America’s history is based on fighting for human dignity, and the rights of the individual. From the pilgrims arriving in an achievement of religious freedom, to women gaining the right to vote, our country has thrived on the unity gaining freedom brings us. The Public Health Party is willing to acknowledge that there is no quick fix to inequality and discrimination, but we are not willing to give up on abolishing it. As the Declaration of Independence clearly states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This we will stand by, and this we will fight for.
In the criminal justice system today sixty-seven percent of the population is African American. This is huge when taken into consideration that African Americans make up only thirty-seven percent of America’s population as a whole. As a whole African Americans are far more likely than white Americans to be arrested, and once arrested, they are also more likely to be convicted, and with much firmer sentences. Sentencing policies, implicit racial bias, and socioeconomic inequity contribute to racial disparities at every level of the criminal justice system (Sentencing Project).
Currently it is estimated that one in nine men will be imprisoned, races aside, and one in fifty-six women will be imprisoned. This represents a major gender bias in the criminal justice system. It is hard to say why exactly the ranges are so wide, but it is clear that something is wrong, because men are definitely not the only perpetrators. With race included the range, of course, grows substantially. One in seventeen white men are said to be imprisoned annually, where one in three black men, and one in six latino men are imprisoned (Sentencing Project). The numbers are even more shocking for women, with white women getting imprisoned at a rate of one on one hundred one, black women one in eighteen and latina women one in forty-five (Sentencing Project). The fact that women overall are be imprisoned at some a smaller rate than men overall, begins to show the gender bias when looking at black women compared to white men. They are almost equal, this represents the real problem of socioeconomic, and racial inequality in the criminal justice system.
Inequality and discrimination may be in the category of issues that cannot be resolved, but by no means does that mean we should stop striving for a better America in their regard. The Public Health party plans to put into action certain plans to reduce the inequality in our criminal justice system. First the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences and cut backs on lengthy sentences, non-white Americans are far more likely to be forced to deal with these and without them sentences are likely to be more fair, and biases better recognized. Another important change we plan to make is a shift in resources for drug abusers to more community-based programs.
We also value stopping the problem before it starts, meaning the youth of our nation. Our youth need to be taught the real horrors of racism, the truth about history and where we should be headed. It is also important to help children already beginning a delinquent life, we plan to implement interventions that promote strong youth development and to respond to youth delinquency in age-appropriate and evidence-based ways.
Examining and addressing the policies and practices, conscious or not, that contribute to racial inequality at every stage of the justice system is a step already being taken, but maybe not far enough. Police officers are more strictly monitored than ever, but the judges in the courtroom are dealing out stiffer offenses to men, particularly colored men. Maybe it is time we shift the light on them.
Lastly in an attempt to rehabilitate America in every way we can, we plan to remove the barriers that make it harder for individuals with criminal records to turn their lives around. It has become a theme in areas struggling economically for family members to turn to illegal forms of works to support their families. When these individuals are caught and imprisoned, the next in the family steps up and does the same thing, thus creating a vicious cycle of trying to survive and being put in jail.
America has not turned a blind eye to these issues. Some laws and regulations have been modified to try to reduce racial disparity. Since it is handled at the state level, some parts of the country are doing better than others. New Jersey has been making steps towards increasing racial equality in the criminal justice system. In 2010, the state passed the Assembly Bill 2762 which reinstated judicial discretion (Costly). After this was passed the Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing was able to identify “staggering” racial disparities which they directly attributed to the state’s drug free school zone law (Costly). New Jersey has also made steps to reform their parole system. In 1999 there were three thousand ninety-nine parole grants issued, but in 2001 this was increased to ten thousand eight hundred ninety-seven (Costly).
Not all problem have a solution. But if the people who can makes changes care enough, over time progress will be made. The Public Health party vows to never stop caring for each individual in the great nation we call home. Our justice system should reflect the values America was founded on, it should recognize all men as equal regardless of race, sex, or economic status. We are equal, united we can beat discrimination and inequality in the criminal justice system.
Costly, Andrew. “The Color of Justice.” Constitutional Rights Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web.
18 Apr. 2017.
“Criminal Justice Facts.” The Sentencing Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.