“Daily the Negro is coming more and more to look upon law and justice, not as protecting safeguards, but as sources of humiliation and oppression. The laws are made by men who have little interest in him; they are executed by men who have absolutely no motive for treating the black people with courtesy or consideration; and, finally, the accused law-breaker is tried, not by his peers, but too often by men who would rather punish ten innocent Negroes than let one guilty one escape. (W. E. B. Dubois, 1903, The Souls of Black Folk) (as cited by Black American Quotes).
This is the jest of findings in the black community where people are being held captive and prisoners to a system which does not seem like it is made for them. In my community many people cannot afford attorneys for legal needs, not because the help is not there but because if one is not indigent then the help is not available. In the crimminal court might appoint an attorney for an individual does not have good intentions. Notably, some of these people might work along with the prosecution to railroad our men. The result, too much time given in some cases. In the YouTube video “Democracy is black” the author had a simple but powerful message which conveys all colors being combined in a test tube which produced one color; that color being black.
The message, denotes the color black as being dominate over all other colors within it. The video ends saying, “Democracy is power, the color of a nation”. If black means power then it is lost when it comes to the legal system in America; surely America has failed a nation of black people, because whether it is a case of criminal or domestic there is a hard path in America; one that is black.
Once I was served divorce papers. I sought help from a government agency who provides free services. I was told I didn’t qualify, but was given a document to file and had to show up for court by myself or Pro Se as it is known, and I found out quickly that without an attorney the judge won’t listen. The judge was talking and speaking with my ex-husband’s attorney and would not even look my way; a continuance was scheduled. During that time my unemployment ran out and I called the service back and was given attorney at that time; hence, I had to literally have no money. However, I can proudly say that I still have my daughter with me who is now 14 years old, but in saying that people without money do not have a fair chance at all in the legal system. I was blessed, but how many have lost their children in this manner? This could happen to anyone, but I was a single and a black woman and there are many like me.
In an article, “In Forma Pauperis” the author, Arthur Ghee (2007),” says, “Are you being denied full access to the courts? What if you cannot afford court filing fees? You are considered an indigent person. The term for filing in the court system is called, in forma Pauperis or (IFP).IFP is a legal term derived from the Latin phrase “in the character or manner of a pauper”. In the United States, the IFP designation is given by both state and federal courts to someone who is without the funds to pursue the normal costs of a lawsuit or a criminal defense.” (Ghee, 2007) (as cited by BlackLegalinfo, 2007). That was me; I was seemingly, without rights because I had no money. This was a civil case, but what about criminal cases?
In the criminal arena there are many cases where a defendant might not be able to afford an attorney. It is here where we find trial courts and appellate courts; and where, one who is black or non-white does not stand a chance of getting a fair trial if he were to walk into court with no counsel or a court appointed one. It is not the case that all court appointed attorneys are shoddy, but a fair amount have done a bad enough job that practically every person you ask who has used one would tell you they are no good. I have spoken with many who believe this way, and they say it is best to have a so called “free world lawyer” if you are to get a fair trial. If a trial does not fare well, then there is the appellate court. Pember & Calvert (2013) says, ”Trial courts are fact finding courts and appellate courts law reviewing courts” (p. 16. Para. 1).
Conversely, in trial court all the evidence against the defendant is laid out for a jury to decide a guilty or not guilty verdict. However, in an appellate court a ruling has to be made upon finding flaws in the way the case was handled. Notably, in an appellate court is where someone has filed action saying that their rights were violated during the trial process, this is also where “Constitutional law” is upheld if it have been overlooked; most common is of a racial nature.
In an article from New America Media, the author states, “The report, Critical Condition: African American Youth in the Justice System, identified a number disparities among Black youth, including disproportionate arrest rates and harsher prison sentencing, as compared to white youth. ‘It is baffling that we are still faced with this serious problem of racial disparities in our justice system,” said Liz Ryan, president and CEO of Campaign for Youth Justice. “It is time for states to reverse punitive laws that result in the transfer and incarceration of African American youth in the adult criminal justice system.’ According to the report, African American youth make up 30 percent of youth arrested while they represent only 17 percent of the overall youth population. Additionally, African American youth are 62 percent of the youth prosecuted in the adult criminal system and are nine times more likely than white youth to receive an adult prison sentence, the report revealed. The NAACP supports the report’s findings and pointed to the now famous Jena 6 case in Louisiana as an example of Black youth being mistreated by the nation’s criminal justice system.”
Ultimately, If things are to change and the so called negro race be seen as a color dominate race or a race from which all colors are derived the judicial system must change to give fair trials; without or without money as a motivation. Notably, we must consider that if Democracy is black the colors which make it black must come to accept it as such. Times are dark for the so call negro in America. Democracy is black because a nation cannot win when it cannot see light. Democracy is black, today, because of the great black out of a nation. Until that time as a change is brought forth the path remains black for some.
Black American Quotes, (2013). Black Injustice
Black Legal Info, (2007). “The unequal scales of Justice”
Democracy Challenge , (2013). Democracy is Black
New America Media, (2013). Report: Criminal Justice System Unfair to Black Youth
Pember, D. R. & Calvert, C. (2013). Mass media law (18th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Watch: Modern Slavery: More Black Males in Prison Today Than Those Enslaved in The
- Retired Louisiana Chief Justice says “We need reforms to increase confidence in the justice system” (sentencing.typepad.com)
- Unconstitutional Criminal Justice System and the Conflicts of Interest. (thelonestarwatchdog.com)
- The Shocking Details of a Mississippi School-to-Prison Pipeline (colorlines.com)
- Black History Month: Is it Time for it to Go? (tbchick2011.wordpress.com)
- The Shocking Details of a Mississippi School-to-Prison Pipeline (revolutionaryfrontlines.wordpress.com)
- Study: Minority Youth More Often in State Courts than Whites (amren.com)
- Black Folks, Stop the Nonsense (blackamericaweb.com)