the “Casualties of Justice” scholarship to benefit those who have been harmed by the criminal justice system itself. Intermountain Legal will award $1,500 to someone who has been accused of, arrested for, or convicted of a crime and suffered unjust consequences because of a failure of the system or because of an unfair law. Students who have had a close family member in the same situation also qualify.
To be considered for the scholarship, any student currently enrolled or accepted to any State-sponsored or private (not-for-profit) college or university in Utah can submit a short video or essay explaining their or their family member’s negative experience with the criminal justice system and how the system should be improved. The submission deadline is December 1, 2018.
To apply, visit intermountainlegal.net and click the “Apply Now” button.