Criminal law is based on the principle of actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea. The principle is to the extent that a man is not guilty of his acts, actus in the absence of a guilty conscience, mens rea (Gardner, 2009). To this end, criminal law justice provides that the person alleging the commission of a crime must proof beyond reasonable doubt that the accused person(s) possessed mens rea, if the court is to hold a criminal liability against the accused. In the case of People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson (1995) or what has come to be famously known as the O.J. Simpson Trial is a classical illustration of how highly the U.S. criminal justice regards the beyond reasonable doubt principle.
The United States of America is by all rights a multi-racial, multi-ethnic society comprising mainly of Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian and Native Americans. This multi-racial society has seen with it the development and manifestation of racial disparity since its inception. Such notions are commonly based on beliefs that some races are more superior to others. Such notions have found root to the core of the American society, and to this end to the justice system which is by all means a social element. Under criminal law, this may be reflected in regards to legal factors as well as extralegal factors. Whereas the legal influences may contain aspects like the seriousness of the crime as well as the criminal records, extralegal notions are based on factors like gender, race, and class amongst others. These thus fail the test of criminal behavior as they are based mainly on the group membership an individual belongs to.
Such disparity is experienced due to the existence of a proportion of a specific racial and or ethnic group that is greater than the proportion of such groups within the system in existence over a general population (Mauer, 2006). Further the existence of these disparities varies. They may exist due to differing levels of criminal activities, may also be contributed by having the law enforcement department laying emphasis on particular communities, can also be caused by legislature that gives rise to such notions as well as decision making by criminal justice practitioners who have a wide range of discretion in regards to the justice process at one or more stages in the system.
In criminal law, illegitimate or unwarranted racial disparity is resulted when there is dissimilar treatment of people who are under similar situation where the dissimilar treatment is based on race. Such treatment is in most cases caused by biasness though can in some be influenced by factors that are sparsely related to race. Another cause is unguarded, individual or institution level decisions that are race-based. Structural racism...