Law and Order in a Free Society | How the Minorities and the Poor are treated in the Justice System | My Paper Hub
We can argue that the
unequal treatment of minori...
We can argue that the
unequal treatment of minorities in America’s justice systems is perhaps one of
the most serious problems facing the United States in the new millennium.
Statistical pieces of evidence to support the truth in these assertions are indeed
overwhelming. Moreover, many Americans both white and black firmly accept that
this is true. In early 1999, the National Center for State Courts conducted a
survey on which around 2,000 people were asked to express their opinions and
what they feel about the courts. The survey revealed that only 23% of the
respondents had high confidence and trust in the community courts while 52%
only had “some” trust in the courts. Moreover, the survey indicated much
dissatisfaction with the judicial system in regards to timeliness, justice,
accountability, fairness, equality and independence. The dissatisfaction level
of Africans Americans was higher in every category. 68 percent of Africans
Americans felt that they were not treated equally with the whites and paradoxically,
around 45% of the white respondents agreed with this perception. In summary,
nearly half the whites surveyed and a majority of the African Americans
surveyed by the National Center for State Courts believed that the justice
system is racially skewed (Dunnaville, 2000).
A recent report shared by
the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights dubbed “Justice on Trial: Racial
Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System,” reveals that racial
disparities may have increased instead of subsiding over the past few years. The
conclusion of the report states that racial inequality has ostensibly been
growing rather than receding despite the United States making overall
significant progress in the past half-century towards the objective of ensuring
equality in treatment under the law for all people in the critical area of
criminal justice. Furthermore, the facially neutral are enforced in a manner
that is pervasively and massively biased. The report indicates serious findings
of systematic unequal treatment of Hispanic Americans and African Americans
among other minorities compared to their white counterparts in a similar
situation within the criminal justice system. Dissimilar treatment of
minorities typically kicks off at the very first stage of the criminal justice
system which is the investigation of suspected criminal activity usually done
by law enforcement officials. Most innocent minority citizens are arrested by
the police in their cars and on the street more than the whites. These stops
involve loss of privacy, humiliation, and inconvenience that is heightened when
the rationale for police action is the pedestrian’s accent or the driver’s
skin. Moreover, during some interrogations and investigations, the police
employ tactics that extremely shock the conscience. The differing
implementation of justice continues all the way and can be clearly seen through
the trial, jury deliberation, and even sentencing. According to the report,
every stage of the process is characterized by unequal treatment of minorities.
Hispanic Americans, blacks, and other minority groups are victimized by unfair
treatment and disproportionate targeting by police among other law enforcement
officials, racially skewed prosecutors, failure of judges, and discriminatory
A wide variety of research
reveals clearest indicators of racial disparities at various phases of the
justice process, especially against the African Americans. The following data
will support the assertion (Kahn & Kirk, 2015);
is a high probability for Black Americans to be arrested for drug use
According to federal data,
the police detain Africans Americans for drug crimes at twice the rate the
whites are arrested despite the fact that whites use drugs and also sell them
at comparable or even higher rates. Since the 80’s the number of Black
Americans arrested has always been twice or even thrice that of whites arrested
per 100,000 people.
African American citizens are more likely to be offered a plea deal that
includes prison time
A 2014 study in New York
found out that black defendants are more likely to be offered plea deals
including jail time than non-black minorities or whites. African Americans were
13 percent more likely than whites to get such deals even after controlling
many factors such as previous records and seriousness of charges.
There are more chances for Black Americans to be jailed while awaiting trial
The same New York City
study revealed that blacks were more likely than nonblack minorities or whites
to be in jail while they await trial even after controlling for prior record or
seriousness of charges. However, some researchers argue that this disparity is
often because black defendants cannot afford to pay their bail. Temporary
incarceration disrupts employment and family life, makes it harder for the
defendant to prepare a defense and stigmatizes the defendant.
Hispanic and Black American drivers and motorists are more likely to have their
Police officers are three
times as likely to stop and search cars driven by black drivers than white
drivers. Evidence from the Bureau of Justice Statistics illustrates that
nationally, black drivers are more likely to be stopped without reason. One
Rhode Island study showed that black drivers were pulled over more than whites
or other minorities even though they were less likely than other races to
receive a citation
African Americans are more likely to serve longer sentences than whites for the
According to a 2012 working
paper, there is concrete evidence to prove that black male federal defendants
were granted longer sentences than comparable whites. Black American men
sentences were on average 10 percent longer than those of their white peers.
This can somehow be explained by the fact that prosecutors are twice more
likely to file charges carrying mandatory minimum sentences against blacks than
There are more chances for Black Americans to have their probation revoked
According to recent
probation outcomes studies in Texas, New York, Lowa and Oregon, black convicts
have their probation revoked more often than other minorities and whites. These
racial disparities are held even when the study controlled for other
characteristics of the probationers including their age, criminal history, and
African Americans are more likely to be disenfranchised due to a felony
Most American states
restrict the voting rights of citizens who have been convicted of a crime.
Since African Americans are overrepresented in the criminal justice system,
voter disenfranchisement has a disproportionate effect on them. Recent
estimates from the sentencing project claim that 2.5% of all Americans are
disenfranchised due to the past or current felony conviction. Black Americans
have a significant portion; 7.7 percent which translates to approximately 1 in
A central section of
the mythology of the criminal justice system in America is that every citizen
is treated equally regardless of his or her class or race. The concept that no
one is above the law is a noble one, and like many good ideologies, realities
usually lags far behind the rhetoric (Wright, 2010). While the rich can hire
excellent attorneys, it’s difficult for the poor to afford one. The poor will
also find it hard to post bail while for the wealthy, it will be easy. They
will just sit in jail until the case is resolved. The poor cannot also post
restitution like the rich since they do not have the means to pay for damage
done. Restitution can help solve the case with potentially fewer sanctions made
against the accused. If the accused is poor and cannot be able to raise the
restitution up front, he or she will be required to pay “probation fees” until
when the complainant is made whole (Derusha, 2011).
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