Racial Disparity in Sentencing
October 18, 2010
Shomari L. Gilford
Racial Disparity in Sentencing
Racial disparity in sentencing continues to be a long time culmination in the criminal justice system. The disparity in criminal sentencing is seen when individuals who commit similar or the same criminal act results in acquiring different sentences upon conviction (Jones-Brown, 2002). The paper will take a look at racial disparity in sentencing today, do an examination of reasons for racial disparity in sentencing, and possible solutions to racial disparity in sentencing. In 1998 a national picture shows an indication that African Americans account for about 35% of adults on probation, about 49% of adults in prison, and about 44% of the adults on parole (Jones-Brown, 2002). Marc Mauer indicates that the prison populations has been on the rise for number decades, and continues to climb. From 2001 to 2004 Marc Mauer concludes that the prison populations have grown by two million incarcerations (Mauer, 2004). Marc Mauer breaks down his numbers like this: one in every African American male between the ages of 25-34 is put behind bars on any day, and about 32% of the African American males born today will do some time in a prison during his lifetime (Mauer, 2004). The reason behind why racial disparity continues to grow is for four reasons. The four reasons would be prosecutorial discretion, ineffective assistance by attorney’s and procedural bar, venue and jury selection, and racism by the jurors. In the case of prosecutorial discretion the comparison of white-collar crime and street crime will show the discretion. The sentence in a white-collar crime case is less than the sentence in a street crime. An example would be that if individual’s cheats on his or her taxes no time will be spent behind bars. Cheating on taxes is usually in the hand of the Internal Revenue Service. On the other hand if an individual is caught with a small amount of drugs in his or her possession could mean up to five years in prison (Mauer, 2004). Ineffective council and procedural bars is the second reason racial disparities exist in the sentencing process. The problem comes from how difficult it is to prove that the assistance of the attorney is ineffective. For example, when an individual is facing life in prison, or the death penalty he or she may try to use ineffectiveness of council in the appeals process. For an attorney to throw a case, or deliberately railroad his or her client is illegal, and the way the structure is set up to use ineffectiveness of council for an appeal is literally impossible to prove. A description of ineffective council occurs when a African American male lives a city that is approximately 33% African American and the rest of the citizens are Caucasian. The accusations against the African American male are that he raped a Caucasian female. The African Americans problem is that his jury will be Caucasian, the ineffective council comes in when the African Americans attorney does not object to a 12 member Caucasian jury (Misha, 2005). Venue and jury selection is the third reason for racial disparity in sentencing. Location of a trial is important to a defendant when he or she is caught committing a crime in the wrong neighborhood. Apparently, it is not uncommon for the prosecution to select a venue for the defendant, especially African Americans, which is predominantly Caucasian, which leads to a 12 member jury that is Caucasian. A secondary issue of selecting a jury for cases that involve an African American defendant is the lack of questioning jury members outside the presence of the other jury members. It does not appear to be uncommon for the members of jury to give the politically correct answers to the prosecution, judge, defense attorney, or in front of the other jurors. However, in a private setting a juror may let his or her racism show. A questioning method known as...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document