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View Diary: Black Kos, Tuesday's Chile (212 comments)

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  •  This is our criminal "justice" system. (9+ / 0-)

    Sadly, even in 2013, it remains mostly rigged.  It starts with what legislatures decide to define as crimes and the penalties they prescribe for those crimes.  So you get useless, draconian drug laws, with things like more severe sentences for crack versus powdered cocaine.  

    Then police departments direct virtually all of their resources at poor and minority neighborhoods, where they enforce aggressively.  Since you generally find crime where you choose to look, the cops make more arrests there.

    The prosecutors then take over, and their charging and plea decisions are heavily influenced by race.  White offenders either get off or get more lenient plea deals than minority offenders do.  

    When defendants are brave enough to risk trial, prosecutors can try to stack the jury with people they think will be unsympathetic to the defendant.  And even if the prosecutor makes no such effort, jurors' decisions are also influenced by race, both by the race of the accused and the race of the victim(s).  As everyone knows, a black defendant who is alleged to have harmed a white victim is going to be treated much more harshly than a white defendant who harms a black victim.  In capital cases, juries are far more likely to give minorities a death sentence.

    If there's a conviction, race intervenes once again at the sentencing hearing.  Sentences meted out to minorities are longer and harsher than those meted out to whites.  Sentencing judges are no less susceptible to racially biased thinking than the rest of us are, and the sentencing statistics reflect that.

    In short, race is a factor in this process from start to finish.  We focus a lot on trials, and that's understandable, but in truth, the bias in the system is built in at a much earlier stage than that.

    Okay, tip, rec, and run.  Hope everyone has a good afternoon.

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Tue Jan 08, 2013 at 04:03:53 PM PST

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