Dave Killion — July 10, 2012
A. Barton Hinkle wants to remind us that justice is harder to come by when you’re not a attractive, youthful, caucasian female -
“Not many have heard about Amilkar Figeroa. The 26-year-old was shot and killed in South Richmond in 2009. A year later – the last time it got any coverage – the case remained unsolved. Ditto for Levon Alford andJomond Lightfoot, two other open-case homicide victims in Richmond. And Ashraf Alatiyat, who was killed during a robbery at the Come and Go Food Market he owned on Jeff Davis Highway. During the past five years Richmond alone has racked up 31 unsolved homicides of black men and women. When was the last time you saw one of them on TV?
We hear a lot about the disparate treatment of minorities in the criminal-justice system. Young blacks are arrested for drug crimes 10 times more often than whites, even though five times more whites than blacks use drugs. But there is also widely disparate treatment of minorities in non-judicial realm as well.”
“This is not a new or original insight. There is even a name for the phenomenon: Missing White Woman Syndrome (MWWS). “
The article suggests some reasons why pretty young white female victims get all the attention, but I want to point out that the damage created by the phenomenon is greatly exacerbated by the type of legal system we have. Currently, when police must choose between expending resources on a low-profile case or a high-profile case, they will get more positive publicity and bigger budgets if they solve the latter. However, in a system where the expense of pursuit, trial, and incarceration are borne by the convicted, the pay day for solving the slaying of a black or hispanic woman is likely to be equal to that of a white woman’s. Private detectives would be lining up to take on cases even where the victim cannot be identified! Until that happy day, I’m afraid we are stuck with a system where too many minorities disappear, and perpetrators can get away with murder.
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