The Problem of Racism in the U.S. Criminal Justice System
Every defendant who is accused of a crime should be treated fairly within the criminal justice system. All defendants should have the right to be represented by a knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney who has experience with defending against such charges. All defendants should also benefit from receiving full constitutional protections, they should be viewed as innocent until proven guilty and they should be judged based on the merits of the evidence alone.
Unfortunately, there is mounting evidence to suggest that the justice system is not as fair or unbiased as people would like it to be. In fact, Huffington Post recently published a disturbing article highlighting numerous examples of racism within the criminal justice system.
A Few Examples of Racism
Unfortunately, racism can be found at every step of the process of involvement with the criminal justice system, beginning from police stops and searches all the way through to sentencing. Let’s take a look at some examples.
- More African Americans are stopped by the police. Police in New York City are stopping fewer people after a successful civil rights case in federal court, but Black and Hispanic people are still stopped at higher rates than White people.
- More searches of African American and Hispanic drivers occur. During traffic stops, three times as many African Americans and Hispanics are searched when compared with White drivers. White drivers also get fewer tickets.
- Greater use of force during arrests of minorities takes place. There are higher rates of Taser use, pepper spray and the use of police dogs and other types of physical force when Black people are arrested, compared with when White people are arrested.
- More minority juvenile arrests are occurring. Black kids in school are twice as likely to be arrested for crimes in comparison to White kids.
- Minorities experience more drug arrests. Blacks are arrested at a rate that is more than double the percentage of their population, despite studies showing Blacks and Whites use drugs at similar rates.
- There is a lower chance of pre-trial release for minorities. Blacks are more likely than Whites to be kept in custody while trial is pending, as compared with White people.
- Minorities are typically charged more harshly. Federal prosecutors are around twice as likely to charge Blacks with crimes that carry mandatory minimum penalties, when compared with White people who have been accused of the same offense.
- Harsher penalties are typically imposed against minorities. Blacks are more likely than Whites to be jailed, rather than sentenced to community service. Jail sentences tend to be longer for African Americans who are sentenced to prison, as compared with Whites who are sentenced to imprisonment. In federal courts, African American men were given jail sentences that were 19 percent longer than sentences given to White men convicted of similar crimes.
So, what does this mean to you? Simply put: You deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of your race, if you are accused of a crime. To get help with fighting charges and to try to ensure the best possible outcome, contact a New York City federal criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC for help as soon as you are charged.