One of the most vaguely understood events in the United States is the modern
criminal trial. Most people have a faint knowledge of the goings-on of criminal
proceedings, mainly due to what is seen on television, but the person who knows the real course of a trail is rare. Before a trail can proceed, certain events must take place. The first is the arraignment of the defendant, which can happen anytime between arrest and a logical, non-specific time before the trial itself. Arraignment consists of the court reading to the defendant the substance of the charge, and calls on the subject to enter a plea within a given time.
Not only is the arraignment process a process in a criminal trial that most people
do not know much about but it is also a process that society segregate the offender. The arraignment process has been looked into depth in the book entitled The Jail: Managing the underclass in American society by John Irwin is the thesis that American society uses jails to control and segregate the "rabble,' a subset of the poor and disadvantaged.
Besides being destitute, the rabble are detached from the conventional social networks and behave in ways that the middle class finds objectionable or threatening. Members of the rabble are jailed not so much because of the seriousness of the crimes they commit as for the offensiveness of their behavior to middle-class sensibilities. John Irwin tells us that "the contemporary jail is a subsidiary to the welfare organizations' that control the poor and defuse their threat to the status quo.
I recently went to an arraignment hearing at the District Court of the County of
Nassau in order to see for myself the process that the arrestees go through and if any of the terms used to...