A real idea for the real world

I n early October of last semester, I was assigned to write about a human rights issue for my AP Language class, taught by Mrs. Rucker. The human rights issue I decided on was the death penalty. After a lot of tedious research, I learned that there is a 4.1% innocence rate for the people who receive the death penalty and are subsequently put to death. Shockingly, the main cause of this is bias. After writing our papers we were asked to create something that would raise awareness or improve the human rights issue. I came up with the idea to make a change to the current courtroom layout.

In my courtroom, the judge would only see a monitor, which shows a live-feed of neutral space, which I call Free Ground. Free Ground is an area where the defense or prosecution have the choice to step in to if they wish to make their case there. Free Ground is separated from the jury by a wall of glass to expose anyone in Free Ground to both the judge and the jury. The defense and prosecution have their own rooms, though, with solid walls around them so they cannot be seen. They also have a distorted microphone so when they speak, no one would be able to make assumptions about their character, based on their voice. Like the defense and prosecution, the witness stand would not be visible to the jury or judge.

Ashley Hall’s original prototype sketch
“This assignment has turned into a huge life-changing event for me and I couldn’t be more eager to see where it goes.”

-Ashley Hall

MAKING Decisions without Bias

If this layout were mandatory for courtrooms everywhere, it would significantly reduce the percentage rate of unnecessary deaths. Currently, there is a handful of innocent people in jail, serving time for crimes they did not commit. While this seems like it may never change, it is only because no one has determined a sound solution to fix the problem. Yet. Ultimately, it is my hope that decisions would be made solely on the unbiased information presented. If a truly innocent person is being tried, they would no longer have to worry about the high percentage of being found guilty. With this in mind, it also ensures that whoever is guilty is rightfully punished, and wouldn’t get away with their crime without the proper outcome. Thus ensuring true justice to those who deserve their punishment and peace of mind for those who do not.

With the help of Mrs. Rucker and my U.S. History teacher, Mr. Potter, I sent in a design proposal to the Municipal Court of Atlanta, who has given me full support to proceed with my idea. I will soon be attending an actual trial and be given the opportunity to speak to a judge to discuss next steps. This assignment has turned into a huge life-changing event for me and I couldn’t be more eager to see where it goes. I would really like to thank everyone who has supported and helped me along the way. I can’t believe that someone like me can actually make a difference and I think it is because I was given the opportunity and encouragement to think big.

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