Is sentencing different if I’m Black?NewUpdated November 15

3. Learn how a judge can use race and culture information

To make a good decision about your , a judge must figure out how responsible you are for the crime. The lower your responsibility, the lower your sentence should be.

Your level of responsibility for the crime might be lower if there were things that you could not control.

For example, if you stole food from a grocery store because you were homeless and hungry, your level of responsibility for the crime is lower. That's because you can't control being homeless or hungry.

How anti-Black racism might affect your level of responsibility

You can't control anti-Black racism. So, the judge can use information about anti-Black racism to decide that you are less responsible for the crime.

You don't get a lower sentence just because you're Black. You must show the judge how you were personally affected by anti-Black racism.

Here are some examples of ways you might do this:

  • You grew up in a neighbourhood where most Black people were poor. This makes you feel that you won't ever have enough money to buy the things you want. This information might help the judge understand why you're charged with theft.
  • You live in a neighbourhood where Black people often feel unsafe. This makes you feel that you need to be ready to defend yourself. Or, it makes you feel that violence is a normal part of life. This information might help the judge understand why you're charged with or carrying a weapon.
  • In your life, you've seen the police treat Black people badly. This makes you feel that you can't trust the police. This information might help the judge understand why you're charged with resisting .
  • You have Black family members or friends who are in jail or who commit crimes. This makes you feel that crime is a normal part of life. This information might help the judge understand why you're charged with multiple crimes.
  • You went to a school where many Black students did not graduate. This made you feel that you did not have many career choices. This information might help the judge understand why you joined a gang and committed crimes.
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