Racism And The Criminal Justice System

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Racism in its most general sense can be defined as “social practices which (explicitly or implicitly) attribute merits or allocate values to members of racially categorized groups solely because of their “race” (Banks, 2013, p. 65). Individuals that are introduced into the criminal justice system are still citizens no matter the color of their skin. As a citizen of the United States you are afforded certain rights and protections while progressing through the steps of the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, not all individuals are treated the same once they are introduced into the system. Once an individual is introduced into the system, a series steps begins. As each of these steps is approached, decisions need to be made by the law enforcement personnel at that level as to how to proceed. Evidence suggests that an individual’s race may play a part in the decision making process. Evidence of an individual’s race playing a part in how their case progresses through the criminal justice system is clearly present in the drug violation sentencing of African Americans and the juvenile justice system. Extensive research has been conducted in different regions of the United States and each study has revealed the same thing, a person’s color affected the decisions of the law enforcement personnel involved and how their case progressed through the system. Racism is present in the criminal justice system of the United States. It should not be assumed that all practitioners within the criminal justice system display racial bias. However, the sentencing guidelines and punishments handed down by the courts show that the system itself may be set up in such a way that minorities are disproportionately affected by these guidelines a... ... middle of paper ... ...he disproportionate number of minorities in the system reinforce the fact that policies and select individuals are contributing this issue. It has been reported that individual acts of discrimination exist in the system; however, there is little evidence of systematic discrimination (Ray & Alarid, 2004, p. 109). Conclusion In conclusion, the criminal justice system that is in place in the United States is not perfect. However, it is still the best system in the world. There are currently policies and sentencing guidelines that disproportionately affect one segment of society more than another. It is because of this that an examination of the system needs to be conducted and changes made where possible to assure that every individual receives fair treatment when in the system. Until this is done, racism will exist within the system whether intended or unintended.
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