The criminal justice system is a system implemented by national and local governments to maintain law and order. It is used to control crime and criminal offenses and take action against those who break the law by giving penalties. Law enforcers such as police, courts, and jails execute their duties of making arrests, charging, and giving judgment on the punishment if found guilty. The system should aim at enforcing the law to prevent and correct criminals. It should also reduce crime and criminal acts and ensure high standards of conduct in a community. The law used in the systems is composed of rules governing conduct and maintaining order.
Discrimination in the Criminal Justice system
Decision on guilt or innocence comes through the adversarial systems where events on the case are presented in court and a sound judgment is made based on the facts of the case. In criminal trials, however, agents or defendants may be convicted especially when evidence is substantially strong and the offenders who are convicted have a penalty as incarceration or in terms of money. Discrimination may occur in prison sentences and especially on a group of persons who face prior prejudice and therefore convicted with less evidence in the trials. (Wemmers 1996)
Ethical discrimination may also occur and this is particularly an immoral practice that violates ethical origin and violates equality. In criminal justice, discrimination is presented in the force used by officers, which is compounded by vices such as racism and bias. This occurs to minority groups coupled with racial remarks, disparate treatment, lack of courtesy, and an unfriendly environment. There is discrimination on decision-making points to determine arrest, bailing, and selection of the jury and in the subsequent conviction and sentencing. There are also disparities in the death penalty because the race of the victim and offender to a large extent determines the death penalty and the power of the judge to impose it.
When blacks are convicted of murdering a white, they receive capital punishment while in a case of black or white murdering a black they are least likely to have a death penalty. Human rights are abused following discrimination yet it is aimed at being a means of implementing corrective measures on criminals. Equal treatment is a right despite being a victim, witness, or charged with an offense and so fair treatment should come without any discrimination. The legal system has a responsibility such as those of liberty, security, fair treatment, fair trial, thorough investigation, and respect of personal life. Some other rights also are stipulated in the human rights act for sex, disability, religion, and age. (Wemmers 1996).
The civil law that does not involve the police has more cases of discrimination rates than in cases of a criminal offense. Civil law is, therefore, most effective in solving individual or organizational disputes, breach of contract, or breach of the law of tort which is all considered as interfering with the civil rights of a person. These civil rights have territorial boundaries while human rights are universally the same. In the United States, the law protects against discrimination by public and private sectors, especially regarding employment and other privileges without looking at race, religion, or sex. In fascinating incidences, there are afro-centric features of dark skin, size of the nose, and lips which are perceived to be African American related and so inmates with such features receive longer sentences than others with less categorical features as these. Sexual discrimination may be addressed in the civil rights act but in criminal justice systems it relates to the treatment of inmates and those in custody. (Lasok1993).
Causes of discrimination in the criminal Justice system
The judicial branch is inherently discriminatory and racist. Lack of representation could be the major cause of bias in arrests, arraignment, trial, and sentencing. The corrupt practices have made people lose faith and confidence in the criminal justice systems due to harassment as a factor contributed by color. In this context, it is viewed as an injustice system where illegal searches can be conducted and are masked by law. The police have been found red-handed victimizing brutally the blacks and even killing them.
In the criminal justice system, political and socio-economic status is used to determine chances of fair or unfair treatment. In the high profile personnel of personalities as Michael Jackson, Michael Tyson, and Michael Jordan among others, they were tried about their race and status instead of being based on the charge. Erick and Lyle Menedex did not face the death penalty due to the influence of their wealthy parents and so fame and fortune are major determinants in justice systems. (Craig, 2006).
Criminal justice should serve to prevent crime, rehabilitate and serve in its capacity the interest of fairness on all the parties. Among the unjust issues are the inadequacies of appointed lawyers to represent the poor who have been accused of a crime. In America too, cases of imprisonment of young people without any parole have been reported and this is discriminatory and unfair. In some of the cases presented race of the victim counts as it determines who receives the death penalty. (Jenkin, 2008).
Effects of discrimination in the criminal Justice system
In the administration, there is inadequate training of officials and judges and as a result, fair administration of law enforcers and officials is not achieved. There are numerous wrongfully convicted and imprisoned persons mostly attributed to the fact that those who are convicted hardly go to jury trial and so they do not know any evidence put across concerning them and so not found guilty.
The activities that happen in the system are that defendants are made to admit to a crime so that they avoid serving severe punishment as compared with if they pleaded innocent. So therefore most crimes perhaps never occurred but instead are made-up crimes that leave one imprisoned following cheap negotiations.
Injustice occurs as police, prosecutors and judges are not careful about the evidence and in such cases where for example, prosecutors choose to prosecute every case. In such a case, prosecutors no longer understand the difference between guilt and innocence and so anybody could be convicted. It, therefore, shows evidence that the criminal justice systems target results rather than emphasizing achieving justice. The system does not search on truth and justice so that they can consequently conclude if one is guilty or innocent. (Rakeff 1989).
Disparate treatments on minors who are a major target, suffer unequal treatment, arrest, and sentencing. Also, racial profiling of Hispanics finds the victims vulnerable to arrest due to their accent and this is very demoralizing. Furthermore, prosecutorial discretion is unfair to blacks and Hispanic Americans and usually, judgment is unfair on them. (Craig, 2006).
Harsh treatment is also experienced by the youth as they target them in wars on drugs with like 18 white youths against 86 black youths being arrested for selling the drugs. To a large extent, the criminal justice system does not reflect the extensive diversity of the people in British society. As a result, blacks and Asians are under presented and do not rise in terms of rank. To tackle this kind of discrimination, thorough investigations should be done so that competent personnel, as well as unbiased policies on a judgment, can be implemented at the same level for all those involved. The police need to investigate and use legal force to effect public order as this is their main responsibility. In such a case unjustified arrests, false accusation, and mal treatment is not a duty that should be executed by police. They need not be corrupt or receive a bribe to cover criminal offenses but instead should aim at maintaining law and order at all costs.
In the courts, cases need to be solved and settled in just or fair procedures. Criminal justice must include knowledgeable judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys, who can offer legal proceedings and give a genuine final decision without regard to personal status, race, or color. All rulings should be according to the facts of the case and not the influence of the lawyers or financial strength of the accused. (Jenkin, 2008).
A defense attorney should give guidance to the accused on likely outcomes and give the way forward as the legal process goes on. The lawyer, therefore, should not influence him to accept a plea or demand a jury. Final judgment should be from unbiased judges and in such a case fair judgment can be arrived at. Any prejudice in the entire process is subject to destroy the court’s credibility. In such a case bias and discrimination is the menace that causes threat to making an objective decision. Mechanisms should therefore be put in place so as to present poor judgment in the lawyer’s performance and the jury process. This is mostly because discrimination results to suffering and separation from family members all because of a fault of the legal systems authority. A criminal justice system should have added rights for rehabilitating and conducting vocational training on victims so as to make them give to the society once they are out of jail. Torture, cruel treatment and corporal punishments should be eliminated from the system so that even the entire society regains confidence in the system just as it was before. (Neubauer 2004) (Rakeff 1989).
Police need to professionalize so that they can rebuilt community relations by having community policing strategies. Fear and confusion may be evident in those who do not understand English and so judgment should be fair. The criminal justice system needs a review so that it can rebalance in favor of the law-abiding citizens as this determines prosperity and moral advancements of the society. It should demonstrate honest and effective judgment and decision-making. It is said to be discriminating because the rules and regulations set in the judicial system are actually supposed to apply to all people and in the event of breaking a rule, the same legal proceedings as stipulated in law should be followed. (Raymond 2001).The discrimination goes to an extent especially on the disabled persons who cannot read or write or those who are physically handicapped. They are denied fair ruling in civil law judgment by virtue of their inability. This discrimination continues to marginalize the small ethnic groups and the disabled. This deprives them the right to fair treatment and effective enforcement of law and per the presentation made in court or in other crises. Civil rights law is abused when the justice systems demonstrate corruption, greed or favors. This leaves the alienated groups without due care and protection by the set laws. (Craig, 2006) (Raymond 2001)
Why should the same crime end up having deferring ruling on the basis of color or race? It is discriminatory and creates disharmony and oppression of the poor and less privileged in the society. They have no one to defend their cases and hence are vulnerable to unfair judgment that may lead to many years behind bars or suffering the death penalty on a crime that was not committed. Discrimination is an enemy of nationalism and more recently, it separates people and in such a way, they have different views about life and mostly regarding themselves as inferior and worthless in the society. The criminal justice system should wake up to the call for fair, efficient and just judgment that is rooted on professionalism and as per the laid legal rules and proceedings therein.
Craig Roberts. “Americas Injustice System Is Criminal.” Prosecutors’ Gone Wild. 2006.
Jenkin Alan. “Fixing Our Criminal Injustice System” 2008.
Lasok, D., Wagner W.J. Polish civil law. Brill archive, 1993.
Neubauer D W. Americas Courts and the Criminal Justice System. Thomson Wadsworth, 2004.
Rakeff J. S, Howard W.G. RICO: Civil and Criminal Law And Society. 1989.
Raymond J. C. Asphalt Justice: A critique of the criminal justice system in America. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.
Wemmers, J.M. Victims in the Criminal Justice System. Kugler Publications, 1996.