A Graphic Journal of Criminal Law and Procedure


It is no secret that the United States began as a slave society. Throughout history, the narrative of Afro-Americans treated as second class citizens manifested in slavery, the civil war, reconstruction, and the civil rights movement. The Supreme Court ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), made segregation of any form illegal in the United States. Many viewed desegregation as the “freedom” Afro-Americans deserved after the calculated and systematic racism brought on by European colonizers. In 2008 history was made with the first Afro-American President and First Lady. Black women are currently the most educated group in the United States. There is an array of black wealth circulating throughout America and black entrepreneurship is on the rise. There are laws put in place to combat discrimination and racism. To the ignorant eye, Afro-Americans are “equal.” However, we know that racism still thrives in American culture. The criminal justice system in the United States is a blatant example of lack of equality amongst the races. If you look at the actual language in the 13th amendment (the amendment that ended slavery in the U.S.) it states that, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime shall exist within the United States.” But we knew this. We all saw the Netflix documentary. Afro-American males account for 37% of the prison population in the U.S. There are also 96,000 people from Pennsylvania are behind bars. And with no surprise Afro-Americans make up 46% of the prison population. The number of individuals on probation and parole in PA are even higher.

The disparities in the criminal justice system pegs the question of why. Why after 400 of slavery and oppression, the civil rights movement, and a black president why are we still being thrown in jail at a staggering rate? Again, an ignorant person would assume that, “they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists” yet we know this not the case either. I argue that the system takes advantage of minorities and Afro-Americans in particular, because they do not know the processes criminal law and procedure. Many people do not know their rights and for many ADAs, DAs, and police officers’ ignorance is bliss. I have a strong belief that everyone should understand the basic workings of the criminal justice system. The system is a trap and once your are in you are marked forever. I think the slave mindset is ingrained in our culture and society puts the chains around our minds at a very young age. My mother always hounded us about education and the importance of going to college. I was blessed to recognize the societal trap and knew I would overcome. Education was my ticket for a better life but sadly, this is not the case for most Afro-Americans. Many do not have the proper resources, time, support, and financial freedom to get an adequate education. So the chains grow like vines and become engrained into the fiber of ones being. The metaphoric chains manifest into a mental prison with age. The mental prison can become a physical reality in a matter of a few seconds if you are not careful. I did want to be a lawyer but I decided writing was more important. I want to share this information with everyone in the clearest terms possible to help those that are trapped in the system and to keep from people from falling victim.

Thank you for believing in my vision.

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Brittonea Meredith
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