This section covers two forms of legislation that strongly affect racial minorities: the controversial Stand Your Ground law and the War against Drugs.
Stand Your Ground Law
Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law is, as pictured above, a low that allows an individual to reasonably defend himself to "prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony." The law was passed in 2005. According to the Washington Post, the National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbied significantly for this law, while members of law enforcement opposed it, worrying that the law would encourage the use of deadly force.
Since the passage of the legislation, the number of justifiable homicide cases in Florida and in other "Stand Your Ground" states have tripled, according to Florida Department of Law Enforcement data. The Washington Post reported that five years before the law was passed, Florida prosecutors declared only 12 killings as "justifiable". Five years since the law passed, Florida has declared an average 36 killings as "justifiable" per yer.
Racial Bias in "Stand Your Ground Laws"
Since the Martin case, media outlets have questioned whether or not racial bias comes into play when applying the Stand Your Ground law to cases. John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institutes Justice Policy Center conducted a study using FBI data, which examined racial disparity in 43,500 homicides from 2005 to 2009. Roman looked specifically at killings with a single shooter and a single victim and "justified" homicides.
Roman's study found that killings of Black people by Whites were more likely to be considered justified than the killings of Whites by Blacks. In addition, Roman discovered that in non-Stand Your Ground state, Whites are 250% more likely to be justified in killing a Black person than vice versa; in Stand Your Ground states, that statistic increases to 354%.
Can Black People Use the Stand Your Ground Law?
The following video is about a recent case when an African American woman abused by her husband faces 20 years in prison after she attempted to claim using the Stand Your Ground law.
War Against Drugs
Unfortunately, as this political cartoon suggests, the War on Drugs is not exactly White and Black; instead, it's the primary reason why a massive number of young Black men are incarcerated.
Let's get straight to the facts:
Using US Dept. of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2011, 237,000 prisoners were sentenced in state facilities for illegal drugs. Of this number, 69,000, or 29.3% were White; 105,600, or 44.6% were Black, and 47,800, or 20.2% were Hispanic.
These numbers are alarming, considering African Americans are more likely to be incarcerated for drug related crimes. One study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, determined that Black youth are 10 times more likely to be arrested for drug crimes than their White peers, although Black youth are actually less likely to use drugs than Whites, Native Americans, Hispanics, and people of mixed race!
More shocking facts:
-Drug transactions among Blacks are easier for police to target because they more often happen in public than do drug transactions between Whites.
-Black men are sent to federal prison on drug charges at a rate 57 times greater than White men, according to Human Rights Watch.
-Since 1980, more than 25.4 million Americans have been arrested on drug charges; about one-third of them were Black.
The statistics don't like. This war against drugs disproportionately targets Blacks and the poor across all racial demographics.