Racism in the American Criminal Justice System

Jul 4, 2019
folder_opencategory: Law

The American criminal justice system bears the responsibility for addressing issues of crimes and justice. It includes processes that aim at minimizing and controlling crimes. It also imposes penalties on those who are involved in committing crimes. In the United States, the criminal justice is exercised at local, state, and federal levels. In addition, law enforcement officers play an important role in the American criminal justice system. They have the responsibility to gather evidence, conduct investigations, arrest the suspects and testify in courts. The courts are also a fundamental component of this system. It includes the prosecutors, attorneys, and the judges who work collectively to meet the objectives of the system. For instance, the prosecutor files the charges against the suspect while the judge presides in the hearing of the case. However, despite the objectives of the American criminal justice system, there are many issues that undermine its effectiveness. On this note, this paper takes a position that racism is a major problem that needs to be corrected because it undermines the effectives of the American criminal justice system.

Racism has influenced the decisions of the police officers about making an arrest. For instance, the population of a particular neighborhood has a significant influence on the decision to be made by the policemen (Rocque, 2011). It is more likely that the police will threaten and use force against suspects in racially mixed and minority areas when making arrests. The numbers of the blacks involved in police shooting of criminal suspects shows the rate of racism. In the emphasis, the blacks are more likely to be shot by the police than the whites (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2011). However, it does not imply that the African Americans are more involved in armed incidents than their white counterparts. On this note, it is clear that racism is a prominent issue in the American criminal justice system that needs to be corrected. It contradicts the objective of providing justice in a fair manner (Clear, Reisig, & Cole, 2012). Next, it is not fair that the blacks continue to be shot by the police considering that the whites may be more involved in armed crimes than the African Americans. Moreover, it is wrong that the racism can influence the decision of law enforcement officers. It shows that this aspect also hinders the ability of the police to conduct comprehensive investigations (Barak, Leighton, & Cotton, 2014).

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The need to correct racism in the American criminal justice system is evident when paying attention to drug-delivery arrests. In this focus, powder cocaine and heroin are delivered by the whites while the majority of the blacks are involved in delivering only one drug: crack cocaine (Walker et al., 2011). However, the majority of suspects arrested for delivering drugs other than crack cocaine are from black communities. The first explanation suggested for this disparity is that the police officers focus more on crack cocaine than other drugs. Secondly, it shows that there is less attention paid to the drug markets that are controlled by the whites (Gabbidon & Greene, 2013). Much of the efforts in the fight against the delivery of drugs are directed on city markets with racial diversity. Based on these findings, racism is a significant flaw in the American criminal justice system. And the failure to correct this problem means that the blacks will continue to be arrested for drug offenses (Clear et al., 2012).

Consequently, the whites who are involved in the delivery of more than one drug will continue to enjoy the profits derived from the illegal business. Furthermore, targeting the drug users rather than elites who are engaged in buying and selling of these drugs is far from rationality (Barak et al., 2014). In the emphasis, most of the drug users are young males from the minority groups. And therefore, when mass arrests are launched, these people will be incarcerated disproportionately. Moreover, the war on drugs will not bear productive effects because the law is enforced more on the users rather than on businessmen who are involved in the illegal business (Clear et al., 2012). The drug lords and cartels will continue to work behind closed doors in suburban neighborhoods more than in the streets. Practically, when drug dealings are taking place openly, the residents are likely to ask for police intervention (Walker et al., 2011).

Racism has a significant effect on the decisions of the judges and prosecutors in relation to releasing the defendant on bail. It has a way to influence the decision to grant bail to offenders on racial basis (Rocque, 2011). For instance, defendants with lower levels of education and income are less likely to get bail. This means that the blacks are more likely to receive more onerous bail terms than the whites. In the emphasis, most of the African Americans come from poor backgrounds and have lower level of education than the whites (Clear et al., 2012). Therefore, when such factors are used to influence the decision on whether or not to grant bails, then the blacks will be facing injustices in a system that is supposed to promote equality. Moreover, even when the white defendants have the same level of education and income as a black defendant, they are more likely to be granted bails (Barak et al., 2014). Therefore, there is a need to move forward to eliminate racism in judicial decisions. Until this issue is corrected, the white defendants will continue to receive better treatment than their black counterparts. Moreover, racism will continue to create room for many stereotypes that are used against the minorities. As a result, the American criminal judicial system will be less reliable and more unfair particularly on the issues of denying bails for non-white defendants (Gabbidon & Greene, 2013).

A wider focus on conviction and sentencing produces similar results that racism is a major problem in the American criminal judicial system. Racial disparities in sentencing arose from the disproportionate representation of minorities in official criminal records (Walker et al., 2011). For instance, an analysis of cases in Los Angeles County showed that cases against the blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be prosecuted that those against the whites. These findings create a need to correct racism in judicial system because it is contradicting the ruling of the Supreme Court that factors such as race and religion should not influence the decision to make prosecutions (Barak et al., 2014). In addition, the failure to correct racism in the judicial system will increase the rate of incarceration for different racial groups. For instance, the number on non-white inmates is likely to increase and not because they are more involved in criminal activities but because they were sentenced on racial basis (Clear et al., 2012).

Racial discrimination is one of the possible reasons for the increase in number of non-white inmates. For example, perceptions of threats from particular communities influence the design of crime control policies (Barak et al., 2014). This explains why the non-whites were sentenced to imprisonment oftener in counties with large minority populations. In other words, the threat from the minority groups is considered to be more dangerous than that from the majorities. However, these are mere representation of racism because it is not always the case that the poor and the underclass are more likely to be a threat to the elites. Therefore, these perceptions call on to the importance of eliminating racism in the administration of justice (Clear et al., 2012). In the essence, targeting offenders with particular lifestyles and in locations that are associated with minorities will continue subjecting the non-whites to unfair treatment in the American criminal judicial system. For instance, the police will be less concerned with crimes that occur within the black communities. However, they will respond proactively when the African Americans commit crimes against the white population (Gabbidon & Greene, 2013).

In conclusion, the American criminal justice system has the mandate to address issues of crimes and justice. It is involved in minimizing and controlling crimes. However, despite the responsibility, there are issues that need to be corrected because they undermine the fairness in the judicial system. Racism is one of the major problems that should be eliminated completely. Firstly, it influences the decision of the police officers when making arrests. They are likely to use force and other threatening tactics when dealing with suspects from the minority groups. Secondly, in the war against drugs, the blacks are more likely to be arrested than the whites although they are less involved in the delivery of more than one drug. Finally, the number of inmates from the minority groups is likely to continue increasing because of racial discrimination. In the emphasis, suspects from the minorities are perceived to be more dangerous and thus they are likely to get longer sentences.

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