Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System

The moral reprehensibility of discrimination based on racial or ethnic origin is widely acknowledged, constituting a blatant violation of the fundamental principle of equality. In this context, "race" refers to groups of individuals who share common biological inheritances, differentiating them from other groups. On the other hand, "ethnicity" is a cultural construct, representing an individual's identification with a particular cultural group. Racism, in its broadest sense, can be defined as the social practices that explicitly or implicitly attribute merits or allocate values to individuals based solely on their racial categorization.

The Controversy Surrounding Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System

The issue of racial discrimination within the criminal justice system is highly contentious due to substantial evidence pointing to both individual and systemic biases. While some argue against the existence of systematic racism in the criminal justice system, a plethora of research from the past and present demonstrates the unfair and unjust treatment of racial minorities across various stages of the criminal justice process.

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For decades, African Americans and Hispanics have accused law enforcement officers of racial profiling, an issue that extends beyond mere anecdotal instances (Banks 66).

Examining racism in the criminal justice system reveals at least three dimensions: personal prejudice, ideological racism that rationalizes the superiority of a dominant culture through cultural and biological justifications, and institutional racism, where institutional policies and practices perpetuate systematic differences between racial groups (Banks 67). Criminologists, seeking to determine the existence of racial discrimination within the criminal justice system, have conducted extensive research studies examining critical decision points in the United States criminal justice systems (Banks 68).

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Evidence of Racial Discrimination

Several reports suggest that racial discrimination does occur at various points within the criminal justice system. One notable incident that brought attention to this issue was the Rodney King incident. The Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department, also known as the Christopher Commission (1991), found evidence of excessive use of force by LAPD officers, compounded by racism and bias (Banks 69).

Despite an ongoing controversy, a consensus exists among criminal justice administrators, policymakers, and academics that racial discrimination is a concern within the justice system. It is important to note that proving the pervasive presence of racial discrimination in the justice system does not necessarily follow from the existing research on the subject. However, a majority of scholars agree that there is a substantial body of evidence pointing to racial bias in certain practices and policies of both the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems.

Unresolved Controversy and Public Perception

The controversy surrounding racial discrimination in the criminal justice system remains unresolved. While a considerable body of research suggests an absence of systematic racial discrimination, there is a consensus among researchers that discriminatory acts do occur at specific decision-making points. Regardless of the conclusions drawn from research studies, a pervasive belief among minorities persists, asserting that the system discriminates against them, rendering it inherently unjust (Banks 84).

In conclusion, the issue of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system is complex and multifaceted. The existence of racial bias is evident in various aspects of the system, from police encounters to the application of the death penalty. While systematic racism may not be conclusively proven, a wealth of evidence indicates the presence of discriminatory practices. Addressing this issue requires ongoing research, policy reform, and a commitment to upholding the principles of justice and equality.

Updated: Jan 10, 2024
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Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System. (2016, Sep 09). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/racial-discrimination-in-the-criminal-justice-system-essay

Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System essay
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