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Ineffectiveness Of The Justice System Essay

1272 words - 5 pages

Crime is a very serious issue in today’s society that is
talked about through many different methods, media, television
programs, etc.. Clarence Darrow’s speech, “Address to the
Prisoners in the Cook County Jail” displays a very strong feeling
on whether or not “criminals” in jail our really at fault for
their crimes or if it’s the fault of those people on the
“outside”, those not in jail. Once being a lawyer himself and
defending criminals like Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, both
notorious murders, Darrow has a strong insight on hard core
criminals and the legal system. He utilizes his experience and
knowledge along with the appeals of pathos, logos and ethos, to
gain the respect and opinions of his audience.
Darrow’s main purpose in this speech is to state his
feelings of disregard for the justice system. He feels as though
jails do not serve a true purpose and that people are not in jail
because they deserve to be but rather because of unavoidable
circumstance. Those who obtain money hold the power and those who
are poverty stricken will be punished, no matter who was at fault
or who did the crime.
This piece was a speech to prisoners in a Chicago jail and
therefore, it seems as if his targeted audience must have been
the criminals themselves. However, he must have also been
targeting the politician’s and legal personnel for the tone of
his sentences and the beliefs he stated would do no justice for
those already in prison and must have been intended to influence
those people on the “outside”.
Darrow strikes the pathetic or the emotional appeal
instantly in his first paragraph: “ I do not believe that people
are in jail because they deserve to be. They are in jail simply
because they cannot avoid it on account of circumstances which
are entirely beyond their control and for which they are in no
way responsible” (862). This statement alone could create an
uproar in any prison. Darrow uses great diction in this quote,
using it as, a persuasive tool, to slip past the scrutiny of
readers and sway them toward particular responses. With a
statement as powerful as that one how can a person not begin to
ponder on why these people are in jail and if the prisoners are
really at fault for their crimes.
Through the use of tone Darrow triggers the mind into
believing that the people that are on the outside are the ones
that create the havoc and those on the inside, the prisoners, are
mere victims of their ruthlessness. “If it were not for the fact
that people on the outside are so grasping and heartless in their
dealings with the people on the inside, there would be no such
institution as jails” (863). The words seem to creep into your
mind making one feel as though he is correct in what he is
saying. It is as if one can hear the power and persuasiveness in
his voice speaking to the prisoners allowing one to have no
choice but to believe him.
Darrow targets the emotional appeal in his closing

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