Is the Criminal Justice System Racist?

 Posted on December 00,0000 in Criminal Law

East Hartford criminal defense attorney jury trialRacism is not an issue that is new to our country -- this has been a very problematic issue in the United States for the entirety of the country’s 244-year existence. Even before the country was established, the slave trade was alive and well. By 1865, however, slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and made owning a human being illegal. The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s brought about the next biggest racial change in the country -- segregation was ended. Now, in recent years, we have seen a new movement emerging, one that was ignited by multiple unjustified killings of black men by police officers. This new movement has been dubbed the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and is a call for racial equality, especially within our criminal justice system.

Understanding Systemic Racism

When you use the term systemic racism, people often incorrectly interpret that as meaning that all of the people involved in the criminal justice system are racist. In actuality, systemic racism refers to the policies and procedures that produce results that seem to disproportionately punish people of color more often than people who are white. Many of the elements contained within modern-day law enforcement were introduced and kept on permanently during the Jim Crow era.

Over the years, hundreds of studies have been conducted on the outcomes of the current criminal justice system to determine if the system really is punishing people of color more frequently. Many, if not most, studies have produced data that is hard to argue with. In nearly all areas, such as arrests, traffic violations, prison populations, and even the death penalty, people of color are disproportionally affected.

  • Profiling: Racial profiling is something that is rampant in the criminal justice system. Even if it may not be a conscious decision, it still happens. Multiple studies have recorded arrests and have come to the conclusion that people of color are disproportionately arrested, pulled over, or subject to vehicle and/or body searches more than white people in the same situations. For example, one study conducted in Connecticut in 2017 found that while racial disparity had narrowed in recent years, black drivers were still more likely to be searched after traffic stops for cell phone, seat belt, license, or registration violations.

  • Prison Population: People of color also make up a disproportionate section of the prison population. Data from the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission states that blacks are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than white people, with Hispanics being about five times more likely. The Pew Research Center has compiled information on prison populations across the United States. According to their research, blacks made up around 12 percent of the U.S. population, yet they accounted for nearly 33 percent of the nation’s prison population. In comparison, whites make up about 64 percent of the general population, yet they only make up around 30 percent of the prison population.

Contact a Hartford, CT Criminal Defense Attorney

Systemic racism is a difficult issue and something that cannot be solved overnight. It will take years of change on the legal, procedural, and social levels to truly abolish systemic racism. If you believe you have been unjustly treated by police officers or you have been the target of an arrest because of your race or ethnicity, you should speak with a knowledgeable East Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer. At the Woolf Law Firm, LLC, we will utilize our vast legal experience to help you resolve your situation. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 860-290-8690.



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