Houston Forward Times

02 April 2014 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney



If you take a moment and look at many of the recent cases that have made the news, you will find one thing to be a constant; if you aren’t Black and have money, you can get away with anything in this country.

What do I mean by that? African American males make up roughly 7% of the entire U.S. population, yet approximately 46% of our African American males are in prisons nationwide. Of the more than 2.3 million people currently in prison, many of them are Black and are there for nonviolent, first-time or low-level offenses.

Statistically, African Americans get charged and receive felony convictions at a higher rate than any other cultural group in America. According to the 2010 census from the U.S. Census Bureau, Blacks comprised 13.6% of the U.S. population, yet were incarcerated at a rate of 4,347 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents of the same race and gender. Subsequently, White males were incarcerated at the rate of 678 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents.

Every day we see wealthy defendants, who can afford high-priced lawyers, get a slap on the wrist for the same crimes that many Black defendants receive sentences that are lengthy and incomprehensible in many cases.

A young Black male doesn’t have a chance when he gets caught up in the legal system and there is no mercy for him and no chance for rehabilitation, as a substitute for jail time. When it comes to our young Black men, our current system has shown us, time and time again, that there is no fair and equitable justice for them. That’s historically not the case concerning White people in this coteen probation drunk drivinguntry.

Remember earlier this year when Judge Jean Boyd gave Ethan Couch, the 16-year-old young White kid who killed a man, two women and one of their daughters, 10 years of probation for driving drunk with three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system? Oh, did I mention that Couch also stole the alcohol he consumed from the store and ended up paralyzing one of his friends in the process also? Yeah, that happened too, but the bigger question is how did the justice system deal with this out-of-control criminal, who happened to be a White young man?

Yep, you guessed it - the judge punished him by sentencing him to 10 years’ probation (not jail time) and taking his parents up on the offer to pay for treatment at a California rehab facility that costs $450,000-per-year, because the judge bought this lame psychological theory from Couch’s attorney who argued that he suffered from "Affluenza," a condition in which his wealth and privilege kept him from understanding the consequences of his actions. Can you tell me the "first time" anybody Black was able to use this as a defense?

Now, you have a new story, which in my estimation is worse than the judge’s ruling in the Couch case, and this story is completely and utterly despicable.

Back in 2008, Robert Richards IV, an heir to the fortune of the infamous du Pont family, pled guilty to the fourth-degree rape of his 3-year-old daughter. You might be asking yourself why you hadn’t heard much about this situation, and the reason is simple; the mainstream media refused to report the story. The only reason that it did come to light is because Tracy Richards, Robert’s ex-wife, filed a lawsuit on March 18th on behalf of his two children, accusing him of not only raping his daughter, but sexually abusing his son when he was toddler as well.

This is where I got sick to my stomach and where anyone can see how a White person with money and influence gets treated differently in the face of overwhelming evidence, whereas the justice system is so unmerciful and discriminatory to Black people.

According to the lawsuit, Delaware Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden, originally sentenced Richards to eight years in prison, but ended up suspending that punishment in favor of Level II probation and ordered Robert to pay $4,395 to the Delaware Violent Crimes Compensation Board. According to reports, Jurden said in a 2009 ruling that the rich White heir of the du Pont family, "would not fare well" in prison. Can you tell me how often Black people receive this type of understanding and leniency from the courts, for even the simplest of offenses?

As we look at our justice system, there are so many holes and cracks in the system. Black people refuse to stay quiet as they witness the overwhelming evidence of unfairness that exists and disparity that is on blatant display for all to see. The African American community has grown tired and weary of a justice system that has historically been heavy-handed towards them, yet has consistently failed to provide an equal level of support for them.

Black people are tired of seeing their loved ones receive long prison sentences for crack cocaine convictions, while giving significantly more lenient outcomes to Whites who are caught with the powder form of cocaine, pills and other variations of drugs.

Black people are tired of seeing their loved ones’ receive harsher sentences for select crimes, when those who killed Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Emmett Till, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell and Oscar Grant, receive a slap on the wrist.

Can Black people provide the same argument, excuse or reason to avoid being thrown in jail, as Couch and Roberts used? Better yet, will Black people receive the same type of understanding and mercy that Couch and Roberts received from those two judges?

You know the answer to that don’t you? Hell no!

Black people should not be consistently treated as the perfect candidate for a prison sentence, while all White people have to do is be White and wealthy in order to avoid prison altogether.

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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