Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Criminal Justice Reform

The Criminal Justice System has historically had a disparate impact on African-Americans in America. However, little has been done to address these disparities and Blacks continue to be incarcerated and sentenced to death at record numbers. Sentencing reform is a strategy that must be pushed into the forefront of political debate. It is inhumane and immoral to sentence blacks to death when disparities in regards to sentencing exist. The crimes that black offenders commit are often no different than the crimes that their white counterparts commit, but blacks often find themselves incarcerated ten times longer than whites and are often times sentenced to death. Black politicians like Barrack Obama must address these issues, and Attorney General Erick Holder must begin the dialogue on sentencing reform. Barrack Obama is the first African-American President and Eric Holder is the first African-American Attorney General but they both fail miserably in regards to addressing black issues within The Criminal Justice System.

Young African-American men tend to find it hard to adapt to a white-supremacist society which criminalizes and labels young black males at an early age. In elementary schools black children with behavioral problems are often labeled as problem children and given a behavioral history that follows them throughout their academic careers. In suburban school districts white children with behavioral problems are granted the opportunity to correct their behavioral deficiencies by being granted the opportunity to enroll in after school programs, and extra curricular activities to keep them out of trouble. Black children enrolled in schools in poor districts are not granted the benefit to vent their frustrations by taking part in various extra circular activities that may help these children succeed in life. Thus, a fair amount of black children are left hopeless without any sort of positive guidance. As these children age the probability of them engaging in criminal activity increases. In addition, police officers prey on young black males who are not aware of their rights. Black males are subject to illegal searches which sometimes result in petty drug possession charges. Criminal records for young black men start early and once in the system it is hard to stay out of it. Misdemeanor convictions can lead to felony convictions and once an individual develops a pattern of convictions; the criminal justice system can burden an individual with extensive probation and restitution, which can lead to incarceration if the probationer does not follow their probation properly.

Whites are given second chances that blacks do not always have the opportunity to benefit from. White criminals can be sentenced to rehab, probation, halfway houses, and sometimes their charges may even be lowered substantially. In regards to the death penalty blacks are sentenced to death at higher numbers than whites. Modern day lynching is being executed by the state, and although there is substantial evidence that shows that blacks are being executed at disproportionate numbers little is being done or said to address this travesty. I suggest that blacks in all states demand dialogue on sentencing reform, and politicians who are scared to address black issues must be voted out. In the 60’s blacks of all ages marched for justice, but sadly their struggles have reappeared in new forms in the new millennium. Our elders granted us the opportunity to have black representation but sadly our black representatives have been bought out by corporate interests. Blacks in America have become complacent and feel as though the fight is over, since a black family is in the white house. We must remember that Barrack’s and Michelle’s accomplishments are strictly their own personal accomplishments. Blacks are still suffering and disparities on all levels still exist. The fight is not over a new breed of radical black activists must continue the fight for social justice.

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