How do people from different entities in the United States perceive race as it relates to the criminal justice system? This was the question asked to ten different people in different locations of the United States. In additional to this question a different group of participants were asked if they believe that the criminal justice system is racist? In this paper I propose that most people in the United States have a very negative perception about the criminal justice and its promises. I concluded this based on face to face interviews I did with participants and through electronic responses. Regardless of their race, values, beliefs, social class, gender and age all the participants of my research paper agree on that there is a connection between race and crime in America. To some the criminal justice system is not as blind as it is perceived to be. Some of the participants have little understanding of the law system and its different components.
Some not fully competent to be subject matter experts to determine if crime and race connect however, they all have the same generalization about the law, law enforcement and law discrimination. The public receives much of their impressions and knowledge of the criminal justice system through the mass media. Top-rated television programs, such as Cable News Network (CNN) are delivering news on crime on an everyday basis. What people actually know, or think they know, about the criminal justice system can sometimes be interpreted as a form of ignorance of what is known to be mandatory knowledge in order to be law-abiding citizens in any society. As nonchalant some things may sound the public relies on the media to feed them the lasted and most accurate news, but this is not always true. In today’s American society, race and crime go hand in hand. Day after day there is news reports about people of various racial backgrounds involved in criminal activities ranging in different parts of the country. In the world today we face many different problems.
Issues that throughout the years have been improved but never resolved. Throughout the United States crime continues to be one of our increasing problems within the minorities. Many people believe that crime it’s a problem on its own that is now being related to race. In today’s American society, race and crime go hand in hand. Day after day there is news reports about people of various racial backgrounds involved in criminal activities ranging in different parts of the country. As I did my research I chose a specific case that happened in Queens, New York on November 25, 2006. A young man by the name of Sean Bell was out in a strip club with a couple of his friends celebrating that he was getting married. Later that evening Sean Bell and his friends were being shot at by a couple of police detectives who believed they were armed causing the death of Mr. Bell. A similar case had occurred a couple of years back in 1999 with a young man by the name of Amadou Diallo who was fired 41 shots by police.
The relevance of these two stories is that both of these men were black and according to the reports were both unarmed. Which leads to the question that many people have why these two young men are no longer here? This is where race plays a role. Looking into statistics there are a higher percent of black, Latino, and Asian crimes as there is whites. I believed these statistics are like this because they way authority figures are handling some situations especially against minorities. According to an article in the New York Times by Heather Mac Donald called “Distorting the Truth about Crime and Race”. She states that Black and Latinos are nine times more likely to be stopped by a police officer than whites. Attitudes like these are a major part of the unresolved problems we have today. Situations like Mr. Bell and Mr. Diallo are the results to the police aggression and even though authorities may deny that it has nothing to do with race.
It has been a major controversy throughout the United States on why these situations still have a one thing in common race. We as a society need to gain a clearer understanding of the vast relationship between law and society. Why is there such a large connection? Why is it that is always one race that is always the target? What changes need to occur so we can change the perception of the law? Are we still a segregated country? Are we trying to change or are we just turning the other cheek? These were some of the additional questions I ask my responders. I conducted the survey through an online blogs and face to face questionnaires. I based my questions on the location of participants and on the prior knowledge I knew they have with the criminal justice system; own encounters or experiences family members of theirs have had.
The group that I targeted was mainly individuals with a higher education level of a High school diploma. I felt this was a better group to target instead of a younger crowd that I think regardless of their faults, mishap in life always look at someone or something else to blame for their current situation. I wanted a group of individuals that would look at crime and race in a three dimensional perspective and not from a tunnel vision view. Not every member in society beliefs that a person is responsible for their own destiny and that is something I am a strong believer in. It was difficult to get more inputs with individuals on the blog rather than it was getting information from individuals face to face. I am not sure why this was such a critical topic but it brought out some significant emotional event that an individual has or had experience or even a family member of theirs.
* Andre Ceballos an undergraduate student at Cornell University, Hispanic male 26 years old, born and raised in New York City said “The population of prisons around the country definitely answers that question, it’s a damn shame”. * Amir Vasquez undergraduate student at Virginia State university, Hispanic male, 30 years old, born in the Dominican Republic raised in New York City Currently living in Colonial Heights, Virginia said “just take a look at Colonial White, sorry I meant Colonial Heights, where I live schools are great, free after school programs the whole nine yards, then look across the river in the city of Petersburg their high schools are not even certified and some schools missing windows and things”. My point is minorities usually don’t get a fair shake in education which leads to crime” Mr. Vasquez seems to be speaking from a functionalist perspective, he is blaming society for not offering a better education system that when is not provided there is not much to look forward to besides doing criminal activity .
* Keisha Brown an undergraduate student at South Carolina University, African America female 25 years old, born and raised in Brooklyn, New Yorkbeaten and killed by a group of white men for alledgedly whistling at a white woman… at that time, the color of his skin caused him to be a target for such a violent crime by the ‘white man’ who at those times did anything they could to make sure african americans did not survive in their “white-only” society…there’s martin luther king, and even abraham lincoln who were all killed because of something to do with racism. even though lincoln was a white republican, he was the one who abolished slavery. his decision set him aside from the rest of his counterparts. yes, if you dig deeper into his history there are claims that he had slaves as servants etc, but the point im trying to make is that he actually put forth the effort to end slavery. Martin luther king was killed bc of the color of his skin and the rights that he fought for… im stating facts from the past but it can be used as an introduction for your paper. oh yeah and to sum up my argument, even though those events were of the past, it has still followed the african american race even to the present day… black and hispanic children in inner city communities have it even worse than any other child in america.
Their race is what keeps them oppressed and from recieving the oppropriate education and solid cultural security that a white child gets living in a blue collar upper class suburban area. Therefore, when that black of hispanic child attempts to leave behind that inner city image, they cannot shake it b/c for so long theyve been treated like crimals and the scum of the earth, most of them have no choice but to turn to crime and violence just to get by in america. sry if i talked ur head off mami but i love talkin ab this type of stuff lol said “ To help answer your question there is definitely a connection with race and crime in America.
It has been an issue since the days of slavery, civil rights, and segregation. you can even go as far as to mention Emmitt Till who was brutally beaten and killed by a group of white men for allegedly whistling at a white woman at that time, the color of his skin caused him to be a target for such a violent crime by the ‘white man’ who at those times did anything they could to make sure African Americans did not survive in their “white-only” society, there’s Martin Luther King, and even Abraham Lincoln who were all killed because of something to do with racism.
Even though Lincoln was a white republican, he was the one who abolished slavery. His decision set him aside from the rest of his counterparts. Yes, if we dig deeper into his history there are claims that he had slaves as servants etc., but the point I am trying to make is that he actually put forth the effort to end slavery. Martin Luther king was killed because of the color of his skin and the rights that he fought for. I am stating facts from the past and to sum up my argument, even though those events were of the past, it has still followed the African American race even to the present day. Black and Hispanic children in inner city communities have it even worse than any other child in America. Their race is what keeps them oppressed and from receiving the appropriate education and solid cultural security that a white child gets living in a blue collar upper class suburban area. Therefore, when that black of Hispanic child attempts to leave behind that inner city image, they cannot shake it because for so long they’ve been treated like criminals and the scum of the earth, most of them have no choice but to turn to crime and violence just to get by in America”.
* Terry Powell an African America male, 34 years old born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana currently in college said “There is not a connection between crime and race because any race can commit a crime and this is clearly seen with white-collar crimes. Crime is seen in different locations high class communities as well as low class communities”. * Christina Bailey an African American female 23 years old, born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana currently in college said “Yes, there is a connection because we as a society are not focusing on helping one another; we are focus only on helping self. With a mind frame like this the less fortunate will continue to commit crimes just so they can survive in America and needless to say the less fortunate race groups are the African Americans”.
* Jacob Weber a white male 26 years old, currently living in Hawaii, in his second year in college said “Depending on the area that one lives, does crime and race have a connection. There is just a double standard in the system, and not until people that are neutral working in those positions will the system see any changes. The socialization agents play a major role, but regardless whites are more privilege than any other race”. * Miguel Perez a Hispanic male 32 years old, from Texas said “ It depends on the area but minorities are seem to always be the target and because of the racism that is not seen through the naked eye minorities get the least support from the system” * Claudia Perez a Hispanic female 31 years old, from Texas said “Racism is a significant factor that dictates how America act on a situation for instance our president because of him being biracial, the public wanted him to show proof of his birth certificate, no other president has been asked to show this document to prove his race or birth location”.
* John Pates an African American male 40 years old, currently living in Hawaii said “Yes, through history it has been noted that the ratio between black men and white men in prison is not even although blacks and whites are committing the same crimes. * Carrie Williams a white female 30 years old born and raised in Richmond, Virginia currently in college said “Race and crime have a major connection especially southern states. In southern states you will always find a police officer patrolling neighborhoods of minorities more often than that of a white community. I have asked police officers why are they constantly patrolling my neighborhood and they said “You never know what these people are planning to do next” to me that was not an answer that a law enforcement should give a citizen.
Police officers in the south need more education instead of just being told what benefits they will receive from being a police officer”. Resources that oppose my thesis were not easily accessible and were not of very much accreditation. These sources were more opinionated on the topic rather than stating facts. There are many articles that supported my thesis. It is very clear to me that race and crime is a complex issue to discuss and is very hard to be honest on this topic because of our country’s history and our current statistics.
In an article in the Huffington Post the author is aware of the controversy of racism in our legal system but he is also aware of how can it be a debate when the facts are proving other wise and he states 14 examples on how the system is not fair “Saying the US criminal system is racist may be politically controversial in some circles. But the facts are overwhelming. No real debate about that”. (Quigley, 2010) Race and crime connectivity will be an issue for years to come. As a society we have to understand that not everyone will on a high social class because of many other reasons beside race. A fairness of the legal system is much needed and we need to stop looking at race when punishments are delivered we need to look at the concrete facts of a case.
Parker, R. (2008 , June 02). ParaPundit. Retrieved November 1, 2010, from ParaPundit.com: http://www.parapundit.com/archives/005242.html#precomments Quigley, B. (2010, July 26). The Huffigton Post . Retrieved November 1, 2010, from
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