Ask most people, and they'd say the purpose of a prosecutor is to “punish” or “prosecute” criminals who break the law. But what if I told you that a significant population of prosecutors across the country do not see their role that way. In fact, many prosecutors become numb and desensitized to their underlying duty. The true role of a prosecutor is to seek justice. Justice does not always mean charging people with crimes. In many cases, nonviolent individuals with no record are dragged into the criminal justice system by overzealous prosecutors who have lost the desire to seek justice, driven instead by self-promotion and arrogance.
Experienced criminal defense lawyers are often faced with prosecutors just a year or two out of law school who have the deck stacked in their favor and who have developed a serious ego by not being challenged. The good news is, if you end up facing one of these prosecutors, you probably have a good shot at winning. The key is hiring the right lawyer to fight back. Consider some very real problems in the system.
Are Prosecutors Racist?
Ok. That's a pretty bold statement. Obviously not all prosecutors are racist, but a lot are. Consider some very sobering facts about the American justice system. According to the NAACP, one in three black boys born today can expect to be sentenced to prison in their lifetime. Likewise, the NAACP reports that while only about 5 percent of all drug users in America are black, African Americans account for as much as 29 percent of all drug-related arrests and up to 33 percent of all Americans serving time in prison for drug charges.
So, while individual prosecutors may not be racist, the facts are clear – the system is. And that's a problem.
Prosecutors Treat White Victims Differently
By now, you may be thinking, “but surely most people arrested are at least guilty of something, right?” Well, I would challenge that assumption as well. Another big problem with the justice system in America is how prosecutors treat victims. When a black victim reports a crime, the police and prosecutors are far more likely to treat the crime as a difference of agreement or an interpersonal dispute. Maybe it's treated as a “civil matter.” On the other hand, when a white victim calls the police on a black person, the outcome is almost always more severe.
Consider how ABC News reported on the matter in 2020. One reason why so many white people use the threat of calling the police on innocent black Americans is that they know the police are likely to do something. So, even in situations where children are selling water or harmless black men are walking their dog in a park, many white people in America know that a single call to the police could easily turn the situation into a fatal encounter or an arrest – even in absence of a crime.
St. Clair County, Illinois Racial Incarceration Data
St. Clair County, Illinois is a massive border county of St. Louis. A racially diverse county, African Americans make up just over 30 percent of the population. Areas like East Saint Louis, IL and Belleville, IL are more diverse with people of color making up a much larger percentage of the population, whereas areas like O'Fallon, Mascoutah, and Freeburg tend to have a larger population of white residents.
Although people of color only account for about 30 percent of the county, according to a 2015 nationwide report by Prisonpolicy.org, African Americans were incarcerated at a rate of 2.06 to 1 in St. Clair County, when compared to white residents. Although just 30 percent of the population African Americans are arrested and incarcerated twice as often as their white counterparts.
What to Do If Arrested in St. Clair County, Illinois
If you or someone you care about are arrested, investigated, charged, or in any way forced to encounter the police in St. Clair County, IL, it's not enough to explain yourself. Do not waste your breath trying to ‘reason' with police and prosecutors. The research tends to show that they are programed to see black citizens as criminals. They are not looking for ways to find the truth or do justice; they are looking for a way to turn an otherwise law-abiding citizen into a criminal. This is the sad reality of prosecutors. So many of them – especially those who are assigned to misdemeanor divisions – are focused on creating criminals, not seeking justice.
Young black men with no history of arrest or criminality are often targeted and ‘made an example of' by ambitious young white prosecutors who may not understand the long-range impact of their careless abuse of their power. The only way to fight back and protect your good name is to hire an experienced trial lawyer. The hallmark of justice in this nation is the jury trial system. Often, prosecutors will back down in the face of a diverse jury, or they will offer dismissals or much lower charges in order to avoid being embarrassed at trial. More importantly, if you are innocent, you should never be pressured into admitting guilt.
For a free consultation, call Crossroad Legal today. With more than a decade of experience representing clients throughout Illinois, attorney Jaye R. Lindsay is ready and willing to take cases to trial and force the State of Illinois to prove their case. Our fees are clear and transparent, so you will never have to guess what it costs. Call (618) 515-5555 day or night to learn more.