Illegal drug use spreads through all racial and ethnic groups and whites are the group most commonly convicted of possession (70.9% in Fiscal 2013). The racial disproportionality at the mandatory minimum level is therefore troubling, especially because of the unique role of prosecutorial discretion in bringing and enforcing mandatory minimum charges.
Mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses almost exclusively involve distribution of heroin and cocaine. In fiscal 2013, only 2 cases involved the high-weight mandatory minimums for marijuana distribution.
All cocaine is grown in South America and while there are multiple world sources for heroin, most of the heroin sold in the United States also comes from Mexico or South America. The same criminal gangs that terrorize and destabilize Latin American countries are active at the distribution level in the United States. U.S. based gangs collaborate with Mexican drug trafficking organizations. These realities of the drug business have to affect the ethnic mix of persons arrested for higher level distribution offenses and also place law-abiding people of color at a higher risk of profiling by narcotics law enforcement officers.
Regardless of the causes of the disparity — and there are many theories — even just the appearance of racial/ethnic targeting is, in itself, a valid reason to disfavor mandatory minimums.
Source for Fiscal 2013 Race by Offense Statistics: from Sentencing Commisison, Survey of Sentencing Practices, FY13, Table 35.
Thanks for sharing the information.
I am all for social justice and against racial discrimination.
However, I don’t agree with this conclusion. That higher percentage of black and Latinos was a result of mandatory sentence.
One of the factor might be that statistics will show that certain ethnic groups are more prone to participate in drug dealing/consumption.
There are many theories for this issue but I think removing mandatory sentencing will only encourage certain neighborhood to participate in drug trafficking/dealings.
Just trying to think, what will happen if we move to the extreme to legalize all narcotics?
No body will be arrested for drug dealings. Isn’t that wonderful?
I am afraid that removing “disproportional” impact on criminal activities simply means bigger impact to almost all law-binding citizens.
There are lot of things happening at once, but when we see very high incarceration rates in a subgroups, we just have to be concerned about the long term consequences.
I agreed with you.
But we should start with a more fundamental problem. Is not indicting drug dealing beneficial to the society, especially law binding citizens, or not?
I am among the minority group that never touched any narcotics. Maybe I should start to educate myself about the soothing effect to me, my family and our society?
Maybe drug dealing should not be treated as a crime, but rather business as usual?
No legal system can be perfect for everyone, because of the inherent diversity in individual interest. Are we trying to improve the system for violators at the expense of general public?
I am not a racist, but feel that we are not addressing the real issue of “none-violent” drug offense here.
Although it may not involve violence, dealing drug for a profit can create far more damage to a society in the long run than violence.
Therefore I feel they should be punished regardless of race.
Whatever punishment we hand out should be race blind.
My belief is that the punishments handed out for drug dealing under our current regime are too harsh. I also believe that because they fall disproportionately on people of color we are less attentive to the need to adjust them.
After reading the report from the above link, I realized this is way more complicated than I thought.
Aside from the issues of potential discrimination, I want to make sure that removing mandatory sentencing will not results in more drug dealing/trafficking, especially in the case of heroin and cocaine or other highly addictive narcotics.
I still think justice and protection for law binding citizens is far more important than fairness in punishment for drug dealers.
If we can settle on that argument, let
‘s dig deeper into the data provided to support this argument. Maybe that will help me to understand this social injustice/racial bias issue.
as described as following:
“Illegal drug use spreads through all racial and ethnic groups and whites are the group most commonly convicted of possession (70.9% in Fiscal 2013) The racial disproportionality at the mandatory minimum level is therefore troubling, especially because of the unique role of prosecutorial discretion in bringing and enforcing mandatory minimum charges.”
Can we look into the type of illegal drug use across different racial groups?
And further, can we stratify into other sub-class of criminal activities, such as robbery,
In short, could certain minority groups be more involved in dangerous drug dealing and/or with a more violent criminal history?
This could be a significant and valid factor leading to higher incarceration rates.
There could very well be other factors, such as prejudice, or lack of knowledge and lack of social/economic resources at certain stage of the prosecution process.
If that is the case, we should be more focusing on the underlying drivers, rather than the fairness of the outcome.
And I am afraid that removing “Mandatory Sentences” in drug related crime will bring more harm to our younger generations. IMHO, drug dealing should be labeled as one of the worst crime, because it has the potential to ruin people’s life in large scale.
I, for one, strongly against the term
“non violent drug offenders”. Drug dealer could be more damaging than violent crimes and should not be granted clemency.
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