African Americans Disproportionately Charged With Drug Offenses

According the the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) the racial disparity when it comes to drug crimes, convictions, and incarceration, is too blatantly obvious to ignore. There are simply too many instances of African Americans not being treated fairly under the law compared to other races, which is in violation of the civil rights of those African American victims. For instance:


  • African Americans are six times more likely to be incarcerated than whites.
  • While making up only about a quarter of the country’s population, African Americans and Hispanics make up fifty eight percent of the prison population.
  • One out of six African American males has been incarcerated, and if present rates continue into the future without change, it is estimated that one out of every three African American men born today can expect to see the inside of a jail cell during his lifetime.
  • Whites are five times more likely to admit to using illegal drugs than African Americans, and yet ten times as many African Americans are sent to jail for drug crimes than whites.
  • For making up only twelve percent of the drug using populations, African Americans make up thirty eight percent of drug arrests and fifty nine percent of the state prison population who are incarcerated for a drug offense.


The statistics cannot be ignored as they clearly demonstrate that something is wrong and unfair in the American justice system.  The country has certainly started to make their voices heard on the issue of disparate treatment of African Americans by law enforcement and the courts as well.


Disparate Treatment of African Americans in Sentencing Outcomes


There are many contributing factors as to why African Americans experience disparate treatment from law enforcement and the justice system. Racial profiling, bias, and preconceptions can all be contributing factors to this problem. But the problem is not limited to the police forces. The courts also appear to treat African Americans unfairly.


The New York State Division of Criminal Justice conducted a study on the disparate treatment that minority defendants face when it comes to felony sentencing. The study reviewed sentence outcomes from 1990 through 1992, and determined that up to one third of minority defendants that were sentenced to incarceration would have been given a shorter jail sentence or probation if the defendant had been white. Further, if minority defendants who received probation would have been treated as a white defendant, the amount of minority defendants on probation would have been reduced by eight thousand.


Prison sentences are also shorter for white defendants compared to their minority counterparts. For felony drug offenses, white defendants are sentenced to 27 months in jail on average, whereas African American defendants are likely to face 46 months on average for the same crime.


Contact A Civil Rights Lawyer


You have civil rights that are provided for by law and you should not be disparately treated by law enforcement or the courts. Contact an experienced civil rights attorney at the Bromberg Law Office, P.C. to schedule an appointment today.