World Literature, Heffernan
April 13, 2012
What should be done about racial disparities in the sentencing of criminals?
I. Thesis Statement: Racial disparities in the sentencing of criminals is a problem in contemporary society and it must be solved
II. Topic Sentence HB: It is necessary to examine the history and background of racial disparities in the sentencing of criminals before considering possible solutions.
A. In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in employment. Yet today, three out of every ten African American males born in the United States will serve time in prison, a status that renders their ...view middle of the document...
The report also shows that while the average federal prison sentence for black offenders was about five months longer than for whites in 1984, by 2001, the average sentence for blacks was almost 30 months longer. The report should serve as a catalyst for major discussion about the racial impact of federal sentencing policy, though, to date, it has received scant attention. Of course, data showing vast racial disparities do not necessarily prove that the federal sentencing system discriminates. (http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2004/12/racial_disparit.htht)
C. Young, black and Latino males (especially if unemployed) are subject to particularly harsh sentencing compared to other offender populations; Black and Latino defendants are disadvantaged compared to whites with regard to legal-process related factors such as the “trial penalty,” sentence reductions for substantial assistance, criminal history, pretrial detention, and type of attorney; Black defendants convicted of harming white victims suffer harsher penalties than blacks who commit crimes against other blacks or white defendants who harm whites; Black and Latino defendants tend to be sentenced more severely than comparably situated white defendants for less serious crimes, especially drug and property crimes. (http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sp/disparity.pdf)
III. CS: The current situation of racial disparities in the sentencing of criminals indicates a problem that still exists.
A. In 2009 the incarceration for African American males in state and federal prisons was 6.7 times the rate for white. The incarceration rate Hispanic American males was 2.6 times greater than whites. There were also disparities in the incarceration of white and African American females, but not as great as for males. Also 52 percent of African Americans opposed the death penalty for persons convicted murder, compared with 27 percent of whites. More African Americans expressed fear of “getting mugged” than whites. (The Color of Justice, Book, 2011)
B. A 2010 Arizona law directing local police to check the immigration status of anyone they suspected to be undocumented created a national controversy and several lawsuits challenging the law. Critics charged that it would inevitably lead to ethnic profiling against Hispanic and Latino people.
C. Racial profiling-the allegation that police officers stop African American drivers or pedestrians because of the color of their skin and not because of actual violations of laws-continues to be a national controversy. The issue was highlighted in 2009 when Cambridge, Massachusetts, police arrested Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates for disturbing the peace at his home.
IV. P/F: If nothing different is done about the racial disparities and the sentencing of criminals, the problem will get worse in the future.
A. It seems as nothing is going to be done to stop the racial disparities and the sentencing of criminals because...