Worldwide Incarceration Rates Betray Racial Injustice
Pretty interesting, no? I bet we can trace these numbers directly back to our failed, prejudiced “war” on drugs.
And maybe you’re saying right now, “Prejudiced? Prove it!” Well, you need look no further than the vast disparity between the prisons sentences for people who do crack and people who do cocaine…
Pharmacologically the same drug, crack and powder cocaine are treated very differently within the walls of our justice system. Current policy generates a 100 to 1 penalty ratio for crack-related offenses. For instance, possession of only 5 grams of crack-cocaine yields a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence, however it takes 500 grams of powder cocaine to prompt the same sentence. Moreover, crack-cocaine is the only drug for which the first offense of simple possession can trigger a federal mandatory minimum sentence.
I wonder which portion of the population is more likely to smoke crack…hmm…try 90% African-American. The portion of the population most likely to be caught with cocaine? Caucasian.
And yet, our hands are tied. Who’s going to do anything to protect crack heads? That’s political poison if I’ve ever heard it. But what we can do is call for a common sense approach to drug offenses. Locking people up doesn’t work. It’s time to champion something else that applies to all so those who fall through the “cracks” won’t have to serve 100 times the penalty because they’re black.
In their barest essence, drug rehab programs are expected to help anyone who needs it, regardless of race, sex or social status.