(WNY) Among many disturbing US trends in recent decades, the incarceration rate is simply appalling. We jail more black youth than complete college, most often for offenses with no apparent victim – especially drugs. Beginning in the 1980s, we see a sharp rise in the US incarcerated population as the so-called “war on drugs” heats up.
US government statistics on justice paint a damning picture of American society. Almost any claim that the US is fair or equitable is refuted by US Department of Justice statistics. Whether one slices the numbers in terms of ethnicity or socio-economic group, the conclusion one reaches is a justice system that preponderately incarcerates minorities and the poor.
The release of Dr. James Corasanti on April 12 – after serving 8 months in prison for involvement in an incident during 2011 that killed a teenage girl, marks a good time to reflect on justice in WNY. Too often the impression given here by local courts is that demand for revenue determines the outcome in court. Wealthy individuals seem to be able to buy their way out of criminal consequences for even violent crimes, whereas anyone else is subject to the whims of a prison-industrial complex that serves its own petty interests rather than dispensing justice.
Almost everyone you meet here can tell a story about how some wealthy and connected individual is set free by local courts. It is past time for labor and working families to hold elected judges, district attorneys, and sheriffs accountable at the polls for ongoing shenanigans in the justice system here locally.