Recently, I came across as story in which a Black man was given 15 years for such a small amount of cocaine that police said was unweighable. This story brought me to Paris Hilton’s recent arrest for .8 grams of cocaine. Most people don’t expect her to do any time. This discrepancy in sentencing is symbolic of the difference in sentencing between rich Caucasian people and poor African-Americans when it comes to drugs.
It seems that we have two separate justice systems in America, one for rich white people and another for poor African-Americans. Although Barack Obama recently signed into law a bill that reduces the sentencing disparity from 100 grams of crack cocaine equaling the same sentence of one gram of plain cocaine to 18 grams of crack cocaine equaling one gram of plain cocaine, the difference is still dramatic.
What is just as significant as the sentencing for crack and cocaine is the enforcement of the laws. Why aren’t the police raiding the Hollywood hotspots clubs that are known for cocaine like they raid crackhouses and drug corners where poor African Americans buy and sell drugs? Despite the fact that African-Americans only make up 12% of the population and 13% of all drug users, they make up 38% percent of all people arrested for drugs and 59% of all people convicted for drugs.
If justice is blind, it must be able to smell money. Far too many drug addicts with money are able to get off with going to rehab, only to start doing drugs again, while poor people are sentenced to prison.
While the rich elite abuses prescription pills and cocaine with very little chance of getting arrested, Black neighborhoods are full of police randomly stopping and searching Black males. America’s drug laws and how they are enforced seem built on keeping poor minorities in jail, while rich Caucasians can use whatever drugs at their own discretion and can go to rehab on the off chance that they actually get caught.
Paris Hilton shouldn’t serve 15 years in jail. If anything she should be given a fine. With all the murders and robberies occurring in this country, police should not be concerned with someone who’s only crime is hurting themselves. But James V. Taylor shouldn’t serve 15 years in jail either. America can not have two separate and unequal systems for prosecuting people for drugs. One for poor minorities who are used as fodder for America’s jails, and another for rich people who abuse drugs to their own content with little chance of being arrested. Justice is supposed to be blind and treat everyone equally.