Impact Of Race, Class, And Gender In Criminal Justice

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Impact of Race, class, and gender in Policing and Sentencing
Race, class, and gender have an effect on the outcomes of the American criminal justice system. However, whether that outcome is favorable or not depends on where each individual lies on the race, class, and gender hierarchy of the United States. Cassia Spohn writes in great detail about the effects of these three characteristics in her article “30 Years of Sentencing Reform.” Before Spohn lays out the findings of her research, she differentiates disparity and discrimination. Disparity, she says, refers to difference in treatment or outcome. When like cases, with respect to case attributes, regardless of their legitimacy, are sentenced differently is when a disparity occurs.
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Whites provide what Spohn characterized as a “substantial assistance” in the prosecution of other groups. Whites are much more likely to hire a private defender and post bail. For doing this, they receive a discount when it comes to sentencing. Whites don’t drain the system. If Whites are hiring private defenders the government saves money. Money that can be used to prosecute Black and Hispanics more harshly. The benefits of private defenders are well-known. The fact that an individual has hired a private defender shows that he is fighting for and has the means to fight for himself. If a man can’t hire a private defender, he is not fighting for himself. He is hoping others fight for him and maybe do a decent job of it. Individuals who hire private defenders don’t usually go to trial and they post bail with all deliberate speed. When a man posts bail he will show up to his trial in a suit. Because he is in a suit, the jury will have hard time relating the facts of the crime to this individual who is most times the most well dressed and groomed individual in the room. If a man can’t post bail, he is showing up to his trial in an orange jumpsuit. If you look like a criminal then you must be a criminal. This circumstance Spohn calls economic disparity. The third way race, gender, and class impact sentencing is they can lead to direct conscious or unconscious discrimination. Judges are more likely to bypass sentencing minimums for Whites than they are for Blacks or Hispanics. Judges, like juries have place images and folk knowledge about who is committing crime and where. Judges may take it upon themselves to sanction Blacks and Hispanics severely because these groups are associated with crime. Judges may think that minorities are incapable of rehabilitation through means other than imprisonment. Some judges are plain discriminatory. They openly sentence

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