The Trayvon Martin case highlighted some significant issue in the American legal system. But this wasn’t simply an isolated incident of a random miscarriage of justice.
From The Sentencing Project:
More than 60% of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. For Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day. These trends have been intensified by the disproportionate impact of the “war on drugs,” in which two-thirds of all persons in prison for drug offenses are people of color.
From The Innocence Project:
Nearly 70 percent of the 242 people exonerated by DNA testing to date are people of color. These exonerations have spotlighted racial bias in the criminal justice system and the need for reforms that address these inequalities.
From the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
blacks were disproportionately represented among homicide victims and offenders. Blacks were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims and seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide.
The American “justice” system is deeply broken, especially in terms of race. How many more Trayvons have to die before we take notice of these systemic problems? How much longer do we wait before implementing real change, before facing our shortcomings and honestly working together towards a solution? These problems didn’t come about overnight and neither will they easily fade away. But do we really want to wait for the media to pick the next cause célèbre for us? Or do we want to be proactive, tackling the roots of the problems head on?
When you have the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, you have a problem. And the answer to that problem isn’t more prisons, it isn’t spending more money on law enforcement, it isn’t more laws, it isn’t harsher mandatory sentencing.
The Trayvon Martin case was only the tip of the iceberg in terms of issues of race and crime in the United States. Will this be the incident that finally sinks the ship, or will we continue steaming full speed ahead, oblivious to the deadly mass of cold discord that’s lurking just below the place surface of lives?