Is the criminal justice system racially biased? Racial
discrimination has been a very social injustice for most people. One of the
most important American principles is equal treatment. This value is shown in national
documents such as the Declaration of Independence, and the Fourteenth Amendment
to the Constitution which guarantees the right to the “equal protection” (1). However,
most analysts of the criminal justice system believe that this right is
hampered by discretionary decisions and other elements that engenders racial
discrimination.

Throughout the years, crime and
punishment have provided some of the strongest symbols of the racial divide
here in America. For decades’ criminal justice critics have argued and have cited
instances of the racial discrimination is the system. Based on the American
Sociological Association-Department of Research and Development it states: “Although
overt discrimination has diminished in the criminal justice system over recent
decades, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, we continue to grapple
with the perceptions of and the reality of unfairness in our justice system” (2). In other words, over the past fifty years, the system has been
struggling with racial conflicts. For instance, chain-gang
style penal practices, prosecutorial, and judicial racism were common,
particularly in the southern criminal justice systems. Due to these events, Whites and African Americans experience life differently causing
these two races to view the criminal justice system differently.

Furthermore, I do feel that the
criminal justice system is racially biased. According to
Cole, Smith, & DeJong (2015): “In sentencing for federal crimes, African
American male offenders on average received sentences more than 20 percent longer
than white male offenders” (1). Within this, is very obvious that white people
have higher advantages in the system than African Americans. A perfect example
in order to prove that there is racial discrimination in the system would be to
say that two teenagers show up to court in a detention hearing. One of the
teenagers is white and comes from a wealthy family. The other teenager is a not
white and comes from a single-parent family. The affluent mom says, “Your
Honor, I will watch my child, he will never be outside of adult supervision,
and we will have him go to a counselor.” It is more likely that the white
teenager will get away with it. This is one of the reasons why I believe that the
system is not fair and institutional racism is still alive in the criminal
justice system. Further studies state that, “While
some researchers have argued that racial discrimination is pervasive and deeply
rooted throughout the criminal justice system, and others have maintained that
intentional discrimination does not exist, the empirical picture is more
complex. Many researchers have concluded that the social science research
overall shows that racial discrimination does occur in some stages of justice
processing…” (2). These studies show that there
is discrimination in the system and these statistics prove it. This is also a bad
thing for the system as a whole, because it creates the racial disparity. From my point of view, some of the decisions in the judicial
system should be based on evidence to help to prove guilt or prior criminal
record of the defendant and these decisions should not be made based on color
or race.

Although some people believe
that the criminal justice system is racially biased, there are others that
think the opposite. Other’s believe and feel that this type of discrimination
does not exist in the system. Most of them argue that that
crime is activity common to all classes and that decisions throughout the
justice system are based on the amount of evidence collected from the crime. It is true, all classes commit crime but I am not fully convinced by the other sides, I believe that this
system is racially biased. Now days, white individuals are over privileged in
this country compared to other races. Being stopped by police for no apparent reason is
unfortunately a common complaint among people of color. As stated by Cole, Smith, & DeJong
(2015): “Many young men, in particular, can describe multiple incidents when
they were followed by officers, temporarily taken into custody, forced by
police to hand over money and property, or subjected to physical force for no
reason (1). This does make sense because in most cases, people who are
arrested for committing a crime are either African Americans or some other race
other than white.

Overall, there is no doubt that
racial discrimination still exists in the U.S. criminal justice system. It is
possible to reduce or prevent the most harmful effects of those biases and
getting there will require time and great political will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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