Lady Justice, the symbol of our legal system, never fails to be depicted without three things: her scales, her sword, and her blindfold. The scales, representing her dedication to fairly weigh the claims of each side. She wields her double-edged sword to demand respect for the law and enforce verdicts. Finally, and most importantly, she wears a blindfold, indicating that justice should be carried out impartially, uninfluenced by outside factors.
Unfortunately, justice is not as blind as it’s figurative counterpart. The United States justice system often has unfair racial biases in favor of white Americans, leaving blacks and Latinos to deal with unfortunate consequences as a result. Here are five examples of how the justice system unfairly punishes minorities in the United States.
1. Drugs charges
Although it has been shown that black and white Americans engage in drug offences at comparable rates, blacks receive a disproportionate amount of the punishment. Sitting at approximately 14 percent of the population, black Americans make up about 14 percent of drug users. Unfortunately, blacks (arrested at a rate of 2 to 11 times higher that their white counterparts) make up 37 percent of drug arrests, and 56 percent of the prison population incarcerated for drug charges.
An individual’s right to a fair trial is something that the U.S. justice system takes pride in. However, those trials are often not so fair. Many cases against black Americans don’t even make it to trail, as the majority opt to take plea bargains instead. If a case does make it to trail, minorities are far more likely to be represented by a public defender. Lastly, chances that a jury of their peers will represent minorities are slim to none. Juries tend to be racially analogous (i.e. mostly white), and blacks have a much higher chance of being illegally excluded from jury duty.
3. Sentence length and severity
Ethnic minorities are incarcerated more often, and for longer. In many cases, blacks receive sentences that are about 10 percent longer than their white counterparts, and are 20 percent more likely to receive a mandatory minimum. A shocking two-thirds of inmates serving lifelong prison sentences are non-white.
4. Stop and frisk
New York’s controversial Stop and Frisk law is often criticized for having a heavy racial bias. The statistics back up this claim. Upwards of 85 percent of those individuals stopped are black or Latino, while only 10 percent are white. Of those who were stopped, over 90 percent were completely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever.
5. Traffic stops
“Driving While Black” is a regrettable play on words inspired by the fact that minorities are much more likely to be pulled over than whites. Once pulled over, minorities are more likely to be searched, arrested, and subjected to the threat of force or the actual use of force by police officers.
If you are facing criminal changes and are concerned with receiving adequate, non-biased representation, contact Gabriel L. Grasso, the best criminal defense attorney in Las Vegas, today at (702) 868-8866.