Research Paper on Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  1983 Words
Date:  2022-03-24


Racial discrimination is evident in the United States' Criminal Justice System remarkably through the minorities (mainly African-Americans and Hispanics) being targeted and punished in a more hostile manner than white people. The Criminal Justice System can be said to be nothing more than a race-based institution when one gives the police to trial sentencing a close look. Racism has been noted to occur throughout the whole process in the criminal justice, and this essay will critically define the problem of racial discrimination regarding the U.S criminal justice system and also highlight the aspects and shreds of evidence that prove its existence.

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The aspect of police profiling shows that many African Americans are profiled by the police. Besides, these convicted African-Americans have withstood more abuse from the legal and political system than any other minority group (e.g., Arab-Americans, Latinos) except Native Americans (Coker, 829). Research indicates that Blacks and Hispanics are occasionally stopped by police at an upsetting rate, of course, higher than that of the whites. In cities such as New York, eighty percent of the police stops were made to people of color. Such a figure is relatively large because people of color account for about half of the population there. Out of that percentage, eighty-five percent of the African-Americans are frisked whereas only eight percent of whites are frisked. Studies from the United States' Department of justice show that there is a three-time likelihood of a black being physically searched or patted down compared to whites. Nonetheless, there is an exclusion of statistical data from the reports, and it is found that young drivers from the age of sixteen and older are not included in the statistics.

When it comes to the aspect of trials, whenever an African American is arrested, the question that arises is whether or not they can afford an attorney (Coker, 830). The minorities with a low income are at a disadvantage because of their restricted resources. Most of these minorities have to rely on public defendants who may or may not adequately plan for their case. Also, if these minorities lack a phone, then they shall not be reachable. According to Bryan Stevenson, the time taken by an African-American before the trial takes place is often longer than that taken by the whites. A review of disparities done in the year 1995 indicates that in many times, blacks are detained longer than whites while awaiting trials. Another probing factor is jury selection, which tends to discriminate African-Americans. It is evident that for most of the criminal court cases, a jury comprising of blacks is not chosen to assist in the decision making by the judge. An example is that of Houston County, Alabama, where blacks have a higher probability of being eliminated from the list of the qualified jury than the whites, especially for cases entailing the death penalty. A source says that from 1980 to around 1986, preparation for the selection of the jury to preside over fifteen capital murder trials eliminated ninety percent of the Black Americans who were qualified for jury selection. However, prosecutors defend these actions by claiming that they are only trying to come up with the best jury without any elements of discrimination.

There has also been a disparity in the sentencing of the African-Americans when compared to that of the whites. According to Banks (2017), a study of more than 77,000 federal criminal cases from 1991 to 1994 has shown that when federal prosecutors request a sentence lower than the stipulated minimum for defendants who are sympathetic, they are likely to request lower sentences for black and male defendants than for white males. It is also open to us that the sentencing time is also racially divided, with blacks being sentenced for ten years or more for a crime equal to that of a white, with no chance for paroles either. An example by Hurwitz & Peffley (2005) would be despite the gram-for-gram pharmacological equivalence, crack cocaine users that are caught with one gram, mainly Blacks, will receive the same five year sentence as those caught with one hundred grams of powder cocaine, which are mainly whites. This is a law under the 100:1 provision of the Federal Crack Cocaine Law of 1986 (21U.S.C. 841).

In as much as there are traces of racial discrimination in the court systems, there also lays discrimination imposed by the law enforcers, the police. The police are usually termed as the "hands of the government" because they are the ones who arrest criminals. So, it can be said that they have a significant contribution in determining who gets convicted or not. In most cases, the police tend to assume all African-Americans entirely as being criminals and hence arrest them. It has even gone out of hand for many police officers who go to the extent of taking matters into their own hands. There has been a rise in the death toll of blacks, who are merely civilians killed in encounters with the police. From a statistics report, it is seen that a third of black men in the United States are likely to end up in jail at some point in their lives.

Nonetheless, unarmed black Americans are twice as likely as whites to be killed by police. A record shows that in Chicago, the total number of people shot last year totaled to 2500 with the majority being blacks. It has even gone to a state where special safe passage zones have been set up, so children do not get shot walking to and from school (Sara, 1).

As discussed above on the increased prevalence of racial discrimination in America's criminal justice system, there exist solutions that can be offered to combat the problem. First, American police officers must learn to treat people better without biases. This is among the key ways to alleviate race issues within various states in the U.S. The American government should acknowledge the importance of training the police force as well as the use of body cameras which will go a long way to bring in the solution. The American police force should understand the element of equality among the members of all races. Bryson Stevenson in his video shows the importance of training the police officers to recognize the rights of all the people living in America. He portrays this as the only element of breaking the status quo existing in states relating to racial discrimination. The aspect of the police force overreacting to the blacks at any spot they find them with mistakes should be punishable (Ashley, p4). This also applies to those who take up laws in their hands by shooting and killing the people of a different race once they commit a minor offense in the country.

Fig. 1. Police cadets in training from: Ashley, Smith. "Criminal Justice Education in the Black Lives Matter Era." Law & Contemp. Problems. 79 (2016), p.1.

Besides, there ought to be the involvement of blacks in the jury. This is an aspect of reducing the biases the whites might have in making their decisions in courts. Many at times, the people involved in court jury are the whites. From such instances, the whites are more likely to impose harsh judgments on the blacks. Through the balance, it will reduce how the blacks will perceive the judges' decisions passed in the court and as well the court itself will be forced to understand the importance of black lives matter.

There should be more emphasis on the #BlackLivesMatter campaign which fights against violence and racism targeted towards African-Americans. "BlackLivesMatter is not just about changing policing. It is also pursuing real reform in places like Chicago's South Side, where 40 percent of kids grow up in poverty, gangs run rampant, and violence is nearly all black on black. Here it is easier to get a gun than a job."(Sara, 1). This is a campaign across the many people in the states who are aware of the significance of other people from a different race. In addition to this, the constitution in the United States must be passed to develop a culture of rewarding and acknowledge any police or any American who owns up a mistake once they have made the mistake of the discrimination. This is contrary to what is happening in the United States now especially the politicians who will feel as if they have been weakened and humiliated if they would apologize for any mistake they have done. This is depicted in Bryan Stevenson's video where he acknowledges that there is no such political culture in the US. "We have a political culture with most of our politicians thinking that if they stand up and acknowledge that they made a mistake, and they apologize, that makes them look weak."(Bryan, 15; 12). The aspect of combating racial discrimination comes about people committing themselves against race and apartheid as was done in South Africa.

It is also the responsibility of the American criminal justice system to act responsibly and stop criminalizing the minorities. This should be regarded as a must-practice act primarily in the justice system. However, to affect this aspect, the relevant bodies and commissions should learn to elect officials (judges) who are much conversant of the rights of every individual in the US regardless of the race or color. This will help in reducing the tension that has always been in existence especially when the blacks come in contact with the police or even in court. People in every state must be ready to adopt integration from the people of a diverse world. Also, anyone who commits the offense of blacks' discrimination should be exposed in public and humiliated and also harassed to act as a means of imparting a lesson against the heinous act. This can be effectively done mainly through social media, and hence the fear will be induced on anyone who tries disobeys the lives of the black Americans.

The government must also implement programs in the education sector against racial discrimination. The effect of this education on curbing the prejudices is due in large part to the new social norms that people are exposed to while in school. The aspect of social norms mainly will have to define what is appropriate and also inappropriate strictly and with this, the country will significantly make a turnaround in changing the prejudices and stereotypes regarding color discrimination. It is significant to understand that the discrimination and the prejudice thrive well in the environments where they are perceived to be the cultural norm but will however die when the social norms existing do not give room for it.


Criminal Justice Education

Dr. Ashley Smith is an academic illustrator who has majored in writing of articles. She works at AJE where she assists researchers in the communication of their work. Smith has worked in the field of research for about 12 years. In her writings, she employs her graphic design expertise as well as the scientific knowledge in the formatting of figures which creates a custom illustration to the researchers. Dr. Smith studied her Ph.D. in Pathobiology from the University of Brown before joining AJE. She also received her B.S in criminology from the University of Roger Williams. The article above was published by the Columbus state community college in 2016. The slant of the publication is; "Criminal Justice Education in the Black Lives Matter Era."

In her work, Dr. Smith has not cited the works of the other authors. This could be because she writes her articles directly from her view of things in society. The authors work in the article connects the topic of racial discrimination that has been handled in the paper. Since the work of Dr. Smith is much relevant to my topic, I would use the work in citing the critical points that will boost my essay and give it a meaning regarding the topic under study in the essay. The source is current for the topic...

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