Racial disparities in the justice system are nothing new. Only recently through the Black Lives Matter movement have many media outlets begun paying closer attention to whether the scales of justice balance out for African-American citizens.
The Daily Beast recently reported in a series titled Out of Order, that 95 percent of prosecutors around the country are white. Additionally, these prosecutors put 86 percent of the prison population behind bars.
Two researchers, Marit Rehavi of the University of British Columbia and Sonja Starr of the University of Michigan, found that sentences for Black people are 9 percent worse than for whites.
The Daily Beast writes:
Why? Rehavi and Starr found that Black men are 65 percent more likely to be charged with crimes carrying a “mandatory minimum” sentence than the average defendant, a factor they said accounts for “more than half” of the sentencing disparity. (This is true even though mandatory minimums only apply to a small number of cases; even that small number has a huge impact on the total.)
In other words, the driving factor of the racial sentencing disparity is not judges, not juries, not cops — but the unchecked discretion of 95 percent white prosecutors to push for mandatory minimum sentences.
“Racial disparity is potentially being baked into the DNA of cases through this pivotal decision,” Rehavi told The Daily Beast, “and judges are largely powerless to redress it in sentencing.”
Read full story here.
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