Many people believe that the criminal justice system is harsher on people of color, and over time, more and more data has come out in support of that claim. After a review, it’s been confirmed that it was the case in Broward, Florida. After releasing the results of an investigation about the number of blacks arrested in drug-free zones alongside sentences and discrepancies, the Herald-Tribune had reported that black people were receiving more prison time than whites.
Prosecutors didn’t agree and disputed the newspaper’s findings, but after a month of review with the State Attorney’s Office and newspaper, it was discovered that the county’s records had many errors, errors that then made their way to the public eye.
Although the errors proved that the newspaper had overstated the discrepancies between black and white race-influenced penalties, they weren’t all wrong. Instead of being in prison five times longer than whites, it was now three times longer for black defendants.
The 17th Circuit State Attorney’s Office claimed that disparities were more likely because of blacks having greater criminal histories and previous times spent in prison. The county bases its recommendations for penalties based on criminal history, not necessarily the severity of a one-time criminal act.
Regardless of your opinion on this particular trend, it’s important that you’re aware of a risk of being treated differently because of your skin color. That’s not fair, and it’s not how the system is supposed to work. Your attorney can help protect you against racism and unfair bias in the judicial system, so you only face the kinds of penalties you deserve for any crimes you actually committed.
Source: Sarasota Herald Tribune, “‘Stacked against people of color’,” Josh Salman, Jan. 28, 2018