In the criminal (in)justice system in Berrien County Judge Schrock says that prison would do white people no good.
There is no racial equality in our criminal justice system, including the judicial and the prosecutorial decision making.
A recent review by the Vera Institute of Justice found significant evidence that even after controlling for both legal and extra-legal factors, minority defendants are more likely than white defendants accused of similar crimes to be prosecuted, to be held in pretrial detention, to receive higher bail, and to be sent to prison. This is especially true in Berrien County, Michigan.
Another study, by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, found that black men receive sentences that are, on average, 30 percent longer than those given to white men found guilty of committing the same crimes. In some cases the differences are much greater, including those instances when black men are sentenced to prison while white men are granted probation and community service.
I can give one example. A white young boy murdered his step-father by beating him to death and Judge Sterling Schrock gave him probation. He said prison would do him "no good." On the very same day, a young black boy who had killed a white man was given life without the possibility of parole, plus an extra ten years. Then another young man was given 15 years in the same case. He had nothing to do with the murder, and was only seen on tape speaking to the boy. Then a very young girl, only 16 years old, who was also seen speaking to the boy, was given 10 years in prison.
A separate report from the Sentencing Project found that young black defendants were 48% more likely to be sentenced to prison than were young white defendants convicted of the same crime.
These findings are deeply disturbing. Racial differences are not supposed to influence the decisions made by prosecutors and judges, but they clearly do. The judges and prosecutors in Berrien County are rogue. They ignore the law and evidence and base their decision on unrevealed, deeply-held prejudices, not on a desire to achieve a just, fair, moral outcome.
Berrien County prosecutors and judges are racist, including in their decisions on whether or not to prosecute, what charges to bring, and length of sentence.
The first step is to start sending judges and prosecutors to prison. We must say enough is enough.
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