‘Time to Go’ – Blacks get longer sentences from ‘Republican’ Judges

Go Lean Commentary

“Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are” – Old Adage

This Old Adage was drummed in me as a youth; I may have wanted to question its validity, but time has proven its accuracy. As humans, we are affected by the people we associate with; their values, principles, character, aspirations – or lack thereof – will have an effect on us. This statement even harmonizes with the Bible scripture at 1 Corinthians 15:33, which states:

“Bad companions ruin good character.” – Today’s English Version

This commentary highlights a disturbing trend in American jurisprudence; it turns out that among judges that associates with the conservative political parties or the liberal political parties, one group consistently sentences Black defendants to longer prison sentences. This is indicative of more than just the tolerance of criminality; this shows some hidden bias, that severely endangers the Black populations in America. These judges, despite claims of non-partisanship, are affected by their party.

Say it ain’t so!

The party with the harsher sentences is the Republican Party or GOP (for Grand Old Party).

Sometimes, we need to step back and look at the whole picture before we can notice trends and leanings. This is the common sense in the old expression: “One cannot see the forest for the trees”. This was the purpose of a study on judicial bias; it looked at a range of 500,000 cases to summarize its findings. Intelligence and wisdom can be gleaned from this data.

The numbers – and conclusions – must not be ignored. See the full story here:

Title: Black Defendants Get Longer Sentences From Republican-Appointed Judges, Study Finds
By: Adam Liptak

WASHINGTON — Judges appointed by Republican presidents gave longer sentences to black defendants and shorter ones to women than judges appointed by Democrats, according to a new study that analyzed data on more than half a million defendants.

“Republican-appointed judges sentence black defendants to three more months than similar nonblacks and female defendants to two fewer months than similar males compared with Democratic-appointed judges,” the study found, adding, “These differences cannot be explained by other judge characteristics and grow substantially larger when judges are granted more discretion.”

The study was conducted by two professors at Harvard Law School, Alma Cohen and Crystal S. Yang. They examined the sentencing practices of about 1,400 federal trial judges over more than 15 years, relying on information from the Federal Judicial Center, the United States Sentencing Commission and the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

Douglas A. Berman, an authority on sentencing law at Ohio State University, said the study contained “amazing new empirical research.”

“It’s an extraordinarily important contribution to our statistical understanding of sentencing decision making in federal courts over the last two decades,” he said.

It has long been known that there is an overall racial sentencing gap, with judges of all political affiliations meting out longer sentences to black offenders. The new study confirmed this, finding that black defendants are sentenced to 4.8 months more than similar offenders of other races.

It was also well known, and perhaps not terribly surprising, that Republican appointees are tougher on crime over all, imposing sentences an average of 2.4 months longer than Democratic appointees.

But the study’s findings on how judges’ partisan affiliations affected the racial and gender gaps were new and startling.

“The racial gap by political affiliation is three months, approximately 65 percent of the baseline racial sentence gap,” the authors wrote. “We also find that Republican-appointed judges give female defendants two months less in prison than similar male defendants compared to Democratic-appointed judges, 17 percent of the baseline gender sentence gap.”

The two kinds of gaps appear to have slightly different explanations. “We find evidence that gender disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by violent offenses and drug offenses,” the study said. “We also find that racial disparities by political affiliation are largely driven by drug offenses.”

The authors of the study sounded a note of caution. “The precise reasons why these disparities by political affiliation exist remain unknown and we caution that our results cannot speak to whether the sentences imposed by Republican- or Democratic-appointed judges are warranted or ‘right,’” the authors wrote. “Our results, however, do suggest that Republican- and Democratic-appointed judges treat defendants differently on the basis of their race and gender given that we observe robust disparities despite the random assignment of cases to judges within the same court.”

The study is studded with fascinating tidbits. Black judges treat male and female offenders more equally than white judges do. Black judges appointed by Republicans treat black offenders more leniently than do other Republican appointees.

More experienced judges are less apt to treat black and female defendants differently. Judges in states with higher levels of racism, as measured by popular support for laws against interracial marriage, are more likely to treat black defendants more harshly than white ones.

The Trump administration has been quite successful in stocking the federal bench with its appointees, and by some estimates the share of Republican appointees on the federal district courts could rise to 50 percent in 2020, from 34 percent in early 2017.

The study said these trends were likely to widen the sentencing gaps.

“Our estimates suggest that a 10 percentage point increase in the share of Republican-appointed judges in each court would increase the racial sentencing gap by approximately 5 percent and the gender sentencing gap by roughly 2 percent,” the authors wrote. “During an average four-year term, a Republican president has the potential to alter the partisan composition of the district courts by over 15 percentage points, potentially increasing the racial and gender sentencing gap by 7.5 and 3 percent, respectively.”

There are a couple of reasons to question that prediction. The Trump administration has been more energetic in appointing appeals court judges than trial judges. And in recent years many conservatives have started to shift positions on sentencing policy. The very scope of the study, which considered sentences imposed from 1999 to 2015, could mask trends in the later years.

Supreme Court justices like to say that partisan affiliation plays no role in judicial decision making.

“There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, said at his confirmation hearing last year. “We just have judges in this country.”

Political scientists have disagreed, finding that Republican appointees are markedly more likely to vote in a conservative direction than Democratic ones. Senate Republicans, by refusing to hold hearings for Judge Merrick B. Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, seemed to agree.

So has Mr. Trump. “We need more Republicans in 2018 and must ALWAYS hold the Supreme Court!” he tweeted in March.

But judicial ideology is one thing. The race and gender gaps identified by the new study present a different and difficult set of questions.

Professor Berman said the study should prompt both research and reflection. “It only begins a conversation,” he said, “about what sets of factors really influence judges at sentencing in modern times.”

Follow Adam Liptak on Twitter: @adamliptak.

Source: New York Times – published May 28, 2018; retrieved June 26, 2018 from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/us/politics/black-defendants-women-prison-terms-study.html

This article alludes to a stereotype; one where women are sentenced lighter, but Blacks harsher. This stereotype transcends the entire history of the United States … right up to this day. The more things change, the more they remain the same!

This commentary continues the series on Time to Go, considering the reality for life of the Caribbean’s Black-and-Brown population in the US. This entry is Number 10 in this series from the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean which started in September 2016 with the first 6 issues. Now, this revisit, this commentary, examines a disturbing trend with the sentences of federal court judges; these ones are appointed by the President of the United States. Needless to say, Presidents appoint judges that reflect and respect their values – it’s a natural expectation that they would have the same (virtual) association. So “we” can tell a lot about federal judges, just by knowing which President appointed them.

These were the 2016 submissions in this series:

  1. Time to Go: Spot-on for Protest
  2. Time to Go: No Respect for our Hair
  3. Time to Go: Logic of Senior Immigration
  4. Time to Go: Marginalizing Our Vote
  5. Time to Go: American Vices; Don’t Follow
  6. Time to Go: Public Schools for Black-and-Brown

Now, we consider these 5 new entries along that same theme:

  1. Time to Go: Windrush – 70th Anniversary
  2. Time to Go: Mandatory Guns – Say it Ain’t So
  3. Time to Go: Racist History of Loitering
  4. Time to Go: Blacks Get Longer Sentences From ‘Republican’ Judges
  5. Time to Go: States must have Population Increases

All of these commentaries relate to Caribbean people and their disposition in foreign lands – in this case in the US – and why they need to Go Back Home. Surely, it is obvious and evident that institutional racism is “Alive & Well” in the US. We can and must do better at home. The Go Lean book – available to download for free – serves as a roadmap for the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) to assuage the societal defects in this region. It is “out of scope” for our movement to fix America; our efforts to reform and transform is limited to the Caribbean.

‘Republican’ Judges???

This is as opposed to Democratic Judges! Yes, this is a reference to specific political parties in the US. Yet, we are not making these assessments with any political leaning. Rather, this movement behind the Go Lean book and blogs, the SFE Foundation, is an apolitical organization with no favoritism for one political party over the other. In fact, the first 6 commentaries in this Time to Go series were published during the presidential administration of Barack Obama, a Democrat.

The subject of Optimized Criminal Justice is a failing for all previous presidential administrations – though Blacks lean more to the Democrats – see/listen to the AUDIO-Podcast in the Appendix below. This is a familiar theme for this Go Lean commentary. This movement have consistently related the lack of respect for those in America fitting the Black-and-Brown description; consider these prior submissions:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=14627 Cop-on-Black Shootings – In America’s DNA
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=14413 Repairing the Breach: Hurt People Hurt People
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8202 Lessons Learned from American Dysfunctional Minority Relations
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8200 Climate of Hate for American Minorities
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=7221 Street naming for Martin Luther King unveils the real America
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=5527 American Defects: Racism – Is It Over?
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4863 Video of Police Shooting: Worth a Million Words
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=4447 Probe of Ferguson, Missouri shows cops & court bias
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=546 Book Review – ‘The Divide’ – Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=341 Hypocritical US slams Caribbean human rights practices

It is a dangerous proposition to be Black in America. This is why this movement consistently urges the Black-and-Brown of the Caribbean to Stay Home! In fact, The Bahamas urged its majority Black population (and the young men) to exercise extreme caution when traveling to the US and dealing with police authorities. There is no doubt that the America of Old – would have been no place for Caribbean people to seek refuge. But now we are asserting that the disposition is still the same:

  • Our Black-and-Brown Diaspora should plan to repatriate back to the Caribbean
  • While our young people, in the homeland, should plan to prosper where planted rather than setting their sights on American shores.

Despite the fact that this society – modern America – is still no place for Black-and-Brown Caribbean people to seek refuge, all 30 member-states of the region continue to suffer from an abominable brain drain rate – one report proclaims 70 percent – in which so many Caribbean citizens have emigrated to the US (and other places). We must resist this bad trend! How?!

  • Good messaging
  • Heavy-lifting to reform and transform the societal engines

The Go Lean book identifies the reasons why people abandon their homeland as “push and pull”. While the “push” refers to the societal defects that people take refuge from, the “pull” is mostly due to messaging. Our people perceive that the US is better for them, and that landing in the US is the panacea – cure-all – for all societal short-comings. Good messaging will mitigate that trend. Yet, still, we must do the hard work for fixing our society.

The Go Lean book asserts that it is easier for the Black-and-Brown populations in the Caribbean to prosper where planted in the Caribbean, rather than in the United States. Plus, we need these people’s help to reform and transform our society. We need some to lead, and some just to follow. We need some to produce, and some just to consume. We need growth! So abandonment is counter-productive.

This is the quest of the Go Lean/CU roadmap. The book presents 370 pages of instructions for how to reform and transform our Caribbean member-states. It stresses the key community ethos that needs to be adopted, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies necessary to optimize the societal engines in a community. The CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives for optimizing our societal engines:

As related in this blog series, it is Time to Go! We have a better chance of optimizing our society in the Caribbean for our Black-and-Brown majority populations than the US will do for our people; we can actually be better than America. Just look, their distinguished judges are still adjudicating like its 1868, and not 2018. America has gone “2 steps forward and 1 step backwards”.

Now is the Time to Go and now is the time to lean-in to this Go Lean/CU roadmap. This quest is conceivable, believable and achievable. Yes, we can … reform and transform our society. We can make our homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


AUDIO Podcast – Why Did Black Voters Flee The Republican Party In The 1960s? – https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/07/14/331298996/why-did-black-voters-flee-the-republican-party-in-the-1960s

Posted July 14, 2014 – If you’d walked into a gathering of older black folks 100 years ago, you’d have found that most of them would have been Republican.

Wait… what?

Yep. Republican. Party of Lincoln. Party of the Emancipation. Party that pushed not only black votes but black politicians during that post-bellum period known as Reconstruction.

Today, it’s almost the exact opposite. That migration of black voters away from the GOP reached its last phase 50 years ago this week.

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