Racism In The Justice System

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According to Oxford Dictionary, racism is “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” (Oxford). Racism in the U.S. Justice System has been a problem for decades. The societal beliefs and prejudices from some officers cause them to target certain minorities at a higher rate. These beliefs may have been ingrained in their upbringing and carries into their jobs. It is a big problem if the police officers and the court system put their own personal beliefs in the way of the law and are prosecuting minorities unfairly. Even though blacks and Latinos together make up just 30% of the general population, they …show more content…
Detective Engstrom has been in law enforcement for 16 years; eight years as a patrol officer and the last eight as a detective in the Special Victims Unit. She believes that due to the fact that there has been a huge disparity in the socioeconomic status amongst whites and blacks, along with the perceived prejudices and inequality amongst the black community, that it may have an effect on blacks acting out in a negative fashion in an attempt for equality, thus raising the numbers of blacks arrested and sent through the system. She stated, “I also feel like there may be some underlying societal beliefs from some Officers that may cause them to target blacks at a higher rate. These beliefs may have been ingrained in their upbringing and carries over into their jobs” (Engstrom). This right here is huge. Yes, the black community may act out but there is another side to it too. Because of their upbringing, some Officers then are biased within the justice system. When I asked Detective Engstrom about the difference in drug convictions she told me that that there was an incorrect perception that blacks are responsible for the majority of drug trafficking and due to those activities, are affiliated with a gang lifestyle. Enforcement efforts were used to eliminate not only the drug traffickers but suspected gang members as well, thus increasing the number of blacks arrested for drug offenses in an attempt to tie them to some gang affiliation. If gang affiliation was added, it automatically increased prison sentences. There was also the attempt to eliminate the crack cocaine market which was seen as being predominantly in the lower income, minority neighborhoods which also led to more arrests of minorities. Also, when told that in a recent study of nearly 5,000 recorded shootings in which a white defendant killed a black person were twice as likely to be ruled

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