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Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System

Essay by   •  July 11, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  943 Words (4 Pages)  •  2,281 Views

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Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System

Discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin is considered morally wrong and in violation of the principle of equality. In essence, the principle of equality dictates equal persons be accorded equal treatment based on similarities and the race factor is not a justifiable consideration in this subject. Minorities, specifically African Americans, are normally overrepresented both as victims and as offenders within the criminal justice system. However, it is imperative to note that the experienced discrimination against minorities is deeply rooted in the U.S. history. The experiences unveil a vital part of the account of racial prejudice and discrimination in America. In the early twentieth century, Native Americans were brutalized and oppressed through the enforcement of certain legal systems, especially those fostering the westward movement and the industrialization process. The research conducted in 2003 by the UCR (Uniform crime Reports) revealed that 12.7 % of the population who were African Americans, 37% of them were arrested for violent crimes (non negligent, murder, forcible rape, aggravated assault, robbery and manslaughter), while 29% for property crime (Bonczar and Tracy, 2004).

Native Americans as well have a high disproportionate rate of victimization and criminal offending. The data for arrest presented by UCR reveals that Alaskan Natives or American Indian (about 0.9 % of 2000 population) account for an estimated percentage of 1.3 of all arrests. In addition the public policies known as "War on Drugs" that was started between 1980s and 1990s mainly targeted minorities-a reality recognized by policymakers and politicians, and recorded in a research (Durose et al., 2005). The Christopher Commission that was formed to investigate the Los Angeles Police Department discovered that the LAPD officers use excessive force and was grounded on bias and racism. 25% of the surveyed officers (960 LAPD) accepted the fact racial bias plays a role in these arrests toward minorities, while more than 50% agreed that racial bias could result into excessive use of force. In addition, the commission also found out radio transmissions in the LAPD that revealed recurrent and disturbing racial remarks normally made in connection to discussing beating suspects or vehicle pursuits. Witnesses' testimony also indicated that the LAPD encouraged procedures and practices that tolerated discrimination. In addition, witnesses testified against police officers who orally harassed minorities, detained Latino and African American men who seemed to fit generalized descriptions of suspects, and applied humiliating and invasive tactics on minorities within minority neighborhoods.

The New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities (1991), a panel of attorneys, law professors, and judges discovered that there exist two diverse justice systems within the state courts of New York; one for white and another different system for the poor and minorities (p. 1). The Commission found disparate treatment, injustice grounded on race, and inequality. In these court facilities, minorities

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