The Bureau of Justice Statistics surveys the public to study police-citizen interactions. Its most recent report in 2008 found that white, black, and Hispanic drivers were stopped at similar rates by police. However, black drivers were about three times as likely as white drivers to be searched during a traffic stop. (When a search occurred, evidence was found in only 8.4 percent of the cases, but the report doesn’t break that down by race.)
For instance, according to a Florida study reported in the journal Criminology, when prosecutors are deciding on what charges to file against suspects- they tend to select more severe charges for blacks and to use habitual offender laws against blacks more than whites, under similar circumstances- particularly when it comes to drug and property crimes.
A 2013 study in the Yale Law Journal reported that black men were nearly twice as likely to be charged with an offense that carried a mandatory minimum sentence than white men facing similar circumstances. When judges have discretion over how long a sentence should be for a specific crime, they tend to select longer sentences for blacks even if they have the same criminal history.
After controlling for the arrest offense, a person’s criminal history and other characteristics, sentences for black males were about 10 percent higher than for whites, the study found.
Read more at
PolitiFact: Hillary Clinton says blacks more likely to be arrested, get longer sentences
Often privileged white college rapist receive much less punishments and more sympathy than black rapist in similar circumstances. Comments such as these are used in court,
“We all made mistakes when we were 17, 18, 19 years old, and we shouldn’t be branded for life with a felony offense and branded a sex offender,”
“Putting this kid in jail for two years would have destroyed this kid’s life.”
Cory Batey, Brock Turner, John Enochs, David Becker, Austin Wilkerson & John R. K. Howard
All college or soon to be college athletes who raped unconscious women and one student with a mental disability
Cory Batey (Black) – mandatory minimum sentence of 15 to 25 years in prison
Brock Turner (White) – 6 month jail sentence with 3 month possible early release
John Enochs (White) – raped 2 women – 1 year probation
Austin Wilkerson (White)- two years on work release and 20 years’ probation
David Becker (White) – Known as “David the Rapist” raped 2 women – 2 years of probation
John R. K. Howard (White) – Convicted of kicking a wire coat hanger into the rectum of a student with a mental disability – 300 community service hours and two or three years of probation.
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Youth Sentencing Disparities
In Florida, 2009, 4 teens were caught breaking into a house, vandalizing it and stealing electronics. 2 boys, 1 white and 1 Hispanic, were tried as juveniles and put on probation. The other 2 boys, both Hispanic, were tried as adults and received 4 years in prison.
This case highlights what child advocates say is an arbitrary, unfair, and often racist system that allows prosecutors to decide whether to bring adult charges against a kid without a hearing or any oversight from a judge. For 16 and 17-year-olds… there is no criteria that the prosecutor is required to consider in order to charge a juvenile with a felony as an adult in Florida. The prosecutor doesn’t have to answer to anybody. He doesn’t have to explain his or her decision, and nobody, not even a judge, can look at it and disagree.
Every state in the country has some legal avenue to charge a juvenile as an adult. But more kids are charged as adults in Florida than anywhere in the country. And about 98 percent of those cases are a result of prosecutors making that decision without a hearing in a process called “direct file.” Florida is one of 15 states that allow prosecutors to transfer a juvenile case to adult criminal court without a judge’s sign-off. But its transfer law is harshest. Kids as young as 14 can be sent to adult court, even for misdemeanor charges. Indeed, the majority of direct-filed cases in Florida are for nonviolent offenses, according to a 2014 Human Rights Watch analysis. The most common charge was burglary. Only 2.7 percent of all cases in 2012 and 2013 were for murder.
Prosecutors often want to bring adult charges to appear tough on crime or they think that they are going to teach the kid a lesson. The problem is that all of the research shows that trying kids in adult court actually leads to more recidivism. As opposed to the juvenile system, where offenses are, for the most part, kept confidential from the public, an adult conviction is automatically public record — making it difficult to find future work or apply for colleges. A felony conviction also bars anyone from joining the military, receiving federal financial aid, and in Florida, from voting, unless the governor and a clemency board restore the right.
Direct file is also used far more often against kids of color. Boys who are Black make up 27 percent of the juvenile arrests in Florida, but 51 percent of the transfers to adult court, according to Human Rights Watch. The disparity is especially high for drug offenses and violent crimes other than murder, like armed robbery.
Read more at Fusion: How did these four kids get drastically different punishments for one crime?
The Sentencing Project: Black Live Matter – Eliminating Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System