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Student Voice: Emma Hirst MARJ'21- Criminal Law Ballade 

July 30, 2021

This poem was submitted by Emma Hirst MARJ’21 to a restorative justice art contest held by Amherst College in spring 2021.

The rules of law and all its ways,
From what I’ve studied till thus far,
Bring upon me great dismay:
Biased, inconsistent, unjust they are.
The judges sit in chambers of star,
While lawyers defend some sick of heart.
Rulings rub salt in ancient scars,
While common sense lies in the dark.

When punishment no longer works,
But sentence regimes remain the same;
When statistical racism all but lurks,
Yet racist policy persists in justice’s name.
“The law is fair”, they always claim,
But please, let’s challenge the questionable prose.
Control and oppression flow through the vein,
To sacrifice eyes and ears for an elevated nose.

Vagueness and overbreadth, ambiguous statutes,
Are challenged on the face of their worth;
Yet these qualities are seeped in the very roots,
From the moment all statutes are birthed.
Designedly crafted with intention and mirth,
To construe as they wish for their needs;
Using intent, history and words to unearth,
Even more hypocrisy and ludicrous seeds.

“Tradition is Right! Tradition is True!
No room to leave it astray!
You messed up, so pay what you’re due!
The Law remains the Rule of the Day!”
Stubborn as you will, blind as you stay,
A newer Jim Crow exists in your narrative.
For however long you continue to play,
Innocent humans will die for your ego to live.

There is undeniably probable cause,
Beyond any and all reasonable doubts,
That the system you operate only because,
“Civil Obedience” must surmount,
Is suspicious, flawed, prejudice throughout –
Its bones, application and result –
Under the guise of professionalism you flout,
Justice is white, it is male but it is our fault.

– Emma Hirst MARJ'21