A recent article by Bill Quigley, a Loyola University Law Professor, caught my attention. The issue of racial disparities in the Criminal Justice system is a key topic of which I often write. The reason for this is because most discrimination in the justice system is clearly related to the Drug War.
In fighting any war, there are casualties, victims. However, the victims of this extensive Drug War have been our own people. Our own society suffers more than any other as a result of the Drug War and the bulk of that falls on people of color.
This creates a continuing cycle of poverty that only harms American society as a whole. Even if you do not live in a high-crime area, have anything to do with drugs, and perhaps live such a sheltered life that you don’t even know people of another race, you are affected. We all are.
Not only has the price of the Drug War fallen on all tax-payers, but so too has the cost of supporting a growing population of impoverished children—most of whom have fathers incarcerated for trying to make a living. Albeit, the method of earning a living may have been illegal, but once that income dries up, the government must step in for support—that is you and I.
So set aside the obvious moral and ethical considerations for one more practical to the average American. The Drug War is costing us far too much to continue.
18 Examples Which Demonstrate Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice and Law Systems
As mentioned, Mr. Quigley developed a concise article outlining 18 ways that the Criminal Justice, Legal systems, and social structures are failing African Americans and other minorities. And as already noted, either directly or indirectly, we all pay a heavy price. Here are the 18 examples. To read the entire article, click here. In each case, Quigley provides proof of the racial discrimination (racism) at play.
- Police stops
- Police searches
- Use of force applied at the time of arrest
- Juvenile arrests
- Transgender arrests
- Drug arrests
- Marijuana arrests
- Pre-trial release
- Prosecution charges
- Prison versus community service sentences
- Length of incarceration
- State drug incarceration
- Federal drug convictions
- Federal court sentencing
- Incarceration of women
- Sentences of life without parole
- Hiring practices towards those with criminal records
- The right to vote
Why Drawing Empirical Conclusions Regarding Racism in Criminal Justice and Law is Impossible
In each instance, Quigley provides data that shows that there are gross disparities at play. In each case, he highlights how racism must be involved. After conducting research into the issue for many years, I have personally concluded that discrimination IS systemic. However, proving it is very difficult.
Part of the reason lay in laws which were passed in the 1970s restricting how psychological research is conducted. These were passed after the notorious Stanford Prison Experiment and since then, sound empirical research is not possible.
Thus, researchers must largely rely on data and statistics, drawing conclusions from that. This opens the door for endless debate. However, there is a way to draw conclusions aside from empiricism.
Bertrand Russell was a Philosopher at the turn of the 20th Century. He is best-known for satisfactorily solving a paradox created by another philosopher a few hundred years earlier. Rene Descartes developed his dream argument wherein he concluded that humans cannot prove anything. This conclusion was drawn after he debated with himself over proof of his own existence. It was not until Russell entered his own philosophy that the debate was finally resolved. How so?
Why a Rational Conclusion Regarding Racism in Criminal Justice is NOT Impossible
In essence, Russell covered all the key elements of Descartes’ argument then concluded that at some point, a rational, reasoning person must conclude the debate as a matter of faith. Otherwise, we become encumbered by endless arguments.
The situation with the Drug War and racial discrimination in the Criminal Justice and Law system today is no different. At some point, rational and reasoning persons must look at the evidence (much as a jury would) and draw their own logical conclusions.
The evidence that racism/racial discrimination is systemic in Criminal Justice today is overwhelming. Only the most obtuse and those motivated by political gain seem to ignore findings. Rational people are starting to conclude that there is a serious problem which must be solved.
However, with the voices so loud to the contrary and politicians being as they are, it seems that solutions are nowhere in sight. So, we keep stating the obvious, namely, that the earth really IS round, until eventually, enough reasonable people see the light.