Is the Criminal Justice System Racist?

This is an incredibly difficult question to look at, but as time goes on, it’s becoming clearer that many Americans believe racism is a core issue of the criminal justice system in the United States. This is likely a jarring piece of information for many of us, but there are a lot of reasons that are usually cited in conversations. Here are just a few of the most common reasons that come up when racism and the criminal justice system are discussed.

–     Minorities seem to go to jail a lot more than Caucasians, and specifically, African Americans seem to get the worst of it. Of course, some of this can be attributed to the fact that minorities are becoming a significant part of the American population.

–     Financial differences. This is a huge deal, because sadly, statistics say that many people who are poor are also in minority groups. Poor people, statistically, are more likely to commit crimes, but they are also less likely to be able to afford a good lawyer, which puts the odds against them from the get go. Yikes!

–     Racial differences continue to be a problem, and many people are still programmed to be uncomfortable toward those of a different race than themselves. Given that racism in the United States in general is still a problem, it should be no surprise that sometimes it leaks into the criminal justice system, whether it’s in juries, lawyers, judges, or even the law enforcement officials that are dealing with the case. Even though many people say that they are trying to be unbiased, many of those same people struggle with doing so – it’s a difficult balance, and sometimes rears its ugly head during criminal trials.

So, is the system inherently racist? Or are there other systems at play here that make it difficult for us to make an appropriate judgment call about the whole thing? There is, clearly, reform that has to be done in the system, but it’s going to take a while before those changes go into effect (some changes include body cams, which have been tested all over the country at different police forces). The world we live in is a little more threatening than it has ever been, so it’s important that we make sure that we’re getting the right people, and not just those that we assume are the wrong doers.

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