Does Our Criminal Justice System Discriminate Against People Based on Race, Ethnicity or Social Class?
• Racial, social class and ethnic discrepancies still exist in the country’s criminal justice system (“American Sociological Association,” 2007).
• Violence and tensions among the police and certain minority communities still exist.
• The United States criminal justice system still grapples with the skewed perceptions of justice in the system.
• Various studies show that in certain states, black people were more likely to be shot by the police compared to their white counterparts.
• The incidences of discrimination against different minority groups have reduced.
• Current law enforcement policies and regulations assign great emphasis on accountability and professionalism when handling crime.
• Different studies have been carried out in different timeframes, environments, and design which results in biased findings.
• Most studies conclude that social class, ethnic and racial parities are still common in the American justice system.
• Various police officers involved in different studies said that their racial bias usually led them to use excessive force when apprehending criminals from certain minority groups.
• Various witnesses state that they saw police officers hurling abuses at suspected criminals from certain ethnic and racial backgrounds (Spohn et al., 2012).
• The practice was more common in the past but current provisions in the constitution prohibit it.
• Racial, social class and ethnic discrimination does occur at certain stages of the system.
• Racial discrimination originated from the adoption of past procedures and regulations that had not been assessed before enactment and implementation.
• Certain decision-making points, arrest, jury selection, bail, sentencing and conviction comprise the most instances of discrimination (Spohn et al., 2012).
• Negative encounters between the police and perceived minority groups are a major cause of arrest.
• Social status and race may be a determining factor in bail application if the offender is able to raise the amount needed to bail him or her out (Reiman & Leighton, 2013).
3. Target groups
• Some reports discovered that the courts had two distinct justice systems, “one for white and a very different one for minorities and the poor.” (Banks, 2013, 45).
• Racial bias has also been reflected among the members of the public where they directed racial slurs and comments towards police officers who were members of selected groups.
• Members of the minority groups had smaller courts sessions convicted by a biased jury.
• Racial, social class and ethnic discrimination is also evident in the processing of juvenile cases.
• The most severe effects of discrimination in the criminal justice system are experienced by its victims.
• More research needs to be done to understand the concept of discrimination in the criminal justice system and proper measures put in place to ensure the well-being of the minority groups is maintained.
• In jury selection, many states have established policies and regulations that prohibit the use of an all white jury.
• An all white jury is not representative of the entire population and is therefore susceptible to racial bias (Reiman & Leighton, 1998).