“Fourteen examples of racism in the Criminal Justice System”

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Reprint from the Sentencing Project – Racial & Justice News


Since the U.S. criminal justice system records race data for each phase of the system  across most jurisdictions, we know the racial breakdown for the use of drugs, police stops, arrests, legal representation trial sentencing, and parole. After looking at the available data, Bill Quigley, Legal Director for the Center for Constitutional Rights, points out 14 examples of what he describes as a “race-based institution.” 

His examples are listed below:

1.    Although blacks comprise 13% of the population, and 14% of monthly drug users, they account for 37% of drug arrests.
2.    Black and Latino motorists are more likely to be stopped and frisked by the police compared to whites. 
3.    Blacks are arrested for drug offenses at rates 2 to 11 times higher than the rates for whites. 
4.    Blacks are more likely to be detained while awaiting felony trials. 
5.    Blacks are more likely to be represented by a public defender, with high caseloads and limited resources.       
6.    African Americans are routinely excluded from criminal jury service.
7.    As is true of most defendants, most African Americans never get a trial, and have to make a choice about accepting a plea or risking a possible lengthy sentence.
8.    The U.S. Sentencing Commission reported that black offenders receive longer sentences than white offenders.
9.    Two-thirds of people in the U.S. with life sentences are non-white.
10.    African Americans account for 56% of people in state prison for drug offenses.
11.    The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that a black male born in 2001 has a 32% chance of going to jail; Latino males have a 17% chance and white males have a 6% chance. 
12.    Despite black youth accounting for 16% of the juvenile youth population, they are 28% of juvenile arrests, 37% of youth in jails, and 58% of youth sent to adult prisons.
13.    The U.S. leads the world in incarceration and black males comprise the largest share of American prisoners.
14.    Research shows that 17% of white job applicants with a criminal record received call backs from employers, compared to 5% of black job applicants. 

Quigley argues that from start to finish the criminal justice system is inherently racist. Further, the stigma of criminality is analogous to Jim Crow; those convicted of crimes are legally discriminated against, thus creating a permanent underclass of warehoused individuals.

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