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Can we achieve racial equity in the criminal justice process in the 21st century - Admission/Application Essay Example

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Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System The criminal justice system of the US perpetuates and signifies racial discrimination, which constitutes a structural feature. It is clearly evident that there is a well – entrenched racial order in the US, wherein the possessors of a darker skin are at a much greater risk being subjected to economic, social and spatial marginalization…
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Can we achieve racial equity in the criminal justice process in the 21st century
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Download file to see previous pages The prison population is composed of Latinos and Blacks, and this is to the extent of 67% of the prison population. This is in sharp contrast to the proportion of the US population that Blacks and Latinos constitute. The latter figure is 25%. This sorry state of affairs has been persisting from a very long time, and the substantial reduction in crime, across the US, which commenced in the 1990s, has not affected the percentage of Blacks and Latinos who are incarcerated. 2 In order to rectify this terribly inequitable situation, several reformers in the area of criminal justice have advocated a basic reassessment of the assumptions and values that form the basis of the functioning, maintenance and structure of the criminal justice system. At this juncture, it is essential to realize that the origins and arrangements of American society have emerged from a racial hierarchy. 3 With regard to what is understood to be appropriate and equitable in the societal domain, racial hierarchy has assumed crucial importance. Thus, the whites are deemed to be at a distinct advantage, in comparison to the non – whites, with regard to the economy, politics and national culture. There is a definite racial bias among the various institutions, and norms of equity and justice that are not very clearly visible. 4 As such, the criminal system of the US displays a biased attitude while dealing with subordinate groups. Minorities are subjected to a greater number of traffic stops, and this has been justified by stating that these individuals are more liable than the whites to engage in crime. Although the US arose as a nation, from the common cause of ensuring justice and liberty for all; it was not till the 1960s and 1970s that this objective was achieved. During this Civil Rights period, several rights were provided to the minorities.5 The criminal justice system of the US is a racial institution. In this system, Americans of African origin are directly targeted and punished to a much greater extent than the members of the dominant white community. There is overwhelming evidence to support this contention. The question that arises is whether this system is racist and functioning as intended, or whether such discriminatory action is due to flaws in what is otherwise an exemplary system.6 Another related doubt that arises, is whether the criminal justice system of the US has the express objective of marginalizing and subjugating the African – Americans. At every stage of the criminal justice system, such bias is clearly evident. Thus, discrimination is visible from police stops, arrests, grant of bail, provision of legal representation, selection of the jury, sentencing, prison parole and freedom.7 During the past forty years, there has been an escalation in arrests and convictions. The principal reason for this has been stated to be the war against drugs. With regard to the crimes of murder, rape and burglary, there has been a substantial reduction. Despite this reduction, there has been a four – fold increase in arrests. 8 In this context, it is important to realize that drug offenses, possession and sales are almost equally indulged in by the African – Americans and the whites. Furthermore, African – Americans constitute just 13% of the total population and 14% of the ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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