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Racism served as the justification for slave trade and colonization. However, it still resonates in the present times. It manifests in a variety of ways. In addition, the most notable challenges facing African-Americans relate to the administration of justice, as well as access to education, employment, health, and proper housing. For instance, although in many cases the people of African descent are considered to be a minority, they constitute the highest percentage of the inmate population. They also receive harsher jail terms and sentences than those of the dominant ethnicity. This is one aspect of racism which allows law enforcers to systematically targets people with dark skin. It has created severe stereotyping of people of African descendant having the propensity to committing crimes. Therefore, it means that racism is still prevalent in the American society, and there is the need to develop strategies to alleviate the racial challenges threatening the people of African descent in the present times.
African-Americans are also called Black Americans. They are an ethnic group living in the United States. Most of them are descendants of the slaves that were taken from West Africa. However, these communities have struggled with racism related issues for a long time . In some cases, the Blacks were forced to build their own schools, churches, and social clubs. Therefore, despite the passage of laws to ban discrimination, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the African-Americans living in states such as California still face racism. The major reason for this is the widespread racism in the judicial processes in the United States. As a result, the blacks are incarcerated at higher rates. They also receive harsher sentences than the whites even when they commit similar crimes.
Currently, racial discrimination in the criminal justice system is one of the biggest challenges that African- Americans have to face. For this group of people, racial disparities and discrimination persist at every stage of the American criminal justice system, including policing, trials, and sentencing. Racial profiling is the most common practice. For instance, in Connecticut, a report in April, 2015 indicated that 620,000 traffic stops proved that racial profiling was widespread, especially during the day when the race of the driver was visible . Therefore, federal, state, and local police officers exercise substantial discretion in at least three contexts: street-level crimes, counter terrorism, and immigrant law enforcement. As a result, there is a disproportionate number of African-Americans in the criminal justice system. However, the majority of Americans are not aware that the mass incarceration of Black people is a form of racism . Instead, they believe that African-Americans participate in criminal activities more. This is not the case; it is the criminal justice system that is responsible. It is racist and discriminates against the Blacks, especially the males, to ensure that they are incarcerated at higher rates than their white counterparts.
The most notable disparities are obvious in sentencing decisions. In the federal system, black males are given sentences that are 20 percent longer than those of the whites for similar crimes. Moreover, the offenders of African descent face greater odds of incarceration than their white counterparts in American courts . On this note, it is clear that race plays a significant role in determining the sentences that the offender will get. Further, the more severe the sentences and jail terms, the more racial disparity is noted. For instance, although blacks comprise about 13 percent of the American population, they constitute 28.3 percent of the prisoners serving life sentences.
In addition, 56.4 percent of prisoners serving without parole and 56.1 percent of those committed as juveniles are African-American, whereas 65.4 percent of the prisoners serving for non-violent offenses are members of the black community . Racial disparities are even worse in certain states. For example, in Georgia and Louisiana, 73.9 and 73.3 percent respectively of the prisoners serving without parole are blacks . For these reasons, it is evident that the criminal justice system is rife with racial discrimination and disparities that lead to disparate treatment of African-Americans and other people of color. Such aspects as stops and searches, prosecutions, arrests, trials, sentencing, and plea negotiations all prove that inequality exists. Hence, criminal processes are inseparable from systematic racism and bias . In the state of California, many prisoners received sentences without parole for crimes they committed as children. However, the situation is similar. The blacks serve sentences at the rate that is 18 times higher than that of the whites. Similarly, in Michigan, only 29 percent of youths are people of color, but they comprise 73 percent of imprisoned children . This shows that racism plays a significant role in dealing with juvenile offenders.
Strategies for Reducing Racism in the American Criminal Justice System
Changing law enforcement practices is one of the strategies that have been applied previously to eliminate issues of racism against the blacks in the administration of justice. This strategy has been popularized by human rights organizations’ activism . These efforts focused on the need to create alternatives to arresting people. Sometimes arrests are used even in cases when they are not appropriate. These are instances, such as offenses committed by juveniles and homeless persons. Rather than taking offenders in these groups to courts, they could be taken to approved schools and rehabilitation centers. However, despite these efforts, racism still influences the administration of judicial activities. Therefore, the government should develop protocols that can be used by the police when dealing with the minorities. For instance, the databases at police departments can be used to monitor activities by race and create awareness of the disparate treatment by officers . When these patterns emerge, necessary actions should be taken to ensure that acts of racial disparities are eliminated appropriately.
Developing community policing is another approach that has been applied to eliminate racism. In this case, structures and processes were created to encourage the participation of community members. In other words, the people themselves would be involved in designing and implementing strategies to address racism . Similarly, public forums and discussions on issues of racial discrimination should initiate. These discussions would serve as a tool to sensitize the community and police to racial conflicts that exist in particular neighborhoods. However, this strategy was hindered by the failure of the law enforcement agencies to design open lines of communication with the community . This way, it become difficult for the community to provide information about crimes to the police without the fear of being judged on racial grounds.
The ability to frame and conduct rational conversations is the best strategy to reduce racism in the American criminal justice system. In this case, the American society and law enforcers should engage in an open and honest conversation in order to influence the system to drop old ways that are racially-based . In other words, it is imperative for every American to engage in open-ended conversations and discussions to show that they are represented in American courts. Second, this strategy will also make law enforcers demonstrate their willingness to address racial and ethnic disparities in a collaborative manner . Consequently, the justice systems should be designed and equipped to create healthy criminal procedures that will not discriminate against the people of color. On a further note, due to the prevalence of racism in justice procedures, most of the offenders, especially the juveniles, undergo traumatic experiences. Therefore, the stakeholders of the American criminal justice system should develop mechanism to convince the underaged to stay away from delinquent behaviors . In other words, law enforcers should be informed on the importance of eliminating racial practices that cause trauma to the offenders.
In conclusion, there are many challenges that African-Americans face in the United States. However, the most notable issue is racism in the judicial processes. Although black people are regarded to be a minority group, they are overrepresented in courts and prisons. They are arrested and sentenced for similar crimes at higher rates than their white counterparts. Practically, there is a high number of males from the black community that are serving jail sentences that are harsher than those served by the whites. However, this does not mean that black males are more involved in crimes than the whites. The major reason for this disparity is that racism has influenced judicial processes and decisions. On the other hand, these problems can be reduced by changing the certain law enforcement practices and using alternatives for arrest. Moreover, the government should use the current databases to analyze patterns of racism and create similar programs to eliminate the issue. Additionally, the use of community policing is important to reduce racism, because law enforcers and communities will work together in a positive manner. Moreover, the government should develop programs to educate the officers that enforce the law and ensure that they will understand that racism is causing trauma, especially to juvenile offenders. This way, it will be easier to counteract the judicial procedures based on racial basis.
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