February 21, 2024
While the country’s attention has shifted in recent months from events like Black Lives Matter protests to major goings-on inside the White House and Congress, the fight to end oppression of black people is not over.
The road to equality is filled with roadblocks, especially ones that concern our criminal justice system. If you consider the evidence, it is very hard to deny the fact that black people are being treated unfairly by this system.
Still not convinced? Look at the statistics. For example, innocent black people are 12 times more likely to be convicted of drug crimes than innocent white people.
We’ve all heard cases of black men and women who are taken to prison and sentenced to decades behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit. Our own President was a major player in the Central Park Five case that involved black and Latino teenagers who were eventually exonerated for crimes that they did not commit. (He has still not apologized or changed his opinion on his actions back in 2003.)
In many of these cases, implicit biases or prejudice were present. Luckily, many of these cases end with an exoneration that lets the person go and reclaim their innocence, but not before they have endured the turmoil of being in prison and being blamed for a crime that they didn’t commit. Exonerations happen to people of all races, but a disproportionate number of people exonerated are black. Black people represent 13% of our population – close to half of the prison population – but 47% of those who have been exonerated.
Exonerations cover all types of crimes, including murder and sexual assault, but let’s look at drug crimes. The rate of illegal drug use among black and white people is relatively the same.
Let’s say that again, since a prejudiced attitude in our society and our media may lead you to believe otherwise. The rate of illegal drug use among black and white people is relatively the same. Unfortunately, as the War on Drugs continues to rage on, we see more black people being targeted.
Drug crimes do not come with light penalties. A simple trafficking charge, at the federal level, can put you behind bars for decades. For many people who were exonerated for drug crimes or other related offenses, it may also take decades for them to prove their innocence.
So we have to ask the question: why are judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers quick to point the blame at black people?
What to Do If You Are Accused of Drug Crimes You Did Not Commit
While more people are starting to understand and learn about biases within our criminal justice system, we have a long way to go before we can claim that we treat all people – no matter what race, sex, religion, and so on – equally.
As a black person, if you have been accused of drug crimes that you did not commit, you have higher walls to climb and more obstacles to overcome than white people who may have been accused of similar crimes. It is possible to prove your innocence and avoid a conviction, but it often requires strong lawyer who has experience fighting racial biases and drug crimes.
If you have been arrested or charged for drug crimes, contact a Denver criminal defense attorney immediately.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.