Racism in Criminal Justice System

Scott Woods once said, The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease.

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It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So, while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you must keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything. There is no secret that there is a problem with racism in America today. The numbers by themselves are disheartening: People of color in the United States continue to struggle at levels different from Whites in the 21st century and must learn to survive in divergent social worlds (Peterson &Krivo, 2012). From white privilege, to cops racial profiling and assuming someone is guilty just by their looks, there has been a racial division between certain races.

A place where race is currently a big issue is the criminal justice system. Lately, cops have been getting a lot of heat for their actions particularly for killing unarmed black citizens on video and giving people of color unfair treatment as they go to court. One example of this is when a white person, and a black person commit a crime of the same degree but get vastly different punishments in terms of prison time. In 2014 The University of Michigan Law School did a study and found that prosecutors’ initial charging conclusions were a main driver of racial discrepancies in sentencing: All else held equivalent, black arrestees were 75 percent more probable to face a charge with an obligatory minimum sentence than white arrestees even if it was for the same crime. (“Marijuana Arrests by the Numbers,” 2018) There are many causes and consequences as to how the criminal justice system handles these sorts of things. We can only hope that the criminal justice system and America as a whole can find a way to reduce the way we all look at each other and have true equality as a country. The country that claims to be the land of equal opportunity is anything but that. Inequality can come in the form of a vast sum of things. One form of inequality comes from the criminal justice system. There is a trend going on that blacks are taken into custody and go to jail more than white people. One reason I believe that blacks go to jail more than white people is because the police will sometimes go off statistics rather than giving a person a chance to explain themselves. According to the US Department of Justice, a typical looking criminal is a black guy that looks as though he has low income. Statistically speaking, African Americans have a lower income than Caucasian Americans in America. Maybe the man has a hoodie and baggy jeans, or a tank top. This black man could have just gone to the store in comfortable clothes to get soup for his child, but because he looks like a criminal, they take him into custody. It was also stated that one-third of black men were either in jail, on probation, or on parole, so if an officer, with already a sour view of black men because of his upbringing sees a black man on the street looking guilty or suspicious, he is more than likely going to question him and or arrest him.

I believe black people go to jail more often than white people and social inequality continues in the system is because as stated before, statistically black people are not as financially stable as white people. Statistically speaking, the less money you have, the more prone to trouble you are. 2014, 44% of African American families earned more than 50,000 a year. With that said, African American families earn just 56% as much as white families. When a person is arrested, they get the chance to either buy their own lawyer if they have the money or get a lawyer from the system if they cannot afford one. When the less fortunate suspects receive a lawyer from the system, they are more likely to lose, because the lawyer is getting paid by the system, and not by the person. Also, this lawyer is more than likely young and inexperienced. If one is a firm believer of the rich get richer while the poor stay poor, that doesn’t spell good news for our fellow Americans. That statement basically means that the poor people will remain poor because of the situation they are in. It is difficult to escape from poverty when your family has a sad history of it. When one grows up in a poor household, he or she is most likely to live life just as their parents did. This is because the parents do not have the money and resources to send their children off to colleges. For the country, almost 30 percent of economically disadvantaged children do not graduate from high school. For the 50 largest U.S. cities, where poverty rates are high, public schools graduate just half of all students (U.S. Department of Education, 2015). Poverty is mostly generational. If a child has parents who simply cannot afford a good education, then that child will more that likely fall into the same pattern of poverty. As many know, it is not always the fault of the suspect to be arrested and detained. The suspect/victim could simply be walking to the store with his or her friends, and just because he or she is a certain color, they could potentially be called into question. The criminal system tends to be flawed in many ways. Some of these flaws are blatant and lead to people being afraid in their heart instead of having peace that police are supposed to represent. I know a man that said that when he gets pulled over, he doesn’t know whether he’d get shot or go to jail just because he’s black. This is not the vibe police should be putting out. Police are meant to be protectors of the people, not bullies. They are supposed to be the ones who make citizens feel safe when they are around, not tense.

The mainstream understanding of criminal justice is that criminal justice picks up the most dangerous individuals in society. That it targets attention on the criminals and protects victims. That it prevents crime from taking place and makessociety safer. This is wrong on all accounts. The US scholar Jeffrey Reiman, in his 2004 book The Rich Get Richer and Poor Get Prison, has described criminal justice as a ‘carnival mirror’, reflecting a deceptive picture of reality If criminal justice really gives us a carnival mirror image of ‘crime’ we are doubly deceived. First, we are led to believe that the criminal justice system is protecting us against the gravest threats to our well-being when in fact the system is protecting us against only some threats and not necessarily the gravest ones. Were deceived about how much protection we are receiving and thus left vulnerable. The second deception is just the other side of this one. If people believe that the carnival mirror is a true mirror that is they believe the criminal justice system simply reacts to the gravest threats to their well-being they come to believe that whatever is the target of the criminal justice system must be the greatest threat to their well-being.(Rebecca, Roberts, Lately the police have been under fire. A lot of cops have been seen on video or have audio of them being unfair and harsh toward the people, specifically black people. These mistakes are put on the news and on social media and give off the image that all cops are like this. I do not believe all cops are bad, but I do believe some are corrupt and even racist. The racist cops are slowly getting found out, and they make these mistakes and are put on video, they have many consequences to face. One cop was charged for manslaughter when Guyger (Officer), 30, said she shot and killed Jean (Black Man), 26, after she thought she was entering her own apartment, not realizing she was on the wrong floor of her building, police have said. The shooting took place September 6. I am not saying this was a racist act, but it possibly could have been. She walked into an apartment and killed the man in his apartment thinking it was hers without seeing if he was armed or anything. She has been relieved of her duty and charged with manslaughter. More times than not I believe, this is not the case. Many officers get away with acts of racial profiling and beating up or killing unarmed black people. Just look at the news or social media, it happens every day.

One of the ways I think we can fix this as a country is thorough background checks and stricter police academy standards. Too often these days, these corrupt police officers are slipping through the cracks of the police academy and making it to the operational side. With new standards and background checks though, this will not happen as much. When the screening methods get fixed, and they hire officers with good character, that’s when a change will come about. In conclusion, the criminal justice system is flawed. Racial inequality in criminal justice has been a longstanding challenge for policymakers. Despite constitutional and statutory protections for equality under the law, criminal processing of racial minorities is marred by problems of disparity and discrimination (Mauer, 1999; Tonry, 1995; Western, 2006). Some of the reason it is flawed is because some people are just blind to their own racism. If a person thinks that a group of black teens hanging around a corner store is suspicious, while thinking a group of white teens doing the same thing is just them hanging out, then they are racist. No black man should fear walking or driving down the street. No man should ever fear being shot in his apartment. The reason many black men fear they are going to get shot is because of stories like the ones stated above. I believe that until racism is discussed thoroughly in the criminal justice system at the entry level, we will continue to have these problems.

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