In the "No s**t, motherf**ker" department, John over at the Legal Reader recently posted an excerpt to an AP story which points out that under California's weapons registration law, the chances you'll get a felony rap is in linear proportion to the amount of milk you need to add to coffee to resemble your skin tone. Black coffee? Felony. Cafe-au-lait? Felony. Just milk? Misdemeanor.
The study of the law was initiated by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, and looked at how the law was applied over the course of 2003. 70% of African-American and Hispanic men arrested under the law were charged with a felony; on the other hand, 60% of Caucasians were only charged with a misdemeanor. The lawmaker who wrote the bill, state Senator Jack Scott [D - Pasadena] said:
...he left in the option of a misdemeanor charge in the event an individual has a good excuse for possessing a weapon not registered to him - for instance, if the weapon is properly registered in the name of a spouse or other close relative.
Scott noted many of those charged with felony possession of an illegal handgun also were charged with other felonies at the same time. "Perhaps more dangerous individuals are charged with a felony," he said.
Is it just us, or is the racism here rather more blatant than latent? Rest assured, the Sacramento chapter of the NAACP is on the case.Photo of San Quentin State Prison from the California Department of Corrections website.