When They See Us Review


The phrase “being at a bad place at a bad time” often becomes a reality for some people. Especially, when you are young and desiring to explore your youthfulness. When They See Us is a series that captures the injustices of the criminal justice system. The Exonerated 5 Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, black teenage boys, with other black teenage boys were accused of “gang” raping a female victim in Central Park (NYC). At the beginning of the case, Korey Wise was never a suspect. He had just happened to be with his friend Yusef Salaam to support him with the situation that recently transpired. The police took him in anyway without probable cause. It was unethical due to prosecutors taking in a teenage who was never a suspect. In Korey’s scene prosecutors manipulated him into confessing to a lie about events that occurred that night- saying if he said it, he could go home from being questioned. Due to the lack of evidence the prosecutors had, they began questioning the boys without their knowing of the right to stay quiet until their parent came and physical, mental, verbal assault. Conditions were unbearable considering these men are guilty and still in jail. Not only was he beat by the inmates, but the officers as well. Power was demonstrated forcefully by the DAs. I often wondered if those sorts of disagreements happened and were allowed in jails. The discriminatory acts of roughing the teenagers up and names like “animals” “gang bangers” were crucial to this case. It explored the various steps of injustices many black and brown people suffer daily. The treatment of the Caucasian DAs upon Korey Wise presented an obvious bias between the cop and himself. The cops viewed him as the “othering”. As if he was out of place for being there in the beginning, and his identity played a vital role. There was constant a master-slave dialect that the DAs desired to pursue. The officials knew they had the authority and aspired to abuse it. Using language and words officials knew the teenager was not familiar with to intimidate him and receive information to build a case. The author wanted the readers to be challenged and inspired in the world, I believe. A lot of times we get caught up in our own lives and forget that there are other real-world experiences occurring where black and brown people are being wrongfully convicted at high rates. It vividly sheds light on the work that still awaits to be accomplished in regard to the judicial system and their approaches to similar positions.

Injustices and biases in the Criminal Justice System regarding Marijuana.

Nicole Leo and Shaye Murray’s Podcast Discussion
Injustices and biases in the Criminal Justice System regarding Marijuana.
08 April, 2020

“Yo is this Racist?”

Nicole: Hello, my name is Nicole.

Shaye: Hello my name is Shaye.Today we’re going to dive into a topic concerning
marijuana and how its over-policing before legalization has claimed the lives of many in the
black community through the justice system.

Nicole: That’s right. Let’s take a look at the numbers. Between 2001 and 2010 there were
over 8 billion arrested for marijuana related charges.To put that in perspective that is one
bust every 37 seconds. But since 2010, the tides have turned with the legalization of
marijuana in many states.So why are there still people jailed for something that is now
legal? And what is more concerning is the racial disparity of those incarcerated.

Shaye: There’s a long history of black men being incarcerated for selling marijuana. It was
a big deal even for small amounts they were caught with. Often times, black men in those
low income communities sold this product to
provide for their families because society would
not give them a chance to succeed in the workforce due to racism and discrimination.

Nicole: Based on studies it shows that marijuana use is about equal between races, specifically between black people and white people. What is alarming is the fact that black people are almost four times as likely to be arrested for possession compared to white people and almost fives times as likely to be charged with a felony. And we are all aware how hard it is for anybody to circulate back into normal society after being charged with a

Shaye: True. Just to share some more statistics put out by the ACLU out of 2,000
marijuana offenders who were federally sentenced, meaning charged with a felony, in 2018,
84% were black. Only 11% were white even though white people reflect 60% of the United
States population and as Nicole just said are just as likely to be using and/or possessing
marijuana. Meanwhile, when arrested, charged and sentenced, black people faced a lot
more time. Not only that but they didn’t have the funds to bail themselves out while waiting
for a trial or in some cases the prosecutors would reject cash bail altogether.

Nicole: Let’s go a little deeper into sentencing received for such charges.The average
sentence for a marijuana charge is 29 months. Let’s put that in perspective.The Stanford
swimmer Brock Turner was sentenced a lousy 6 months for sexually assaulting an
unconscious woman.So while this WHITE MAN actually HARMED another human being he
was sentenced a significantly less amount of time than black man who was caught with
weed in his possession.

Shaye: It’s pretty clear that white counters parts with same marijuana offenses would be
granted lesser harsh consequences often community service or a light sentence.

Nicole: Funny story. Not that I’m proud but I was caught by law enforcement with a little bit
of marijuana one time. I was about 18 or 19 years old and I’m a white woman. The officer asked if it was
mine, I replied “yes” because… it was the truth. I was given a ticket and went home. That’s right, almost like
a traffic ticket. I went to court, did a little class, and *poof* it’s off my record.So why did I get
so lucky? If that isn’t white privilege, I’m not sure what is.

Shaye: Who knew you could just get a ticket? I didn’t know that was a thing. But now that
marijuana is becoming legal, people are starting businesses. Most are white males and the
stigma around it has now decreased because of such. It’s even being considered an
“essential” business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nicole: A good example is Kevin Murphy, a white man, who has made a very lucrative
profit off of marijuana since it’s legalization. USA Today reported that “The top tier of the
legal pot industry is run almost exclusively by white men, and retailers, dispensaries and
pharmacies nationwide are expected to take in nearly $45 billion in revenue by 2024.” So
while hundreds of people of color live behind bars, with some even facing a life sentence
due to the distribution of weed, they get to watch the rich get richer. The crimes that had
once imprisoned them a decade ago, could have potentially put them on the cover of
Forbes today.

Shaye: And yet, black and brown people are still being criminalized. There has been work
toward decriminalization to decrease the systematic injustices but it hasn’t covered all fronts
yet. And I’m worried for the black and brown community because they are treated
differently; They are more neglected in the judicial system when it comes to punishment.

Nicole: This occurrence is America is not only racist, but highlights a major flaw within our
justice system.

Shaye: There is an injustice issue however, over the recent years ideas have changed.
There has been some support and consistent effort to assist incarcerated individuals with
the opportunity to be expunged from a crime that was once illegal, and caused a lot of pain
and controversy. These efforts are crucial to give people another chance for a minor
situation or circumstance. So, what do you think about this situation? Yo, is this racist?

History of Partition between India and Pakistan

1947, August 15th, British India was split into two different independent nation states. It consisted of Hindu majority India and Muslim majority Pakistan. The main vehicle for the Partition was the Indian National Congress with the best-known leaders including Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Before the 1940s, it had long argued for a single state with a strong centre. Unfortunately, other organizations supporting minorities felt their plan seemed sketchy. Because of Hindus taking up 80% of the population, people believed it could protect the political dominance. The situation sparked one the biggest migrations in human history. Tons of people and families traveled, and some did not make it. On the India side, societies that had lived there for years were suddenly fighting each other due to the shocking new reality of local violence. It was a mutual massacre that was unique and new. Additionally, there became “massacres, arson, forced conversions, mass abductions, and savage sexual violence. Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered” (Dalrymple 2015). Many British soldiers and journalists who had experience with the Nazi death camps explained that the partition was worse – including “pregnant women had their breasts cut off and babies hacked out of their bellies; infants were found literally roasted on spits” (Dalrymple 2015). However, there was no comparison in these two distinct events.

By 1948, the journey came to a termination. Ayesha Jalal writes that it was a “defining moment that is neither beginning nor end, partition continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future” (Dalrymple 2015). This shows the suffering of so many people and families who have had to discover ways to understand background due to unforeseen acts by the partition. People are and were strong headed about their beliefs and would fight for that if they felt threatened and by any means necessary. “Many of the people concerned were very deeply attached not just to religious identity, but to territory” (The Conversation 2017). Additionally, both states had difficulty handling the needs and recovering post refugees from what had arisen. By the 1960s families were still migrating. Today, India and Pakistan are still trying to figure solutions out. This was by far one the most devastating times of history for South Asia.


William, Dalrymple. (2015, June 15). The violent legacy of Indian Partition. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/06/29/the-great-divide-books-dalrymple

Pant, Harsh. M. (2016, September 26). Kashmir flare-up puts India under new pressure to deal with Pakistan. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/how-the-partition-of-india-happened-and-why-its-effects-are-still-felt-today-81766

Cash Bail Bond and Mass Incarceration

By Shaye Murray

In my first Diary of Systematic Injustice I discussed an issue of cash bail (anyone who has been arrested and wants to stay out of jail while awaiting trial) and mass incarceration. A community group by the name of Dream Defenders, a Florida based community organization fighting racial injustices in the state began their kickoff event “FREE THE BLOCK” regarding the elimination of cash bail and “nationwide grassroots efforts of inventive, people-powered campaigns that have the direct goal of reducing jail populations, ending the profiteering of caging people, and divesting from a carceral system while investing in systems that fulfill the basic needs of people.” says Maya Ragsdale. Some many spend time in jail for lack of as little as $500 or even $250 (Wykstra 2018). Many low-income individuals specifically Black men are forced to pretrial detention before criminal trial because of the inability to afford cash bond. Black and brown people as well as other low-income families are vulnerable to this policy and often suffer more because of it. The inequality is critical to many homes of African American communities that are torn apart by a system that does not see this community as whole. The criminalization of Black men for minor charges, that are executed differently from their counterparts is a pandemic. Historically, the criminal justice system has always had a track record of often harsh, inhumane, and unacceptable conditions of mass incarceration. African American men are being sentenced and given extreme punishment for minor situations while others are performing greater acts of crime and receiving minimum consequence. Pretrial detention has dramatically negative effects on the outcome of a defendant’s case: those who are held pretrial are four times more likely to be sentenced to prison than defendants released prior to trial. Pretrial detainees are also likely to make hurried decisions to plead guilty to a lower charge to spend less time behind bars rather than chancing a higher charge and longer sentence at trial (Onyekwere 2019).

In class we read Story of my Body by Ortiz, and it reminds me of the prejudice and discrimination not only did Ortiz have to endure every day, but the same acts of unlawfulness and unjust that African American men face daily as well. The color of your skin has a major effect on how individuals will perceive you and act upon who you are. In her story, she was told by Ted that they would not be attending the dance together due to her name being of Spanish descent and his father not approving. He continued to express how he had known Puerto Ricans in the army. He had lived in New York City while studying architecture and had seen how the spies lived. Like rats (Ortiz 441). The excerpt shows the negative thoughts and perspectives regarding low-income and people of color that scour society. When it comes to criminal justice men who are Black, or brown are given more barriers in the system than others. With all the concerns there has been elimination of cash bail in some states in efforts of criminal justice reform. Of course, there is controversy about whether the cash bail should be eliminated or not; however, achievements are being made to reduce the sentencing that Black and brown people have encounters for years.