Racial Disparity in Sentencing Essay

1730 Words Oct 8th, 2010 7 Pages
Racial Disparity in Sentencing
Lori Raynor
University of Phoenix
Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice
Ron McGee
September 06, 2010
In this paper I will illustrate racial disparity in sentencing in the criminal justice system. The causes of racial disparity and the reasons it is on the rise, the research statistics, and the proposed solutions are discussed.

Racial Disparity in Sentencing The intersection of racial dynamics with the criminal justice system is one of longstanding duration. In earlier times, courtrooms in many jurisdictions were comprised of all white decision-makers. Today, there is more diversity of leadership in the court system, but race still plays a critical role in many
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This is likely to hold true for all racial and ethnic groups. Understanding these dynamics reinforces the necessity to maintain a diverse and representative system of justice to more equitably meet the legitimate needs of all persons in the system (2004).
Venue and jury selection: The phrase “location is everything” can ring painfully true for those who are punished for being placed on trial in the wrong neighborhood. Sometimes prosecutors choose venues for defendants that result in “all white juries” (Tabak, 1999, p. 6). The secondary problem of selecting a jury, especially in cases involving black defendants is caused by questioning the jurors as a group, rather than privately. Some prospective jurors will be the epitome of political correctness in front of others, but when questioned in private their racism is revealed. Additionally, the use of the Witherspoon questioning method in capital cases excludes many black potential jurors because a large percentage of the African American population is opposed to the death penalty (Tabak, 1999, p. 6-7). The Witherspoon method asks potential jurors whether or not they would be in favor of the death penalty. Those who would never be willing to impose the death penalty, and in capital cases would vote for the death penalty could be excluded from the jury. Prosecutorial discretion in selection of jurisdictional venue has also perpetrated racial disparities in sentencing with respect to cocaine cases. An

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