Miami, FL (Law Firm Newswire) January 17, 2017 - A major investigation by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune on the sentences handed down by Florida criminal judges shows disparities in those sentences between black defendants and whites.
Miami criminal defense attorney Jordan Redavid said the report is revealing, but not surprising.
“I saw it myself in my time as a public defender,” Redavid said. “Minorities are treated differently. They’re arrested, charged, and convicted at rates disproportionate to their crimes. Same with low-income people. This report is important for people to see. This should be a real eye-opener to the general public.”
Reporters at the Herald-Tribune conducted a year-long review of two state databases including tens of thousands of criminal proceedings and interviewed more than 100 legal experts. They also built a database to compare the sentences handed down by individual Florida criminal judges. A study of this scope and detail is a first, the newspaper claims.
The report shows that even though Florida judges issue sentences based on a points system intended to ensure equitable punishment across counties and demographic groups, discrimination remains. Blacks spend a significantly longer time behind bars than whites for crimes that earn the same number of points. This holds true statewide and county-by-county. Moreover, sentence lengths are far from uniform across the state.
The greatest racial disparities of all are in drug cases. In virtually all Florida counties, blacks are sentenced to more time in jail for felony drug possession than whites. In nearly half the counties, blacks spend more than twice as long behind bars even though their crimes and backgrounds are similar.
For his part, Jordan Redavid said that the Herald-Tribune’s investigation has only strengthened his resolve and commitment to ensure that each and every one of his client’s get justice irrespective of race or socio-economic status.
“People much wiser than me made sure that lady justice was blindfolded, and with good reason,” he said. “Justice should not see color, race, or anything else. Only the evidence.”
Redavid Law, PLLC
55 SE 6 Street Suite 205
Miami, FL 33131
Phone: (305) 938-9939
Redavid Law Blog