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Racism Is a Serious and Pervasive Issue in Criminal Law

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Wisconsin defense lawyer, Wisconsin criminal attorneyBased on 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 61.6% of Americans are White, 13.3% are Black or African American, and 17.6% are Hispanic or Latino. Yet, based upon those who face criminal charges and incarceration each year, one could easily assume that the country is predominantly comprised of African Americans and Hispanics.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 35% of state prisoners are White, 38% are Black, and 21% are Hispanic.

Unfair Targeting of Minorities

Considered a form of racial profiling, the stopping, search, and unfair targeting of minority groups continues to be an issue in the United States. In fact, a recent study from the University of Kansas found that African American males were two times more likely to be stopped by law enforcement. This applied regardless of whether they were in a vehicle or on foot. Another study on traffic stops in Connecticut revealed that racial profiling diminished greatly at night, when the driver of a vehicle was less likely to be seen before the actual stop occurred.

Once stopped, African Americans and Latinos were three times more likely to experience a search than their White counterparts. They were also slightly more likely to receive a traffic ticket for a violation, according to information from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Further, if their stop led to an arrest, they were more likely to experience force, such as the use of a taser, pepper spray, physical force, or police dog.

Drug arrests are also far more likely among minority groups than whites, even though data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that use rate among both White and ethnic minority groups is about the same. Further, whites have a slightly higher prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse and addiction than ethnic groups. Yet African Americans are more than twice as likely to experience a drug arrest, and about 29 percent of all drug arrests are of African Americans.

Juveniles are not immune either. They are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested for a violation of curfew and about twice as likely to be arrested for suspicion of another crime. Once the arrest does occur, they are much more likely to be kept in a detention center than White teens.

Criminal Charges and Incarceration

Minority groups are not just at a higher risk for being arrested; they are also more likely to face criminal charges and significant imprisonment than whites are. In fact, according to studies by the Sentencing Project of the University of Michigan, African Americans were twice as likely as whites to face charges for the exact same crime. Further, they are two times as likely to face prison time as a consequence of conviction. African Americans in Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey and Vermont are incarcerated at ten times the rate for whites!

This is Not What Justice Should Look Like

Racial profiling happens. Racial disparity is a reality in the criminal justice system. It is unconstitutional and wrong, and should not be tolerated. It is especially critical that criminal defendants, whites or ethnic minorities, secure skilled, aggressive, and experienced representation when they are facing criminal charges.

At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP we strive to protect clients from the consequences of criminal charges and the improper disparities in the criminal justice system. With a track record of success in the firm’s almost 50 years of existence, we will aggressively represent you in your state or federal criminal case. Schedule a consultation with our Milwaukee criminal defense lawyers today to learn more. Call 414-271-1440 today.



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