A Time to Kill

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Assignment #3
Due 4/22/13

The 1996 movie A Time to Kill is an adaptation of John Grisham’s 1989 novel of the same name. The film is set in Canton, Mississippi and focuses on the trial of a black father who murders two white men for beating and raping his 10-year-old daughter. The reason the father took justice into his own hands was because it was well known that whites were favored in the eyes of the court and there was a chance the two men would get away with the rape of his little girl. This movie does a fantastic job of portraying institutional discrimination, racial inequality, and the reality of life in the south; even though slavery was abolished the deep seeded racism was still a part of everyday life and even more so when it comes to minorities and the criminal justice system.

The town of Canton, Mississippi suffers from a wide variety of social inequality. First, the criminal justice system in the South is plagued with institutional discrimination. Even though the judicial system is suppose to be set up to try defendants of any race equally no matter what charges they are facing, this is not the reality. Fact is non-white individuals are judged and sentenced harsher while white defendants serve little to no time for their crimes. Second, it is well known in the movie that minorities are treated unfairly based on their race and social class, and for this reason they have an almost impossible chance of receiving a fair trial in the south, especially when the crime is against a white person or their property. Until we see each other as equals, justice will never be fair.

Social stratification in one form or another is present in all societies (Ferris & Stein 2012, p.187). The town of Canton shows various forms of stratification throughout the film. The Hailey family’s home and the rest of the black community is located “on the other side of town”, this is a representation of residential segregation (Ferris & Stein 2012,...
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