Cultural Perspectives on Crime Essay
Cultural Perspectives on Crime
Minorities are over represented in the criminal justice system because they are targeted during drives to reduce hooliganism, juvenile drug offenses and crime. Then there are biases against them during prosecution, trial and judgment. Finally, the minorities get harsher sentences than their white counterparts (Davis. A 1998). In my opinion the minorities are over represented in the criminal justice system because of prejudices within the system. Way back in 1991, in LA, police officers beating Rodney King were captured on video.
Rodney was a black man and this evidence supported the claims of the Afro-American community that cases of police brutality were a norm. The prejudice in the system was further exposed when in the trial court; the jury did not find the four officers guilty of wrongdoing. This case helped to justify the claims that there was a bias in the justice system and that it was very difficult for colored persons to get justice. This form of discrimination it is alleged is found in the entire justice system.
In reality what has happened is that there is a failure of judges, even elected officials to correct the injustices in the criminal justice system. In addition, the criminal justice policy makers have also failed to redress injustice (Lochner. L, 2003). The result is that minority groups in general and black and Hispanic Americans are targeted and victimized by law enforcement agencies. When charging for crimes is done it is the colored persons that are targeted. To add insult to injury colored law abiding citizens are regularly challenged because of racial profiling and police bias.
This prejudice has permeated almost everywhere. When the cop is patrolling his attitude towards colored people for the purpose of prosecution and penalty to the treatment of colored by the prosecutors and judges. The essential point is that all individuals should be treated in a similar manner. This is what the Constitution requires the justice system to do. What is the consequence of such police action? The prison inmates are mostly Hispanic and blacks. There are communities of blacks who have actually fallen apart and have dispersed because a large part of the youth has been lost to prisons.
This has fostered a belief in these people that the law enforcement system cannot be trusted and should not be supported (Cole. G & Smith. C 2004). This belief has reinforced the prejudice in the law enforcement agencies that colored communities are beds of lawlessness and so should be punished and incarcerated. How is this prejudice reinforced? There are law enforcement policies and tactics that target blacks and Hispanics, moreover, there is the issue of racial profiling. In other words the blacks and Hispanics are usually the targets of suspicion.
What happens is that on the basis of bias and suspicions the blacks and Hispanics are blamed for most of the crimes in the area, and ultimately jailed. This system is well ingrained in prosecution. At every step the blacks and Hispanics are treated unfairly. During the first plea bargaining with prosecutors to the final sentencing, there are preconceived notions against blacks and Hispanics. The persons in the justice system especially the judges and prosecutors are all logical and rational persons but there are presuppositions that are introduced in the system which skews the outcomes against blacks and Hispanics (Pratto.
F 1994). Till recently sentencing was an important task of great responsibility that was entrusted to judges that were known to be men of integrity and impartiality. Currently, there has been an involvement in sentencing of sentencing commissioners, prosecutors and legislators that has made this process inhuman and mechanical leading to long sentences against the blacks and African Americans. What are the consequences? Several colored people who would otherwise have received shorter or non-jail sentences are now languishing in jail.
If those blacks that were eligible for probation had been treated similar to their white counterparts, they would have not been jailed. What is more appalling is that if the courts had taken cognizance of the inequities piled on the colored people injustice could have been reduced (Petersilia. J 1983). The courts in general have refused to investigate into or rectify racial inequality in the system. There are several reasons why the inequity against blacks and Hispanics is being perpetrated. One is that the statistical information about the overrepresentation of minorities in the criminal justice system has not adequately been compiled.
In addition, there is not adequate diversification of the law enforcement agencies especially the police (Miller J 1996). Further in light of harsh sentencing against blacks and Hispanics, the death penalty should at least be suspended. Most importantly, the sentencing guidelines are outdated. Finally, the existence of the felony disenfranchisement laws creates and perpetrates prejudice in the system. One area in which the prejudice against minorities is most lucid is the juvenile justice system. There is an extremely harsh treatment against blacks and Hispanics. These youths are tracked and marked in most anti drug campaigns.
They are put behind bars. There are more and more black and Hispanics arrested for selling drugs where as arrests of white juveniles has decreased (Bishop. D, 2000). What happens when there is discrimination against blacks and Hispanics? Those minorities who violate a law can expect longer sentences; they can expect fewer leniencies than their white counterparts. In addition, minority youth face harsher sentences and bear the brunt of the efforts of legislators to treat them as adults. The result being that these minority youth because of the machinations of the legislators are more likely to be converted to hardened criminals.
Finally whenever legislators or policy makers choose to enforce law more vigorously, there is an increase in the number of atrocities against minority offenders. Even though the constitution requires that two cocaine dealers be treated equally by the law we find that the minority dealer bears the wrath of the law enforcement agencies. Ethnic background and racial heritage is becoming a basis for unfairness. This inequity is pervasive and affects every step of the criminal justice system (Sherman L 2002). What is dreadful is that in the criminal justice system, racial discrimination is increasing and not reducing.
This makes a mockery of the progress in civil rights made till now. To sum, black and Hispanics bear the worst rage of the criminal justice system. They are followed by cops, watched and arrested more than their white counterparts. Then they face a criminal justice system that assumes that colored people are more likely to commit crimes. They are dragged to juries, prosecutors and judges who feel that minorities are more likely to have committed crimes. Finally, the legislative machinery ensures that tough sentences are passed against them to root out crime in the country..
They are over represented in the criminal justice system because they have been singled out for ruthless treatment. References: Bishop. D, (2000) Juvenile Offenders in the Adult Criminal Justice System, Crime and Justice, Vol. 27, pp 81-167 Cole. G & Smith. C, (2004) The American System of Criminal Justice, Thomson Wadsworth. Davis. A (1998) Prosecution and Race: The Power and Privilege of Discretion, Fordham Law Review. Vol. LXVII, No. 1. Lochner. L, (2003) Individual Perceptions of Criminal Justice System, Working Paper 9474 NBER Working Paper Series available at: http://www.
nber. org/papers/w9474 Miller J (1996) Search and Destroy: African-American Males in the Criminal Justice System, Cambridge University Press. Petersilia. J (1983) Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica. Pratto. F (1994) Attenuators and Hierarchy Enhancers: Social Dominance Theory and the Criminal Justice System, Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Volume 24, Issue 4. Sherman L (2002), Trust and Confidence in Criminal Justice, NIJ Journal, Retrieved from: http://www. ncjrs. gov/pdffiles1/nij/189106-1. pdf on January 4, 2007.