Target: U.S. Department of Justice
Goal: Investigate causes of racial discrimination in the justice system
The U.S. has by far the highest incarceration rate of any nation in the world, and quite possibly any nation in history. Nearly 1% of the American population is incarcerated in some way, whether in prison, under house arrest, or on probation. While that statistic is shocking on its own, what’s worse is that racial minorities are incarcerated at up to six times the rate of white Americans, despite the fact that racial minorities commit crime at a rate directly proportional to their presence in the overall population. This injustice is destructive to American society, and we ask that the Department of Justice order investigations into this rampant inequality.
Roughly 11% of young black American men are incarcerated – that’s more than one in every ten. Black American men commit crime at the same rate as white American men, and yet are roughly six times more likely to be incarcerated. This is due to blatant racial discrimination in our police forces and courts. One specific example is drug enforcement: black men consume illegal drugs at the same rate as white men, relative to their representation in the general population, and yet black men are five times more likely to be incarcerated for drug offenses than white men.
Drug enforcement laws are intentionally designed to favor white Americans over black Americans, such as with the disparity between average sentences for possession of crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are essentially the same drug, and yet average prison sentences for possession of crack are up to 100 times longer than average sentences for powder cocaine. It is widely understood that crack is much more common in black American communities, while powder cocaine is much more common in white American communities. This a direct way in which the justice system is designed to exploit racial minorities. Such laws go totally unchallenged, while continuing to worsen this already disastrous situation.
The statistics for the incarceration of Hispanic Americans show a similar trend as those for black Americans. Hispanic Americans are incarcerated at several times the rate of white Americans, even though they commit crime at the same rate as their representation in the general population. The same can be said for all people of color in America. White Americans enjoy a sense of immunity to this oppressive system of injustice, while people of color are enduring discrimination that is statistically more unequal than the height of apartheid in South Africa.
Racial discrimination is built into our justice system as part of its basic foundation. This situation has been compared to Jim Crow laws and apartheid, and in some ways is worse than either of those. If the American people are to place their faith in our justice system, it needs to function in a way that is appropriate for a first world democracy. We are wrongfully imprisoning hundreds of thousands of honest citizens every year, for no other reason than the fact that they aren’t of European descent. There are few greater injustices in the world right now, and we demand that our Department of Justice do everything in its power to address this issue and equalize this system for all Americans.
Dear U.S. Department of Justice,
Americans of color are incarcerated at up to six times the rate of white Americans, despite the fact that each racial category commits crime at a rate that is directly proportional to their representation in the general population. This injustice is the result of discriminatory laws and biased enforcement. White Americans enjoy a sense of immunity to this oppressive system, while Americans of color continue to suffer under institutional racism. There are many causes of this problem, not least of which are drug enforcement policies, and it is the express duty of our Department of Justice to investigate this rampant inequality and do everything possible to end it.
More than 1 in every 10 young black men are incarcerated, compared to less than 1 in every 100 young white men. Young white men and young black men each commit crime at the same rate as their respective representation in the general population, but black men are subject to egregiously unequal policing and sentencing, resulting in a systematic oppression according to race. This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs for a first world democracy, and it needs to be fully addressed by our Department of Justice.
We demand that you investigate the causes of this discrimination, and do everything in your power to end it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Chris Yarzab via Flickr