Justice on Trial: Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System

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DIANE Publishing, 2000 - Social Science - 59 pages
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The U.S. has made significant progress toward ensuring equal treatment under law for all citizens. But in one arena -- criminal justice -- racial inequality is growing, not receding. Our criminal laws, while facially neutral, are enforced in a massively & pervasively biased manner. The injustices of the criminal justice system threaten to render irrelevant 50 years of hard-fought civil rights progress. This policy report examines the systematically unequal treatment of black & Hispanic Americans & other minorities as compared to their similarly situated white counterparts within the criminal justice system. It reviews the effects of such unequal treatment on these groups & on the criminal justice system.

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Page 2 - For extensive discussion of the "driving while black" phenomenon, see Angela J. Davis, "Race, Cops, and Traffic Stops," 51 U. Miami L. Rev. 425 (1997); David A. Harris, " Driving While Black' and All Other Traffic Offenses: The Supreme Court and Pretextual Traffic Stops," 87 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 544
Page 18 - See generally Bail Reform Hearings, 1982: Hearings on S. 1554 Before the Subcomm. on Constitutional Rights of the Senate Comm. on the Judiciary,
Page 30 - v. Russell, 477 NW2d 886, 891 (Minn. 1991). The Minnesota legislature responded by increasing penalties for powder cocaine sales to equal those for crack sales. 111 United States Sentencing Commission, Special Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy (February 1995) at
Page 30 - 110 United States Sentencing Commission, Special Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy (February 1995) at xi. Interestingly, Minnesota, whose sentencing regime includes a crack/powder divide similar to that appearing in federal law, had similar breakdowns: 96.6 of those charged with possession of crack cocaine were black, while 80 percent of those charged with possession of powder cocaine were white. No
Page 36 - furnish grounds for a stop in certain circumstances, and upheld the stop and consequent conviction of Wardlow, a black man stopped in a high-crime Chicago neighborhood. The Court insisted that "[ajllowing officers confronted with such flight to stop the fugitive and investigate further is quite consistent with the individual's right to go about his business
Page 29 - Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy (February 1995) at 192 ("[Sentences appear to be harsher and more severe for racial minorities than others as a result of this law, and hence the perception of unfairness, inconsistency, and a lack of evenhandedness"). 112 Pub. L. No. 104-38, 109 Stat. 334 (October 30, 1995).
Page 65 - of more than 185 national organizations representing persons of color, women, children, labor unions, individuals with disabilities, older Americans, major religious groups, gays and lesbians and civil liberties and human rights groups.
Page 19 - The Baldus study concluded that black defendants were only 1.1 times more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants. See also GAO Study at 6 ("The evidence for the influence of the race of defendant on death penalty outcomes was equivocal").
Page 45 - A black male born in 1991 has a one in three chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life. A Hispanic male born in 1991 has a one in six chance of spending time in prison.
Page 24 - The Violent Crime Control Act of 1994 authorizes prison construction grants to states that "increase the average prison time actually served or the average percent of sentence served by persons convicted of a ... violent crime." 42 USC 13703 (2000). In the same vein, a bill recently passed by the House of Representatives

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