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Racism and Prejudice

in the Justice System


Aniyah Adams

English 138

Jan Babcock
What is the Problem?
Introduction
The criminal justice system is supposed to ensure safety to citizens and make sure everyone is
punished fairly when they commit a crime. Over the past years, the justice system has done the
opposite of that. They have become in a way enemies or threats to minorities in America.
The unequal treatment of minorities is one of the most serious problems in the United States
today.

In a recent article by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, it is stated that racial inequality
in the criminal justice system is growing rather than receding. Even though the laws are neutral,
they are enforced in a bias manner. For example, the Civil Rights Act was passed to prevent
discrimination in the workplace yet three out of ten African American men will serve time in
prison preventing them from getting a job later on and professional licenses. Also, the
Immigration and Nationality Act was put into place to eliminate discrimination in immigration
laws. Yet, Hispanic, Asian and Muslim Americans singled out much too often for immigration
enforcement.1

It is not only minorities that believe that they are treated unfairly but also whites. In a recent poll,
52% said that the justice system favors whites over blacks. Only 36% of citizens said blacks and
whites were treated equally. In 1997, a poll was taken that asked if blacks were treated more
harshly than whites in the justice system. About half of Americans, 47% to be exact, said that
blacks were treated more harshly while 43% said they were treated equally. Law enforcement
has never been in favor of minorities in the United States. The government, lawmakers, and
more of Americans need to acknowledge the fact that the countrys justice system is unfair and
is against minorities. A serious change needs to be implemented.

Effects
The justice system is corrupt in more ways than just being racist. This is just one problem the
justice system has. Targeting a specific group based on race or religion is wrong and goes
against our constitution and all that the United Stated stands for. Also, when the wrong people
are targeted, it allows the criminals or terrorists to get away with crimes. Sometimes even lives
are taken at the hands of law enforcement and this could seriously impact a community. The
prejudice and profiling in law enforcement causes many people to lose innocent family
members. Police brutality, which is something all Americans can relate to, stems from this.
Police officers tend to abuse power. Police officers have killed about 5,000 Americans since
9/11.2 Many of those were minorities but also whites too. If justice system were to change the
way law enforcement dealt with not only minorities but all people, the numbers would be much
lower.
The Justice
System in the
United States
What is
Justice?
3
The problem of
justice has been
questioned for many
centuries by
philosophers. The
definition for it has
been up in the air and
this allowed the word
to be manipulated. The usual effect of this manner of approaching the question is to strip
"justice" of its characteristics and specific examples until nothing at all remains but a word and
some hymns of praise for it. The word could be twisted into whatever someone would want it
to mean which allows the word to be manipulated into whatever one wants it to be.4

How It Is Suppose to Work


The American Judicial System was put into place to protect the citizens in our country and
punish those who have done wrong in the most humane way possible. It is a set of institutions
that control crime and impose laws and penalties. Most criminal justice systems in the United
States are made up of five law enforcement systems. They are the law enforcement,
prosecution, defense attorneys, courts, and corrections. The law enforcement is the police. They
investigate crimes and arrest lawbreakers. They also may testify in court. The prosecution is
lawyers that represent the government in the court process. They review the evidence that the
law enforcement presents to them and decide whether or not to drop the case or file chargers.
They present evidence, question witnesses, and make plea bargains with defendants. The
defense attorneys work to defend those that are accused against the governments case. They
are hired usually hired by the defendant or assigned by the courts. The courts are run by judges
and enforce the laws. The corrections are the part of the justice system that looks after
offenders when they are convicted. Their job is to make sure that the facilities are safe and
secure for inmates.5 The main idea of the Justice System in America is to provide true justice
and to be equal for everyone in our country.

Is the Justice System Broken?


Many people believe that the American Justice System is broken. The purpose of the system is
to provide justice and for every person to be treated equally. The system is doing everything but
that. Our justice system has drifted away from its main idea. The unequal treatment of minorities
in the justice system is evident in every stage. Minorities are specially targeted and treated
unfairly by law enforcement. They are wrongfully accused and judges, elected officials, and
other enforcers of the law have failed to right the wrongs in this
system.6 There have been too many innocent minorities killed at the
hands of law enforcement who receive minimal to no punishment for
what they have done.

Racial Profiling
Racial profiling is one problem that the justice system has. Racial
profiling in law enforcement is when someone is targeted because of
their race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. It actually violates part
of the constitution. The "Guidance Regarding the Use of Race By
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies" that was issued by the U.S.
Department of Justice in 2003 states:

Racial profiling in law enforcement is not merely wrong, but


also ineffective. Race-based assumptions in law enforcement
perpetuate negative racial stereotypes that are harmful to our rich and
diverse democracy, and materially impair our efforts to maintain a fair
and just society.

Even though it is acknowledged as a problem and as wrong,


racial profiling still continues to happen in all levels of law enforcement.
There is evidence that shows that racial profiling is actually
encouraged. Erroneous federal programs and certain policies promote
law enforcement to partake in these wrongdoings.7

It is believed that law enforcement targets minorities more than they do


whites. In traffic or street-level crimes, the U.S. Department of
Labor's Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that for the year 2005
black drivers (4.5%) were twice as likely as white drivers (2.1%) to be
arrested during a traffic stop, while Hispanic drivers (65%) were more
likely than white (56.2%) or black (55.8%) drivers to receive a ticket.
Whites (9.7%) are also more likely than Hispanics (5.9%) to receive a
written warning in a traffic stop. Whites (18.6%) were also more likely
than blacks (13.7%) to receive a verbal warning. These are just some
nationwide statistics. There is also evidence from specific states.
Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, and West Virginia all followed the
same pattern of these statistics.8

9
Even as pedestrians, minorities are more likely to be stopped and
frisked than whites are. In New York City, the NYPD stopped at about
1.6 million people and 80 percent of the people that were stopped
were Black or Hispanic. Only 10 percent of the people stopped were
White. The Whites make up 44 percent of New Yorks population while
Blacks only make up 25 and Hispanics make up 28 percent.10 These
percentages were not proportionate at all. A gap is clearly present
between the whites and minorities being stopped. This shows there is
something wrong in the system. This not only happened in New York
but the same pattern was founded with the LAPD.11 Whites are clearly
favored over minorities in law enforcement.
After 9/11, many people in the country, not just law enforcement, were afraid of Arabs and
Muslims. They were certainly discriminated against and profiled by almost every American
citizen. People that looked like as if they were Muslim or Arab were profiled as well. This
actually continues to this very day. Many people still look at Muslim or Arab people and consider
them a terrorist. The antiterrorism efforts are single out Muslim and Arab countries in
immigration laws and also Muslim and Arab citizens that live here in the United States. The
efforts go against equality. The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS)
encourages racial profiling in it system. It requires certain individuals from predominantly
Muslim countries to register with the federal government, as well as to be fingerprinted,
photographed, and interrogated.12 This was implemented in 2002 and still effects lives today.
People have been deported because they failed to register due to the stories (interrogations,
detentions, and deportation of family members and friends) they have heard about NSEERS.
Although the program does profile people based on religion or origin, the federal government
allows them to do so. The federal courts have stated that NSEERS is not a violation of any
rights of the people and does not violate the Equal Protection Clause in the constitution. 13The
FBI has a Terrorist testing center (TSC) that has a list of every person that is connected to
terrorism. This list is not necessarily accurate. Misidentification and over-classification are just
some of the problems with this defective list.14 These problems cause troubles for Arabs and
Muslims who are trying to come to the United States and also Muslim and Arab U.S. citizens.
There are so many other laws and programs that are bias work against minorities. These laws
are at all levels in the American justice system. Since the laws and the system are so defective
and inconsistent, this allows law enforcers to abuse their power and the system.

Unnecessary Force

The job of law enforcement is to protect society and enforce laws in a manner that does not strip
any one of their rights. Although this is their job, the police are more focused on other things
such as arresting people and issuing citations. As a consequence, officers tend to use
unnecessary force on citizens and there have been too many killings of innocent civilians at the
hands of law enforcement. Officers are trained with military techniques and have become much
more violent during arrests or even just encounter.15 Many people especially minorities feel for
their lives when they are stopped by the police. The police are supposed to provide a sense of
comfort to people but do exactly the opposite. Police are trained to kill now. Americans are eight
times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist in todays society.16 Yet, blacks
are still 2.8 times more likely to be killed by the police than white peers. Based on a data tracker,
243 of the 1,033 people were killed by the police officers. That would average to 6.08 per million
of African Americans killed by officers, while only 2.57 per million whites were killed by officers. 17

Implementing a Change in the System


As you can see the United States Justice System needs to be fixed. We do have a broken
system in more ways than described. As a nation, we must help make this change together.
There are many ways for the change to be implemented. It starts with the American people but it
goes all the way up through law enforcement to lawmakers and the federal government.

Movements
There are many movements that support and work toward equality in the justice system. Black
Lives Matter and Malcolm X Grassroots Movement are just two anti-racism movements against
the police brutality. These movements and others will help alert lawmakers and law enforcement
that a change needs to be made in the system.
Lawmakers
The lawmakers are huge in imposing a change. They have control over what law enforcement
can and cannot do. If laws are made here to protect minorities against discrimination and strictly
enforced, a serious change could be made in the entire justice system; a serious change toward
equality for all in the American Justice System.

Officer Training
The way officers are trained is a big step to improving the justice system. Enforcing rules and
punishment in their own system will implement a difference in how law enforcement deals with
minorities. About 61% of officers do not report serious abuse conducted by their partner. Almost
84% of officers witnessed others using more force than was necessary.18 If officer sees another
doing something wrong, they should speak up and report their partner. This is something we all
learn when we are in elementary school about bullying. It should definitely be reinforced in
officer training. If officers are severely punishment at the same severity as the crime they
committed, less people in the department will be less likely to commit such a crime. In addition,
the police force should not be able to investigate and punish itself. Other law enforcement
should be brought in to do so. Officer training should be surrounded around protecting citizens,
the proper use of guns, and how to deal with citizens without using force. It would also help in
law enforcers went a step further and got to know the people in the community they serve in. It
would be a step to prevent profiling.

Conclusion

The unjust treatment of minorities in the justice system evidently needs to change.
Transforming to the American Justice System is not going to be easy and the change will not
come fast. Many different people in different levels of society need to come together and to fix
this broken system. If the justice system and everyone involved in it does not do what is they
supposed to do, then what does that really say about the United States?
1 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership Conference Education Fund,
n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

2 Rucke, Katie. "US Police Have Killed Over 5,000 Civilians Since 9/11." MintPress
News. MintPress, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

3 http://image.slidesharecdn.com/cjs-140124032702-phpapp01/95/criminal-justice-
system-8-638.jpg

4 Debo, Angie. "To Establish Justice." The Western Historical Quarterly 7.4 (1976): 405.
Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

5 "The Criminal Justice System." The Criminal Justice System. National Center for
Victims of Crime, 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

6 "Justice On Trial." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights/The Leadership Conference Education Fund, 2017. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.

7 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership
Conference Education Fund, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

8 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The
Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership Conference Education Fund,
n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

9 http://graphs.net/police-brutality-statistics.html

10 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership
Conference Education Fund, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

11 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership
Conference Education Fund, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

12 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership
Conference Education Fund, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

13 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership
Conference Education Fund, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

14 "The Reality of Racial Profiling." The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human
Rights. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights/The Leadership
Conference Education Fund, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.

15 Rucke, Katie. "US Police Have Killed Over 5,000 Civilians Since 9/11." MintPress
News. MintPress, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

16 Rucke, Katie. "US Police Have Killed Over 5,000 Civilians Since 9/11." MintPress News.
MintPress, 03 Mar. 2015. Web. 11 Apr. 2017.

17 Craven, Julia. "Black People Are Way More Likely To Be Killed By Police Than Their
White Peers: Study." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 22 Dec. 2016. Web.
11 Apr. 2017.

18 "Every 7 Hours, Cops Kill an American Citizen." CopCrisis. CopCrisis.com, 2015.


Web. 16 Apr. 2017.