By Stephen Sebald:
Did you know that there are, on average, 2.2 million Americans behind bars? If that wasn’t bad enough, there are twice as many on probation. That means about one out of every thirty-five people in this country are currently in the penal system in some form or another. What’s even more startling is that most those people are black or poor. Here are some reasons why:
- Surprisingly enough, it’s not about crime. Incarceration rates have continued to rise despite fluctuating crime rates over the years.
- Police discriminate against blacks and poor people.
- A report revealed that police use racial profiling for traffic stops. Hispanic and black drivers are more likely to be stopped than white drivers. Once stopped, they are more likely to receive tickets than Caucasians stopped for the same offenses and are more likely to be searched. The Department of Justice reports that black drivers are searched three times more often and Hispanic drivers two times more often than white drivers when stopped for a traffic violation.
- Traffic tickets. Poor people don’t have the means to pay the fines and unpaid tickets can result in jail.
- The war on drugs. Half of all arrests involve drugs, and half of those are for marijuana. Blacks are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.
- A lot of people are in jail because of the tough drug laws and long mandatory sentences for non-violent drug offenses.
- The bail system keeps poor people in jails awaiting trial, some of which may be innocent, because they simply do not have the money to get out on bail.
- People in local jails are not a threat to the public. 75% of them are there for non-violent offenses.
- The bond business is a billion dollar industry.
- A high percentage of people in jails suffer from mental illness, yet treatment for those ailments are non-existent in jail.
- Many of those in jail need substance abuse treatment, but very few ever receive it. Almost 70 percent of the jail population suffers from drug abuse or dependence.
- Poor people rely of public defenders, most of which are overworked and can’t provide adequate representation.
- Too many people plead guilty, even if they’re innocent. Most people are not aware of their legal rights due to the lack of adequate public defense.
- Sentences are longer than they used to be.
- There are over 150,000 people serving life sentences in America. The majority of which are African American and Latino.
- People have a difficult time getting jobs after they get out. With a 60 percent unemployment rate after being released, two thirds of former convicts are rearrested within three years.
These numbers and facts are not only staggering, they’re scary. It shows the inefficacy of our justice system and the need for better legal representation for those charged with a crime, especially when certain offenses should be given alternative sentencing to receive help for their addictions or mental health issues.
Profiling is not okay—when you need a serious, aggressive defense team on your side, call us at Sebald, Hackwelder, & Knox. Our attorneys have extensive trial experience to get the results you need. Phone (814) 833-1987 today to discuss your case.