Our prisons are overcrowded with black men. It isn’t a big surprise to anyone, and it doesn’t seem to be top priority on anyone’s agenda.
Endemic and systematic racism still exists and it has seldom been more blatant than when seen in the faces of the black men stuck behind bars. Our justice system arrogantly boasts to be the best, a system of checks and balances that seldom goes unchecked or unbalanced. Yet the numbers seem to show rampant injustice.
An unequal ratio of black men are locked up every day and no one seems to mind that it has more to do with an ability to write a check than guilt or innocence. While the American government spends millions to defend our country against outside invasion, it cannot seem to donate a few million to ensure that an entire race of men doesn’t end up behind bars.
With a black man four times as likely to be convicted as a white man of the same crime, according to Mark Phillips, Ph.D. in Criminal Justice, the odds are more than stacked against blacks.
But our American judicial system, with a jury of our peers and a free defense if you can’t afford one, seems to think that everything is fair. Our government was created to ensure that the poor and innocent had the same shot at a fair trial that the rich and guilty do.
And yet it seems apparent, with few millionaires locked behind bars and too many young, uneducated and coincidentally poor black men going off to jail, that somewhere our system has failed us.
2002 is beginning to look a lot like 1950, and if it’s all the same to President Bush, I would prefer that my money go toward progress right here in these United States of America than toward an enemy I’ve never seen that lives in a country I’ve never been to.
Bridget Nance, 20, is a junior broadcast journalism student from Alexandria, Va. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.