Racial Disparities in Cleveland Drug Prosecutions

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is calling attention to racial disparities in the treatment of felony drug cases in Cuyahoga County.

In Cuyahoga County, white people are more likely to have their felony drug charges reduced to misdemeanors -- or to get treatment as an alternative to any conviction -- than black people charged with the same crime.

The Plain Dealer found:

[S]ince 2000, a black person has been 12.7 times more likely than a white person to be sent to a state prison from Cuyahoga County on drug charges.

[more ...]

To make fair comparisons, the Plain Dealer examined drug cases from last year that involved a defendant with no prior indictments who was charged with and pled guilty to one count of simple possession.

Among the 364 defendants fitting those conditions, roughly 63 percent were given a second chance at having their cases dismissed -- and avoiding a conviction of any kind -- by successfully completing a treatment program. But white defendants were considerably more likely than black people to get that second bite at the apple. Among whites, 72 percent of defendants got the treatment option, compared to 53 percent among blacks.

The black first-timers, meanwhile, were 66 percent more likely to be saddled with a felony record than their white counterparts.

< Time to Change How the Census Counts Prisoners | McCain's Court >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    I hope nobody still doubts... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 08:11:59 AM EST
    the fact that if you're being put through the criminal justice ringer, the lighter your skin pigment the better your chances of getting through the ringer relatively unscathed.  A fat wallet helps too.

    The only question is how much of it is outright racism and how much of it is economics.  From personal experience, I know if you have 500-1000 bucks to pay for a lawyer to utter a few sentences on your behalf, that can make all the difference in a possession case.

    Good point. (none / 0) (#2)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 24, 2008 at 05:01:50 PM EST
    The other unanswered question is (none / 0) (#3)
    by Patrick on Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 06:09:05 PM EST
    what are their past criminal involvements.   A career criminal, (Black or white) caught with sale weight, should go to prison.  A first time offender (Which is synonymous IMO with hasn't been caught yet) should get some consideration.  Does the report address that?