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Would Arresting More Whites End Racial Disparities in the Justice System?

July 19, 2013 04:27:00 am
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Photo by srqpix, via Flickr

"Profound" racial and ethnic disparities continue to mar America's criminal justice system, according to a report by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The report, Criminal Justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, summarized a three-day discussion in New York last fall that included prosecutors, judges, defense attorneys, scholars, community leaders, and the formerly incarcerated.

In one of the more provocative comments quoted by the report, Rick Jones of the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem suggested:  "The surest path to [criminal justice] reform would be to arrest more white people."  Other attending the conference "agreed with the truth, if not the practicality, of this position," pointing out that those whites affected by such a policy would likely be poor and unemployed---rather than middle-class people whose criminalization would in theory spark more attention. 

Nevertheless, Irwin Shaw, Attorney-in-Charge of the Legal Aid Society, New York County, said racial bias was often "implicit" in areas ranging from court procedure to sentencing, even among white liberals who want to eliminate flaws in the system. Jonathan Rapping, founder and director of the Southern Public Defender Training Center (now Gideon’s Promise), added: "I am just as guilty of saying, ‘What’s going on here?’ when I see the rare white defendant in a court-issued jumpsuit.” Other reform ideas included stopping the misuse of cash bail, arrests for marijuana possession and incarceration for non-violence offenses.

For more information and to read the report click here.

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Posted by D.Fondren
Friday, July 26, 2013 07:47

This is so ignorant of reality it is almost funny! After thirty years in the criminal justice system as a peace officer, prison official and asst. Warden, the truth is the system functions correctly. Society is to blame for any so called disparity in the system. One parent homes, no decent figures to emulate and easy money and instant gratification equals crime. Racial bias? How about a 17 year old black man serving four (4) years for killing another black man? And then telling me, Warden I cant be housed there cause (insert another youngsters name here) is on that wing and he killed my brother. So now ANYBODY’S life is only worth four (4) years?

Posted by F. Star
Friday, July 19, 2013 02:00

Why not arrest more women? That’s where the real disparity is in the system! Arrest one woman for each man, so that we can have gender equality. While we are at it, let’s arrest more young people, too — because they are underrepresented in the arrest statistics. In short, the kind of thinking represented by this article is both shortsighted and unrealistic. We don’t need more arrests of anyone. What we need are programs that reduce crime rates among members of the demographic being arrested because (guess what) they are the ones committing the crimes. Take a look at NCVS statistics to see what victims report about their victimizers, and you will see that the stats are in line with arrests. Let’s not bury our heads in the sand. Until and unless we can admit REALITY (even if some find it offensive to their misguided notions of “justice”) we won’t get a handle on what the real problem is. And we won’t be able to solve it.

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