These few words are a brief synopsis of my firm’s approach to every criminal defense case I take on.
My criminal defense practice includes people from many races and backgrounds, and my firm’s 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 I believe prosecutors, judges and juries should consider them when deciding the fate of most black males.
Poverty and Failing Schools
Poverty and failing schools are additional factors that contribute to the delinquency of young black males. Several studies have proved 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.
Additionally, sociologists argue that failing schools are pipelines that feed America’s prison industrial complex with a disproportionate number of these young men every year. As such, politicians reportedly use failing schools to indicate how many prisons to build in their districts. To better understand this phenomenon, I encourage to you read my book, How Public Schools Fail Black Boys.
Racism is another major factor that contributes to black male delinquency. Based on my experience practicing law, I can tell you this: The criminal justice system is rife with racism. For example, many of the police officers who patrol our streets are racists. Some, dare I say it, even hate young black men. This subculture of discrimination is why racial profiling 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. Racism in courthouses cause black men to be overcharged, convicted, incarcerated and sentenced to death more often than any other group. For an in-depth study on racism in the criminal justice system, I encourage you to read Michelle Alexander’s excellent book, The New Jim Crow. It spells out in graphic and disturbing detail how 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 myself. As 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 are the forces that kept me out of prison, so it would be somewhat hypocritical for me to condemn my clients. Let’s just keep it real.
Before leaving this section, please keep in mind that Jesus identifies His true followers by how they serve the least in society. Specifically, Jesus called prisoners his brothers, and said whenever we help them, we help Him (Matthew 25:31-46). This passage of scriptures compels me to help young black males.
The Call of God
Second, the call of God is perhaps the primary source of my compassion for young black males. Since childhood, I’ve been driven to empower my community. I knew back then my calling was to combat the insidious racism that strangled it. Initially, my method of fulfilling that calling was through black militancy. After surrendering my life to Christ, He switched my method from black militancy to advancing His love and Kingdom.
Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t condone criminal behavior. Some young black men are a real danger to society, and we should incarcerate them. However, most are not dangerous. Instead, our government, their parents, schools, churches and the community at large have failed them. Nonetheless, these young men are valuable, redeemable and salvageable. God made them in His image, and the Founding Fathers endowed them – indeed, all of my clients, no matter the race – with certain Constitutional rights. Hence, all are entitled to fair treatment, zealous representation by a competent lawyer and restoration once they’ve paid their debt to society.