Serial Podcast: The US Justice System

By Nadia Malik

Serial is a podcast that has been airing since 2014 it has delved into interesting cases such as the conviction of Adnan Syed in season 1 for the murder of his girlfriend Hae Min Lee in season 1, season 2* discussed Sergent Bowe Bergdahi who was held in captivity of the Taliban for 5 years, and finally season 3 was an analysis of the Cleveland prison systems. It is primarily hosted by Sarah Koenig.

I am going to discuss season 3 which was extremely interesting and a bit heavy at times. The overarching theme of the season was that the justice system is not quite as “just” as the name makes it out to be. It discusses specific cases in which people were wrongly detained, harassed and assaulted by the police, and look into the juvenile justice system.

In episode 2 of season 3 Daniel Gaul a Cuyahoga county judge was exposed for being racist. He was just reelected in November. I was disappointed that before this podcast aired no one had questioned Judge Gaul’s etiquette. Sarah Koenig had audio recordings of Gaul insulting the defendants by making comments such as “your black life didn’t matter to you did it.” In all the cases that we heard Gaul made a variety of disrespectful and unprofessional comments. This really opened my eyes to the fact that citizens often aren’t aware of the practices of the judges they elect.

The episode about Judge Gaul was only the beginning of the corruption that Sarah Koenig reported on. I highly recommend listening to the podcast and if you don’t have time to listen to all three seasons try to make time for season 3. I learned about cases in Cleveland that I had never heard about before. She reveals the prison system as a corrupt system that is targeted to disadvantage people of color and poor people.

* Confession: I haven’t listened to this season yet