November 1, 2016
Dear Future President,
Our criminal justice system has major issues, and it’s going to be hard to fix them. There are hard statistics to support this fact, and there are also individual cases where racism won out over the truth. This needs to be solved soon, or else it’s just going to get worse. This issue affects many people in America daily, and we can do much more about it than turn a blind eye.
First, the hard numbers. According to the Bureau of Justice, 1/3 of black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. That’s way too many to be accounted for by a few bad judges and juries. The U.S. Sentencing Commission states that black criminals tend to receive sentences that are up to 10% longer than white criminals, even for similar crimes. Even in our schools, this is an issue. Black and Hispanic students make up more than 70 percent of “arrested or referred students,” according to the Department of Education. They also tend to be more harshly punished (even when the official justice system wasn’t involved at all) than white students. This has to stop.
There are specific cases where this is very visible, as well. According to MTV News, in 2014, the New York Police Department pulled over Kamilah Brock, a black businesswoman, on Long Island. Stating she was high on marijuana, they seized her BMW (no drugs were ever found). She was forcibly sedated and placed in a mental institution. She was not believed by doctors when she stated that she worked at a bank, and was never high. They reportedly refused to look online to verify her claims (she most definitely was who she said she was). Many people, including the authors at MTV News, believe this was due in part to her being black. There have been many more cases like this one, in which black people have been prosecuted, convicted, and jailed because of their race.
As for what can be done about this, it can be a controversial topic to some. The issue here is that racism isn’t something you can just say “No” to. It’ll always be there with a lot of people. Experts suggest fixing racism in systems like police departments and courts is more important than attempting to deal with individual, personal racism. For example, there are policies in some areas that allow for loopholes. The loopholes should be closed.
So, in conclusion, the criminal justice system is broken, and the next president is going to need to pay attention to that. I hope that this truly does happen during the next four to eight years, and that we can say it was our president who helped it along.