Is Justice Truly Blind We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal. Thomas Jefferson wrote these immortal words in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. One has the right to impose the question Are we truly equal? simply by taking a look at American society. Presently, the United States is a country in which thirty-three percent of the male ages eighteen to thirty years old of African decent are in jail, on probation or parole. This is an exceptionally high statistic in comparison to their white counterparts.
Some people argue that those statistics reflect high rate of crime, which is prevalent in African-American communities. Specifically the areas of concern are impoverished. The rate of unemployment is higher than the national average. The average income is considerably lower; this leads to a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. In the nineteen eighties unemployment was high and so was inflation, crack became a channel of escape. Powder cocaine, whose usage also gave rise in the eighties was fashionable in upscale Caucasian neighborhoods and was viewed as glamorous and clean.
Just as there is, a difference in the form of a drug that is preferred between the two ethnic groups so is the severity of justice that is meted out. Federal law requires a mandatory sentence of five years for the possession of five grams of crack. To receive the same sentence for cocaine powder form, one must be apprehended in possession of five hundred grams. These disproportionate statistics leads to the notion of the existence of a bias in the justice system to keep the public unequal. If a bias exists why isn’t it publicized? This question is valid question with an easy answer.
If you, a member of the public are also a member of the white majority, you will not be affected by these biases. Since 1995, discrimination in the court system has become easier to notice. This partially stems from the fact that minorities in general have a history of being unable to afford adequate council. Two examples of these discrimination cases are those of Marvin Green (who barely had a traffic violation) and a young man by the name of Christopher Armstrong. In the first case, Green was the passenger in a car that had been stopped by police.
The driver of the car abandoned Green leaving him to take the blame for five grams of cocaine that were found in the car. Facing up to forty years in the federal penitentiary, Green with his family’s aid was able to hire a respectable attorney and beat an absurd charge. He was reported to have become the first black acquitted of any crime in the Kansas Federal Courts jurisdiction. The Armstrong case argued that although Armstrong and his co-defendants were not angels by any means, they were selected for federal prosecution because they were black and no other reason. This came during a period of time when the only defendants of federal narcotics charges in California Federal Courts had been minorities. At the same time drug abuse had been relatively parallel in white communities.
Policing of the nation’s streets is commendable; abusing the power that comes along with it is not. Local prosecutors claim that the high arrest rates are higher in black communities because of a reported lack of secrecy or a so-called open air drug market. Despite the general public’s belief, minority convictions relate directly to the fact that they are usually poorly represented by underpaid, understaffed and overworked public defenders. Recent studies have shown that while drug use by whites is at about the same rate as blacks, blacks are five times more likely to be arrested.
These alarming rates should call the nation’s attention to an obvious bias. No matter what is done there must be a change in how law enforcement handles the delicate race card. These statistics show that America’s War on drugs is merely a race war incognito. Do white judges ever consider why there are so many black defendants in criminal cases? Do white judges ever wonder why so few black lawyers appear before them? Do they ever inquire about the history of bar associations that used to exclude Jews and blacks? Do they ever wonder, aloud or otherwise, why there are so few black judges? Concerns have revolved around having white judges who, in large numbers, are called upon daily to preside over the trials of black defendants accused of crime. Are they qualified for such sociological tasks, only incidentally mixed with law? Children are taught in school that John Marshall was the greatest chief justice the land has ever had, but not that on his tenth birthday he received a black slave as a gift and that upon his marriage he received another.
The battles of blacks have always been waged under adverse circumstances. Through their lawsuits for citizen rights, blacks have made U.S. Supreme Court rulings the common knowledge of even the most benighted whites, including white criminal court judges. Although many white cases are unheard of, or dont receive any media attention at all. The black rulings on the Supreme Court tend to yield the highest publicity.
What many blacks are not informed of is that courtrooms are sometimes in secret because what goes on at the bench is a seldom heard beyond that immediate area. What goes on at the bench constitutes the vitals of the entire system. There, the prosecutor, defense counsel, and judge have quiet and earnest discussions. There, plea bargains are struck; the question of what sentence is to be imposed is decided or agreed upon; the amount of a fine is determined; and the urgings of judicial mercy are made. More often than not, the name of the judge is not posted on the bench or elsewhere.
Practically anonymous prisoners or defendants come before an unknown judge. Many defendants never know the name of the person who can, and often does, drastically affect their lives, their freedom, and their fortune. Many dont know the name of the prosecutor who zealously seeks to abort their freedoms that they have. …