The Maryland State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recently met to discuss reasons for why there happens to be a disproportionate number of blacks incarcerated in Maryland prisons. The numbers of prisoners in Maryland has nearly tripled during the past thirty years, and one in nine young black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are now in jail.
It’s been theorized that the “war on drugs” has been greatly responsible for why so many young black men are in prison. Blacks are prosecuted more for drug charges than are whites, and such individuals have also been convicted and forced to serve longer prison sentences when criminally charged.
There could be many reasons for why such a circumstance persists, but it does also raise a number of red flags concerning how such drug charges come about. Is racial profiling taking place? Is law enforcement being conducted in an unbiased manner? Are certain laws written in a manner that, intentionally or unintentionally, favors whites over blacks?
Without more information, it is impossible to answer such a question, and, obviously, such a disparity requires study. The large numbers of individuals in prison, both black and white, is costing Maryland taxpayers millions of dollars every day.
What attorneys that practice criminal law can do is make certain that courts are looking at the individual circumstances concerning every drug crime. If there is a particular unfairness in the system that affects an attorney’s client, that attorney must point that bias out to the court.
There are good people that present no harm to the public that are serving long sentences in prison concerning various drug charges. Such individuals deserve effective representation.
Source: Maryland Reporter, “High incarceration rates punish taxpayers as well, panelists say,” by Dana Amihere, June 6, 2012