Racism in the American Criminal Justice System

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Submitted By raysonav
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Introduction With practices aimed at reducing discrimination such as affirmative action, the argument has been made that racial discrimination is no longer a pressing issue in American society.[1] It has further been argued that the Constitution protects all citizens, and race has no weight in the American criminal justice system.[2] While the United States Constitution guarantees equal treatment of all citizens, regardless of race, racism still exists in the American law enforcement and criminal justice systems. In this era with the end of official institutional racism, there has been a corresponding shift from de jure racism to a de facto racism where members of minority groups, especially African Americans, are subject to unequal protection of the laws and excessive in the American criminal justice system, particularly in drug law enforcement.[3] Drug law enforcement is far more discretionary than for other offenses. It is for the police to decide when and where they will seek to make drug arrests, and what priority they will place on enforcing drug laws.[4] Since the war on drugs began in the 1980s, two general trends have been identified. First, there has been a substantial increasing in the number of drug arrests overall; and second, black males have constituted an increasing proportion of these arrests.[5] Based on this evidence, it would be natural to assume that the number of arrests is proportional to the crime rate – that blacks began using drugs in greater numbers since the 1980s and continue to up to the present day. In reality however, it appears that this is simply not the case. In 2000, a black male had the same likelihood of being a monthly drug user as did a white male (6.4%), while a Hispanic male was slightly less likely (5.3%). At the same time however, blacks represented 32% of arrests for drug possession.[6] With the greater…...

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