The criminal justice system of the United States is said to be a fair system. The system is not supposed to discriminate against different races, religious groups or social classes, everyone is supposed to get the same equal treatment. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Many different types of people including African American’s, Hispanics and the poor are getting unfair treatment in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system discriminates against certain races and social classes.
One of the most famous cases of racial injustice of the criminal justice system is the case of Rodney King. Rodney King was a black taxi driver who was violently arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department in March of 1991. California Highway patrol spotted Rodney King driving at excessive speeds and when they pulled him over, he did not obey their commands to step out of his vehicle. He was then beaten repeatedly by PR24 baton ( also known as a police stick) and was later struck twice with a taser gun.
Following the Rodney King incident , The Report of the Los Angeles Police Department (1991) found that “there was excessive use of force by Los Angeles Police officers and that this was compounded by racism and bias. ” One quarter of the 960 Los Angeles Police officers that were surveyed agreed that officers were racial toward minorities. Witnesses who testified said that the Los Angeles Police Department as a whole “tolerated discriminatory treatment . “ They also said that they detained African American and Latino men who fit generalized descriptions of subjects.
In the New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities report (1991), a panel of judges, attorney’s and law professors found that “there are two justice systems in the courts of New York State; one for white’s and a very different one for minorities and the poor” (p. 1). They also found “inequality, disparate treatment, and injustice based on race. ” The panel also concluded that “minority cases often take only four or five minutes in court, and that black defendants outside of New York City frequently have their cases heard by an all white jury. Below is a table that shows the number of inmates n state or federal prisons or local jails.
(5) ? Is there racial discrimination in in the jury selection process? Certainty. The Dallas Morning News examined fifteen capital murder trials from 1980 through 1986 and reveled that prosecutors excluded 90percent of African Americans qualified for jury selection. A study of the federal death penalty by the U. S. Department of Justice released in September, 2000 found 80 percent of federal defendants who faced capital charges were members of racial minorities, as were 74 percent of convicted defendants for whom prosecutors recommended the death penalty In the case of Strauder V.
West Virginia (1880), the court took down a statute that limited jury service to white men on the grounds that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. This ruling however, did not stop some states from attempting to keep an all white jury. For example, in Delaware, jury selection was drawn from lists of taxpayers. Even though African Americans were eligible for jury selection, they were hardly ever selected because, as explained by state authorities, few African American’s in the state were intelligent, experienced, or moral enough to serve as jurors.
Some states still also pulled jurors names from registered voters, the Department of Motor Vehicles or property tax rolls, and for some area’s racial minorities are less likely to be registered voters, own automobiles or own property. Therefore, the people who end up in the jury pool are middle-class white people. In 1985, Sheri Lynn Johnson, a Cornwell law professor reviewed a dozen mock-jury trials. She concluded that the “race of the defendant significantly and directly affects the determination of guilt.
” In the studies, identical simulation trials were held, sometimes with white defendants and sometimes with African American defendants. Sheri Lynn Johnson found that white jurors were more likely to find an African American defendant guilty more likely than a white defendant, even though the mock trials were based on the same crime and the same evidence. She also found that African American jurors found the white defendants guilty more than the black defendants. In an article found in the New York Times newspaper, a clear case of racial discrimination is shown.
Thomas Miller, an African American was charged with shooting two white hotel clerks during a robbery in 1985. One of the hotel clerks died and Thomas Miller , 50, was supposed to be executed by the State of Texas on February 21. He appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court because he felt that the jury that convicted him was chosen using “racial discriminatory standards”. The District Attorney’s office opposed the appeal and stated that there was no evidence of any racial discrimination. Yet the jury consisted of nine whites, one Filipino, one Hispanic, and one African American.
To date, both state and federal courts have upheld his death sentence, saying that no racial discrimination occurred during his jury selection. In a two year period in the state of Maryland, African Americans made up 79. 2 percent of the drivers stopped and searched by the police on Interstate 95, even though they made up only 17. 5 percent of the drivers who violated traffic laws. (John Lamberth, Driving while Black). A 1998 study of police stop and search patterns in England and Wales by the British Government’s Home Office found that African American’s were 7.
5 times more likely to be stopped and searched than whites. Statistics also show that minorities are much more likely to be stopped and searched. According to the Criminal Evidence Act of 2002/2003, 9,000 African American’s were stopped and searched opposed to 700 white’s who were stopped and searched. Below is a chart that shows the proportion of adults stopped by police according to ethnic groups. (7) ? Statistics show that one fourth of all black males and 16 percent of Latino’s can expect to spend time in prison sometime during their lifetime opposed to only four percent of white males.
Something even more shocking is the fact that a third of all African American males, age 20-29 are either in jail, on probation or on parole. (The Color of Justice). Race plays a large role in whether or not a person gets treated fairly in the criminal justice system. Race is not the only factor that is discriminated in the criminal justice system. Social class, whether a person is rich or poor also plays a big role in the way a person gets treated in the criminal justice system. The more money a person has, the better treatment they are going to get in the system.
The connection between poverty and crime has been in issue for many years. It is proven that more poverty stricken area’s are the area’s that are more likely to be under strict watch by police because of the high drug and crime rates. The United States supreme court case of Gideon v. Wainwright is a clear example of injustice in the criminal justice system because of social class. Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested on June 3, 1961 in Panama City, Florida under the charges of breaking and entering and attempt to commit larceny at the local pool hall.
Clarence Gideon was then forced to defend himself in court because he did not have enough money to pay for a lawyer, and the judge did not appoint him one. He was sentenced with five years in prison. While in jail, he studied the American Legal System and learned that the judge had violated his sixth amendment right to counsel. He then wrote a letter to the FBI in Florida, but was denied any help. In 1962 he mailed a petition to the Supreme Court, asking to consider his complaint. The supreme court agreed and appointed Clarence Gideon an attorney.
His attorney argued that “ a common man with no training in law cannot go up against a trained lawyer and win” and that “you cannot have a fair trial without counsel. ” Because Clarence Earl Gideon did not have enough money to afford a lawyer he was not represented properly and therefore was given unfair treatment in the criminal justice system. If a man with more money or power had committed the same crime as Gideon had, his treatment in the criminal justice system would have been much more fair. Other clear cases that bluntly show injustice in the criminal justice system are the cases of celebrities.
Celebrities receive highly better treatment in the system opposed to average people. It is almost as if they have a different set of rules when it comes to the criminal justice system. So why is it that stars like Kobe Bryant, Martha Stweart and Paris Hilton get treated so differently? One word: money. Celebrities have enough money to buy the best lawyers in the world to represent them. Most people are not able to afford a “dream team” of lawyers. Or the celebrities are simply let go of even being arrested or charged because of their status.
Celebrities like Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton have been pulled over numerous times because of drunk driving or simply just reckless driving and received very little sentencing for the offenses. When an average person is pulled over and arrested for drunk or reckless driving, their charges are often much more serious than a short restricted license. Below is a report to show the differences between the rich and the poor when it comes to both sentencing and parole. Sentences and paroles for different classes of crime, 1986 (10)
Average Average time sentence served (months) (months) —————————————————- Crimes of the poor: Robbery 128. 5 46. 5 Larceny/theft 36. 9 18. 3 Burglary 35. 6 17. 9 Crimes of the rich: Fraud 27. 8 13. 6 Embezzlement 23. 8 11. 4 Income tax evasion 18. 3 10. 3 Clearly the average time served for the crimes of the poor are much more severe than the average time served for the rich. Another advantage that celebrities have is the access to the press, and the ability to offer a counter-spin on one’s case. (Hilden, Julie).
An ordinary person does not have much access to the press and cannot arrange lengthy interviews that will sway the jury pool. The color of one’s skin, the neighborhood one resigns in and the social class one belongs to plays a big role in the type of treatment one receives in the criminal justice system. This treatment is unfair and needs to be changed. It shouldn’t matter what race one belongs to or how much money one has, the sentencing and treatment in the criminal justice system should be the same for everyone. Works Cited Maier, Timothy W. (2004).
The High Price of Celebrity ‘Justice’; As Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant, Martha Stewart and other stars head to court, public perception is that the scales of justice are imbalanced in favor of celebrities – The Nation. Retrieved on March 16, 2007, from Thompson Gale database. Beilke, Dustin. (1999). No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System. Retrieved on March, 16, 2007 from Thompson Gale database. Author Unknown. Clarence Earl Gideon. Retrieved on March 16, 2007 from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Clarence_Earl_Gideon Author Unknown. The Color of Justice.
Retrieved on March 16, 2007 from http://www. crf-usa. org/brown50th/color_of_justice. htm Author Unknown. (2004) Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System. (P. 57-66). Retrieved on March 20, 2007 from http://www. sagepub. co. uk/upm-data/5143_Banks_II_Proof_Chapter_3. pdf Hilden, Julie. (August 27, 2004). Celebrity Justice: Famous, Wealthy Criminal Defendants Can Hire High-Priced Lawyers, But Do They Also Face Disadvantages? Retrieved on March 20, 2007 from http://writ. news. findlaw. com/hilden/20040827. html School of Law, Kings College London. (June, 2004).
Race and the Criminal Justice System, an Overview to the Complete Statistics 2002-2003. Retrieved on March 20, 2007 from http://www. cjsonline. gov. uk/downloads/application/pdf/Race_and_the_cjs. pdf Author Unknown. (August, 2004). Racial Discrimination in the Administration of Justice. Retrieved on March 20, 2007 from http://www. soros. org/resources/articles_publications/publications/racialjustice_20040802 Author Unknown. Myth: The criminal justice system is not biased against the poor. Retrieved on March 20, 2007 from http://www. huppi. com/kangaroo/L-CJSpoor. htm Federal Bureau of Prisons, Statistical Report, 1986.