Racism and the U.S. Criminal Justice System
The primary purpose of this report is to explore racism issues in the United States justice system and addressing the solutions to the problem affecting the judicial society. Racism entails social practices that give merits explicitly solely to members of certain racial groups. Racism is attributed to three main aspects such as; personal predisposition, ideologies, and cultural racism, which promotes policies and practices that deepen racial discrimination. Institutional racism is also rife in the US justice system. This entails issues surrounding informal interaction between minority citizens and law enforcement officers. Interactions between the two groups can occur during stopping and questioning citizens, which can involve making an arrest.
The early form of racism in the US judicial system involved African Americans subjection to racism during the slavery period. This followed a pattern of segregation in law and biased court decisions that endorsed open racial discrimination against them. Around the 17th century period, the notion of slaves being inferior people was widely accepted in American society. Courts also enforced laws that subjected African Americans bad treatment such as lynching and physical assault even in the presence of law enforcement officers. Nowadays, there is a diverse black community in the United States each with unique heritage and culture, albeit despite equally leaning racial society, racism still manifests on various front.
Review of the literature
According to Joe R. Feagin’s: ‘Latinos Facing Racism: Discrimination, Resistance and Endurance,’ (2015), Mexicans or Latinos, in general, have also been heavily associated with the contentious issue of immigration. Stereotypes created out of racism have depicted the Latino community in bad light. They are viewed as sly, lazy and kleptomaniac guys. On many occasions, law enforcement officers have collaborated with relevant authorities to hassle the Latino community.
Furthermore, it should be noted that the Latino population in the United States is divergent regarding financial background, privileges, and education background. Therefore, in real life, the issues afflicting the wide Latino immigrants differs significantly. For example, Puerto Ricans are immigrants with least the most significant economic shortcomings. On the other hand, Cuban immigrants have a better educational background and far much better economic fortunes of the group. Nevertheless, the United States judicial system views all the Latino immigrants as well as other black groups as virtually identical.
The people of Alaska and American Indians are the critical groups considered as the indigenous inhabitants of the United States when the history of contact of these groups of communities with the Anglo Americans, injustices such as oppression and land dispossession are noted. Also, these native groups suffer from unbalanced representation in the United States criminal justice system. The trend makes it difficult for the groups to virtual fight for their interest — the states’ incarceration and arrest data concerning these minority groups in scanty and usually biased. This misrepresentation makes the root cause of discrimination whereby the criminal justice system subjects them to socio-economic and educational stereotypes.
When it comes to criminal victimization, African Americans seem to be the most vulnerable to be inappropriately victimized to have committed a violent and heinous crime. When compared to a white American, blacks are at a higher likelihood to be murdered (Reifer, 2017). In addition to that, they are also twice likely to be sexually assaulted including rape and to be robbed.
Despite only making up to 13% of the entire United States population, statistics surprisingly indicate that 48% murder arrests, 54% of robbery incidents, 32% of rape and 32% of assault charges were accounted by the black population (Reifer, 2017). Recent statistics also point out the black community as being 45% of all the people currently incarcerated in state and federal correctional facilities and prisons. The minority American Indians also represent a significant percentage of the people held in state and federal prisons.
According to Joe & Jose, (2018), racial prejudice was observed in the criminal justice system of the United States. Law enforcement officers were noted to treat minorities with racial bias and at smoothly applies excessive force as compared to the dominant groups. Also, according to the review of radio transmission, some officers were guilty of using racial remarks regarding suspects or their possessions such as cars. Discriminatory treatment was also observed in the minority-dominated neighborhoods. African Americans and Latino groups were detained, verbally harassed and subjected to humiliating tactics. In addition to that, officers from the minority groups were also treated discriminately and exposed to racial comments and offensive slurs.
In a different commission of inquiry in the state of New York, shocking revelations were made. It was established that there existed virtually two different court systems to serve majority of whites and the other for the poor black population. Therefore, unequal justice was dispensed basing on the race. Court cases for blacks happened in deplorable court precincts were as short as five minutes and had an only white jury. The conclusion was that minority group offenders were more likely to be given longer sentences while white offenders were treated with leniency. Plea bargain, the type, and length of the sentence were strictly administered based on the race of the accused. Various decision-making points should be undertaken by the criminal justice system to correct this vice.
Various initiatives should be developed with the aim of reducing racism in the US criminal system. Some of the methods to achieve these should include:
- The instant reprimand and openly speaking about injustice practice by the public will compel policymakers to pull along.
- The officers should account for deliberate misconduct such as innocent prosecution, destruction of evidence and fabrication of charges.
- Advocating for implementation of less severe sentences. Harsh sentences for non-violent felonies are unnecessary and punitive to the poor and blacks.
- Support for alternative programs to reduce biased arrest against the poor blacks.
- Embracing community policing since police officers accurately will know the criminal status of whom they serve.
- The improvisation of accountability and sound policies in prisons.
- Abolishing the death sentence.
Anticipated Results and Discussion
Based on the above recommendations, with proper implementation, various results can be achieved and go a long way in bringing equality and fairness in the criminal justice system.
Openly speaking about injustice will help advocate for reforms in the judicial system. The public should take a collective stand so that the system can be more and fair and have a more in-depth focus on the safety of the whole public rather than someone’s race (Devon, 2015). Holding the law enforcement officers responsible will make them more accountable and treat all races fairly.
Laws should be enacted to reduce the severity of harsh sentences. In most cases, the black population is given very harsh sentencing out of non-violent offenses. Bills such as the ‘Smarter Sentencing Act,’ should be supported to mitigate the disparity.
Implementing alternative programs instead of arrest should be applied to reduce too many arrests and incarceration. These initiatives will provide alternatives to justice systems since most arrests are skewed against minority groups.
Community policing programs are beneficial since officers within the neighborhood make very informed decisions. For example, the Camden County police in New Jersey has seen a reduction in homicide cases in the city.
From the statistics, the majority of the people convicted are of the black race. Many of the prisoners suffer violent attack by wardens and sexually assaulted. When they finish their term, they become traumatized, hopeless and maladjusted in the society. (James, 2018) Prisons should be secured, and also, any violence or misconduct should be the responsibility of prison administrators.
The capital punishment is obsolete, racist and very costly to carry out. It’s often observed to target the poor blacks, therefore, should be done away with entirely.
Racial discrimination is a volatile issue in the United States criminal justice system that no one has answers for yet. In modern society, researchers have been unable to pin down systematic or intentional discrimination against vulnerable groups. However, it is noted that the trend usually manifests at defined decision-making intervals. Discrimination though mainly informal can be keenly observed in the criminal judicial system.
Therefore, a large group of scholars opines that discrimination is still present in the society and is deeply anchored in prejudged socio-cultural attitude toward the vulnerable ethnicities and groups. This can usually manifest itself in complex and sophisticated ways and avenues that are difficult to decode even with practical strategies of research. Therefore, the criminal justice system has an uphill task of cleaning the public perception that has associated it with the vice since the times of slavery in the United States.
Despite divergent research opinion, the entire population of minority groups has a permanent and conservative belief linking their injustice and discrimination to the criminal justice system of the United States. However, the penal judicial system can still counter the perception and make up for the undoing. First of all, they should ensure that law enforcers and the legal system acts honorably and endeavor to do away with any form of discrimination, bias, and racial segregation from their decision making from the top organs downwards.