These partial, cruel and discriminatory decisions have helped create an inaccurate picture of crime that deceptively links black people with criminality.
An Unjust Burden: The Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in the Criminal Justice System a brief by the Vera Institute of Justice effortless captured in a research summary how America’s history of racism and oppression continues to rear its ugly head in the criminal justice system and perpetuates the unequal treatment of black people.
Published in May 2018, the research’s key highlights state: “Discriminatory criminal justice policies and practices have historically and unjustifiably targeted black people since the Reconstruction Era, including Black Codes, vagrancy laws, and convict leasing, all of which were used to continue post-slavery control over newly-freed people.
“This discrimination continues today in often less overt ways, including through disparity in the enforcement of seemingly race-neutral laws.
“Bias by decision makers at all stages of the justice process disadvantages black people. Studies have found that they are more likely to be stopped by the police, detained pretrial, charged with more serious crimes, and sentenced more harshly than white people.”
And that was what happened exactly in Atlanta on Friday, September 27 when a judge granted a white woman, Hannah Renea Payne, 22, accused of shooting an elderly black man to death in May a $320,000 bond.
Had the shooter been black the judge’s decision would have been much severe. Why? Because of the history of unjust, cruel and prejudiced decision making targeted at black people.
The $320,000 bond granted Payne wasn’t the first and probably won’t be the last. The 22-year-old nicknamed the “female George Zimmerman” was first granted a $100,000 bond in May when she was arrested on charges of murdering 62-year-old Kenneth Herring.
Payne was arrested again in June after a grand jury indicted her on more charges related to the shooting – and there she is granted $320,000.
Payne alleged, according to reports, that Herring had hit her car and bolted. She called the 911 to make a complaint, the operator told repeatedly to wait at the scene of the alleged crime but she ignored the operator’s pleas, climbed her car and zoomed off in pursuit of Herring.
After following Herring about a mile, Payne cut him off, according to reports and blocked him from driving. She got out of her car and attacked Herring with her gun.
Bystanders say she shot Herring in the stomach and killed him. In a 911 tape played in court, reports Blavity, one could hear Payne screaming at Herring while the operator asks her to stay in her car.
Prosecutors, according to Blavity report, debunked claims from Payne and her lawyer that Herring hit her car, setting her off in a rage and Police later confirmed that Herring did not hit Payne’s car.
However, all that the judge in Atlanta could do to correct these grave disrespect for a rule of law was to grant Payne, who is a white woman a $320,000 bond and this is another proof America’s criminal justice system is racist—and this was succinctly captured by Radley Balko in his opinion piece for Washington Post titled: “There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal-justice system is racist. Here’s the proof”.
“In any case, after more than a decade covering these issues, it’s pretty clear to me that the evidence of racial bias in our criminal-justice system isn’t just convincing — it’s overwhelming,” Balko underscored.