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The System Has Failed People of All Races—I Know From Experience

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
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The criminal justice system is just a system. It has failed people of all races. Amidst the riots across America, people are understandably focused on the problems faced by people of color. While it is obvious that they have faced real problems, lots of other people have felt let down by the system.

That is what I have learned over the years. It has failed people of all races. It often seems that there is not much justice to it.

I speak from experience. My husband Ben was murdered in front of me by a man who was stalking me 11 years ago. I waited for a trial for three long, agonizing years, praying that we would get real justice. The evidence was overwhelming that this was first degree, premeditated murder.

When the police searched my stalker’s vehicle at the crime scene, they found two more guns, ammunition, a baseball bat, binoculars, gloves, rope and a knife. My stalker posted to social media the day before: “Predator versus prey, I know who you are, run. Where will you work where I can’t find you? At home, at dinner in your sleep, every waking moment.” My stalker purchased a shoulder holster, baseball bat and binoculars the day of the murder. He asked oblivious acquaintances where he could find us that night and then he hunted us down. Despite all of the stress, trauma, anxiety, and overwhelming evidence proving first degree murder, liberal judge Seth Norman of Davidson County, Tennessee, ended up dropping the charge to only second degree.

My husband’s murderer (“Hank Wise”) was only sentenced to 23 years with no parole. But even that was a lie. Most of the general public doesn’t know this, but victims are lied to everyday in criminal courts across the nation.

My stalker has been allowed to earn early release/good behavior credits. So he does not have to serve his full sentence. But it gets worse. From prison, he has been sending me twisted love letters for years that are meant to traumatize and terrorize me. However, despite this obvious crime from behind bars, the criminal justice system has not revoked his early release credits. My pleas have been left disregarded.

There need to be “Truth in sentencing” laws for violent offenders like Hank Wise. Victims of violent crime and their families should not be lied to. We have already been through enough.

The criminal justice system has failed me on multiple occasions, and it has been a very frustrating process above and beyond losing Ben in such a horrific way. The anger that so many people feel toward the system is justified. The saying “No Justice, No Peace” has real meaning for many people of all races.

I watch the news and see peaceful protestors on streets all over our nation. I sit there, watching and think to myself, “I get it. They are fed up, and they are trying to have their voices heard in a constructive way that will help everyone.”

I myself have been fed up for years. I don’t see it as a race issue, though. I see it as a human rights and victims’ rights issue. None of us are immune from facing an evil person who can change the course of our life forever. An evil person who can take your spouse in an instant and make all of your dreams and plans for your future disappear forever.

I’m just one little woman out here trying to fight peacefully for the rights of citizens when they become victims of people who do not respect life or laws. I’m not out smashing windows, burning vehicles, looting, or physically harming anyone to get my point across. I don’t believe that engaging in criminal acts is the way to go about making change. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew this, and he was successful and respected for it.

If we want to change the system, we should use our voices in a way that inspires others and does not divide us. At the end of the day, we all bleed the same color and we all want justice when horrible things happen to innocent people. I firmly believe that justice will not be served until those who work within the criminal justice system are as outraged as victims are. It just seems that those who are unaffected don’t seem to really care. That is why so many people in our country are furious, and rightfully so.

We have a lot of work to do, and it requires the voices of all races. Evil can visit any of us at anytime, and we must stand together to change the system.

*Nikki Goeser is the Executive Director of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author of “Stalked And Defenseless: How Gun Control Helped My Stalker Murder My Husband in Front of Me.”

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