There are many examples within the judicial system of inconsistency based on racial differences when comparing criminal cases of the last few years.
In 2006, a 50-year-old white man named Richard Thompson from Nebraska was sentenced to 10 years of probation for raping a 12-year-old girl. Judge Kristine Cevaca’s reason for such a lenient sentence was that she was concerned for Thompson’s safety in prison because he was only 5-foot-1-inch tall.
In comparison, when 17-year-old Mychal Bell, a black male involved in the Jena 6 fiasco, was tried as an adult and faced 22-years in prison for a 2006 fistfight that resulted in the hospitalization of a white male, there was no similar consideration.
Our judicial system was set up to be impartial, and is far from it. These inconsistencies within the American legal system are very common.
Objectivity in our legal system should not be a utopian thought.
There are some young blacks that feel these issues don’t affect them directly, and this point of view could not be further from the truth.
Judge P. Kevin Davey of the 2nd judicial circuit court in Leon County said that up until 1984 the sentences in criminal cases in Florida were up to the presiding judge in the case. Since then, the punishment phase of criminal cases has been in the hands of the legislature. In 1984 the Florida legislature passed sentencing guidelines that are essentially used as a numerical scale, Davey said.
This numerical scale is how judges determine the sentences of criminal offenders. Judges that sentence below the guideline must have a written order to explain their decision..
Davey, having 23 years on the bench, stated that although the legislature sets the minimum and maximum sentences, the judge has the ultimate decision on punishment and this is where bias comes into the picture.
Attorney Larry White, a Tallahassee defense attorney, attributes the bias to politics.
The laws from state to state differ due to different penal codes and legislative sentencing guidelines. These separate standards, along with prejudice from judges and prosecutors, make punishments for the same crime different throughout the nation.
Rev. Al Sharpton sees these issues as a new civil rights era that every generation has to fight.
If there would be more community involvement, prosecutors and judges would be held more accountable for their actions more often than they currently are.
Crime should not be condoned, but the punishment for crimes should be consistent across the board in our legal system regardless of race.
Cory Beal is a sophomore newspaper journalism student from Pensacola. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.