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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System

The 21st century is characterized by the struggle with the de jure and de facto unfairness in the American Criminal Justice System despite the decline in apparent discrimination in the CJS. Crime and punishment remain a significant force in driving the racial divide in the US (Piquero & Brame, 2008). According to Mauer (2006), various linking factors between race and class have contributed to the increased criminal behavior. First, crime and unemployment are rampant in low-income African-American communities. The stigma of incarceration exacerbated by the racial dynamics of imprisonment and racist employment practices reflects racial bias. In this regard, the recruitment of white convicted felons and blacks with similar credentials and no criminal records at the same rate reflects the assumption that African-Americans are born with the stigma of a felony conviction. Therefore, blacks will act out the stereotype leading to increased level of crimes.


Secondly, the current expanding scale of imprisonment has contributed to a decline in the number of inmates who have access to education and vocational services. Increased costs associated with prison expansion to accommodate the increasing number of inmates have led to the neglect of programming in prison (The Economist, 2002). Therefore, ex-offenders have limited financial resources due to the lack of relevant work experiences that leads to higher recidivism rates. Thirdly, the scale of current imprisonment rates has facilitated the increase in recidivism. The frequent imprisonment experience, particularly in many African-American neighborhoods, has led to the undermining of the deterrent value of incarceration (Mauer, 2006). More so, the increasing imprisonment of the petty offenders may significantly reduce the respect towards the national justice system due to the perception of it unjustly increased use of incarceration. The mass incarceration documented in the American CJS may result in substantial consequences. The cycling of offenders in and out of the system over a period will have a significant impact on the population as the recidivist criminals engage in crimes that are more serious.

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