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Education, Our Justice System and Race

I took some time and went through the census data. I wanted to investigate the percentage of Whites, Blacks and Hispanics and their educational status. As we know, educational status correlates to socioeconomic status. The better educated you are, the more opportunities are open for you. Nowhere in our society should we see more equality then in the classroom. For the most part, public schools do not offer individual education. This is education for the masses. Therefore, if Johnny, David, Betty and Susan are all in the same classroom, in theory, they should all be exposed to the same material. They should all have the same opportunity to excel or to fail.

When we look at the data of those who graduated high school since 1940, there’s a clear persistence of Whites graduating at higher rates than Blacks or Hispanics.

The education disparity increases dramatically when we look at the percentage of Americans who graduated college, by race.

Although I did not graph it here, this disparity increases when you look at the percentage of Americans who have obtained a professional degree, by race.

I wanted to take just a second to go back and look at what Professor Bill Quigley has said about race in our criminal justice system. He listed 14 reasons why the criminal justice system has a race bias. I posted seven of his reasons here. Here are the next seven:

Seven. Trials are rare. Only 3 to 5 percent of criminal cases go to trial – the rest are plea bargained. Most African Americans defendants never get a trial. Most plea bargains consist of promise of a longer sentence if a person exercises their constitutional right to trial. As a result, people caught up in the system, as the American Bar Association points out, plead guilty even when innocent. Why? As one young man told me recently, “Who wouldn’t rather do three years for a crime they didn’t commit than risk twenty-five years for a crime they didn’t do?”

Eight. The U.S. Sentencing Commission reported in March 2010 that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crimes. Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project reports African Americans are 21% more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences than white defendants and 20% more like to be sentenced to prison than white drug defendants.

Nine. The longer the sentence, the more likely it is that non-white people will be the ones getting it. A July 2009 report by the Sentencing Project found that two-thirds of the people in the US with life sentences are non-white. In New York, it is 83%.

Ten. As a result, African Americans, who are 13% of the population and 14% of drug users, are not only 37% of the people arrested for drugs but 56% of the people in state prisons for drug offenses. Marc Mauer May 2009 Congressional Testimony for The Sentencing Project.

Eleven. The US Bureau of Justice Statistics concludes that the chance of a black male born in 2001 of going to jail is 32% or 1 in three. Latino males have a 17% chance and white males have a 6% chance. Thus black boys are five times and Latino boys nearly three times as likely as white boys to go to jail.

Twelve. So, while African American juvenile youth is but 16% of the population, they are 28% of juvenile arrests, 37% of the youth in juvenile jails and 58% of the youth sent to adult prisons. 2009 Criminal Justice Primer, The Sentencing Project.

Thirteen. Remember that the US leads the world in putting our own people into jail and prison. The New York Times reported in 2008 that the US has five percent of the world’s population but a quarter of the world’s prisoners, over 2.3 million people behind bars, dwarfing other nations. The US rate of incarceration is five to eight times higher than other highly developed countries and black males are the largest percentage of inmates according to ABC News.

Fourteen. Even when released from prison, race continues to dominate. A study by Professor Devah Pager of the University of Wisconsin found that 17% of white job applicants with criminal records received call backs from employers while only 5% of black job applicants with criminal records received call backs. Race is so prominent in that study that whites with criminal records actually received better treatment than blacks without criminal records!

For those who want more detail, for those who believe the bullet points are somewhat superficial and for anyone who would like more background, here’s a very nice paper on racial disparities in the criminal justice system produced by the Sentencing Project.

So, what can we conclude? Race identification and race bias are a part of our history. It has really shaped America over the last 250 years. The fact that we passed several pieces of legislation in the mid-’60s in order to try to reverse this trend doesn’t act like a magic wand and make all the problems surrounding race go away. Instead, many problems persist. When you look at the inequality in education, our justice system and multiple other aspects of life, you must conclude that race plays a significant role in the ongoing social economic status of Blacks and Hispanics. Now, after a week of discussion and set up, I’m ready to discuss Harvard Professor Derrick Bell and his critical race theory. Are you ready?

By |2012-04-05T20:48:46-04:00March 18th, 2012|Civil Rights, Education, Legal, Race|Comments Off on Education, Our Justice System and Race

Crazy, hateful Rick Santorum

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum has received a lot of attention over the last week or so because of his surprise surge in Iowa. Personally, I haven’t taken Rick Santorum seriously in many, many years. Remember that Mr. Santorum was a senator from Pennsylvania during the early years of the Bush administration and was an avid cheerleader for the war. He believed in weapons of mass destruction. In June 2006, long after we knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, Rick Santorum called a press conference. He said he knew where the weapons of mass destruction were. The stupidity of this single move cannot be overestimated. There’s a difference between being a thoughtful senator and someone who calls a press conference in 2006 based on a document from 1991.

In my opinion, Rick Santorum is no different than Rick Perry, except his hair just isn’t as nice. He says things that are half-baked and poorly thought out. Here are just a few of the things that have emanated from Rick Santorum:

1) ANNUL ALL SAME-SEX MARRIAGES: Arguing that gay relationships “destabilize” society, Santorum wouldn’t offer any legal protections to gay relationships and has pledged to annul all same-sex marriages if elected president. During his 99-county tour of Iowa, Santorum frequently compared same-sex relationships to inanimate objects like trees, basketballs, beer, and paper towels and even tried to blame the economic crisis on gay people. As Santorum explained back in August, religious people have a constitutional right to discriminate against gays: “We have a right the Constitution of religious liberty but now the courts have created a super-right that’s above a right that’s actually in the Constitution, and that’s of sexual liberty. And I think that’s a wrong, that’s a destructive element.”
2) ‘I’M FOR INCOME INEQUALITY’: “They talk about income inequality. I’m for income inequality,” Santorum said during an event in Pella, Iowa in December. “I think some people should make more than other people, because some people work harder and have better ideas and take more risk, and they should be rewarded for it. I have no problem with income inequality.”
3) CONTRACEPTION IS ‘A LICENSE TO DO THINGS’: Santorum has pledged to repeal all federal funding for contraception and allow the states to outlaw birth control, insisting that “it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
4) GAY SOLDIERS ‘CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR PEOPLE LIVING IN CLOSE QUARTERS’: During an appearance on Fox News Sunday in October, Santorum defended his support for Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by arguing that gay soldiers would disrupt the military because “they’re in close quarters, they live with people, they obviously shower with people.” He also suggested that “there are people who were gay and lived the gay lifestyle and aren’t anymore.”
5) OBAMA SHOULD OPPOSE ABORTION BECAUSE HE’S BLACK: During an appearance on Christian television in January, Santorum said he was surprised that President Obama didn’t know when life began — given his skin color. “I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say ‘now we are going to decide who are people and who are not people,” he explained.
6) WE DON’T NEED FOOD STAMPS BECAUSE OBESITY RATES ARE SO HIGH: Speaking in Le Mars, Iowa in December, Santorum promised to significantly reduce federal funding for food stamps, arguing that the nation’s increasing obesity rates render the program unnecessary.
7) ABORTION EXCEPTIONS TO PROTECT WOMEN’S HEALTH ARE ‘PHONY’: While discussing his track record as a champion of the partial birth abortion ban in June, Santorum dismissed exceptions other senators wanted to carve out to protect the life and health of mothers, calling such exceptions “phony.” “They wanted a health exception, which of course is a phony exception which would make the ban ineffective,” he said.
8 ) HEALTH REFORM WILL KILL MY CHILD: Santorum, who claims that Obamacare motivated him to run for president, told reporters in April that his daughter Bella — who was born with a genetic abnormality — wouldn’t survive in a country with “socialized medicine.” “Children like Bella are not given the treatment that other children are given.”
9) UNINSURED AMERICANS SHOULD SPEND LESS ON CELL-PHONE BILLS: During a meeting with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register in August, Santorum said that people who can’t afford health care should stop whining about the high costs of medical treatments and medications and spend less on nonessentials. Answering a question about the uninsured, Santorum explained that health care, like a car, is a luxury resource that is rationed by society and recalled the story of a woman who said she was spending $200 a month on life-saving prescriptions. Santorum told her to stop complaining and instead lower her cable and cell phone bills.
10) INSURERS SHOULD DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PEOPLE WITH PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS: Santorum sounded like a representative from the health insurance industry when he addressed a small group of high school students in Merrimack, New Hampshire in December. The former Pennsylvania senator not only defended insurers for denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, he also argued that individuals who are sick should pay higher premiums because they cost more money to insure.

By |2012-01-06T07:57:23-04:00January 6th, 2012|Elections|Comments Off on Crazy, hateful Rick Santorum
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