Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

June 25, 2005 - High Point Enterprise (NC)

OPED: The Verdict Of Statistics Is Racial Injustice In Judicial System

By Emma Mieden

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Kweisi Mfume , past president of the NAACP, said in a statement, "In an era when communities of color have become harvest for the prison industry rather than pools of future college students, we must challenge any deprivation of civil and constitutional rights that leads to the incarceration of racial minorities."

Today in our country, the system where racial discrimination is the most prevalent is in our judicial system. Although African- Americans make up only 13 percent of the U.S. population, more than 40 percent of the prison population is African-American. A black male has a one in three chance of being imprisoned during his lifetime.

The worst discrimination occurs with drug offenses. African Americans make up 63 percent of drug offenders in state prisons across our country even though research shows that there are five times more white drug offenders than black. Black men are 13 times more likely to be sent to prison than white men on drug charges. North Carolina is in the top 10 states with the greatest racial disparities. In these top 10 states, black men are imprisoned on drug charges 27 to 57 times the rate of white men, according to a recent Human Rights Watch Report.

African-American youth in the juvenile justice system also face similar disparities. African-American youth were 48 times more likely to be sentenced to state juvenile facilities for drug offenses than white youth. White youth represented 71 percent of kids arrested for crimes in the U.S., but only 37 percent of those incarcerated. Youth of color were also very overrepresented among juveniles who were transferred from juvenile to adult court.

If you are white or rich in this country you have access to a different judicial system than if you are black or poor. Over 40 years ago, the Supreme Court guaranteed the right of council to every person facing the possibility of incarceration, regardless of their ability to pay. This sounds great on paper but is far from a reality. In too many areas, legal representation is inadequate. Public defenders, on the whole, have the least amount of experience and are the lowest paid and severely overworked.

There are serious ramifications of the disproportionate number of African-Americans in the criminal justice system. The most significant include disenfranchisement, disqualification from public housing and welfare benefits and the break-up of families. Family members lose the financial support from a mother or father or other family member that is incarcerated.

How can America, the so-called champion of human rights, find fault with other countries around the world holding them accountable when we ourselves have such a dismal record. We must recognize that discretionary decisions are made at various stages of the criminal process and racial profiling exists at many levels.

We must demand better. We must demand solutions to eliminate racial discrimination and unjustified racial disparities in our justice system. Our justice system is a failure unless it is color blind.

Emma Mieden lives in High Point with her husband and two daughters. She encourages anyone who does not like the direction the country is headed under this administration to speak out and join in the fight for change.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact