Justices Dispute that Racial Discrimination Plays a Significant Role in Incarceration Rates for Minorities.
The Seattle Times is reporting that Washington State Supreme Court justices Richard Sanders and James Johnson stunned some participants at a recent court meeting when they said African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.
Four-percent of Washington's population is African American. Twenty-percent of the prison population is African American.
Both justices disputed the view held by some that racial discrimination plays a significant role in the disparity.
Johnson also used the term "poverty pimp," an apparent reference to people who purportedly exploit the poor in the legal system, say those who attended the meeting.
Sanders later confirmed his remarks about imprisoned African Americans, saying "certain minority groups" are "disproportionally represented in prison because they have a crime problem."
"That's right," he told TheTimes this week. "I think that's obvious."
Johnson is up for re-election. Sanders was recently re-elected. Johnson explained during the meeting that he had heard the term "poverty pimp" from someone else, Bondon said.
The pejorative label has generally been used to describe individuals who represent the poor for their own gain.
Justice Debra Stephens told the Times she heard Sanders and Johnson make the comments, including Johnson using the words "you all" or "you people" when he stated that African Americans commit crimes in their own communities.
Stephens said she was surprised by the "poverty pimp" remark.
"If that were directed at me, I would have felt accused," Stephens told the Times, adding that she doesn't believe that was Johnson's intent, but instead that he chose an unfortunate phrase.
To read more: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2013226310_justices22m.html