Background of the issue
There have been a series of resounding unfair events that plague the American criminal justice system. Young men are wrongly convicted because they belong to an ethnic minority. Women, as well, have not been left behind as they continue to suffer criminal injustice, but the focus here will be on racial disparities. Revanur (2019) presents the case of the Central Part Five that made headlines due to the unfair trial of young Back and Latino boys, who were convicted of raping a jogger. The event happed four decades ago and was one of the reasons for establishing the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Ray & Galston, 2019). Unfortunately, this law became the engine for the exaggerated criminalization among Black Americans, creating a need for reform as the years have gone by and governments and social environments have changed. While the law was meant to bring sanity to the country, law enforcers used it negatively against the African-American community, a predominantly ethnic minority group. The law was meant to bring a stop to the use of crack in the African-American community but went ahead to create a false notion that the Black people were more notorious than the whites as seen from the excessive police brutality on Blacks as opposed to the Whites.
Define the Problem
The fact that the African-American population is a small fraction of the entire American people, yet is the group with the highest incarceration and exoneration rates, is worrying. While trying to attain social change, there is a tendency to provide grim statistics showing the existence of racial disparity in the justice system. However, this exposure seems to have different implications than anticipated. The disclosure of disparity in incarceration and punitive action in the legal system has resulted in increased prejudice against the population with a criminal rate. Hetey and Eberhardt (2018) show that in a study where White participants had to give opinions on executions, 52%, as opposed to 36%, favored the death penalty when they knew that more Black people would be the victims. Police officers have murdered unarmed Black people on several occasions for the same offenses for which white people would not be convicted, and the case of George Floyd that went viral is still fresh. Even when arrested for serious crimes, Whites are not likely to be prosecuted, as discussed by Iannelli (2018). Racial bias can be considered to be the reason for the injustice in the legal system and a lack of commitment to changing the laws that warrant excessive force among ethnic minority groups. Gross et al. (2017) further show that the high homicide rates in the Black community could be the reason for the excessively high rates of criminalization in this population. Whereas only 15% of killings by Black people involve a white person, 31% of innocent Black individuals are falsely convicted of murdering the Whites.
Analyze the problem
The problem is not exclusively in the laws of the criminal justice system, but the attitudes and perceptions of the law enforcers as well. A person’s values, beliefs, and behavior are grounded in the society in which they live. The employment rate among Blacks is low; hence, the criminal justice system workforce mainly consists of Whites. The fact that the same laws are applied differently across disparate populations shows that there is a need for changing individual attitudes first and especially about the false perception that Black people are more likely to commit crimes.
Meaning, and Findings of the Data
High rates of unemployment among the African-American community, which is the victim of the unfair criminal justice system, mean that this community is under-represented. Therefore, the dominant values defining the legal system are a reflection of the White community.
The Black population faces more convictions as enforcement is intense in this population. While the enhancers of the law continue to assert their commitment to upholding a fair legal system, the varied numbers of convictions and incarcerations across races say otherwise (Pestano, 2018). The law is meant to defend all, but the fact that it is enforced differently in varied populations means that it is important to move beyond the law and focus on the individuals.
In the short term, the law enforcers should undergo training and simulations to help them in changing their attitudes. Hence, they can apply the law to all individuals with the same force and magnitude. These professionals are already aware of the essence of equality in the application of the law. Over the long term, there is a need for bridging the employment gap among African-Americans and Whites to ensure that the Black community is well-represented among the law enforcers in the criminal justice system. The inclusion of Black representatives should create balance in the justice system and help handle criminal cases with reduced racial bias. As a result, a Black police officer should be included among White police officers in routine traffic police stops and patrols, while juries should also display racial balance.
Gross, S. R., Possley, M., & Stephens, K. (2017). Race and wrongful convictios in the United States. National Registry of Exonerations.
Hetey, R. C., & Eberhardt, J. L. (2018). The numbers don’t speak for themselves: Racial disparities and the persistence of inequality in the criminal justice system. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 27(3), 183–187. Web.
Iannelli, J. (2018). Miami’s justice system widely discriminate against Blacks, ACLU report warns. Miami New Times. Web.
Pestano, A. V. (2018). Black defendants face harsher punishments as race, ethnicity impact Miami-Dade justice decisions: ACLU. NBC Universal Media. Web.
Ray, R., & Galston, W. A. (2019). Did the 1994 crime bill cause mass incarceration? Web.
Revanur, S. (2019). ‘When they see us’ exposes an unjust criminal justice system. The Stanford Daily. Web.