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Racial disparities in Florida drug crime sentencing

When it comes to drug crimes in Florida, the color of one’s skin may play a factor in the severity of sentence he or she receives. The criminal justice system is designed to prosecute all offenders equally, regardless of their sex, beliefs, creed, gender and skin color. However, the opioid crisis is causing many organizations to evaluate potential causes to develop more effective solutions. One cause involves discrimination.

According to The Herald Tribune, when it comes to drug crimes, “blacks receive longer prison sentences and have access to fewer resources for drug treatment and rehabilitation.” Currently, anyone convicted of drug trafficking receives a mandatory three to five-year minimum incarceration sentence, states FindLaw. Offenders of color often receive sentences that are at the high end of sentencing requirements. 

Not everyone who faces drug charges is a drug dealer, transporter and distributor. Some individuals suffer addiction. They need professional and medical help to overcome their addictions so they can become productive and law-abiding citizens. People who are strung out on drugs and sentenced to prison rarely get professional treatment. Some of the end up behind bars for several years. Once released, they go back to using drugs, get arrested for possession or trafficking and end up right back in the system. It is a vicious cycle that is crippling the country. 

Drug crimes of any nature are serious. When addiction and race are involved, the consequences are often more extreme. Until lawmakers and the criminal justice system implements measure to prevent bias in prosecution and sentencing, alleged offenders of color may continue to face an uphill battle in receiving far trials and sentences.

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