The Criminal Legal System Is Less Than Just When It Comes To Black People
In discussion of reforms to the criminal “justice” system, the tendency to insert the word “legal” in place of “justice” is becoming more and more common. The reasons are pretty clear: justice is often lacking in the legal system that handles criminal matters. Case in point: Black people.
A Little History…
When one considers some of the ideas that were inherent from the founding days of this country, it’s not difficult to understand why the legal system is less than fair today. After all, Blacks were considered only three-fifths of a person. The 1850’s saw Black Codes enacted that forced free blacks who’d finally escaped slavery back into a labor system that exploited them. And yes, Blacks were free, but in most states they were not allowed to serve on juries, testify in court hearings, or even vote. “Vagrants” who were unable to prove they had a white employer were often incarcerated in private prisons, along with those found guilty of other offenses like walking after dark or walking with no purpose. Through programs that leased convicts, Blacks found themselves working for nothing to the benefit of the white man once again. And in 1857, the Supreme Court showed just how unenlightened it had become, ruling that Black people literally had no rights the white man had to respect. Is it any surprise that the legal system in the 21st century still struggles with bias and discrimination?
The Numbers Tell the Story
Racial disparity occurs at all levels in the legal system. Studies repeatedly indicate that Black men and women are more likely to be stopped, to endure pretrial detention, to be charged with felonies, and to suffer harsher sentences than whites. Although comprising just 13 percent of the male population in this country, over one third of incarcerated men are Black. Incredibly, one in every three Black men will spend time behind bars at some point in their lifetime. The statistics for Black women are equally disturbing. Over forty percent of female inmates are black, even though Black women constitute just 13 percent of the population in this country. One in 18 Black women will experience incarceration at some point, compared to one in 111 of their white counterparts.
Specific Practices that Impact Blacks Disproportionately
Many practices harm Black individuals and communities more than whites for a wide range of reasons. Some of those practices include:
- Hot Spot Policing: Police spend more time in particular neighborhoods;
- Drug-free School Zone Laws: Heavily impacting densely packed Black communities;
- Broken Windows Models: When police concentrate on low level crimes like littering or drunkenness;
- Three-Strike Laws: Blacks hit the three-strike mark more often and more quickly than whites due to the other biased policies.
Finding Better Outcomes
If you are Black and have been arrested, you may fear that your chances for a fair shake are out of reach. At Lobo Law our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are determined to fight for the best possible outcomes, combating racism and bias with everything we’ve got. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.