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Law and Justice in Real Time Race and the CJ System

Planned Parenthood: What they do and who it really helps

As the presidential debate progresses, the funding of Planned Parenthood has become a heated topic. Disagreements on the funding of Planned Parenthood even threatened a government shutdown. While differing opinions on the Planned Parenthood controversy are getting major headlines, lets look deeper into the people who are really effected by this decision.

Planned Parenthood

via The Washington Post

As this graph shows, only about 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion services. Why is this important? Because it is the anti-abortion claims against Planned Parenthood that are being debated. 42% of Planned Parenthood services are STI/STD testing and treatment. A significant portion of their services are also towards contraception, women’s health, and cancer screening and prevention services.

These statistics may just seem like numbers, but when looking deeper, there are several underlying race and gender disparities. Here are some facts:

  • Of those diagnosed with breast cancer, African-American women are most likely to die from breast cancer.
  • American Indian/Native Americans are more likely to be diagnosed with HIV or other STIs/STDs.
  • For 35 years, the number one killer of Asian American women is cancer.
  • Breast cancer is the number one cause of cancer death among Latinas. Even when diagnosed at a similar stage and age as non-Latinas women, Latinas are more likely to die from breast cancer.
  • In Miami, black and Hispanic girls are at a higher increased risk for unplanned pregnancies.

via the Miami Herald and Planned Pregnancy

These statistics show that minorities are disproportionately effected by breast cancer, STDs/STIs, and unplanned pregnancies. Defunding Planned Parenthood would have a greater effect on the minority population in the United States by taking away services that are needed by these women at an affordable rate.

While looking at nationwide issues it is easy to feel removed from the situation, this issue falls close to home. However, on September 4, 2015 the Planned Parenthood in Pullman was firebombed. While the arsonist is still unknown, detectives have thought that this was a direct attack against Planned Parenthood. After insurance coverage, an estimated $250,000 will be needed for Planned Parenthood to be rebuilt.

Overall, the funding of Planned Parenthood continues to be a large debate. However, defunding Planned Parenthood would disproportionately effect the minorities and women in our society.

PP men meme

PP minority meme

  1. If Planned Parenthood was defunded, how would those who need access to other women’s health services (such as cancer screenings and STI/STD screening and treatment) find those services? Would there be other funding or would women, particularly minority women, just be denied those services? What does this say about the quality of care for women and minorities in our society?
  2. Take, for example, the arson of the Planned Parenthood in Pullman. Detectives say that this was most likely an intentional attack against Planned Parenthood, so lets say that is true. Why is this not considered a hate crime, or even more an act of terrorism? What does this say about how we interpret violence?
  3. In what ways are the two cartoons satirizing the issues that have arisen from the debate about Planned Parenthood funding?


During National Minority Health Month, Planned Parenthood Urges Communities to Work Together Toward Health Equity :: Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2015.

Sorenson, K. (2015, October 6). Why we continue to need Planned Parenthood. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from                       

Ye Hee Lee, M. (2015, August 12). For Planned Parenthood abortion stats, ‘3 percent’ and ’94 percent’ are both misleading. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from


How Do We Create Racism?

Setting the Scene

Counterterror Policy

Mobilizing people to hate

One of the most useful ways to get a society to hate something is by using propaganda. This involves building the solidarity of a group (Group A), and then demonizing a different group of people (Group B) that are dissimilar to their own; the greater the phenotypic disparity, the easier it will be. The leaders of Group A will likely tell the group members that they are better than other groups, pushing this idea of exceptionalism. The norms of Group A will be praised for being righteous, while the norms of Group B will be condemned as being inferior.


  • Capitalism
  • Organic food
  • Veganism
  • Eco cars
  • Crossfit

Group A will often oversimplify a complex issue, and distill it into bite sized factoids that their members can easily recite against dissenting opinions. What happens is people will receive a snapshot of an issue without any context or additional information. In some cases, groups will fabricate evidence to use against the other so they can give the perception of credibility. Typically, the louder a group claims to sell the “truth”, the more they are trying to mislead. The side with the most information (regardless of credibility) will have the advantage. Since people like to place things in boxes, they will have to choose whether to put the snapshots of Group B in the “GOOD” box, or the “BAD” box. Since Group A wants to maintain its solidarity, they will use propaganda to convince people that anything dissimilar to their own values, is inherently bad, and should therefore be put into the “BAD“ box. The more vivid an image Group A can form about Group B, the easier it will be to mobilize their members against the one another.

What catalysts have historically been used to incite conflicts between groups?

What happens when the conflict subsides?

When the conflict eventually comes to an end, both parties involved will dissolve back into the larger society in which they came. Although the conflict has ended, the emotional tension will likely continue. The world will still remember the pictures the propaganda campaigns painted about Group B, not realizing that it was propaganda, but still accept it as their own belief. In today’s society, a groups’ physical appearance is what places them into a stereotype. A recent example of this is what is coined as Islamophobia. Post 9/11, people who resemble those who are of Middle Eastern or Central Asian descent receive a wide range of attacks, from verbal threats to physical assault. For many, preserving their cultural identity by dressing in traditional garments puts them at greater risk of attack.



  • Are we seeing new targets for racism?

Of these wars, what derogatory words or images come to mind?

  • WW2 (Germany, Japan)
  • Vietnam War
  • “Cold War”
  • Korean War

Main Questions

-With the current wars being waged on terrorism and drugs (foreign and domestic), what political and legal outcomes can we expect to see as it pertains to institutional and societal racism?

  • Who is involved?
  • What is the fear?
  • How does this change in regards to proximity to the conflict?
  • Whats the other sides perspective?

-How might this perpetuate or reinforce the cycle of hate between the groups?

-How can we end this?

Another Lecture for your perusing:



Cassino, Daniel and Peter Wooley.  “Some News Leaves People Knowing Less.”  Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll, 21 November 2011.

Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell.  “What is Propaganda, and How Does It Differ From Persuasion?,” pp.1-46

Globalizing the local, localizing the global. (n.d.). Retrieved October 4, 2015, from

Michael Hirschorn.  “The Truth Lies Here:  How Can Americans Talk to One Another – Let Alone Engage in Political Debate – When the Web allows Every Side to Invent Its Own Facts.”  The Atlantic, November 2010

Robert J. Gula.  Nonsense:  Red Herrings, Straw Men, and Sacred Cows:  How We Abuse Logic in Our Everyday Language. Mount Jackson, VA:  Axios Press, 2007.

What does my headscarf mean to you? (n.d.). Retrieved October 6, 2015, from




Race and Gender in Our Perception of Mental Illness in Criminals


I’m sure you are all familiar will the Charleston shooting that happened in June this year. If not, here’s a summary of it from Wikipedia:

Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown CharlestonSouth Carolina, United States. During a prayer service, nine people were killed by a gunman, including the senior pastor, state senator Clementa C. Pinckney; a tenth victim survived. The morning after the attack, police arrested a suspect, later identified as 21-year-old Dylann Roof, in Shelby, North Carolina. Roof later confessed that he committed the shooting in hopes of igniting a race war.”




The media was quick to call Dylann Roof “mentally ill,” claiming he needed help. Do a quick google search and at least half of the hits on the first page are questioning whether or not Dylann Roof is mentally ill. This isn’t to say that he didn’t have some type of mental illness, but if a black person was to commit the same crime, I doubt the media and society would have been so quick to call them mentally ill. They more likely would have been called criminal, a thug, a terrorist, or anything but “mentally ill.” So, did the media’s immediate assumption that he was mentally ill have anything to do with the fact that he was a white man? I think so, and so do a lot of others. Titles of a few articles on the topic after a quick google search were, “It’s Not About Mental Illness: The Big Lie That Always Follows Mass Shootings by White Males,” “Racism is Not a Mental Illness,” and “Shooters of Color are Called Terrorists and Thugs, Why are White Shooters Called Mentally Ill?” There’s clearly a lot of controversy over calling this young man mentally ill right off the bat. Is this a problem for you?

Take a look at some tweets shared by people who were against labeling Dylann Roof as mentally ill right after this tragic event (keep in mind – this isn’t about whether or not he was later found to have a mental illness, because yes, obviously white people can have mental illnesses…This is about the media and society’s immediate jump to call him mentally ill based on his race and gender).









This topic led me to do a little research and think a little deeper about how race and gender may affect our perceptions of mental illness, and how this can affect people in the criminal justice system.

According to the US HHS Office of Minority Health, black people are 20% more likely to report that they have serious psychological distress than white people. This is because they are more likely to live in poverty and crime ridden, violent areas. Even then, they are less likely than white people to be assessed for mental illness after committing a crime. According to “Gender, Race, and Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System,” (Melissa Thompson, link:  “Violent women, for example, are more likely to be evaluated for psychiatric conditions, while African-American men are less likely to receive psychiatric evaluation.” This quote is in reference to the courts, where it is decided whether or not a criminal should be evaluated for mental illness or if they should just receive punishment. I think, and most people would probably support this, that minorities are more likely to be considered “thugs” or “terrorists” before and after committing crimes, whereas whites are more likely to be considered “disturbed” or “mentally ill.” In addition, I think that women are more likely to be perceived as mentally ill than men are. These biases can have serious effects on a person’s life after they commit a crime. Consider a young teenage black boy who has grown up in poverty. His mother is addicted to drugs and his father was shot and killed a year ago. All of his friends and older siblings are involved in a local gang. In these conditions (or similar conditions), which are a reality for many minority youths in America, it is easy to see how a person could develop some type of mental illness. Instead of considering the environment these people grow up in and may be involved in, society just chalks these individuals up to be violent criminals when a crime is committed. But when a white person commits the same crime, we are more likely to consider them disturbed or mentally ill. Even before a person commits a crime we may have biases that lead us to believe if they will or will not commit a crime, and if they did, what their motives behind it may be. If a person is genuinely mentally ill and this was the story behind their crime, but they are seen as simply a criminal, they may not be referred to psychological evaluation and just given punishment. This type of person (and probably society, too) would definitely benefit a lot more from mental health treatment, but instead they may be locked up. Also, since women may be more likely to be considered mentally ill after a crime, and men may just be brushed off as criminal, this could leave men without the proper care and treatment they deserve if they are truly mentally ill. This could also send a woman into mental health treatment when in reality she just deserves punishment. Yes, women are more likely to have a mental illness. Minorities are also more likely to have a mental illness because of the poor conditions they live in. So, in this case, are mentally ill women receiving more of the treatment they need after criminal acts than men are? Are minorities not receiving the treatment they may need if they are written off as “thugs” or “terrorists?” If so, does this perpetuate sexism against both genders and racism against minorities? Just because men are less likely to develop a mental illness does not mean that they cannot develop one.  Also, just because the majority of people living in poor, impoverished conditions are not white does not mean that white people cannot develop a mental illness. These biases that history, society, and the media have created are contributing to an unequal justice system that isn’t getting everyone the care and treatment they may need, and possibly forcing people into psychological treatment that they DON’T need. We may be locking up people who are truly mentally ill who would benefit a lot more from treatment, and we may also be passing off people as mentally ill when they aren’t. Race and gender should have nothing to do with referrals for mental health treatment or who society views as mentally ill or simply a “thug” or “terrorist,” but unfortunately they do.


Are we more likely to assume some offenders are just mentally ill after committing a crime over other offenders because of certain biases we hold? Consider race and gender. What might some of these biases be? Why do we have these biases in the first place? What role does the media play in creating these biases? What role might history play?

Who is in charge of deciding whether a person should be assessed for mental illness or simply given punishment after a crime? Is this just the court’s job? Does society’s opinion on certain races and genders affect the court’s view on whether or not a person deserves to be evaluated for mental illness?  Do we need to consider the individual’s living conditions and surroundings when deciding whether or not they deserve mental health evaluation?

Black Women’s Lives Matter Too: the challenges of violence African American women face in home and in society



Being a woman of color in the United States is a challenging position for the fact that not only do these women experience racial discrimination by society but discrimination for their gender as a female. African American women make up eight percent of the U.S. population, yet they are over represented in American jails and prisons as well as over resented in statistics of violence and abuse.

As we know, racism is the systematic discrimination of those outside the majority group believing that they are less than the majority due to certain characteristics. Sexism is the systematic discrimination of women based on their sex. Mix the two together and being an African American woman in American culture results in unreasonable amounts of harm, which we can evidently see today.

Earlier this year in June [2015] a video taken in McKinney, Texas of a police officer using excessive and inappropriate force on a fifteen year African American girl at a pool party went viral. In the video you hear the young girl crying for her mother and her begging him to “leave her alone”. What started all this was when a group of African American youths at a pool party were being called degrading terms by the white adults who were using the pool that day too. After much defense from several of the African American girls, an older white woman smacked one of the girls and the police were called to the scene. What happens when the McKinney Police respond can be seen in this uncensored video:


As it can be seen, Officer Casebolt makes all the African American males drop to the ground with their hands in the air or out where he can see them, even to those who talked back to the officer. He then proceeds to fulfill his ego by using excessive and inappropriate force on a fifteen year old girl in her bikini. As it can be seen in the video, she is standing there and he grabs her, throws her to the ground, pulls a out his gun, and victoriously mounts her with his knee. Did he use that kind of force on the males who based on their height, age, and weight in comparison to the fifteen year old girl would clearly oppose a more serious threat? No. He dominated her because he could. By doing so he showed her and everyone his power, just to fulfill the image of masculinity and as the superior race.



The term violence toward women is fairly broad. What comes to mind for most people is sexual violence and assault, which is a fairly large aspect to the concept, but violence toward women can physical, verbal, emotional, psychological—anything that is meant to degrade a woman and make her feel less than a man just to hype up his ego and feel powerful is a form of violence toward women. The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) reported that more than a third of the African American women report cases of violence at some point in their life. In the book, “Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence, and America’s Prison Nation” by Beth E. Riche (2012), it displays the issue of violence toward African American women where we are not only seeing excessive force and borderline sexual assaults by police officers on these women but we see a large numbers of domestic violence/ intimate partner violence (DV/IPV) cases reported by African American women. It is reported that the second leading cause of death for African American women, ages fifteen to thirty-five, is homicide by an intimate partner (25-26). Time magazine mentions that African American women are an easy target for discrimination due to their racial status and gender. What makes them more susceptible for intimate partner violence is the fact that on average African American women make less money than white men and women, and African American men leading them to sometimes stay in bad relationship for financial stability and providing them with a sense of inferiority. And for those who do seek help, some are not granted the help they need. According to the ACLU, it was noticed that a high number of DV/IPV cases went reported in Detroit but not a thing was done by the  Detroit Police Department to help the victims; most of which were African American women. The complete lack of care the police have for cases of DV/IPV, especially when an African American woman is involved, is saddening. This theory is even further cemented in another case presented by the ACLU from Pennsylvania where an African American woman by the name of Lakisha Briggs was mandated an eviction notice by the police because her case of “domestic violence” was a best fit for a “public nuisance”. She was even stabbed by her intimate partner! If the police, the protectors of the people and followers of the law, cannot value the importance of violence toward women regardless of their race, it is impossible to see change and a better future for African American women and women everywhere.

Question Concerning Violence toward African American Women:

  1. What makes African American women more susceptible to discrimination by police? What threat do they pose? Is it a race thing, a gender thing, or both?
  2. Why do men use violence against women in general? What are the motives? Why do African American women experience such high levels of violence in comparison to their white counter parts?
  3. Do you think race plays into whether police respond to DV/IPV cases?



Jones, F. (2014, September 10). Why Black Women Struggle More With Domestic Violence. TIME Magazine.

Leveille, V., & Park, S. (2015, August 7). Black Women and Black Lives Matter: Fighting Police Misconduct in Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Cases. Retrieved September 28, 2015.

Richie, B. (2012). The Problem of Male Violence against Black Women. In Arrested justice black women, violence, and America’s prison nation. New York: New York University Press.

Race as it Pertains to Police Brutality in the United States

Increasing public awareness of police misconduct, primarily the use of excessive force or “police brutality” against unarmed Blacks, has sparked outrage amongst many communities throughout the United States. Reinvigorated in the early 1990s by the ferocious beating of Rodney King and perpetuated by the fatal shootings of unarmed teenagers Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida and Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri, activist movements such as “Black Lives Matter” have been established throughout the United States. These movements campaign against police brutality; specifically what they perceive to be the wanton use of excessive physical force against Black citizens. Compiling the total number of fatal shootings by police since May 30th, 2015, The Washington Post found that although Blacks represent only 14% of the total U.S. population, Blacks accounted for more than 27% of victims fatally shot by police so far in 2015. Victim over-representation was not found for Hispanics or Asians, although the 31 “unknown” race victims could sway results. Whites are especially underrepresented as victims of fatal police shootings relative to their percentage of the population, as Whites constitute around 63% of the U.S. population but only account for 46% of victims of fatal police shootings in 2015 so far. Considerably more striking when looking at the data from a racial perspective is that of the 62 victims or 16% of the victim total who were unarmed or found to be carrying a toy gun, around 66% were Black or Hispanic. Based on the data, Blacks seem to be perceived as more dangerous than Whites regardless of whether they have a gun or not pointing to a history of prejudice and racism. This could not have been expressed more clearly than in the Tamir Rice case. Cleveland police on November 22nd, 2014 shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice after a 9-1-1 caller reported a juvenile was playing with a gun that was “probably fake” in a nearby park. The gun did actually end up being a toy gun that his friend had given him to play with only minutes before he was pronounced dead.  After absorbing this data, consider this question:


Picture Source:

  • What do you believe to be the cause of Black over-representation in victim data regarding fatal police shootings? (e.g., Blacks being targeted by their race, Blacks committing more crimes than other races).

A statistic Blacks are not over-represented in, however, and considered by many BLM activists as one of the leading causes of police brutality is their overall representation in law enforcement. According to a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Black officers constitute just 12% of local police officers. Even more troubling is the fact that many police departments do not reflect the demographics of the jurisdiction in which they operate. For example, Ferguson, Missouri where Michael Brown was shot and killed has a 29% white population and a 67% Black population yet only three of the 53-officer department or 5% are Black. There is a clear disparity between minorities in the community and minorities working in law enforcement, especially for Blacks. Such a disparity could be due to a lack of trust towards law enforcement by the black community. Blacks with criminal records also find it difficult to pass backgrounds checks and application tests required to join the police force. There is, therefore, disconnect between law enforcement and the communities in which they work as differences in culture between primarily white law enforcement and Black communities, more than likely suffering through poverty and its adverse effects, creates a divide between the two.

  • What types of policies or prerequisites should the Criminal Justice System enforce to substantially diminish the occurrence of police misconduct, especially towards minorities? What has already been done? Can anything effective be done?

What could be considered even more bizarre is how these fatal police shootings typically begin as minor traffic violations such as traffic stops or domestic disturbances. Below are two cases that exemplify these occurrences.

  • Samuel Dubose:

  • Eric Garner:

Question to ponder:

  • Do you believe that police brutality, especially towards minorities, in the United States is on the rise or are advancements in technology over the past decade (cellphone camcorders, police cameras, etc.) contributing to the increasing number of police misconduct reports.
    • Fact: More than 60% of Americans now carry video enabled mobile devices.


Picture Source:

Race and Class in the Criminal Justice System.

Does race play a role in the criminal justice system?

This issue is very important to me because I have experienced this on a personal level. I am not going to talk too much about that though. That is for another day, but the answer to that first question is that it is unanswerable. The reason why I said this is because every criminal justice system is different. The media only shows what they want to show. This makes it seem like the Criminal Justice system is cruel. Which it can be sometimes. For example, some of the most popular stories in the past 2 years or so include the Ferguson story, the riots in Baltimore, the “I can’t breathe” campaign. More recently, the shooting on the African-American church in South Carolina, Another major event that everyone is talking about is the case of Ahmed the 14 year old engineer. All these cases that I stated bring up the question on race. For example, If Michael Brown (Ferguson) was white would he have been dead right now? This question may never be answered. I can say  from experience that no one will truly know if race plays a role in the criminal justice system unless they actually go to court and observe a few cases. The cases that I listed above are just few of the thousands and thousands of cases heard in courts all over the United States per day. While i was interning at the Prosecutor’s office in Olympia, I observed only 1 case were I felt like race was an issue. All others were fairly fair and was based on their crimes.



Picture Source:

This picture describes what happened in the Ferguson case. This picture depicts what the justice system was thinking during the trial. On the other hand in the recent case with Ahmed Mohammad, he was let go after being arrested. Given that ‘he should not have been arrested in the first place.


Picture Source:

The picture above depicts the average amount of earnings per race. Not only that, but it also depicts the difference between women and men. Just based on this, I did some more research and found some surprising or I guess not so surprising. The paragraph below describes my findings.


How about social class? Does race matter if an individual is in a higher social class? After spending 2 hours on this subject, I came to the conclusion that there is a small relationship. I say this because according to NPR.COM, the only racial group that earns more than whites is the Asian demographic. According to the White demographic earns $825 for every $1,000 while the Asian demographic is at $966 for every $1,000. It is much lower for African-Americans and the Hispanic/Latinos. For example, the African-American demographic earns $620 for every $1,000 while the Hispanics/Latinos are making $559 for every $1,000. Ironically, The top two demographics who are in prison are the African-Americans and the Hispanic/Latinos. 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.As for the Asians, they have 3,188 inmates in prison which makes up 1.8% of all inmates. This is according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Judging by this, Social Class does have a little bit of influence on this subject. Also, one thing that I noticed was that the crime rate was a lot lower in areas where the income was higher. It works the other way around too. Lower the income, the higher the crime rate.

Fun, but terrifying facts:

  •  Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated 


  • According to recent data by the Department of Education, African American students are arrested far more often than their white classmates 


  • The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses 



1.) Does race take part in the criminal justice system?

2.) Why does the media only show one side of the story.

Is Racial Discrimination a National Problem in the Criminal Justice System?


  Politics requires us to take a look at the big picture of current issues in order to solve them. Politics also considers similar historical evidence in much of its decision-making. In order to answer the question; is discrimination by race a national problem in the U.S., we need to look at some research. In Whitewashing Race, the Myth of a Color-Blind Society, Michael K. Brown and his associates presented three waves of social research that have been executed regarding discrimination in the Criminal Justice system. The first wave was implemented prior to the Civil Rights Movement, the results were that race did indeed have an impact in the system, such as in the courts and the police force. The second wave of research was completed throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s and was led by Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie-Melon University. Blumstein conducted research (with controlled variables) which compared African American rates of arrest for violent crimes with the imprisonment of African Americans. The results were this: “Blumstein found that about 80% of the difference between black and white imprisonment rates for crimes of violence had disappeared” (Brown, et al., 2004). The third and final wave mentioned in Brown’s article was done in the 1990’s and found that discrimination exists in the criminal justice system but in more indirect, complicated and sometimes subconscious forms. Why the sudden difference between wave 2 and wave 3? Robert Crutchfield can answer that question. Crutchfield pointed out that Blumstein’s national level of discrimination in the system did not accurately depict state rates (Brown, et al., 2004). There have since been several studies/research articles that confirm the theory that racial discrimination in the Criminal Justice system is a state-to-state problem, not a nationally universal one. This, of course, makes perfect sense since slavery was rooted in the South. Longstanding customs are culturally historic and some (like slavery) have an immense impact on the future. The three waves of research presented here tell us two important facts. One; discrimination in the system is declining over time and two: the problem is concentrated at the state level. Being aware of this problem is the first step, the next would be attempting to speed up the decline of discrimination until it is no longer a factor in our Criminal Justice System. To do this, I believe we cannot change the views of the people in our Criminal Justice System who discriminate unless we attempt to educate them. Just like many if not most people who discriminate, these offenders fall under the category of ignorance. Time too, I believe will aid in the dissipation of discrimination because these offenders soon will be discriminating against the majority, immigration will soon lead to a more racially neutral America.


  1. Do you think the problem of discrimination in the Criminal Justice system is universally national or state-wide?
  2. What could be done to rid our Criminal Justice System of racial Discrimination in our states?




(Source: Upper Southampton Patch, 2015, “And the Most Racist Place in America is…Closer Than You Think”)

            Brown, M., Carney, M., Currey, E., Duster, T., Oppenheimer, D., Shultz, M., & Wellman, D. (2004). Whitewashing race: The myth of a color-blind society. Choice Reviews Online.

Retrieved from:

How race and social class ties into mandatory minimum sentencing

For my blog I wanted to tie race and social class into mandatory minimum sentencing. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws are ultimately a set minimum sentence you have to serve regardless of the circumstances. This sentencing law prohibits any and all leniency from judges. No matter how small the crime is, whether or not you have a family, or even if its your first offense if it falls under the mandatory minimum sentence laws you must serve the time set for it. Majority of the mandatory minimum sentences apply to drug offenses, but some of the other crimes it applies to are possession of certain guns, pornography, and economic offenses in some circumstances. Another popular form of mandatory minimum sentencing comes from the three strikes law. For this law you have three strikes, commit two of them then on the third one you will face a specific minimum sentence for your felony. Similarly to mandatory minimum sentencing, the judge is not allowed to shorten the sentence no matter how small the third crime is.

What is a better method of deterrence compared to mandatory minimum sentencing?
Do you think mandatory minimum sentencing was made to help the society or to hurt it?
Should judges have more input to cases regarding mandatory minimum?
Are mandatory minimum laws effective or ineffective?1035x623-20140102-pot-laws-x1800-1388687052

In regards to race, in 2011 Hispanic accounted for 38.3% of offenders convicted for a mandatory minimum penalty, while African Americans had 31.5%, Whites had 27.4%, and other races composed of 2.7%. When these men and women are sentenced to prison, they often leave behind jobs they had, spouses, and children. When things as such occur due to mandatory minimum sentence, their absence does not go unnoticed. The significant other is stuck raising a family struggling which is where social class comes into play. Anyone could be effected by mandatory minimum sentencing, it hit African Americans and other races much harder due to the circumstances. At the time the crack cocaine disparity was at 1-100 ratio. Meaning you could have this tiny amount of crack and get a high sentence when a person with cocaine could have a higher amount and get less or no charge. This applied to race in the sense that African Americans and people from the low class were purchasing crack because it was cheap and primarily white and upper class were purchasing cocaine which was the same thing but not condensed. This issue continued to spiral out of control and as times got harder and black unemployment rates increased, people looked for quick easy money which usually involved buying and selling drugs. Seeing how many individuals relied on selling drugs and ultimately ended up in the system, as mentioned earlier families truly suffered. Seeing how the head of household role was commonly empty because a mother or father could easily be imprisoned youth felt obligated to take on their role and would often do the same things their parents did for money.

Mandatory minimum sentencing is so strange to me. Like someone could commit all these off the wall crimes like kidnapping, assault, and everything else bad but their sentence could be less than an individual that had the smallest amount of drugs due to mandatory minimum sentencing. What’s really crazy is how marijuana is commonly recreational and legal and for countries and people are serving ridiculous sentences due to the mandatory minimum laws. It would be ideal for offenders to have the opportunity to plea their case to an organization or something and give them the chance to be released especially if it was their first offense. Mandatory minimum isn’t doing anything but over populating prisons honestly. The U.S. prison population has grown by almost 800% since the 1980’s. That being said, there’s no reason to not regulate use of drugs but perhaps give judges their discretion of reasonable sentences that are appropriate for their crime. picture

Picture Source1: “The Nation’s shame: The injustice of mandatory minimums” Source2: “Reducing racial disparities in drug sentencing: an analysis of the fair sentencing act, 2015”