Criminal justice system lacking in the justice department
Published: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 10, 2012 21:04
Modern racism is intensely entrenched into society. With the ending of slavery in 1877 came Jim Crow laws in which African Americans were degraded to second-class citizens and subject to unequal rights and representation.
Using the War on Drugs, institutionalized racism has created a new caste structure within the criminal justice system. African Americans are charged with drug offensives 50 times more than white individuals. And 750 out of every 100,000 people are or have been imprisoned in American, with African-Americans disproportionately represented in those numbers.
Why are an excessive amount of colored drug users incarcerated? Has the War on Drugs, which is a set of policies that discourages the production, distribution and consumption of illegal psychoactive drugs, targeted Africans Americans, creating a new caste structure in which African-Americans are disenfranchised by criminal activity instead of heredity?
Once convicted of a drug felony, an individual can lose food stamp privileges, the right to vote, financial aid, public housing and other public benefits, creating a vicious cycle in which returning to the criminal justice system seems the only option.
If a bulk of a minority is being disproportionately disenfranchised using civil law, a whole demographic is locked out of mainstream society and not represented in the political arena.
The history of the War on Drugs reveals that stricter laws on drug policy was not out of an abhorrence of drugs, but rather a way white elitists used to control groups politically mobilize them against each other using race as a divider.
As the War on Drugs has developed, so has stereotyping and fear of poor black communities because that is where the media and law enforcement focused attention. Statistical evidence shows the War on Drugs to have devastating effect on the African American demographic because of such suppositions.
Racial realists expound that civil rights legislation has eradicated racism in the criminal justice system, and that realism is now solely a vice on the individual level.
They use the examples of President Obama and affirmative action laws as evidence of a color-blind society and justice system. The disproportionate incarceration of blacks opposed to whites is then contributed to increased criminal activity in black neighborhoods opposed to that of predominantly white suburbs.
Although there is overwhelming consensus concerning the impact the War on Drugs has had on communities, there is a debate of whether policies are biased to certain demographics when it comes to incarceration. Skeptics maintain the constitution is color-blind, and all are equal under the law.
It is argued that if convicted drug felons of color are predominantly incarcerated, then they are the most criminally active group. However, numerous studies across the country show that all ethnicities buy and sell drugs at similar rates. I am then left to believe that it is the policies in place and the method of implementing these policies that has contributed to such discrepancies among the races in prison.
Until there is a major shift in the American psyche concerning drug use stereotyping, we can never hope for a criminal justice system that is in fact just.