In the United States most people do not see racism in the criminal justice system as a major issue. That’s because the majority of citizens in this country aren’t involved with our criminal justice system, which is a good thing. There are also a lot of people that are involved with our criminal justice system for good and bad reasons. Throughout the history of this country racism has always been a major issue, and still is today on some terms, but if you were to get law enforcement involved, I believe there would be many different opinions.
When it comes to racism and any issue people in this country could go on forever with their opinions about who is right and who is wrong. The big question being asked is, is the criminal justice system racist? This is the question that many Americans want to know the answer too. There are many statistics to say it is, but there are facts to say it isn’t. In the United States around 558,700 African American adults were placed under arrest under state and federal jurisdiction. African American males had an imprisonment rate 3,059 per 100,000 while white males had a rate of 456 per 100,000 (Bureau of Justice Statistics).
That is nearly seven times higher! If those rates reflected jail, probation and parole populations, the numbers would rise tremendously. These are facts that would give someone the opinion that our criminal justice system has a reputation of having racial issues. An African American child born today has a 1 in 3 chance of ending up in prison However, African Americans only make up about 13% of the population in the United States. One must ask, why is there a less amount of African Americans in the criminal justice system?
The majority of Americans are unaware of mass incarceration and racism in the criminal justice system. Many assume that African Americans are more criminal. However, it is the criminal justice system that is responsible. Some may think that the criminal justice system is racist and discriminates against African American males to ensure they are locked up in prison. The inner cities, where many African Americans live, have become targets for law enforcement. Police are given an incredible amount of discretion that leads to racial profiling.
When these targeted African Americans get sentenced, there is a whole new layer of racism. There are many specific cases of racism from police officers towards African Americans. Some cases show that police officers aren’t exactly being racist and there are some where they are. There is a specific story of a man named Chris Lollie where he said he was sitting in front of a bank by himself waiting to pick up his friends from school. A man approached him and told him to move, the cops were called to the scene and the man was doing nothing illegal. The officer used a stun gun on him for no reason and arrested him.
This could be vied as racism by a lot of people. The officer (white) had no reason to even approach the man in the first place some may think, some also may think he was planning to do something illegal in the bank, there could be multiple point of views. Lollie also had a cell phone video of the situation and the feedback from the video was not good for the police officer. Lollie ended up being charged with trespassing. Which could be vied as the right thing to do but the majority would think that is just the only possible thing they could bring him in for.
The article was made in August of this year and it is said to be one of the most popular views of racism from police officers. (The Huffington Post 8/29/2014). There is another story of a man who was chocked out by a police officer and killed in New York City. The man’s name is Eric Garner, it does say what exactly what happened but its saying that the man wasn’t resisting. If the man wasn’t resisting why was he choked to death by the New York City police officer? Racism? Anger? These are questions I believe the African American Community would like to know the answers to.
(Huffington Post, July 7,2014) The feedback from this story was no good either, the police officer received death threats on multiple occasions and was reported suspended from his duties for a lengthy amount of time. A case of racial profiling was taken at The University of Southern California. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) first responded to a noise complaint at an African American USC student party early Saturday morning with 79 officers, some in riot gear. Student believe the response was an example of racial profiling. To raise awareness about the incident, some videos have been circulating on social media.
The LAPD say the riot squad was called after beer bottles were thrown, the students say not one bottle was thrown and they have video proof that isn’t true. The LAPD told the student paper, Neon Tommy that it responded to a noise complaint at about 2 a. m. Saturday by asking the DJ to turn off the amplified sound. The DJ complied, but when he began using the microphone, the officers shut down the party. The LAPD said they called the riot squad when students resisted leaving and bottles were thrown at officers. Six students were arrested, and one LAPD officer was hospitalized for minor injuries, according to Neon Tommy.
One of the African-American students at the party, Lamar Gary, posted two videos on YouTube that were quickly spread on Facebook and Twitter. The one below has almost 98,000 views. This is footage of a normal college party which happens to be African Americans, showing that the party was being broken up and students were leaving but the riot squad still used force. It is said that if this was an all-white party, only one police car would’ve arrived to tell them to turn the music down. These are cases of major issues having to do with racism in the criminal justice system.
If someone who did not know many facts on the situation were to read those issues they would lean more towards the thought of our criminal justice system being racist. There are also many things that our criminal justice system does to show they’re not racist! The first example shows that not all cops are racist towards African Americans, this shows there are still people who care about everyone no matter what race they are. Jeremy Henwood is a white 36 year old police officer assigned to the mid-city division. Jeremy was also a captain in the United States Marine Corps and recently returned from his previous deployment.
On August 6 at around 5:24 p. m. Jeremy stopped at a local Mcdonalds for some dinner before his shift ended. As he was ordering his food a young African American male around the age of 12 walked up to the counter and asked how much the cookies were. Jeremy then leaned over to him and offered to buy them for him. As Jeremy was buying the cookies, he was asking the young man what he wanted to do when he grew up and just told him to work hard and he could achieve anything he wanted. Jeremy left the Mcdonalds and was shot shortly after while he was sitting in his squad car, he had only made it 6 blocks from the Mcdonalds.
Witnesses said a man pulled up on the driver’s side of Jeremy’s cruiser and shot him with a shotgun in an unprovoked attack (U-T San Diego). Things like this show people that there are police officers and employees of our criminal justice system that are not racist. Many people will have a different point of view on the issue on how police officers treat white American and how police officers treat black Americans. Below is a graph of the percentage who disagree that blacks and other minorities receive equal treatment as whites in the criminal justice system.
This graph shows that in 2014, 56 percent of Americans disagree that blacks and minorities receive equal treatment as whites in the criminal justice system. That is a very high percentage and that shows that obviously there is a problem with racism in our criminal justice system in this country. After viewing all of these different issues and facts, I believe that in our criminal justice systems there are signs of racism, but that does not mean that our criminal justice system is “racist” this just means that there are employees of the system that are racist.
There are white police officers that see African American males and think they’re up to no good, and maybe they have drugs on them. I believe there will always be people like that, and that is very unfortunate. When it comes to major issues like Ferguson, a major issue which just happened about 2 weeks ago. That’s facts show that the white police officer was defending himself and he had every right to do what he did, but the majority of the African American community will never understand that. If the tables were turned and an African American police officer shot a white teenager there would be no issue.
I just think our community is a major problem to our country believing that our criminal justice system is racist, but overall I believe there is racism in our criminal justice system but our criminal justice system is not racist. In conclusion the question of whether or not our criminal justice system is racist is very important. This question is going to be asked for years and years and there will never be a straight answer, there will always be different opinions. When I was researching these issues I wanted to make sure that these issues were majorly supported.
I wanted to make sure both sides were supported in this issues, which I believe there were. Even though there weren’t as many cases supporting that the criminal justice system was not racist, that can still be proven by how police officers treat pedestrians every day. I would point that out as a weakness in my paper, not having as much support for our criminal justice system being anti-racist. Overall I would say that the research question is very important and it will be asked for many years and there will always be many different opinions. Work Cited March 19 (2014) http://www. usatoday.
com/story/opinion/2014/03/19/law-enforcement-clue-jury-criminal-column/6490641/ August 2014 Huffington post http://www. huffingtonpost. com/2014/08/29/st-paul-minnesota-black-man-stun-gun-chris-lollie_n_5736908. html July 7 2014 Huffington Post http://www. huffingtonpost. com/2014/07/19/eric-garner-chokehold-death_n_5602443. html December 28, 2013 Washington post http://www. washingtonpost. com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/28/chris-hayess-graph-of-the-year-our-racist-criminal-justice-system-in-one-chart/ August 7, 2013: UT San Diego http://www. utsandiego. com/news/2013/aug/07/slain-officers-final-act-of-kindness-remembered/.