By now everyone is familiar with ex- CNN anchor Rick Sanchez and the remarks that led to his CNN ousting. The facts- On October 1, 2010 Sanchez was fired from his job as CNN anchor of his show- Rick’s list. The reason? On Septemebr 30, 2010 Sanchez appeared on a radio talk show to promote his book and while on the show he lashed out at The Daily Show’s John Stewart as well as his own CNN bosses. His comments were no doubt racist, anti-Semitic and full of anger. In fact, he justifies his rant because he himself was a minority and had experienced prejudice. Rick- grow up and get real.
And now, a week later Sanchez is all over TV saying he is sorry but all the while “justifying” his actions while trying to explain. He needs to take a crash course in Restorative Justice. One cannot just say they are sorry. You must walk the walk every day and learn from it while helping others learn as well.
So, what does this have to do with our criminal justice system? A LOT. It seems Sanchez never learned his lesson from his previous false and halfhearted attempts at saying he was sorry. You see. In 1990, Sanchez hit a pedestrian while driving drunk. Then he fled the scene and when questioned later, blamed the victim. At the time Sanchez was a popular on air reporter in Miami. The victim later died while Sanchez was allowed to plead no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge. And yet-Sanchez still expressed no remorse and said he pled guilty to avoid jail and a media circus, not because he was guilty. These facts, as well as rumors that Sanchez was involved in the 1980’s with “drug dealers” and others convicted of political corruption did not stop Sanchez.
The question is why not? The answer is simple- there were no CONSEQUENCES and hence no ACCOUNTABILITY for Sanchez. Since his own moral conscience never kicked in, why should our Criminal Justice System be responsible? The truth is that in many cases our system is flawed. DUI cases are treated far less severely than drug dealing and financial crimes while posing a huge risk to society as well as the perpetrator. Our system must start to practice equal justice for everyone- not just the “famous and affluent.” How many Hiltons and Lohans will it take? We can all learn much from the Rick Sanchez matter. First, consequences and accountability are the key to real change and secondly, real change takes work. Sanchez- stop for a moment blaming others just to sell your book and do something worthwhile for once. Change is possible, but you must get real and do the work.