In my criminal defense practice, I represent people from many races and backgrounds, and my commitment to diversity helps me better serve the communities in which I live and work. All races are welcome through my doors.
Let me acknowledge, however, my extraordinary compassion for young black males: They are born into a hostile American system that stacks the deck against them. From the womb to the tomb their lives are deemed cheap and dispensable. Many grow up without the guidance and support of their fathers, and fatherlessness puts them on the road to delinquency. If you visit any prison and take a survey of the black male inmates, the majority will confirm that fatherlessness, more than any other single factor, played a role in their delinquency.
The above factors and those below are not excuses for delinquency, but prosecutors, judges and juries should consider them when deciding the fate of most black males.
POVERTY AND FAILING SCHOOLS
Poverty and failing schools are critical factors that contribute to the delinquency of young black males. Several studies show a direct correlation between poverty and crime for black males. One need only consider the war on drugs in urban communities to understand the impact.
Sociologists argue that failing schools are pipelines that annually dump a disproportionate number of young black men into America’s prison industrial complex. Politicians reportedly use failing schools to indicate how many prisons to build. To better understand this phenomenon, I encourage to you read my book, Education Injustice: How Public Schools Fail African American Males.
Racism is another significant factor that contributes to black male delinquency. Based on my personal experience practicing law, I can tell you this: The criminal justice system is rife with racism.
Many police officers who patrol our streets are racists. Some, dare I say it, even hate young black men. This subculture of discrimination in many police departments is the reason racial profiling, mass incarceration, and police brutality are major issues in urban America.
Further, when young black males and their cases arrive at the courthouse, they are met with more racism and hate from prosecutors and judges – even some criminal defense attorneys. Courthouse racism causes black men to be overcharged, convicted, incarcerated and sentenced to death more often than any other group. For an in-depth study on courthouse racism, read Michelle Alexander’s excellent book, The New Jim Crow. It spells out in graphic and disturbing details how courthouse racism permeates the criminal justice system.
THE GRACE OF GOD
The preceding factors only partly explain my great compassion for young black males in the criminal justice system. There are two more: First, I have not lived a perfect life. I was a rebellious teenager who dropped out of high school in the tenth grade. I was destined for jail – on the same path as many of my clients. The prayers of others and the grace of God kept me out of prison. It would be hypocritical for me to condemn my clients. I’m keeping it real.
Please remember in Scripture that Jesus identifies with prisoners and criminals. He called prisoners his brothers and said we serve Him by helping them (Matthew 25:31-46). As a Christian attorney, this passage of scriptures compels me to help young black males.
THE CALL OF GOD
The last and perhaps greatest factor that explains my compassion for young black males is the call of God on my life. Since childhood, I have known that my calling was to combat the insidious racism that strangles my community. My method of fulfilling that calling initially was through black militancy. After surrendering my life to Christ, however, I switched my approach to advancing God’s love and Kingdom into the African American community. They are the only solutions.
Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t condone criminal behavior. Some young black men are very dangerous and should be incarcerated. However, most are not dangerous but victims of fatherlessness, indifferent churches, poverty, racism, failing schools and so on. They are valuable, redeemable and salvageable with certain Constitutional rights. They deserve fair treatment, zealous representation by a competent lawyer and full restoration once they’ve paid their debt to society.