Racism in the US Criminal Justice System

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The attached paper should include the following elements:

  1. Historical information on the issue
  2. Contemporary attempts to address or resolve the issue
  3. Policy or legal implications

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  • Minimum of 15 peer-reviewed articles
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Working Copy 2 ABSTRACT Impact of Race in the US Criminal Justice System The issue of racism and how it has been used in the US criminal has been one that has been simmering for a long time. According to the race-based conflict theory, the race is not significantly significant when it comes to the US criminal justice, but it has been applied in a pervasive and institutionalized premise in the process. Data and other research findings, according to Wilbanks 2007, discrimination in the US criminal justice system by race is not negligible, and this means that there needs to be further focus on different issues that could be affecting the racial question and its impact in the criminal justice system. It has also been argued that contrary to some reports and scholars, there have not been factual and objective findings to show that there is institutionalized bias in the US criminal justice system. It creates a duality, one which is correlational yet contradictory to each other. It is not in dispute that racial discrimination has been observed and documented in some areas and jurisdictions, but not in all areas. With the use of legal controls such as the criminal records of offenders, and the severity of the crime, there are cases which racial differences become pronounced, but in some cases, these differences disappear. The evidence which will be evaluated in this study will show that there has been a misconception on the role and impact of race in the US criminal justice, with some misleading information and exaggeration. Thus, the evidence found in the study will show that race-based conflict theory cannot objectively account for all the decisions made in the criminal justice system. There have been attempts to try and deal with this perspective, and this is mainly through reforming of the police force, which has been deduced as the weak link in the criminal justice. The purpose of the paper is to try and have a 3 perspective on the hypothetical and homogeneous threshold of justice for all people, and how it has been affected by racial disparities. 4 Annotated Bibliography and Outline Haug, N. C. (2012). Race and The Criminal Justice System: A study of racial bias and racial injustice. The paper starts with making an important observation. It mentions that the US has around 5% of the total global population, but it forms about 25% of the global population. It is an anomaly that exceeds further when one realizes that with 12.6% of the US populations, the African Americans form more than half of the incarcerated population in the US. If there is an aspect which needs to be seen from this paradigm is the disproportionate nature of the racial composition of racial makeup in US criminal justice, and the article explores the bigger question, why? Weaver, V. M. (2007). Frontlash: Race and the development of punitive crime policy. Studies in American Political Development, 21(2), 230-265. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://www.ebonterr.com/site_editor/assets/EBONTERR_41.pdf The author creates a correlation between the punitive criminal justice system and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. The argument is that it was the advancement of the interests of the minority groups and not an increase in crime that led to the punitive policies in the criminal justice being developed. It was the agenda of the time and one which has been perpetuated even in contemporary society. The work is important because it supports the role of race in the criminal justice system. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2011, September). Results from the 2010 national survey on drug use and health: Summary of national findings. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/NSDUH/2k10ResultsRev/NSDUHresultsRev2010.pdf 5 It is a survey that shows one important paradigm in the paper; that there does not exist significant discrepancies in the use of drugs among different races. If this is the case, it points to a wider problem in the criminal justice system. The infamous war on drugs, which has been one of the main reasons that have seen an increased rate of incarceration among African Americans is biased and lacks in credibility and objectivity in its justification. Warren, P., Tomaskovic-Devey, D., Smith, W., Zingraff, M., & Mason, M. (2006). Driving while black: Bias processes and racial disparity in police stops. Criminology, 44(3), 709738. Retrieved from the Academic Search Elite database The authors mainly explore the concept of ‘Driving While Black’ in order to try and have a perspective on why there are racial disparities on traffic stops observed in North Carolina in 2000. Interestingly, it is one of the sources that show that the traffic stops are based on the driving behavior of a person, rather than race. It is important because it offers a compatible view on how to understand the whole idea of racism, even from a contradictory view. The Sentencing Project. (2012, May 18). Trends in U.S. corrections. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://www.sentencingproject.org/detail/news.cfm?news_id=1304. It is a document that shows that there is a discrepancy in the sentencing policies which are used in the criminal justice system. The statistics provided indicate that there is an uneven model of giving sentences in the criminal justice system. It supports the overall thesis that there is a structural failure in the sentencing model. Robinson, M. (2000). The construction and reinforcement of myths of race and crime. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 16(2), 133-156. Retrieved from http://ccj.sagepub.com/ 6 Robinson argues that there are three myths which have been associated with race and crime. The main critique which he devotes time to look is the representation of the African Americans as having a high affinity towards crime compared to the whites, and that the criminal justice system treats all races fairly. The report calls that there should be avoidance of unilateral since the reports can be biased since there are documented cases of racial profiling by law enforcement officers. It is a source that will be integral because it shoots any deflection from the bias of the criminal justice system. Amnesty International. (2003). United States of America: Death by discrimination - The continuing role of race in capital cases. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from Amnesty International website http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/046 The main idea of the article is that it indulges the role of race in determining who is liable for the death penalty and capital punishment. Interestingly, the gist of the report is that white victimization is likely to lead to the death penalty compared to the black victimization. It is an area that shows how race plays a role in the criminal justice system. Baker, P. (2010, August 3). Obama signs law narrowing cocaine sentencing disparities. The New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2012, from http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/03/obama-signs-law-narrowingcocainesentencing-disparities/ It is wise to end the bibliography on a reconciliatory note, and this is an article that looks at issues from a need to institute reforms. There have been calls to reevaluate the mandatory punishments which have been imposed on some crimes such as drug possession. The article is important because it offers hope that such policies can be revered, and for the shared good. 7 Historical Issue in Criminal Justice: Racism in the US Criminal Justice System Any legitimate government has a role to ensure that it can prevent and punish any form of crimes which are committed, and this applies even to the US government. However, there is also an obligation that requires that the criminal justice should be beyond reproach and ensure that only the guilty ones are punished. In the US, there has been a popular mantra on ‘being black on crime’ because of the biased approach of the criminal justice system when it comes to matters of crime and the African Americans. From a historical point, there is a need to try and have a comprehensive understanding of how the racial question arose in the US criminal justice system. Upon the elimination of slavery in 1865 in the US, the Southern states, where more than 95% of the African American population lived adapted the criminal justice system as a method of racial control. Ironically, there was the use of ‘black codes’ which were discriminatory that led to the imprisonment of many Africans, and then led to their re-enslavement. It is ranked as one of the points when the criminal justice in the US lost its moral compass and became a tool that could be manipulated to serve the interests of the business class. These leasing convicts for labor practices were perpetuated up to the 20th century. The criminal laws were used to suppress the civil rights activists, who were branded as ‘lawbreakers’ and had to endure incarceration, unlawful arrests, racial profiling, and police brutality. The great victory came with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which effected policies that aimed to eliminate any disposition and impact of racial abuse. It should be noted that the act did not specifically target the criminal justice system, and the impacts of racial bias and inequality continue to manifest themselves. The mass incarceration 8 of African Americans and other minorities “today stands as a legacy of past abuses and continues to limit opportunities in our nation’s most vulnerable communities” (Tonry, 2009). Therefore, the main issue that is being looked at is the impact of race in the US criminal justice system. According to the statistics provided, around 70% of all-American prisoners are nonwhite. It means that there is a problem that goes deeper than the criminal justice system would be willing or able to admit. The leading causes for these numbers have been the mandatory sentencing practices and the overly-hyped war on drugs that mask a broader socio-economic issue. The US Department of Justice has provided statistics to infer that if the current trends on incarceration do not take a dramatic shift, then one out of three African Americans male will end up being incarcerated in their lifetime, and one out of every six Latino men. However, there have been admissions from the American Bar Association that with the strained resources on the criminal justice system, most of the low-income defendants do not receive the highest form of legal guidance required, and most end up being incarcerated. Class disparities account for the probability of non-incarcerated sentences, and these are social issues that the criminal justice cannot address yet are rooted in a nation that grapples with its past on how it treats minorities. The idea is that while the disparities at every juncture of the criminal justice system are indisputable and significant, the causes are complex and require a more in-depth understanding. While at it, the idea of black criminality should be challenged as both false and deceptive and aimed at institutionalizing racism and segregation, that even the criminal justice system becomes a party to such an abomination. 9 Contemporary Issue in Criminal Justice: Issue of Racism in the US Criminal Justice System Our modern criminal justice system is as a result of many changes that the American society has undergone for many years since the inception of The United States. This system consists of primary institutions such as police, courts, prisons, defense lawyers, and prosecution. For many decades, the system has been complicated, controlled and many times termed as such a chaotic entity that many people have questioned mainly on the issues concerning racism. The high rates, at which people of color or non-whites stopped, questioned, injured, cited or arrested by the police is a clear indication that the issue of racism is still high in the United States. This is not something new to Americans especially African Americans since the synonymous of blackness with criminality has been there for many years (Cole Smith, & DeJong, 2018). This paper will be addressing critical historical issues of Racism in the US Criminal Justice System. Racism in the US Criminal Justice System Evidence of racial bias in the United States criminal justice system is not just convincing but overwhelming, where there are different outcomes regarding policing and prosecuting different racial groups. A report on the issue to the United Nations on a study done by the sentencing projects revealed significant racial disparities in all the American aspects of the criminal justice system. The reports identified discrimination against non-white people in the sentencing, parole, policing, pretrial, and post-prison stages of the nation’s justice system. The number of people incarcerated in the United States is high when compared to most of the other countries. Most of the people arrested over drug violations are African American, even though research that was done indicates that drug use rate in America does not differ by ethnicity either race (Hackett, 2018). Highly visible 10 recent incidents of disproportionate, unjustified harassment and violence by police towards black people such as the incident of Michael Brown, Sandra Bland in Texas, Eric Garner in New York, Philando Castile in Minnesota, and Stephon Clark in California elevates the awareness of disparities present in the country criminal Justice system. Racism is not just in the police institution but the entire criminal justice system in the United States where people of color are disadvantaged and faced with an unjust burden, hence continuing to manifest the racism history of United States as well as oppression to non-whites particularly black people (Vera Institute, 2018). Current Data Looks Black Americans in the United States make up about 13 percent of the population, Hispanic 24%, and white 76% (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). Despite this, people of color are the most imprisoned accounting for about 70% of individuals in prison. Although the gap between people of color and whites imprisoned is reducing, issues of racism in criminal justice continue to be a problem. Nearly a three-quarter of the imprisoned individual in United stated 71.4% are African Americans or Latinos, where they make up 37.6 and 33.6% respectively of prison population despite that they make up only 21.3% of the entire American population. While the white’s men, make up just 25% of the federal prison population. Similarly, African Americans face a term of 20 to 50 times longer than white people do. This is an indication that racial profiling is still a big issue in the United States criminal justice system (Pariona, 2018). Trends Research done found that one of the common Racism trends in United States criminal justice is that black people are ones most likely to face arrest by police since they are most stopped, 11 searched, detained pretrial, and most likely charged with the more serious offenses as well as be sentenced harshly when compared to white people. Another trend on this issue is the notion of people of color on crime "black on black crime," where most of the criminal cases are involving victims of the same race, black men shooting on each other. An aspect that raises the racism issue. A third trend leading to the racial disparities in the criminal justice system is living in poor communities. Non-whites especially black people are most likely to be living in these communities raising the factors of both offending facing arrest and imprisoned (Vera Institute, 2018). To conclude, the current state of racism in the United States criminal justice system is undeniable, where a disproportionate number of African Americans are behind bars today. Racial disparities in the domain of criminal justice triggers fear hence the reasons for the well-known stereotypic associations that link black with crime. Black Africans are less treated with respected by police, more searched, arrested and most likely charged of serious crimes. 12 Reference Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2018). The American system of criminal justice. Cengage Learning. Hackett, A. (2018). A Report to the U.N. Reveals Deep Racial Disparities in America's Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/social-justice/a-report-to-the-unreveals-deep-racial-disparities-in-american-criminal-justice-system Pariona, A. (2018). Incarceration Rates By Race, Ethnicity, And Gender in the U.S. Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/incarceration-rates-by-race-ethnicity-and- gender-in-the-u-s.html Tonry, M. (2009). Explanations of American punishment policies: A national history. Punishment & Society, 11(3), 377-394. U.S. Census Bureau. (2018). U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts: UNITED STATES. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US# Vera Institute. (2018). Research Confirms that Entrenched Racism Manifests in Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from https://www.vera.org/newsroom/press-releases/research-confirms-that-entrenchedracism-manifests-in-disparate-treatment-of-black-americans-in-criminal-justice-system Wilbanks, W. (2007). The myth of a racist criminal justice system (p. 120). Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole. Outline ➢ Introduction • Statistics on the racial disparities on incarceration • Thesis statement ➢ History of race and the punitive policies • Abolition of slavery – will mainly focus on the 13th Amendment • The Jim Crow laws and the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement. ➢ War on drugs • The increased incarceration of African Americans due to the war on drugs. • The continued funding on the war on drugs. • Crack v. powder and their sentencing policies. • The inefficiencies of racial profiling ➢ The death penalty • Value of life along racial lines • Correlation to the ancient lynching • Racial disparities on the death penalty, and the victimization ideology. ➢ Implicit and unconscious racism • Stereotypes on black criminality • Definition and its importance ➢ Criminality argument • Mainly focusing on is weaknesses ➢ Conclusion
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Attached.

Racism in the Criminal Justice System- Outline
Thesis Statement: Racism in the criminal justice system has prevailed in the United States
despite efforts to get rid of it and there is an urgent need for more innovative policies to handle it
and stop the systemic discrimination against minorities, especially African American people.
I. Introduction
II. Historical background
III. Contemporary issue
IV. Current data and trends
V. Historical approaches to addressing racism
A. Activism
B. Diversity for justice administrators
VI. Contemporary approaches
A. Decriminalizing drug possession
B. Reentry policy and programming
C. Community approaches
VII.

Policy implications

VIII.

Conclusion


Running head: RACISM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Racism in the Criminal Justice System
Name
Institution

1

RACISM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

2

Racism in the Criminal Justice System
Any legitimate government has a role to ensure that it can prevent and punish any form of
crimes which are committed, and this applies even to the US government. However, there is also
an obligation that requires that the criminal justice should be beyond reproach and ensure that
only the guilty ones are punished. In the US, there has been a popular mantra on ‘being black on
crime’ because of the biased approach of the criminal justice system when it comes to matters of
crime and the African Americans. Racism in the criminal justice system is part of what has come
to be known as systemic racism meaning that racial discrimination is inscribed in the system’s
procedures. Racism in the criminal justice system has prevailed in the United States despite
efforts to get rid of it and there is an urgent need for more innovative policies to handle it and
stop the systemic discrimination against minorities, especially African American people.
Historical Background
Upon the elimination of slavery in 1865 in the US, the Southern states, where more than
95% of the African American population lived adapted the criminal justice system as a method
of racial control. Ironically, there was the use of ‘black codes’ which were discriminatory that
led to the imprisonment of many Africans, and then led to their re-enslavement. It is ranked as
one of the points when the criminal justice in the US lost its moral compass and became a tool
that could be manipulated to serve the interests of the business class. These leasing convicts for
labor practices were perpetuated up to the 20th century. The criminal laws were used to suppress
the civil rights activists, who were branded as ‘lawbreakers’ and had to endure incarceration,
unlawful arrests, racial profiling, and police brutality. The great victory came with the passage of
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which effected policies that aimed to eliminate any disposition and
impact of racial abuse.

RACISM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

3

It should be noted that the act did not specifically target the criminal justice system, and
the impacts of racial bias and inequality continue to manifest themselves. The mass incarceration
of African Americans and other minorities “today stands as a legacy of past abuses and continues
to limit opportunities in our nation’s most vulnerable communities” (Tonry, 2009). Therefore,
the main issue that is being looked at is the impact of race in the US criminal justice system.
According to the statistics provided, around 70% of all-American prisoners are nonwhite. It means that there is a problem that goes deeper than the criminal justice system would be
willing or able to admit. The leading causes for these numbers have been the mandatory
sentencing practices and the overly-hyped war on drugs that mask a broader socio-economic
issue. The US Department of Justice has provided statistics to infer that if the current trends on
incarceration do not take a dramatic shift, then one out of three African Americans male will end
up being incarcerated in their lifetime, and one out of every six Latino men. However, there have
been admissions from the American Bar Association that with the strained resources on the
criminal justice system, most of the low-income defendants do not receive the highest form of
legal guidance required, and most end up being incarcerated. Class disparities account for the
probability of non-incarcerated sentences, and these are social issues that the criminal justice
cannot address yet are rooted in a nation that grapples with its past on how it treats minorities.
The idea is that while the disparities at every juncture of the criminal justice system are
indisputable and significant, the causes are complex and require a more in-depth understanding.
While at it, the idea of black criminality should be challenged as both false and deceptive and
aimed at institutionalizing racism and segregation, that even the criminal justice system becomes
a party to such an abomination.

RACISM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

4

Contemporary Issue in Criminal Justice

Our modern criminal justice system is as a result of many changes that the American
society has undergone for many years since the inception of The United States. This system
consists of primary institutions such as police, courts, prisons, defense lawyers, and prosecution.
For many decades, the system has been complicated, controlled and many times termed as such a
chaotic entity that many people have questioned mainly on the issues concerning racism. The
high rates, at which people of color or non-whites stopped, questioned, injured, cited or arrested
by the police is a clear indication that the issue of racism is still high in the United States. This is
not something new to Americans especially African Americans since the synonymous of
blackness with criminality has been there for many years (Cole Smith, & DeJong, 2018). This
paper will be addressing critical historical issues of racism in the US Criminal Justice System.

Evidence of racial bias in the United States criminal justice system is not just convincing
but overwhelming, where there are different outcomes regarding policing and prosecuting
different racial groups. A report on the issue to the United Nations on a study done by the
sentencing projects revealed significant racial disparities in all the American aspects of the
criminal justice system. The reports identified discrimination against non-white people in the
sentencing, parole, policing, pretrial, and post-prison st...


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