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Racism In The Criminal Justice System

1255 words - 5 pages

Is the Criminal Justice system racist? This question has been asked many times by people of many colors. According to Mac Donald (2008), the criminal justice system is not at all racist. The article depicts arrest rates of both whites and blacks and compares statistics on these arrests. It looks at the number of whites and the number of blacks in jails and prisons. In this critique, we will be looking into this article to see these points in which Mac Donald states proves that the criminal justice system is, in fact, not a racist one.
It has been said that the criminal justice system is a racist system because blacks are incarcerated at a much higher rate than whites. Many people want to know why. The race industry will proclaim that it is because of discrimination against blacks. Before Senator Barack Obama was nominated President, he spoke on Martin Luther King Day and made the following statement: “blacks and whites are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, [and] receive very different sentences ... for the same crime” (Mac Donald, 2008, p. 15). However, statistics show that this is simply not the case. When public speakers make claims like this without any information to back it up, it only hurts the case for an equal criminal justice system.
On surface level, one may start to believe that it is plausible that the criminal justice system is racist because blacks and whites are incarcerated at very different rates. In 2006, blacks controlled approximately 37.5 percent of jails and prisons across the United States. However, they only constitute about 13 percent of the national population. It was shown that approximately one in 33 black men were in prison in 2006. If we compare that number with the fact that only one in 205 white men were in prison, we can see a major difference (Mac Donald, 2008, p. 15). The percentage of black males (in jail or prison) between the ages of 20 and 34 is eleven percent. These statistics are not always acknowledged by advocates. The advocates will blame it on bias of those who make the decisions regarding arrests, and sentencing.
Mac Donald (2008) looks at the idea that cops over arrest blacks and ignore the crimes that whites commit. However, the races of criminals that are reported by the victims do in fact match arrest data. According to a research study as far back as 1978, “a study of robbery and aggravated assault in eight cities found parity between the race of assailants in victim identifications and in arrests--a finding replicated many times since, across a range of crimes” (Mac Donald, 2008, p. 15). It does not make sense to think why crime victims would be biased in the reports they give to the police.
Mac Donald next explains how advocates say that this “bias” is not only with police and who they arrest, but also moves up the law enforcement chain. They believe that judges and juries must also be biased. Advocates state that judges over sentence blacks and...

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