Racism in the Criminal Justice System | My Paper Hub
RACISM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
RACISM IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Racism is when someone treats the other
differently or unfairly because of their color or culture. The individual
treated differently, therefore, can be forced to experience prejudice when the
decision to treat him/her differently when an opinion is made towards him/her
without the reason, knowledge or thought and only by the color of their skin.
Racism takes different forms which include written or verbal insults or threats,
personal attacks which may be violent, damage of one’s property, exclusion from
an activity based on the color of the skin and even making racist jokes. Racism
can affect anyone, and it exists in all cultures and races.
Perry (2007), defines racism as the state
of mind in people that favors the people in the strong side when there is a
disparity of power. In his view, racism has continued to grow even after a long
time and mutate in the society because it is advantageous to those who embrace
the idea. Racism has also been able to spread in people with little power as
they strive to eliminate it. Consequences of racism, in general, have been
found to be overwhelmingly destructive when they take root in society. For
example, historically, in the community where slavery was practiced and the
elite we fewer than the oppressed, the elite lived in fear of a rebellion from
the slaves. A good example is a scenario of the early American south where
slaves out-numbered their owners. The possibility of an uprising was what the
owners dreaded most. Another example is that of South Africa. Fear
characterized apartheid due to the disparity in opposing population where 20%
oppressed 80%. The probability of an uprising that would fight against the
apartheid was very high which put the society in fear and oppression. Both of
this aspects lead to nothing but the destruction of the community.
A more recent example of this is what
happened in April 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin Luther King Jr. and other
civil right leaders started a nonviolent protest to desegregate public
facilities in the city. However, the authorities turned police dogs, and fire
hoses on them and other demonstrators who had joined many of whom were children
from the local schools. As a result, a lot of people were arrested beaten and
injured in the process. The whole campaign and the aftermath were broadcasted
on national and world televisions, allowing the world to see the brutality of
American racism for the first time.
Above is just a touch on how it affects
the racist individuals in the society. It is far much worse and instantaneous
for the individuals on the receiving end, especially when done on an
institutional level. Institutionalized policies that are racist cause
immeasurable suffering when discrimination is in play. Institutional racism is
the unfair treatment that is in most cases perpetrated by government entities
which include schools, military, Hospitals, and the court. Unlike the racism
committed by an individual which may affect a single person or a small group of
people, institutional racism impacts on a whole lot of people from a single
race which may mean that they may not have a fair opportunity to experiences
what the favored race is experiencing and which is against human rights. If the
government did not have a play in racial segregation, the problem in most cases
would not have mutated as individual case racism would not have a considerable
effect on the society as a whole. Other institutions like church play a role in
this (Hayle, Wortley & Tanner, 2016).
When looking at racism in a hospital
setting, many unethical medical experiments have been done to the people of
color without anyone asking questions in the past. Other than this, minorities
in the country still do not receive standard treatment in hospital as compared
to their counterparts. A lot of individuals with South Asian, Arabic, Latin or
African descent find themselves being racially profiled. Racial profiling is
the practice stopping and scrutinizing an individual passing in a public place
like public highways, airports, or pedestrian by a statistical profile of the
individual’s race. With racial profiling, law enforcement can target an
individual as a suspect just because they belong to a particular race. Racial
profiling is another form of institutional racism and can lead to a person
being taken to court that treats him/her the same and as a result incrimination
of something they did not do (Hayle, Wortley & Tanner, 2016). It is for
this reason that this paper will look at the criminal justice system and
understand how it works. With this understanding, it is easy to pinpoint where
institutionalized racism is taking place in the system and know how to deal
with it before it spreads. The paper will ultimately provide a solution to the
problem through utilitarianism system.
criminal justice system
The criminal justice system is divided
into four components which include the police department, the prosecution, the
court and the correction. Each of this components plays a role in making sure
that the country is safe and that criminals are put off the streets. For a
criminal justice process to take place, there has to be an individual who
committed an offense then gets arrested after which he/she is prosecuted,
arraigned in court and then sentence. All this happens within this system.
The police department plays various
roles in the system, but the main is law enforcement. Law enforcement involves
detecting, preventing, investigating crimes and apprehending the individuals
involved in the offense. The work of police officers is done under the guidance
of the statutory requirements and the constitution which requires protection of
the welfare of the citizenry rights. A crime may happen in sight of a police
officer, some may be reported, and it's upon them to investigate how the
offense took place and the perpetrators. Other crimes may go unreported. For
the criminal activities that come to the attention of the police and
investigation is done, the police officers have to hand over the investigation
report and other materials related to the case to the prosecutor. There are
criminal activities that never get to pass this stage where they are handled
in-house. The magnitude of the crime an individual has committed is primarily
determined by the general conduct of the citizenry in the jurisdiction, and
therefore it is upon the police officer to determine if a case is worth
pursuing based on the general behavior of the public ("Corrections and the
Criminal Justice System", n.d.). Due to their training and experience in
the jurisdiction, it is easy to determine this hence the ability to reduce the
number of cases that proceed to the next stage.
The cases worth pursuing follow an
arrest of the suspect. At this point, the suspect has a right to an attorney
and is entitled to seek a release on bail or bond. The bail may be obtained
without the need of a court order depending on the procedures of the
jurisdiction and the crime itself. If this is not the case, the application is
made after the fast court appearance or soon after that. For those cases that
proceed to the prosecution, all the materials for the case are submitted to the
prosecutor. The documents include the complaint made by the victim or the
individual who presented the offense to the police department, evidence
materials, witness statements, a statement by the accused, prior records of the
accused and police recommendation to the prosecutor on the case. It is the
prosecutor’s duty at this point to go through the case and determine if they
will proceed with prosecution or return the case to the police department for
further investigation or just drop the case if it is weak. How the prosecutor
decides to continue with a case at this stage is solely dependent on the
seriousness of the crime and the jurisdiction in which they are operating
("Corrections and the Criminal Justice System", n.d.).
Minor offenses are followed by the
prosecutor filling a criminal charge where the accused is taken before a lower
court usually a magistrate, a justice of the peace or a commissioner to plead
guilty or not guilty. When the charges are filled an individual seizes to be
accused and becomes a defendant in the case of The state of (the name of the
state in which the case is taking place) vs. the defendant (the name of the
accused). For minor offenses, the proceedings are expeditious, and if the
accused is found guilty, they are given small penalties usually fines or
short-term jail terms ("Corrections and the Criminal Justice System",
For more significant offenses, the
process takes time where the crime is considered a felony or a misdemeanor. In
most jurisdictions, misdemeanor offenses carry up to one-year penalties while
penalties are more than a year. Soon after the arrest, an individual is brought
before a lower judicial authority where their right as read, a counsel as
assigned to them if they do not retain an attorney and where the sufficiency of
the charges one is accused of is reviewed. After this, the case is publicly and
formally filed with the court system. The accused is then arraigned in court
wherein the person does not have funds is assigned a counsel. The individual is
then asked to choose whether they want to have a trial by jury or by judge
alone. The court may order a reduction of charges due to insufficient evidence
after it has presented. The defendant’s counsel may also negotiate with the
prosecution for a minimization of the charges or dropping of the case all the
same for a guilty plea or by the strength of the case. The council may also
file a motion challenging various things which may include the arrest or other
police actions or the legality of the prosecution papers and many others
("Corrections and the Criminal Justice System", n.d.).
The court system is where an
individual’s fate is determined. The court proceedings must be conducted per
the constitution. If the defendant pleads guilty, the court has to ensure that
the defendants plead was voluntary and informed. If they plead not guilty, the
court proceeds to trial where if the defendant chose not to have the jury
present, the court determines his/her fate. The defendant may have decided to
have a trial by jury. Therefore, they will listen to the case under the
supervision of the judge. The judge then instructs the jury on the laws that
apply to the case at hand. After hearing of the case, the defendant found not
guilty will be released and the one found guilty is sentenced. Sentencing hence
leads an individual to the correctional system.
The correctional system involves all
those agencies that act upon what has been ordered by the court. They include
the probation authority, jails for the short term sentencing, paroling
authorities, prisons for long-term sentencing and finally agencies that perform
community corrections functions. Sentencing in the country takes various forms
which include paying fines and restitution, probation, community service,
suspended sentencing, serving time in prison, and execution for capital
offenses. Fines and restitution are paid to the judicial office so it could be
in a way be part of the correction system ("Corrections and the Criminal
Justice System", n.d.).
in the Criminal justice system
After looking at the entire criminal
justice system, it is easy to understand how racism even in one of the
components of the whole system can affect an individual. One example of how
this can happen is the case of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black high-school
student who is a victim of racial profiling. George Zimmerman was a
neighborhood watch that fateful night when he spotted Martin walking down the
street after purchasing a soft drink and candy and started following him
despite the police telling him otherwise. The result of the racial profiling
was the death of the boy after Zimmerman shot him. The case was taken to court
but was dismissed because there was no sufficient evidence to indicate that
Zimmerman acted on hate rather than self-defense. It is despite reviewing and
identifying that the victim did not have any weapon on him and he was just a
17-year-old boy against a 28year old man with a gun. To make matters worse is
that the young boy did not instigate anything. The only crime he did was being
black (Teasley, Schiele, Adams & Okilwa, 2018). The case is one of the many
that made it to the public eye and the fact that there was a never fair trial
for the case just shows how the system is not favorable for a lot of people it
is just that the cases never make it to the light.
Teasley et al., (2018), in their article
quote statistic presented by the U.S Department of Justice in 2014. According
to these statistics, the adolescent black male of ages between 18 and 19 were
more likely to be in the federal prison by a margin of 10 times as compared to
their white counterparts. The same statistics pointed out that the black
individuals in the united states have the highest rate of imprisonment in
federal and state facilities as compared to other races. In estimation, it is
approximated to be between 3.8 and 10.5 times when compared to the white men
and between 1.4 and 3.1 times more when compared to the rate at which the
Hispanic men are incarcerated. With these statistics it is either the black men
are prone to criminal activities or the system judges them by the color even
before they are presented in court. It is evident that racism exists in the
criminal justice system.
in the Justice system
Eliminating racism in the system
requires a systematic approach. Utilitarianism can be useful in that it contains
two elements. The two aspects are happiness and consequentialism.
Utilitarianism ideology is that an action is worth morally if its contribution
to the overall joy and pleasure is more significant among all the parties.
Hence the greatest happiness for the highest number of people (Berthold, n.d.).
As seen earlier, the individuals who
participate in discriminating individual by the color of their skin are usually
less than those victimized in the population. As a result, a significant number
of people in the population are unhappy. Even for the discriminators, they are
not happy because they live in fear of retaliation by the victims of
discrimination. It is therefore only appropriate to use the utilitarianism
system of thinking when passing judgment on an individual. Equal treatment of
individual without looking at the color of the skin should be emphasized as it
is the only way the highest population can be happy.
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