Presentation on theme: "The Injustice of the Justice System Alicia E. Dottin Multicultural Communications – Ms. Powell, Instructor."— Presentation transcript:
The Injustice of the Justice System Alicia E. Dottin Multicultural Communications – Ms. Powell, Instructor
Introduction There is a widespread epidemic which has infiltrated the Black community since the mid 1980’s. There have been many debates as to whether the substance we’re going to discuss was purposely brought into the inner-city by the United States government. This paper is not going to delve into that issue. Crack cocaine has impacted the façade of the Black community, which has already been plagued with a multitude of obstacles. It has created an economic crises by keeping those who are already impoverished into a downward spiral, the increase of violence has risen substantially over it’s twenty year history, and has affected men, women and children for generations to come. Crack has created small business opportunities for many to provide financially for their families. In essence, it’s generated a source of illegal, tax-free employment for those willing to do what’s necessary to protect their territory. Let’s be clear, this paper is not endorsing the buying or selling of any illegal substance, instead, we’re going to inquire into the on-going practice of unfair sentencing based on race and what is being done to treat all fairly and equally under the statues of the law.
Information To have a better understanding, the first question we must ask is, what is crack cocaine? Crack cocaine is the freebase form of cocaine that can be smoked. In pure forms, crack rock appears as off-white nuggets, with jagged areas. It was predominately introduced into lower-income, inner-city areas, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Miami in the mid 1980’s. Now we need to know what cocaine is. Cocaine is a powerful nervous system stimulant. Its effects can last from fifteen to thirty minutes, up to an hour, depending upon the method of indigestion. It’s typically associated with a middle, to upper- middle income clientele.
Facts The United States Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates there were more than 846,000 Black men in prison, making up 40.6% of all inmates in the system. Michelle Alexander, a noted author, reports there are “more African-American men in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were established in 1850, before the Civil War began. The judicial system punishes people caught with crack cocaine; often Black and poor, 100 times more severely than those caught with powder cocaine. In 1986, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which Congress set in place has different mandatory minimum penalties for cocaine and crack cocaine, with higher sentencing for crack cocaine offenses. Five-year mandatory minimum penalty for first-time trafficking offense involving 5 grams or more of crack cocaine or 500 grams or more of powder cocaine. Ten-year mandatory minimum penalty for first-time trafficking offense involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine or 5,000 grams or more of powder cocaine. Historically, the majority of crack cocaine offenders are black; powder cocaine offenders are now predominantly Hispanic. In 2006, African-Americans accounted for 82% of crack cocaine-related arrests, while white and Hispanic offenders accounted for 72% of powder cocaine-related arrests. In 2005, street-level dealers made up the majority of crack cocaine offenders (55.4%), while couriers accounted for the largest fraction for powder cocaine offenders (33.1%). In 2006, crack cocaine sentences were 43.5% longer than powder cocaine sentences; the average length of imprisonment for powder cocaine offenders was 84.7 months, while crack cocaine-related imprisonments averaged 121.5 months.
Looking for Solutions To say the crack cocaine vs. cocaine deliberation is simply a matter of a war on drugs is an understatement. The underlying issue in this is the mandatory minimum sentencing disparity when a suspect is caught and sentenced to serve his time. The prevailing thought could very easily be, this person put himself in this situation, so whatever the courts inflict upon him, it’s what he deserves. The foundation of what the judicial system is based upon is truth, justice and having a blind eye to the color of the individual, but merely focusing on the facts presented. Any defendant who is sentenced unfairly based upon race and economic conditions is a direct violation to what the justice system stands for. Debating the guilt of the defendant is not a hand, civil liberties and fairness is what needs to be examined. If looking purely at the facts and statistics, clearly there is an imbalance in the classification. Based on these drastic truths, many organizations have sprouted out, some which are grass roots founded. Their objective is to end the mandatory minimum sentencing procedures. Families Against Mandatory Minimums a.k.a. F.A.M.M. is a leader in the movement to assist those defendants who have confronted this problem. The organization was founded by a woman who’s brother encountered this issue, but it wasn’t regarding crack and he’s Caucasian. Upon deep investigation, Julie Stewart realized how the sentencing affected the Black community and she took it upon herself to address the matters head on. F.A.M.M. tackles the problem from multiple levels, they deal directly with inmates to reverse sentences and change laws for the future, they speak with the prison system, the courts and Congress. Their main function is to seek equality for those who have such a disparity in their sentencing guidelines. Other prominent organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (A.C.L.U), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, (N.A.A.C.P), Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the Sentencing Project, are all advocates for the depletion of mandatory minimum sentencing. In 2007, former Senator Barack Obama, now President, former Senator Joseph Biden, now Vice President and former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, now Secretary of State, co-sponsored a bill to end mandatory minimums as it applies to crack cocaine and cocaine. The bill never made it past the subcommittee on crime. Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the criminal division of the Justice Department, said mandatory minimum prison sentences for the different variations of the drug should be equal. Breuer said the administration "believes Congress' goal should be to completely eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine."
Editorial How easy it would be to close our eyes and blink the ugly problem of drugs away. The impact any drug has on a community is devastating. What it does to a family, the judicial system and the taxpayers is never-ending. As a society, when we see a select group of people are being targeted unfairly, despite the circumstance, we should rally around the prejudice to make a change. What doesn’t effect you personally today, may effect you tomorrow. An injustice to one is an injustice to all. The foundation of America was built on “justice for all”, not only for Caucasian people; there wasn’t an amended section in the constitution which makes specific color plea. Families are directly impacted when a father, a son, a brother is lost in the system, it hurts deeply when he’s taken away for an extended period of time which is unexpected. No one is suggesting the person doesn’t have to pay for the crime committed, but it must be based fairly and equally. A wrong decision shouldn’t be further persecuted by the color of skin. Intolerance is abundant, it’s here to stay but the law is our protection, we count and rely on it in our daily lives, even for those who have broken the law. Under the constitution, they are entitled to be treated fairly under the premise of the laws we created. In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same. Albert EinsteinAlbert Einstein