Incarceration Nation



By Kevin Cooper

Despite what certain people say, and what many people actually believe, we do not live in a “Post Racial Society.” This is especially true within America’s criminal justice system.

What we do live in, however, is a society in which the highest court in the land refuses to accept, or even acknowledge, racism. Because of this fact most prosecutors and death penalty supporters continue to ignore laws designed to do away with racial discrimination by acting like racial discrimination doesn’t exist. During the past 37 years, 80 percent of all persons sentenced to death have been executed for murders involving white victims, even though the numbers of white and Black persons murdered are virtually equal!

This is a longstanding and pervasive problem, in a sense, an historical fact. As long ago as 1987, the United States Supreme Court ruled that reliable statistical evidence suggesting racial bias in the trial of any defendant could not be used to vacate a death sentence.

Because racial discrimination permeates the judicial system, there is an overrepresentation of minorities, especially African Americans, on Death Rows in every state within this country that has a death penalty statute and African Americans!

Racial bias continues to be a very serious problem within America’s pride and joy and largest moneymaker—its criminal justice system and prisons! But there is an even larger problem, and that is the willfulness, and lack of concern from people in power to fix this well-known and dubious situation!

Here in the state of California, African Americans are about 6.7 percent of the state population. Black men are less than half of that 6.7 percent, since there are more females than males. Yet Black men in this state are 36 percent of the state’s death row population!

According to the NAACP Spring 2013 “Death Row U.S.A.” report, of the 731 death row inmates in the state of California, there are 264 African Americans, and only two are female. The next largest group are whites, 257, and of those eleven are female. Then there are 173 Latinos and of those five are female. There are 12 Native American males and no females. Finally there are 25 Asians with two of them being female.

These truths can never truly be dealt with and fixed as long as certain people continue to lie or ignore the truth about this ongoing racism. Color-blindness will not exist within this criminal “Just Us” system until the day arrives when racism is a thing of the past, and that ain’t going to happen anytime soon!