SADO's Statement on Racial Injustice

As public defenders, we regularly witness subtle and express racism at every level of the criminal legal system. From initial contact with police, to prosecutorial charging decisions, to plea “deals”, to the presumption of guilt, to increased punishment, to treatment in confinement, to returning home—the whole system is fraught with racial inequities.  

The statistics are appalling and paint a picture of bias and injustice. According to the Michigan Joint Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, “Black men made up 29% of jail admissions and 6% of the resident population.” In Wayne County, “Black people represented 39% of the county resident population but 70% of those detained in the jail on any given day.” In 2018, people of color made up 46% of Michigan Department of Corrections commitments. According to the definitive comprehensive review of fatal police shootings compiled by the Washington Post, although just 13% of the population, between 2015-2019, black Americans accounted for more than a quarter of police shooting victims and more than one-third of unarmed shooting victims.  

We fight this injustice the best way we know how: in the state and federal court systems and by bringing to light the experiences of our clients, who are disproportionately black and brown. Our thoughts are with George Floyd’s family, the black community, and to all others who have been hurting for a very long time.

June 1, 2020

See June 2020 Letter to Detroit City Council calling for charges to be dropped against those arrested during protests.