Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System
In this assignment students will select a current social issue impacting criminal justice agencies and recommend specific strategies that criminal justice administrators can implement to effectively addressing the issue. In selecting the topic, the student must prepare a research paper and demonstrate at least one of the listed course learning outcomes. The research paper should be approximately 8-10 pages long with a minimum of six scholarly references, not counting the title and references pages. Scholarly sources should be cited and used to support the recommended strategies. Note: The instructor will run all assignments through the Turnitin plagiarism checking system once they have been submitted.
Sample Answer Guide
Discrimination and prejudice based on race or ethnicity are considered morally wrong, and the principle of equality (Patel & Tyrer, 2012). The principle entails ensuring that those who are equal are being treated in equality, considering their similarities. There is no justification for treating individuals differently just because of their race, and there should be a factual difference that could justify a different kind of treatment (Patel & Tyrer, 2012). Nonetheless, racism is still a challenge in the contemporary world within various institutions. Racism refers to social practices that will confer merits or values to members of particular racial groups solely because of racial factors. Currently, there are three aspects when it comes to racism; personal prejudice, ideological racism that entails culture and biology are utilized in rationalizing and justifying the superior position taken by a dominant culture and finally institutional racism which involves policies and practices within institutions operating in a manner to cause continuous differences.
The criminal justice system has its institutions exhibiting various forms of institutional racism against individuals from minority groups. Numerous cases of institutional racism have been reported entailing biased police practices towards minorities such as the “stop and question” practice or “stop and search” practice. Police officers have found it challenging to give valid reasons why they would suddenly stop an individual from a minority group for questioning or searching purposes. While most of these cases may lead to getting arrested and entering the criminal justice system, most cases will not have proper justifications.
Racial discrimination is considered to have happened due to attitudinal factors that affect policing and other decisions in the criminal justice system. The individuals will have culturally based beliefs and actions against individuals of a particular race hence leading them to insult, roughly treat the individual, and lack civility when dealing with them. For the judicial institutions, the quality and objectivity imposed by a jury listening to a suspect from a minority group will be completely different from the majority racial groups. These incidents and other discretionary incidents thus illustrate a social challenge within the criminal justice system that needs to be eradicated.
This research paper intends to discuss the racial discrimination challenge present within the criminal justice system. An understanding of the severity of this challenge will aid in coming up with appropriate and practical strategies that stakeholders in the criminal justice system could implement to eradicate the problem.
Racial Discrimination within the Criminal Justice System
Within the criminal justice system, racial discrimination will be experienced in policing agencies, criminal prosecutions and trials, judgment, and during their incarceration periods (Racism and Human Rights, n.d). The actions are known to cause extraordinary harm either physically, economically, psychologically, among others on both the individual and their societies. The severity of this harm is that it does have long-lasting consequences for future generations. For instance, the police will target the minority group members through arrests, and disproportionate prosecutions (Racism and Human Rights, n.d). Therefore, this individual could fail to have the police following the due process of law required by the constitution, which they will do when dealing with members of majority racial groups. This action already compromises the provision of proper justice to the case. The individual will then have an unfair trial that causes them a disproportionately unreasonable sentence. This individual suffers discrimination within the correctional facilities that could be manifested through prison violence (Racism and Human Rights, n.d). In case this individual was the breadwinner of a family, it means that the latter gets to struggle harder to provide even the basic needs, such as an education for the young ones. The lack of knowledge will affect young individuals from making the right decisions for their livelihoods. Most of them end up doing crime or will also face racial discrimination within the criminal justice system, and the cycle continues. This creates a generational challenge that will need a solution encompassing the elimination of racial disparity within the criminal justice system.
The United States has the most significant criminal justice system globally. As of 2015, the country had over 6.7 million persons under a particular type of correctional control (The Sentencing Project, 2020). An estimated 2.2 million individuals were incarcerated in either federal, state, or local correctional facilities within the country. The country has the highest incarceration rates on a global scale (The Sentencing Project, 2020). However, these broad characteristics cover-ups the racial disparities within its criminal justice system. The racial gap mainly affects the African Americans as they are more likely to be arrested, more likely to be convicted and more likely to have lengthy prison sentences than white Americans. As of 2001, at least one in every three Black American boys and one in every six Latino boys expected to go to the correctional facility in their lifetimes. These are very high numbers compared to the white American boys as for them, at least one in every seventeen boys expected to go to prison. Notably, racial disparities among women are less substantial than males but are still prevalent and significant.
It ha been stated that the racial disparities in the United States originate from a deeper and more systemic source than just being cases of explicit racial Discrimination (The Sentencing Project, 2020). The United States exhibits two different criminal justice systems; one for the wealthy individuals and another handling the poor and the people of color. The wealthy individuals can easily access robust adversary systems that emphasize the protection of the defendant provided by its defendants. Conversely, the defendants considered poor or belong to minority individuals are treated substantially differently by the same justice system. As illustrated by a former Georgetown Law professor, David Cole, several actors play a substantial role in the distinct treatment. Criminal law has demonstrated being color-blind and class-blind, which worsens the situation (The Sentencing Project, 2020). While the constitution will carefully state that society should protect each individual’s constitutional rights, during its actual implementation, the law enforcement prerogatives have illustrated prevalence over the rights of the poor and minorities. The Supreme Court will indicate that the results of many of these cases are fair but will raise any systemic concerns attached to the prison population, constituting mainly poor individuals and disproportionately the Black community. The criminal justice system has created and perpetuated policies that have allowed the existence of racial disparities. This violates Article 2 and 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that all nations need to ensure their residents are treated equally under the law regardless of race.
According to Kennedy (2019), institutional racism is still a challenge for criminal justice systems across the European Union, leading to a “justice gap.” Citing a report by the European Network Against Racism (E.N.A.R.), the systems have deeply rooted institutional racism, which affects the entire judicial process. This is unfortunate since there has been increasing information indicating a rise in racially-motivated crimes across the region. The U.K.U.K. and France have also seen crimes against Muslims increase, especially during terrorist attacks between 2014 and 2018 (Kennedy, 2019). The justice gap starts from when the police fail to take reports encompassing racial crimes or even believe the individuals who are victims of racially-motivated crimes. The reports indicated that governments and institutions in different countries need to respond to the various racial-motivated crimes by reviewing their practices, policies, and procedures, which put particular groups at a disadvantage.
The Broader Impact of Racial Discrimination within the Criminal Justice Systems
In most racial discrimination cases, the differences in their outcomes are partially explainable using the difference in individual behavior. For instance, in the field of criminal justice, an overrepresentation of non-white individuals across the different stages within the juvenile justice system. Statistics such as self-report data, surveys of victimization, arrest, and conviction indicate that black youths are more likely to commit serious offenses concerning the white individuals (National Research Council, 2004). The disparities in behavior are evidently leading to a public debate that concentrates on individual behavioral decisions compared to the past discriminatory processes. Understandably, the actions of an individual makes them responsible for any outcomes whether it is in the criminal justice system as in the education systems or in the labor markets. However, these actions are not entirely independent occurrences in the broader contexts of either socially or economically. The behaviors illustrated by minority racial groups have arisen from the social and institutional behaviors exhibited in a racially biased society. The behavioral differences will develop over time, depending on the different exposure one gets towards the crime risk factors or reactions to previous events of either discrimination, exclusion, or bias.
Continuous and prolonged negative interactions between the police and minorities could lead to the overrepresentation of the latter groups in the correctional facility. Research would also find that law enforcement officers would respond faster to robberies and aggravated assaults that have been committed by a black offender against a white victim compared to similar crimes that have been done by a white offender against a black victim (National Research Council, 2004). The police would also devote more resources to gather evidence against the black offender towards a white victim case, demonstrating that the African Americans are more likely to be arrested and convicted than the majority white group. The differences in behavior could be attributed to the historical racial discrimination and present racial stratification (National Research Council, 2004).
The exposure to particular risk factors is also a reason for racial disparities. For instance, long-term exposure to risk and negative social interactions will affect individuals’ choices and limit their access to proper opportunities (National Research Council, 2004). Minority racial groups are subjected to various risk factors to crime, such as poverty, poor health care, unemployment, and segregation (Wilson, 2009). The individuals who believe that they have few life opportunities and feel isolated from the contemporary institutions of economics and society have a higher propensity to engage in risky and self-destructive behaviors. The society that supports racial differences actively will also communicate to the members of minority racial that they will not succeed in mainstream society, thus choosing to live alternative lifestyles.
The social isolation of the minority groups will cause patterns of conduct that are not aligned with proper employment histories.. These include high unemployment rates, and lack of satisfaction with the few available employment opportunities that will generate altered norms such as being violent and abuse of substances. The neighborhoods that are considered disadvantaged will have many constituents from minority racial groups treated with official suspicion, leading to cynicism towards the authority while promoting illegal deviant behaviors (National Research Council, 2004). This becomes a cycle of racial discrimination leading to adverse outcomes, especially for minorities.
Strategies to Deal with Racial Discrimination Within the Criminal Justice System
The various findings affirming that the racial disparities within the criminal justice system demonstrate a challenge embedded within the policies and procedures to a whole different culture (Isaac, 2017). Therefore, proper stakeholders need to have a comprehensive and sustainable strategy that can rectify the racial inequalities within the respective institutions and handle the broad systemic issues that have affected the ethnic individuals from accessing the proper institutions of life. The primary strategy needs to be designed in a manner on which the principles of fairness, trust, and shared responsibility are respected (Tonry, 2010). The policy decisions need to be a reflection of the current situation facing the minorities and are active. In this case, the right stakeholders are to explore the intricate effects of racial discrimination, individually, how the public service institutions treat them. Furthermore, the results to be considered include the racially motivated hate crimes and impact on their mental health.
Members of the minority racial groups are more likely to be physically restrained than the majority of white individuals. To this effect, here is a need to develop a human rights framework that will ensure that its regulators and inspectors apply the restraints properly (Isaac, 2017). Different stakeholders get informed of the structure, including the rights of these individuals. This knowledge, together with the penalties for infringing on human rights, should guide the individuals in acting the right way. The lack of ethnic diversity within the different criminal justice systems id highlight must bring in transparent and evidence-based hiring operations (Isaac, 2017). The recruitment process is to increase the percentage of minority groups who will help address the issues affected by the minorities. There is also a need to develop leadership and positive role models. They will inspire en equal treatment of all individuals in society.
Furthermore, innovative interventions, such as “deferred” prosecutions, will give defendants a chance to receive proper justice (Isaac, 2017). Additionally, they get an opportunity for appropriate rehabilitation rather than an immediate plea entry. Local communities and families should be included in the formulation and implementation of policies and procedures to ensure that everyone’s rights are considered in the criminal justice system.
The courts also can bring in a set of policies that propagate “affirmative action” to counter racial Discrimination (Wright, 2018). Affirmative action entails a group of strategies that give particular preference to the minority groups in terms of scarce resources. For instance, a selective admission criteria system will have minorities admitted to specific programs that will instill proper skills. These admissions would ensure that the disadvantaged gain knowledge and skills that could be shared within their communities and prevent them from doing illegal activities. While others may object to affirmative action policies based on “reverse discrimination,” these policies will speed up the positive influence of programs that focus on helping the minority groups (Wright, 2018). Furthermore, the more aware the community is aware of the challenges faced by individuals from minority groups, the better the society will work towards changing the negatives. The community stakeholders will ensure that the hiring procedures, the educational platforms, and even individuals within the criminal justice system should be informed on racial disparities and how to reduce its occurrences.
Racial discrimination has proven to be persistent in criminal justice systems that are dealing with minority racial groups. The leading cause of this challenge is the cultural norms and beliefs that individuals have learned over time and continue to implement. However, these negative issues have broader effects on society economically, socially, and politically. It is prudent that different stakeholders look into the various recommendations to see the challenge eliminated within the systems.
Isaac, D. (2017, September 8). Race inequality in the criminal justice system demands a comprehensive strategy | Equality and Human Rights Commission. Retrieved from https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/our-work/blogs/race-inequality-criminal-justice-system-demands-comprehensive-strategy
Kennedy, R. (2019, September 12). Institutional racism affects much of E.U.E.U. Justice, a new report says. Retrieved from https://www.euronews.com/2019/09/12/institutional-racism-in-the-justice-system-is-prevalent-across-eu-states-says-new-report
Patel, T.G & Tyrer, D. (2012).Chapter 3: Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System. Race, Crime, and Resistance. Retrieved from https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/46946_CH_3.pdf
Racism and Human Rights. (n.d.). Racism and human rights: Racism and the administration of justice. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/legacy/campaigns/race/criminal_justice.htm
The Sentencing Project. (2020, May 19). Report to the United Nations on racial disparities in the U.S. U.S. criminal justice system. Retrieved from https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/un-report-on-racial-disparities/
Tonry, M. (2010). The Social, Psychological, and Political Causes of Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System. Crime and Justice, 39(1), 273-312. doi:10.1086/653045
Wilson, W. J. (2009). More than just race: Being black and poor in the inner city (issues of our time). WW Norton & Company.
Wright, E.O., (2018). CHAPTER 14: RACIAL INEQUALITY. Final Draft, August 2009. Am, American society. Retrieved from https://www.ssc.wisc.edu/~wright/ContemporaryAmericanSociety/Chapter%2014%20–%20Racial%20inequality–Norton%20August.pdf