American Criminal Justice and Racist Myths of Black Criminality

Has the American criminal justice system ever to your satisfaction acknowledged or confronted the system′s links to and existence as a legacy of racist myths of black criminality?

The American justice system has continually and perpetually propagated a legacy ingrained on injustice against people of color and has failed to respond satisfactorily to the continual presence of anomalies that hinder the attainment of pure justice for people of color particularly African Americans.  Despite the presence of overwhelming research recommendations for improvement, anomalies still exists in the American justice system that shape the perspective of court authorities, police and jurors about the treatment of African Americans. This paper will attempt to disprove the “mythical” nature of black criminalization and show the overt racism that exists within the American criminal justice system by examining stages such as arrest, prosecution and sentencing in order to show that the justice system has not acknowledged its links to a legacy of racism and black criminality and will continue to remain adamant in confronting these allegations and instead hide behind unreliable data sources and the use of outdated and racist categorization of individuals.

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According to Heather MacDonald, the allegations of black criminalization against the American criminal justice system are based on myth. She posits that the high rate of African America incarceration can only be attributed to their persistent involvement in behavior of criminal nature and not discrimination from the justice system which is seven times that of non-Hispanic Americans representing 50% and 40% of all robbery and violent crime arrests respectively. Additionally, she is of the opinion that parity has been established between race of offenders who commit crimes involving aggravated assault and the resultant arrests which shows there has been no discrimination. Moreover, she found that African American had a lower chance of being prosecuted and a significantly lowered chance of being convicted after an arrest is made and concluded that the differences in criminal offending among racial population is the only explanation for the high proportion of African Americans in the prison population.

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As can be seen from the evidence presented by this paper, several holes in reasoning will emerge when one tries to defend the American Justice system’s shift from its perpetual legacy of black criminality. For instance, the leniency posited by MacDonald only occurs at later stages of the system when an attempt is being made by jurors and prosecuting authorities to correct an inappropriate arrest. African American are likely to be profiled due to during traffic stops in incidences of individual discrimination and more likely to be arrested on vagrancy laws than whites based on contextual discrimination. This is due to the disparities in the American social system the place minority communities on the lower end of the scale when it comes to education, employment, access to health care and good housing/shelter.

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The justice system has continuously used these racial demographics to enforce racist laws on the American population that focus on black criminality. For instance, the application of racially a racially neutral factor such as employment status in the decision to grant bail has the result of denying bail to African Americans since they are incredibly and disproportionately represented in the unemployed segment of the population. The key to this racist legacy is the result, the result of institutionalized racism which is founded on the overt racism enshrined in the American justice system. The presence of de facto (not in law) practices that get codified through overt racism and get approved by mechanisms that are available in law. The criterion to grant bail to employed offenders since their absence from work would lead to greater public loss is not racist but the result of it is racist. This is why the Justice system will never satisfactorily respond to racist myths about black criminality, because the law is not made to result in injustice for a minority even if it often does.

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However, there seems to be certain de jure anomalies as well as de facto practices where racial minorities are often treated more harshly and others where they are treated more harshly especially when consideration of the relationship between the offender and the victim. These anomalies show the way that the law and its application is structured to enhance black criminalization and devalue people of color. For instance, African American are more likely to be arrested when the crime/offense is committed against a white individual than when the crime involves an African American/minority member against another minority member.

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Historically, an African American committing a violent crime against his fellow African American was considered normal behavior during the ages of slavery and this assumption is still in practice to this date. In its response to the racist myths of black criminality the American Justice System has provided statistics based on data that is unreliable, of low quality and containing racist categorizations. In 2008, for instance, the use of outdated categorization of “whites” versus “non-whites” that had previously been prohibited by the OMB succeeds in inflating the proportion of incarcerated non-Hispanic whites to 56% against 46% of African Americans. The assumption made by these statistics is that all people who are not African Americans are white. This supposition that includes other racial minorities such as Hispanic Americans as white succeeds in showing that the number of whites in prison is higher than that of African Americans, which is not the case.

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