Addressing Racial Disparity In The Criminal Justice System
Even before the Black Lives Matter movement gained steam, issues of racism in policing were well documented and understood to be an issue impacting communities of color. Unfortunately, racial disparities do not end there. The criminal justice system is rife with problems related to race, making many people of color wonder if they can get a fair shake.
The tragic reality is that black and brown people are incarcerated at higher rates than whites. The facts reveal an ugly side of this country that has treated people of color differently from whites for centuries:
- Blacks are locked up at five times the rate of whites;
- Although comprising roughly 13 percent of the population, Blacks make up 40 percent of the prison population in the country;
- 65 percent of those in youth detention have black or brown skin;
- One third of African American men will be imprisoned at some point in their lives, compared to one in seventeen white men;
- While Hispanics make up 16 percent of the population, they account for 23 percent of inmates;
- Hispanic women are incarcerated at double the rate of white females;
- 32 percent of women in Federal prisons are Hispanic, despite Hispanic females making up under 10 percent of the population in the country;
- Hispanic males are four times more likely to experience incarceration than white males;
- Over one-third of death penalty executions involve Black individuals, despite their comprising a much smaller percentage of the population.
Getting a Fair Shot
The obstacles people of color face in the criminal justice system are pervasive and systemic. What can be done to ensure greater equity? Several key issues must be addressed:
- Competent Counsel: People of color must have the opportunity to be represented by attorneys who are skilled in plea negotiations, sentencing negotiations, and trials, and those attorneys must be available from the arraignment forward;
- Pretrial Assessment: A pretrial assessment must be conducted in a professional manner;
- Bail: Pretrial release and bail determinations must be centered on pretrial offense risk and flight risk, not ability to pay;
- Diversion Programs: All individuals must have access to alternatives to incarceration, such as community service and diversion programs designed to assist with addiction, mental health, and other issues;
- System Assessments: The criminal justice system must undergo continual assessment and adaptation as flash points of racial inequity are uncovered and interventions implemented.
Is Justice Achievable?
If you are a person of color facing criminal charges, you may be intimidated by the statistics—and you should be. Our imperfect system does not always afford the same opportunities to black and brown skinned people that white people enjoy. That’s why having an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney fighting for your rights is so essential. At Lobo Law, we are warriors for justice. Contact our office for a confidential consultation today.