Racial Disparity in America

In modern America minorities face profiling and singling out almost every single day based simply on their race or appearance. While many consider our government and police force to be institutions for good and equality the majority of the time, there are also many instances where this is not the case. In many different cases of crimes, African-Americans are arrested and convicted at a much more extreme rate than their caucasian counterparts, and especially in cases of drug use and overall sentencing of crimes. 

In drug use convictions and sentencing, African American conviction rates have risen exponentially  from 1980 to 2000, from 6.5 percent to 29.1 percent, compared to the change from 3.5 to 4.6 percent in caucasians (The Sentencing Project). While these statistics were incredibly disportionate, the disparity in actual drug use was relatively similar between the two races. Another instance of this is the disproportionate sentencing in crack cocaine cases. In a study conducted in 1993 in Los Angeles, roughly 95 percent of crack cocaine defendants that were charged in California were African American, and 100 percent of the defendants charged in federal court were African American (The Sentencing Project). These numbers show definite signs of racial profiling and discrimination in not only the police force with the arrest numbers, but also in the court systems which claim to not see race. By simply looking at these statistics, you can see the clear disparity in the judicial process, and it is evident that this is a racial problem. 

In general, our laws are much different than Hammurabi’s, and while there are very real and serious problems that have consistencies with the problems in Hammurabi’s code, we have come a long way since this form of laws. Hammurabi focused on the equality of punishment to the severity of the crime. For example, if you took the eye of another man, your eye was taken. If you broke the bone of another man, your bone was broken(Hammurabi’s Code). In our judicial system, we claim and in many instances practice more of a rehabilitation process through incarceration, rather than inflicting pain or death on the person being prosecuted. However, in Hammurabi’s code, there are differing punishments for when you commit a crime against someone of a lower standing than yourself (Hammurabi’s Code). Comparably, while we preach fairness, there is also a much more severe punishment for minorities as well as those of lower socioeconomic status in a similar manner to Hammurabi’s code. For example, African Americans with incomes of less than $5000 dollars were given much harsher and longer sentences than other defendants, especially Caucasians. (The Sentencing Project). Overall, our law system has come a long way since Hammurabi, but we still have a long way to go. 

To fix this problem, I think there needs to be an overhaul in our way of thinking as a country. There are too many people who still have racist opinions and beliefs, which is the main problem behind these statistics. However, to change the thinking of such a vast amount of people is inherently unrealistic. We must hold the people in charge accountable, and if these problems continue, then rules and regulations must be changed. If we ever want to see change, we have to start with the people who control our police force and judicial system. We must work our way up to fight this systemic racism that is plaguing our country.

-Chris Gregoire

Word Count: 575

www.sentencingproject.org/publications/shadow-report-to-the-united-nations-human-rights-committee-regarding-racial-disparities-in-the-united-states-criminal-justice-system/.

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