Race in the Criminal Justice

Gould, judicial systems have to address the concerns about disparate treatment and its affect on sentencing outcomes (pg.1 paragraph 1).

In 1989 the National Consortium of Task Forces and Commissions of Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts (the Consortium) was established. Its primary goal was to encourage judicial authorities to investigate the treatment of minorities in the court. The Consortium was challenged to understand if disparate treatment existed and affected sentence outcomes.

According to the author, The Consortium not only wants to know if racial disparities exist, but want to know the reasoning behind the existence. The author goes further to say that imperative data should be assessed in order to reach a fair conclusion. The Consortium should obtain information on the litigants background, characteristics of the case, type of representation and demographics of tier of fact.

The litigants background should be assessed for things such as household income, education, age, and job status. Characteristics of the case should include substantive type and number of claims raised. When examining type of representation, imperative data such as court appointed or paid for attorney should be analyzed. Finally, when gathering information about demographics or tier of fact, the judges race, ethnicity, experience, age and gender should be collected. The mentioned information is deemed essential as the author states that “relationship between demographics and case outcome may be explained by a litigants available resources throughout the litigation process” (pg. 322-323).

One of the most vital components that attributed to Black and White perception about punitive distribution is income level. According to “The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science” by Lauren J. Krivo and Ruth D. Peterson, injustice towards Blacks and other minorities can be attributed to social inequalities. Inequalities in education, employment and health can be attributed to the disproportionate amount of minorities imprisoned

The author goes on to suggest that the typical inmate was undereducated, unemployed and living in poverty before incarceration (pg. 10, paragraph 1). These disadvantages can take away from a litigants defensive strategy.

According to the article “The Rationalization of Crime and Punishment” by Rose M. Brewer and Nancy Heitzeag Blacks are also more likely to encounter the prison system as Blacks are more subject to racial profiling and excessive surveillance.

The author goes on to say once convicted of a crime it adversely impacts the minorities ability get gainful employment. With the advancement in technology, a potential employer has immediate access to a potential employee criminal record through background checks. Also, once convicted of a drug related crime, the individual is now banned from receiving federal financial aid for education. These barriers that stifle employment and educational opportunities perpetuate a minority interaction with the judicial system. The obstacles to access education or get employment increase the chances of prison reoccurrence (628).

The number of minorities in the prison system heavily outweighs that of their White counterpart. With the huge gap between White and Blacks incarcerated, the notion of racial disparity in sentencing practices has to be examined. Several judicial systems have recognized the disparity and have now implemented proactive steps to address the issue.

Works Cited

Brewer, R., Heitzeag N. The rationalization of crime and punishment. Retrieved November 27,

2009 from

Bureau of Justice Statistics. The nations prison population continues its slow growth up 1.9

percent last year. Retrieved November 27, 2009, from

Gould, J. Studying inequality with one eye: A new agenda for evaluating disparate treatment in the courts. Retrieved November 25, 2009, from

Johnson, D. (in press). Racial prejudice, perceived injustice, and the Black-White gap in punitive attitudes. Criminal Justice. Retrieved November 25, 2009, from

Krivo, L., Peterson, R. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Criminal Justice. Retrieved November 25, 2009, from

Lounsberry, E. Justices unfetter judges on sentences; The Supreme Court said sentencing guidelines are advisory, not mandatory. A racial disparity was.

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