Essay on A Brief Note On Crime And Punishment And The Civil War

Essay on A Brief Note On Crime And Punishment And The Civil War

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Crime and punishment have provided some of the most powerful symbols of the racial divide in America. Minorities have been tried in all white courtrooms, have longer and harsher sentences than white people, and have been lynched time and time again. According to the American Sociological Association, “Over much of the last century, police instigated or participated in race riots in cities nation-wide, and police behavior encouraged hostility toward and violence in minority communities” (Race, Ethnicity, and the Criminal Justice System, p. 2).
The criminalization of blackness is very prominent in today’s society. Essentially, autonomy is the freedom to determine one 's own actions. Black Codes were laws passed by Southern states after the Civil War. These laws had the intent and the effect of restricting African Americans ' freedom, and of compelling them to work in a labor economy based on low wages or debt. They were basically criminal laws explicitly targeting black people. Black self-education and engagement in citizenship were suppressed and repressed. The re-embedment of segregation/apartheid institutionalized the incarceration of black people. Sociologists noted higher rates of crime and used those to claim that black criminality was ‘natural’, instead of structural explanations. There were racist court systems that used social control strategies. Obviously, white supremacy, which is the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society, was very impactful. There were conditions of poverty, oppression, and marginality. “Freedom” brought crime, so slavery was used as a crime control institution. Lynching was a justified institutio...


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...punishment. Whites are more punitive than blacks and Hispanics even though they experience less crime. White Americans overestimate the proportion of crime committed by people of color, and associate people of color with criminality. Whites who more strongly associate crime with racial minorities are more supportive of punitive policies. Many media outlets reinforce the public’s racial misconceptions about crime by presenting African Americans and Latinos differently than whites – both quantitatively and qualitatively. According to Nazgol Ghandnoosh, “Criminal justice practitioners also operate with and reinforce racial perceptions of crime” (Race and Punishment: Racial Perceptions of Crime and Support for Punitive Policies, p. 4). Racial perceptions of crime have distorted the criminal justice system. Racial perceptions of crime have undermined public safety.

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