This is How the American Justice System is Plagued by Racism

Written by Judd Legum

George Zimmerman killed one boy, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Although a Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty, his attitude — that a young black male is an object of suspicion and contempt — not only cost Martin his life but has infected the entire United States criminal justice system.

Law professor Michellle Alexander makes the point powerfully: “It is the Zimmerman mindset that must be found guilty – far more than the man himself. It is a mindset that views black men and boys as nothing but a threat, good for nothing, up to no good no matter who they are or what they are doing. It is the Zimmerman mindset that has birthed a penal system unprecedented in world history, and relegated millions to a permanent undercaste.”

The statistics back up Alexander’s point. Minorities, especially the six million young black men in America, get much worse outcomes from the criminal justice system for the same conduct:

1. A black male born in 2001 has a 32% chance of spending some portion of his life in prison. A white male born the same year has just a 6% chance. [Sentencing Project]

2. In major American cities, as many as 80% of young African-American men have criminal records. [Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow]

3. African-Americans who use drugs are more than four times as likely to be incarcerated than whites who use drugs. African Americans constitute 14% of the population and 14% of monthly drug users. But African-Americans respresent 34% of those arrested for a drug offense and 53% of those sentenced to prison for a drug offense. [American Bar Association]

4. In seven states, African Americans constitute 80% or more of all drug offenders sent to prison. [Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow]

5. Black students are three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. One in five black boys receive an out-of-school suspension. Education Secretary Arne Duncan who commissioned the study, said “The undeniable truth is that the everyday education experience for too many students of color violates the principle of equity at the heart of the American promise.” [New York Times]

6. Black youth who are referred to juvenile court are much more likely to be detained, referred to adult court or end up in adult prison than their white counterparts. Blacks represented 28% of juvenile arrests, 30% of referrals to juvenile court, 37% of the detained population, 35% of youth judicially waived to criminal court and 58% of youth admitted to state adult prison. [National Council on Crime And Deliquency]

7. The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.[Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow]

In 2004, the Amerian Bar Association created a commission which produced recommendation to address “racial and ethnic bias in the criminal justice system.” Thus far, their recommendations have been largely ignored in much of the country.

This post was originally published at ThinkProgress.

Photo from Thinkstock


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Ty Wan
Ty Wan4 years ago

I've noticed that every time a crime is committed by a minority, especially blacks, the comment section is often filled with racial slurs and hate towards the individual who commit the crime, as well as towards their families. WDRB News Station, in Louisville, Kentucky has the power and ability to delete such comments, but fail to do so. To the minorities that watch WDRB on a regular basis, I consider this a slap in the face. A news station that suppose to be professional, have standards and integrity fails to monitor their on line comment section by allowing such horrible comments to be posted. This petition will be sent to the CEO of WDRB and demand that their comment section be monitored and such offensive comments be deleted, removed, and future posting of the offending individual/individuals be banned or blocked. Thank you ALL for standing up for those who can't stand up for themselves. Help stop RACISM in America towards ALL people!!!!!

Nikolas Karman
Nikolas K5 years ago

The racial conflict is fueled by television and the mainstream media on behalf of the banksters who use this conflict to ensure their criminal activities and war creation and elimination of great swaths of humanity go under the radar while our attention is focused on the daily infighting between neighbors who besides being different colour think differently even though they grow up in the same country and this again is the banksters at work. Just read the "protocols of Zion" to get more info of what is really happening.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo5 years ago

When the rule of law operates in such a warped manner, there is no rule of law. We have a system on injustice that must be reviewed and corrected. Thank you for sharing this piece.

Ronald Walker
RONALD Walker5 years ago

The facts are very bad. I don't like what had happening to my fellow Americans. So I ask all of you to do the when the Opportunity arises. When it ask what race you are put down "American"! When ask what color you are write "It does not matter or Red White and Blue". This how I think about race. If you don't have 3 or 4 different races in you are a American. Then you more than 3 different races then you are a perfect American. My kid are perfect American and so is my grand-kids!

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush5 years ago

I just read and wish I had said first, myself, a comment on another site that states, quite correctly:

_'The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy ~ the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.'_

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush5 years ago

When you have a Supreme Court that displays racism it compounds the error that much more.

Kristin Love
Kristin Love5 years ago

2 Extremely Relevant Quotes:

".....we need to expand our concept of who matters beyond ourselves, our family, our color, our country or our anything. It is through the lens of the progressive perspective that we are able to see clearly that because everyone matters to him or her self, everyone matters."
Angel Finn

"A student asks a Guru in Sri Lanka: 'What will be the undoing of humanity?'
The Guru's Answer: 'The seperation between you and me.' "

Sammi(MaryAnn) De La Cruz

Every person in the world is a colored person. There are hardly any white (albino) or black person. There are all kinds of shades in between those two colors. If we could get that through our thick heads we just might finally really know that we our all Gods children and are all bother and sisters. But the ones who keep swamped in the race crap are the heads of our government. It is passed time that we stop putting down what race or color are you are on any paper. It should be only are you a citizen of the USA or not. It would also help if no one would allow them selves to hate someone of another color just because some one of that color was bad to them or to a Great,great,great Grandparent. Let go of the pass and judge each person on their own action of today.