June 4, 2019
America’s criminal justice system doesn’t really seem all that interested in justice. Although, by practically criminalizing being poor or being a person of color, it definitely has the criminal part covered. We think that every American deserves justice, regardless of their skin color or the amount of money in their bank account, don’t you?
The criminal justice system needs to be reformed now, and these nine charts prove it.
The US locks up WAY more people than any other country on earth
The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. And with about 2.3 million people behind bars, we also have the world’s largest prison population.
And it disproportionately impacts communities of color
There is racial bias built right into the justice system. Black people are imprisoned more often than white people and receive longer sentences than white people, even for the same offenses.
Systemic racism kicks in early
Black students are twice as likely to be arrested or referred to law enforcement as white students. Black students also routinely receive harsher punishments than their white counterparts for the same or similar offenses.
And it never lets up — Black men, in particular, are unfairly targeted
Black men make up only about 13% of the US population, but they represent 35% of the US prison population.
Just take a look at the racial disparities in drug arrests
Black people and white people use and sell drugs at similar rates, but Black people are almost three times more likely to be arrested for drug-related offenses.
Prosecutors have played a huge role in all of this
We wonder if the fact that black people are incarcerated five times more often than white people, for example, might have something to do with the fact that prosecutors are overwhelmingly white? Prosecutors have also used their power to fuel mass incarceration.
Believe it or not, in America you can even get locked up if you’re legally innocent
Yes, the US locks up people who haven’t been convicted of anything — holding them for days, weeks, months, even years when they can’t afford to pay bail. Hundreds of thousands of them, every year. And it costs a lot of money.
You or someone you know probably has a family member who’s been in prison
Half of Americans have family members who’ve been incarcerated. 6.5 million Americans have an immediate family member in jail or prison right now. Again, communities of color are hit hardest: Black people are 50% more likely than whites to have an incarcerated family member.
And despite what some politicians might want us to believe, none of this has made us safer
By cutting crime while cutting their incarceration rates, states all across the country have showed that America’s “tough on crime” spree didn’t make us safe. All it did was pack jails and prisons with people of color and the poor—and line the pockets of everyone who profited from their misery.
A majority of Americans wants change, and change is coming. Stand with us and our partners, Advancement Project and Color of Change, and demand justice for ALL Americans.
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