Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Preventing Unintentional Racial Impacts


By Sen. Mattie Hunter and Rep. Arthur Turner

Suppose you're a white person who uses drugs. Now suppose you're a black person who uses drugs. Think you run the same risk of being arrested and incarcerated?

Think again: Recent reports highlight vast differences in the way blacks and whites are treated, despite similar rates of drug use. Fortunately, Illinois has just enacted a measure that lays the groundwork to help address this inequity.

Using new data from 34 states, Human Rights Watch found that black men are nearly 12 times as likely to be imprisoned for drug convictions as adult white men. Illinois had the highest black drug offender admission rate and the second highest black to white ratio of prison admission rates for drug offenses.