Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System: Essay

1848 Words Apr 26th, 2009 8 Pages
Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System:
Rates of Incarceration of Blacks vs. Whites

No Equal Justice in the
American Criminal Justice System
Shawn Y. Williams
Troy University-Fort Benning

CJ 5571 Probation, Pardon, & Parole
Instructor’s: Dr. Ronald Craig

April 28, 2007


Racial inequality is growing. Our criminal laws, while facially neutral, are enforced in a manner that is massively and pervasively biased. My research will examine the U.S. criminal justice policies and how it has the most adverse effect on minorities. According to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, out of a total population of 1,976,019 incarcerated in adult facilities, 1,239,946 or 63 percent are
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Race, in the U.S. criminal justice system, significantly affects the probability that a person will be convicted of a crime (Reese, 2006). Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, highlighted the problems of racial inequality in the system and urged those in the legal professions to embrace the law with compassion and humanism. In his speech he states:
We have a greater responsibility. As a profession, and as a people, we should know what happens after the prisoner is taken away. To be sure, the prisoner has violated the social contract; to be sure he must be punished to vindicate the law, to acknowledge the suffering of the victim, and to deter future crimes. Still, the prisoner is a person; still, he or she is part of the family of humankind. (Kennedy, 2003)

Racial disparities affect both innocent and guilty minority citizens. There is obvious reason to be outraged by the fact that innocent minority citizens are detained by the police on the street and in their cars far more than whites. Those stops involve inconvenience, humiliation and a loss of privacy that is heightened when the rationale for the police action is the color of a motorist’s skin or a pedestrian’s accent. But there must also be outrage about the disparate treatment of minority citizens who have violated the law. A defendant surrenders many

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