Criminal Justice Essay

1862 words - 8 pages

The Criminal Justice System, a system the British government set up to deal with the treatment of law-breakers, has three main goals to achieve social order, these are, (1) enforcing criminal law, (2) maintaining law and order in the society, and (3) helping victims. This may seem to be a well thought of system, but like any other organisation, there are flaws, and one of the major flaws is discrimination, and the bias that stems from discrimination.

Discrimination on the basis of class, gender, sexuality and ethnicity operates at the level of attitude, on the street, in the home, at the workplace or at social venues. In regards to the Criminal Justice System, race and gender are ...view middle of the document...

(Vold et al. 1998)

There is seen to be a link between power and crime, the more powerful you are, the least likely to be committing a crime, so the lower classes are discriminated here as they don’t have the same power a middle-class or upper-class businessman might have therefore they are labelled to be trouble-makers, they are treated harsher by the criminal justice system than their peers, but the lower class is seen more favourably than ethnic minorities, especially ethnic groups that have less power than them. In the 1960’s, researchers found that blacks were more severely sentenced than whites. Hagan in 1974 reviewed many of the findings supporting racial discrimination and found that studies were not allowing for the possibility that black defendants may be charged with more serious crimes than whites, and may have more serious criminal records (cited in ‘Theoretical Criminology’). Lizotte in 1978 found that blacks have been shown to receive harsher sentences because they are less likely to make bail, since they are less affluent, and this reduces their ability to provide an effective defence.

Another model which discusses discrimination is the Learning model of crime. Barnard argued that poverty, urban environment and discrimination resulted in chronic arousal to the people living in inner-city houses. People living in these areas interpret a wide variety of events in such a way that they respond with a lot of aggression, even if the situation was relatively harmless to begin with, therefore the inner-city areas where the chronic arousal takes place are isolated socially from the rest of the city.

Discrimination is a major factor in the police force, it has been well known, due to the media, that in Western countries police stop and search youths just because of their colour. A lot of violence has erupted due to the Negro thinking it is unjust, one prime example is the Rodney King case - an innocent man, beaten up because of the colour of his skin. Sentencing also seems to be stiffer when given to a coloured person no matter what the crime might be. The Race Relations Act of 1968 made it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of race, colour, or ethnic or national origins, in the provision of goods, facilities, and services. Before the act was passed, a research project was carried out which showed that racial discrimination ‘ranged from the massive to the substantial’(Daniel, 1968). The United Nations Charter (1945) declared in article 55 that the United Nations will promote human rights and fundamental freedom for all ‘without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion’. In 1948 the Universal declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) added another eight possible discriminatory grounds to the original declaration, these were colour, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. (cited in Discrimination). Even though the right idea was there, discrimination is still a way...

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