It is no secret that the criminal justice system is unequally harsh to people of color than it is for the majority. A situation brewing in Florida displays this disparity and should be very disturbing for Americans of all backgrounds. Last week, Herbert Smith, 23, a young Black man, stood before White magistrate Matthew Destry, presiding judge of the Broward County Clerk of Courts. Smith, was being tried for driving with a suspended license. Further reports detail that Smith was also knocked for tinted windows and possession of weapon by a felon, so he was probably sweating a little because the offenses were violations of his probation. He had racked up previous charges of burglary, grand theft and robbery, according to a Your Black World News report. However, there’s no way he could have foreseen what Destry had in store. The judge handed down a prison sentence of 60 years, a charge that would probably overwhelm even the most hardened criminals.
However, a petition now available on Change.org, is calling for the removal of Judge Destry, due to a history of over-sentencing people of color. The petition, filed by family member Ratonya Dumas of Fort Lauderdale, reads:
On Tuesday November 24, 2015 a young man by the name of Herbert Smith was sentenced to 60yrs in prison for a simple violation of probation due to a drivers license suspension charge, by Judge Matthew Destry of the Broward County Clerk of Courts. This judge has been known for over sentencing people of color I’ve read several articles and several people have spoken about this judge as far as to how they were unfairly treated. We will not sit around and allow these types of injustices to go on we want justice. Minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines are a violation of our constitutional rights it gives the judge the right to lock people away and throw away the key, I’ve seen murderers and rapist get less harsher sentences, This judge is unfair and needs to be removed from the bench because he doesn’t have the best interest for people of color. Please sign this petition if you fully understand why it’s important to stand up against inequality and injustice in the courts.
The petition has 18,907 signatures. 6,093 more are needed to reach the goal of 25,000 supporters. To view the petition and sign, click here.