Misinterpreting speech could result in convictions

When audio recordings of black suspects are transcribed into text, mistakes are often made about the meaning of language. In cases in Texas and many other states, transcribers have written down statements that don't actually coincide with the language of the original recording. This is particularly common with white transcribers who are responsible for converting speech from black suspects to text. These mistakes can result in criminal convictions and extensive prison sentences for innocent people.

The language used by many black people in America, sometimes referred to as Black English, uses many idioms and codes that are not well understood by the rest of the population. When law enforcement officials bring this issue up in order to improve criminal justice equality, they are often met with confusion and derision. This is because some believe Black English is deficient when the reality is that it's alternative.

The solution to this problem is to hire more transcribers and agents who understand Black English. Even enforcement agents who don't currently understand Black English would only need to learn about 25 grammatical traits to properly interpret the language used throughout the country. Accurate knowledge of this speech among judges, prosecutors and juries would also increase equality.

Defendants who are accused of drug possession or other crimes on the basis of bad transcription or a misunderstanding of their language may be able to get their charges dismissed with help from a lawyer. The right to representation from an attorney is a crucial part of the constitution, and all defendants have this right no matter what the nature of their charges happens to be. It's the responsibility of an attorney to make sure that all evidence, including audio recordings, is obtained lawfully.

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