LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR DESCRIBES RACIAL UNFAIRNESS IN THE SYSTEM
People of color are disproportionately stopped by police, arrested and imprisoned, according to an activist and law professor.
“It is time for every person interested in justice and safety to join in and dismantle this racist system,” wrote Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor and associate director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, on the website commondreams.org.
Because of “a domestic war against the marginalized,” people of color remain subjected to harsher penalties in the U.S. criminal courts, Quigley said.
He cites Professor Dylan Rodriguez’s book, Forced Passages, which argues the lack of productivity by the marginalized jeopardizes the stability of the mainstream, which rationalizes the need to isolate them from the majority.
“‘These people,’ whether they are in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib or U.S. jails and prisons, are not productive, are not needed, are not wanted and not really entitled to the same human rights as the productive ones,” said Quigley.
The Sentencing Project reports that although African Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population and 14 percent of monthly drug users, 37 percent of people arrested for drug offenses are African American.
Further, law enforcement records show people of color are subjected to stop and frisk at alarming rates compared to people subjected to the policy.
The American Civil Liberties Union recently reported California African Americans are three times more likely to be stopped by police than whites. In New York City, 80 percent of the NYPD stops were of blacks or Latinos, despite people of color making up only half of the population.
The US judicial system fares no better, the report shows. In the federal system, black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes, according to a 2010 U.S. Sentencing Commission report. According to the Sentencing Project, African American defendants are 21% more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences than white defendants, and African American drug defendants are 20% more like to be sentenced to prison than white drug defendants.
Another disparity uncovered in the report “concludes that the chance of a black male born in 2001 of going to jail is 32 percent or one in three. Latino males have a 17 percent chance and white males have a six percent chance.”
Quigley quotes Professor Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, as saying, “nothing short of a major social movement can dismantle this new caste system.”
Professor Quigley’s article can be found at www.CommonDreams.org.