Cohen Legislation Targets Racial Disparities In Criminal Justice System

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(Memphis) New legislation aimed at addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system was proposed Friday.

The new laws would help identify cases of racial profiling and penalize those responsible for it.

The proposed legislation is announced just days before the MLK holiday by Congressman Steve Cohen.

He's basing the need for it on situations that happen around the country, as well as right here in Memphis.

Cohen said, "Used to be a saying driving while Black."

Representative Steve Cohen says there is a history of racial impropriety around the country and right here in Memphis and Shelby County.

"African Americans and Causians use cocaine and crack and marijuana in the same numbers and yet if you're African American in Shelby County you're seven times more likely to be arrested and convicted," said Cohen.

Cohen is asking US Attorneys to examine racial profiling in their areas and engage their communities to find ways to eliminate it.

A panel of prosecutors, defenders, civil rights, and faith-based leaders would be asked for input.

"Law enforcement officers do a great service and we need them so much but they need to spend their time based on actual probable cause and not racial stereotypes," said Cohen.

"Congressman Cohen is on point in relationship to that," said Rev. Dwight Montgomery, SCLC.

Reverend Dwight Montgomery is one of the leaders of Southern Christian Leadership Council in Memphis. He says problems like racial profiling are prevalent in his neighborhood.

"Not only do you have disparties that are perpetuated by Caucasian officers but in many cases African American offices have done the same thing," said Montgomery.

Montgomery believes new legislation will help but isn't putting the burden solely on government.

"SCLC has this responsible parenting plan. We're going to be calling upon parents through special PTA meetings to talk to the parents get to the young people. Then, we have to have activities that young people enjoy," said Montgomery.

Another piece of legislation proposed by Cohen stops law enforcement from making small drug arrest just to get federal grant money.


  • Hugh G. Rection.

    Black people are more likely to get arrested because they jump in a car and ride around with their dope on them. They are more public about their use of drugs than whites are. A simple traffic stop leads to a drug arrest. That is the cause of the disparity. Not racial profiling. Cohen is a knob polisher for the black leaders in Memphis because without them he would not be reelected!

  • Hugh G. Rection.

    Two of the lead stories today 405 lbs of marijuana found two black males arrested, Black male arrested and charged with murder. A large amount of marijuana found inside the house. Who PROFILED them?

  • toby

    Nearly 11,000 blacks died at the hands of other blacks during the Trayvon trial. I guess that’s racist too huh?

    Sick of blacks trying to blame others for their stupidity and crime…..look in the mirror, there’s the blame.

  • Sandy Varcadipane

    It has ntothing to do with racial profiling. It has to do with who’s commiting the cimes. White people are the minority. Not black anymore. Look at all the surveillance videos. Who do you see. How many white gangs do you see. This is 2014. Nobody owes them anything. They go to the same schools, have the same teachers, etc., A lot of people are having a hard time. Don’t rob, beat up elderly, kill each other, because you think someone owes you something. Get up off you butt and make something of your life. And if your family member has mental problems, don’t blame the police when they get out of control. Get them help. It’s your responsiblilty. It’s your family member.

  • Nonya Bidness

    Family ….. in the black community …… I don’t know what planet you are from but on good old earth there is no such thing.

  • if u knew who i was..u would b shocked!

    EVERYBODY THAT HAS COMMENTED SOUNDS VERY SCARED. IF YOU ARE NOT, YOU SHOULD BE. Listen to yourselves, (i am not agreeing or disagreeing), I just want you to re-read all the comments and see the fright in yourselves. If it is as bad as you say so… have got to be very affraid. If my opinion was as such, I would be. Blacks are scaring the hell out of you.

    • hateliberalcommies

      @if: Telling the truth about this story is NOT being afraid,,just stating the obvious…no fear in the truth here.

  • Hard Truths

    Wow, a bunch of low-information whites with scraped knuckles.

    Racial profiling by police is a REALITY, something that everyone in the legal community know is TRUE.

    The comments above are truly dumb and offensive, and shameful.

    Boy, do I hear banjos!

Comments are closed.