Magazine article Black Enterprise

Anti-Crime Bill Bites Down Hard: Some Lawmakers Fear Blacks Will Be Punished More Severely

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Anti-Crime Bill Bites Down Hard: Some Lawmakers Fear Blacks Will Be Punished More Severely

Article excerpt

Congress has voted to take a bite out of crime. But will the sharp teeth in the $28 billion omnibus anti-crime bill--whose details were still being negotiated in a House-Senate committee at BE's press time--protect or harm African-Americans?

The answer may depend upon your ideological stance. The Senate and House bills reflect a national desire to prevent crime and increase criminal punishment by hiring 50,000 to 100,000 new police officers, building new prisons and providing community grants for education and youth activities. In addition, some repeat violent offenders will be required to serve life sentences, and dozens of new federal crimes will be created that stipulate the death penalty.

But, the alleged punitive nature of the last two provisions provokes arguments among law enforcement specialists and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).

No one questions a call for greater personal and property security, but at what price?

Joseph M. Wright, the former executive director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), told a House committee that he supports the crime bill--with reservations. He dislikes the bill's "three strikes and you're out" provision, giving three-time felony offenders life sentences automatically. NOBLE says life sentences should be determined by a crime's seriousness.

The prospect of prisons filled with geriatric petty criminals also bothers National Bar Association President Paulette Brown. …

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