Since the ancient days of Mesopotamia under Hammurabi, racial discrimination has been an unfortunate precedent in society. The rule of Hammurabi, most distinctly known for its creation of a written legal code, portrayed how the status of wealth and race can directly affect the outcomes for an individual facing a judiciary. In most cases, these differences came in small ways such as paying a fine versus serving some manual labor. However, when these same ideologies are enacted upon major cases such as murder, robbery, or rape the differences can be uncanny.
Many of the differences in the treatment of individuals based on their race and wealth seen in the Code of Hammurabi are clearly carried on to the present day. Modern America continues this bombardment of mistreatment in rather exponentially destructive ways. A Washington Post article from 2017 published a statement from a study conducted by the United States Sentencing Commission (USCC) stating that, “Black men who commit the same crimes as white men receive federal prison sentences that are, on average, nearly 20 percent longer.” This number alone is simply outrageous, especially in the country that emphasizes its notion of freedom and the fair treatment of all. Also referenced in the article, a 2014 University of Michigan Law School study concluded that, “black offenders were 75 percent more likely to face a charge carrying a mandatory minimum sentence than a white offender who committed the same crime.” These numbers are simply preposterous and go completely unexplained in the claims of the “fair” judicial system that is supposed to consider each case equally and simply look at the facts of the crime.
In comparison, the code of Hammurabi numbers 200 and 201 reciprocate this inequality. Code number 200 states, “If a man has knocked out the teeth of a man of the same rank, his own teeth shall be knocked out.” On the other hand, code number 201 states, “If he knocked out the teeth of a peasant, he shall pay one-third of a mina of silver.” The clear and blatant discrepancy in the fair treatment of an individual based on social status or race is something that has been proven to be present since ancient times. No matter how much intervention takes place, throughout the past thousands of years nothing has been able to stop these unfortunate wrongdoings. These ideas clearly caused the trend in data from the USSC report in 2017 that stated the rate in which whites are incarcerated is 450 inmates per 100,000 people compared to the astronomical 2,306 inmates per 100,000 people of blacks. A number that is over five times higher. The question arises of how to solve this seemingly imminent problem that has been ailing society since the 1700s BC.
The answer is simple. When facing a criminal charge in the court of law a judge and jury should not be allowed to see the financial background of the individual. Also, the elimination of the bail system in the United States would allow for more equal treatment of those convicted in terms of punishment and preparation for the trial. Lastly, to incorporate more diverse judges and juries to allow for better representation of races and ethnic groups on both sides. Despite the fact that injustice has been a constant of the past thousands of years, with a small amount of effort, the stigmas and equality of the world can be changed forever.
Word Count: 572
MIDN Ben Werve – HH215