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Racism In The Criminal Justice System

4004 words - 17 pages

The United States of America’s national anthem the “Star Spangled Banner” and the “Pledge of Allegiance” state that the United States is “land of the free” with “liberty and justice for all.” Yet, the United States houses 25 percent of the world’s inmates even though it only houses five percent of the world’s population (Martensen, 2012). Additionally the fundamental concept of the United States Criminal Justice System is that an individual is “innocent” until proven guilty. This makes one question whether, people in the United States are really held to this standard, or are certain people more prone to crime in the land of opportunity and freedom? Our society is built ...view middle of the document...

Disparities among the type of offense a suspect is arrested for vary among races and ethnicities as well. Of those suspects arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2010, 49.1% were Hispanic, 23.2% were Black and 25.3% were White (Motivans, 2013). Hispanics were the group most arrested for cocaine powder, marijuana, methamphetamine and opiates drug related offences, whereas African Americans were the group most arrested for crack cocaine, and Whites were most arrested for other or nondrug related offenses including “pharmaceutical controlled substances, equipment used to manufacture controlled substances and drug use paraphernalia” (Motivans, 2013, p. 9). Additionally, Hartney and Vuong (2006) noted that African Americans were 3.4 times more likely than Whites to be arrested for violent crimes, 6.8 times as likely to be arrested for murder/non-negligent manslaughter, 2.6 times more likely than Whites to be arrested for property crime, 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for drugs, and 1.4 times more likely to the arrested for public order crimes.
Disparities are also seen in sentencing lengths and sentence type among different races. Overall, African Americans were sentenced to serve five months longer than Whites in prison and 13 months longer for violent offenses1 (Hartney & Vuong, 2009). Among those sentences to the death penalty, African Americans were on dead row five times the rate for Whites1 (Hartney & Vuong, 2009). In relation to post-conviction federal supervision in 2010, overall Whites were granted release from jail and prison significantly more than Hispanics, 37.0% to 21.3%; and African Americans were granted release slightly less than whites at 36.3%. However, the type of release that is frequent varies among races. White were the group most likely to received probation in lieu of incarceration – 48.6% of Whites, 26.1% of African Americans and 17.1% of Hispanics. African Americans were granted parole during their sentence at the highest percent – 61.0% of African Americans, 27.4% of Whites and 9.2% of Hispanics. African Americans are also more likely to be sentenced to supervised release in addition to their sentence – 38.1% of African Americans, 34.6% of Whites and 22.3% of Hispanics.
Discrepancies in data can be seen as Hispanics are often included in the White population and not included as a group on their own in statistics. Hartney and Vuong (2009) stated that “failing to separate ethnicity from race hides the true disparity among races, as Hispanics – a going proportion of the system’s population – are often combined with Whites, which has the effect of inflating White rates and deflating African American rates in comparison” (p. 2). Also, Hispanics sometimes identify as “White” rather than Hispanic which also effect statistical data.
The majority group in a society influences the societal norms form the entire population. Whites in the United States are the majority group and have...

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