In Oklahoma County, Ok., black people are four times more likely to be imprisoned for drug crimes, making it 27th in the nation in a list compiled by the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute, the Oklahoman reports. In 2002, 19.5 million Americans admitted to using drugs. During the year about 1.5 million were arrested on drug charges. Of those arrested, only 175,000 were sentenced to prison. More than half those sentenced were black. Franklin Thompson, 25, of Oklahoma City, who is black, was stopped on a traffic violation, and police found 7 grams of crack cocaine, which he said belonged to a passenger. Still, he was sentenced to a 60-year prison term. He cannot be considered for parole until he serves at least 30.
His incarceration will cost the state at least $600,000 before it considers releasing him. Jim Hughes, attorney for Thompson case, says in criminal justice politics are often confused with policy. “It’s kind of a knee-jerk reaction. We, the public, don’t want illegal drugs in our state. But we don’t think it all the way through,” Hughes said. “The legislators all want to appear tough on crime. But they don’t think of all the ramifications. But in the end, all you’ve done is made better criminals out of amateur criminals.”