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Jasmine Hatter

Carrie Hatfield

English 1302

1 April 2020

Proposal Argument

The racial divide in mass incarceration has always been a problem as a sign of

systematic racism. It is evident that people of color are more susceptible to be

incarcerated than white people. This crisis has been going on for a long time and has hit

its peak as soon as the “War on Drugs” started. Although we have things like criminal

justice reform, even the little things that they do seem to not help against the fight to

lower the incarceration rates. A black man and a white man can be arrested for the same

offense, but oftentimes, the black man will receive a more severe and unjust punishment

than the white man. This is based on systematic racism due to the fact that most judges

have a say on how long anyone is incarcerated for and how severe their punishment can

be. Some judges tend to have no structure and deal the sentence however they would

like. Although we can not change racism, we can change the way judges are allowed to

sentence people. The government should enforce stricter laws on the way judges are

allowed to sentence people, change the way police learn how to be police officers, and

give prosecutors better evidence so they can do their job correctly.

Judges have the power to interpret and apply existing laws, so they have the

authority to say what the law is. Judges are expected to be impartial and try to interpret

the meaning of laws to the best of their ability. When it comes to constitutional

documents and legislation, judges are allowed to use judicial interpretation. Judicial

interpretation is the way judges are allowed to judge the laws. Judges interpret the laws
based on their state or the county in many different ways the state may allow them to.

The judicial interpretation gives judges freedom to interpret laws that cannot be

sustained by plain meaning of the law, or they can interpret laws the way they were

written to be interpreted. Following the lines of judicial interpretation, you have two

sides of it, which are judicial activism and judicial restraint. Judicial activism more

commonly interprets the law in the manner they want to and leans towards based on

their preferred or desired outcome regardless of how the law was written. Judicial

restraint is when a judge does not include their own personal thoughts when having

legal proceedings or rulings. The majority of judges should practice judicial restraint

due to the fact that it’s unfair for people to be judged just by meets the eye. According to

the Washington post, black men are sentenced to harsher punishments than white

people although committing the same crime. According to the United States Sentencing

Commission, black men who commit the same crime as white men receive a federal

sentence on average nearly 20% longer. If judges were told to only rule in the judicial

restraint manner, it lowers the amount of unfair rulings leading to substantially fewer

racial based hearings. There was also a study done by the United States Sentencing

Commission, where they reported black male offenders on average have been sentenced

to jail longer by 20% in similar cases than white male offenders. To come to a

conclusion, they divided them into groups from a range of how bad or severe the crime

was. The Sentencing Commission’s study also suggested that the judge’s decision to

reduce the sentences was on their own and that they didn’t need a request from the

prosecutor. The report showed that black men were about 22% less likely to receive a

reduced sentence from the judge without a request from the prosecutor than a white

man. Judges should not be allowed to make these decisions on their own and that they
should have at least one other person with contrasting views than the original judge to

authorize their decision.

Police officers also play a major role in the increase of racial inequality in mass

incarceration. Every other day, people see on the news something about a person of

color being arrested based on the description of skin color, but oftentimes the person

who was arrested had nothing to do with the actual crime. In police academies, police

officers are taught that racial profiling is okay even though to them, it’s not called that.

Instead, they claim that they are just doing their job and trying to find people who look

suspicious although anyone can be suspicious. It does not need to be based on the color

of their skin. According to the Washington Post, many retired police officers say “when

it comes to racial profiling: it never happens... and it works” meaning they’re not

supposed to do it but when they do it always works. People who are supposed to be

protecting us, seem to be stopping people based on the color of their skin. Police should

be taught about the aneurysms that make people suspicious, not skin color. For

example, Texas made it legal to racially profile people, giving jail time for anyone who

resists increasing the number of immigrants in Texas jails. Police should be taught

about the movements and actions of criminals rather than the skin color of people who

may commit those crimes. According to the Barbara O’Brien from the Michigan State

College of law, black prisoners who have been convicted of murder are 50% more likely

to be innocent than any other murderers of any other race. Barbara also mentions that

many wrongful convictions are never discovered and she blames police officers,

prosecutors, and judges because they never seem to recognize a problem. Many police

officers continue to racially profile and wrongfully convict innocent people every day.

Police officers are not to be blamed for doing their job but the way they are taught to do
their job is wrong. Reforming the way police officers are allowed to arrest and detain

people could lower the rates of racial disparities in mass incarceration.

Prosecutors have sent countless innocent people to jail over something they have

never been affiliated with. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, African-

Americans are more likely than white people to be wrongfully convicted of murder. Most

Americans know about the story about the central park five and how they were

wrongfully accused of assault and sexual harassment. Five young boys were persuaded

by police to incriminate themselves by saying they had something to do with the crime

in order to protect themselves, friends, and family. The police officers involved deprived

the kids of food, water, and sleep for more than 24 hours in order to get a response that

was suitable for them. Even though the boys did not test positive in any of the DNA test,

they still found a way to charge them with attempted murder, rape, assault, and riot.

Police officers as well as the prosecutors stripped these black men of a bright future and

stole the rest of their childhood. Linda Fairstein, the prosecutor of the trial was said to

do anything to catch the criminals who have beaten, raped, and left the woman for dead.

Prosecutors should not rush cases, especially when they do not have all the evidence.

Prosecutors should take into consideration that people's lives and futures are at stake. A

prosecutor should have at least two unchangeable evidence before convicting someone

of a crime.

Judges, police officers, and prosecutors are giving too much freedom to change

someone’s life based on the color of their skin. The way people are chosen so take more

thought and consideration because a lot of people are being hurt and torn apart from

their families. Most Americans believe that rules are set in place for people to follow

them so that when you break the law, you should go to jail. laws are put in place to be
followed and criminals should go to jail if these laws are broken but our justice system

should be fair, and since the justice system seems to be broken, how can anyone know

who should really be in jail. However, most Americans believe that people shouldn’t be

punished based on how they look. The law should be fair and unbiased, but with the

freedom and training given to judges and police officers, they have the freedom to

change someone's life for the worst forever. Once judges, police officers, and prosecutors

start understanding that the job should be handled in a more appropriate way maybe we

can lower the curve of the racial inequality in our criminal justice system.

Work Cited

Ingraham, Christopher. “Black Men Sentenced to More Time for Committing the Exact

Same Crime as a White Person, Study Finds.” The Washington Post, WP

Company, 16 Nov. 2017,

www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/11/16/black-men-sentenced-to-

more-time-for-committing-the-exact-same-crime-as-a-white-person-study-

finds/.
“Texas Gives The Green Light To Racial Profiling.” The Center for Popular Democracy,

27 June 2017, populardemocracy.org/news-and-publications/texas-gives-green-

light-racial-profiling.

Balko, Radley. “Opinion | There's Overwhelming Evidence That the Criminal-Justice

System Is Racist. Here's the Proof.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 18 Sept.

2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/opinions/wp/2018/09/18/theres-

overwhelming-evidence-that-the-criminal-justice-system-is-racist-heres-the-

proof/.

“Sentencing Commission Finds Black Men Receive Longer Sentences Than White Men

For Same Crime.” Equal Justice Initiative, 12 Dec. 2019,

eji.org/news/sentencing-commission-finds-black-men-receive-longer-

sentences/.

O’Brien, Barbra. “African-Americans More Likely to Be Wrongfully Convicted.”

Research at Michigan State University, research.msu.edu/innocent-african-

americans-more-likely-to-be-wrongfully-convicted/.