On Thursday black pastors in Jacksonville, Florida called for an increase in the number of black criminals being sentenced to the death penalty. Why? These pastors believe that increasing penalties for ‘black-on-black’ crime will curb crime in the black community.
“The message has to get out — a strong message that black life does matter, that there is a value attached to it,” Pastor Kenneth Adkins said.
Adkins is disappointed that there aren’t protests, like the ones we witnessed during the Zimmerman trial, when ‘black-on-black’ crimes occur.
“Where is the outrage when it’s black-on-black crime? Adkins told News4Jax. “Where are the marchers, where are folks that are fighting and those that are upset? It should be the same amount of passion from the community standpoint.”
What these black pastors seem unwilling to acknowledge is that what they’re advocating has already been attempted with mandatory minimum sentences. Many in the black community, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, believed that enacting mandatory minimum sentences would reduce black crime. Instead of a drastic drop in black crime, the end result was a mass incarceration epidemic.
The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik aptly described the inspiration behind mandatory minimum sentences:
The mandatory-minimum movement was a way, typical of the fear-and-revenge cycle of the eighties, to prevent those damned liberal judges from letting drug offenders loose. It was a way to short-circuit permissiveness—not to mention decency, common sense, and simple mercy—by insisting that an offense that is no worse, really, than being caught with a Martini in a speakeasy should be met with enough prison time to ruin a life.
And, as has been repeated several times, ‘black-on-black’ crime is about as real as ‘white-on-white’ crime. As Jamelle Bouie rightly pointed out in a piece titled The Trayvon Martin K!lling and the Myth of Black-on-Black Crime:
……from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime—86 percent were killed by white offenders. Indeed, for the large majority of crimes, you’ll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity, or have some prior relationship to each other.