Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 1 Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation by Hali Marquez An undergraduate thesis submitted in partial completion of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Honors Program May 201 0 Barbara Koehler, J.D. Dr. Andrea Borrego Dr. Megan Hughes Zarz o Primary Advisor Primary Advisor Honors Program Director
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 2 Abstract Social injustice has been prevalent throughout the criminal justice system since its inception . People of color often do not receive fair and just treatment when they are stopped by the police or arrested . In recent years, the trial involving Brian Banks, an African American male of low socioeconomic status, exemplifies bias in the criminal justi ce system. Banks was falsely accused and imprisoned for rape, which is in stark opposition to the case of Brock Turner, a wealthy white male sentenced to 6 months in jail for sexual assault . Assessing arrest rates, prosecutorial decisions, and sentencing rates show that racial disparities in the criminal justice system cannot be ignored. There is no easy solution. Options have been proposed, but solely solving one aspect of the problem could create a problem in another area. A truly systematic solution has to start with increased representation of minorities in police departments and the court system to attempt to reduce the injustice.
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 3 Introduction The Principle of Legality states that when the law is violated a person is arrested, charged, prosecuted and sentenced for that violation, but the extent or severity is often different for people of color (Sommers, Goldstein & Baskin, 2014). It should be assumed that all individuals are treated equally and fairly, but that has not been the case in the United States. The criminal justice system perpetuates racial injustice which can be seen through a qualitative analysis of arrest rates, prosecutorial deci sions, and sentencing. By ensuring minorities are represented in all aspects of the criminal justice system can making the system equitable to all citizens and diminish injustice . According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2018, the population in the United States is primarily Caucasian with 76.6% of the population identifying as Caucasian . The second largest percentage of the population is Hispanic at 18.1%. African Americans make up 13.4% of the population, while Asian Americans comprise 5.8% of the population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2018). Statistically, Caucasians should be arrested more often than any other race because their probability is higher due to their larger percentage of the population, but this is not always the case. The Uniform Crime Report (UCR) published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 2016 shows that the re are two type of offenses, murder and robbery, where African Americans are charges more times than Caucasians. Murder and robbery hold great significance because the crimes often have a long prison sentence when convicted. In turn, the increase of minor ities being charged with crime, increases the minority representation in prison. African Americans are charged with murder 6.9% more than Caucasians (African American 52.2 & Caucasians 45.3). The statistics for individuals arrested for robbery follow th e same trend that
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 4 people of color are targeted more often . C aucasians are charged 14.5% less than African Americans (FBI, 2016). If minorities were all grouped in one percentage, the ratio between Caucasians and minorities arrest rates would get exponent ially smaller. On a larger scale for all individuals in the United States charged with rape , Caucasians are arrested 66.2%, African Americans are arrested 31.3%, Hispanics are arrested 20.7%, and Asians are arrested 1.3% . Statistics for aggravated assault show that Caucasians are arrested 62.9%, African Americans are arrested 33.9%, Hispanics are arrested 24.4%, and Asians are arrested 1.5%. Although percent of minorities arrested for most crime is slightly lower than Caucasian individuals arrested, once again, the minorities only account for a modest percentage of the population. People of color are also arrested and charged with more drug related crimes than Caucasians even though the population s use drugs at fairly the same rate (Humphreys & Rappaport, 1993). This paper will present an overview of the UCR reports of the difference in arrest rates, prosecutorial discretion and sentencing rates with respect to racial disparities and socioeconomic status. Such an overview provides a statistical representati on of the injustice in the criminal justice system. It is simple to look at racial disparities of arrest rates, but socioeconomic status also creates a stronger effect of social injustice when associated with race. There h as been injustice since the ince ption of the criminal ju stice system with attempts to reform the problem but there has not been a successful remedy that satisfies the entire system. Literature Review Inequality The United States has a strong history of discrimination within the criminal justice system. People of color have been highly discriminated against when it comes to the law. Even after the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery completely in the United States, people of
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 5 color were not given a just justice system. For example, the United States has a history of lynching, which is now on display at The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama (Equal Justice Initiative, https://www.ej i.org). African American people were lynched for what people then considered mala in se crimes , or crimes that violated social norms such as talking to a Caucasian woman in public. The lynching was used in an attempt to control African American people. T he National Memorial for Peace and Justice highlights these extreme examples to demonstrate the discriminatory past of the United States. The criminal justice reform during the 1970s led to another way to exert social control over racial minorities. The f ocus of the criminal justice system shifted when Robert Martinson wrote a report saying that rehabilitation was not beneficial. The system then shifted to a focus on punishment. The shift of focus caused many problems including, people of color often bei ng punished more harshly than Caucasian people. In the 1980s the focus was on the War on Drugs (Humphreys & Rappaport, 1993). Another problem that manifested involved stereotypes connecting African Americans and drugs. More African American people were incarcerated due to drug enforcement policies even though statistics suggest that African Americans do not use more drugs than Caucasian people (Clair & Winter, 2016). The statistics of the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found that illegal drug u se was very similar (7.4% among African Americans. 7.2% among Caucasians, and 6.4% among Hispanics) , however 57% of those who are incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses are Af rican Americans (Coker, 2003). According to Clair & Winter (2016), drug laws seek urban communities, which have larger minority populations and fewer areas outside of school
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 6 m drug treatment alternatives not as available to people of color because of the socioeconomic constraints (Clair & Winter, 2016). In recent years not much has changed. The disproportion of sentences for people of color occurs often. For example, Brian Banks was a 16 year old African American male that was accused of rape and kidnapping. There was no DNA evidence linking him to the crime, it was solely the accusation of the alleged victim that initiated the charges. Mr. Banks was facing the possibility of 41 years to life in prison. He decided to take a plea deal of no contest, which is basically a guilty plea, and received six years imprisonment and a lifetime registration on the sex ncarceration, the alleged victim recanted her statements. The California Innocence project brought the case back to the 2018). Mr. Banks should not have been prose cuted due to the lack of any physical evidence. There are many people that are falsely incarcerated because of social stereotypes, prejudice and preconceived notions. Most of the cases that are brought to a District Attorney result in plea bargains so the y never even make it to trial (The Sentencing Project, 2013) . Such sentencing tragedies, however, are not as common for affluent, Caucasian individuals. The most notable recent case of white privilege began on March 17, 2016. This case is People v. Turner, No. H043709 Cal. Ct. (2018). To preface this case, Brock Turner is a Caucasian male in his early twenties from an affluent family . Brock Turner was charged with one count of assault with the intent to rape, one count of sexual penetrat ion of an individual who was prevented from resisting due to intoxication, one count of sexual penetration of an individual who was unconscious of the nature of the act, one count of rape of an intoxicated individual and one count of rape of an unconscious individual. However, the count of rape of an intoxicated
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 7 individual and the count of rape of an unconscious individual were dropped by the prosecution. During the trial there was strong unrefuted testimony against Mr. Turner by a 28 year old Ph.D. stude nt at Stanford, where the incident occurred, named Carl Fredrik Arndt (People v. Turner, No. H043709. Cal. Ct. App. 2018). The testimony by Mr. Arndt was crucial because he witnessed the crime occurring. Additionally, there cannot be a question of eyewit ness misidentification due the witness holding Turner until police arrived. The verdict was read on March 30, 2016, Mr. Turner was guilty on all the three counts. On June 2, 2016, Brock Turner was sentenced to six months in county jail and three years of formal probation (People v. Turner, No. H043709. Cal. Ct. App. 2018). At the time of the sentencing, there was a possibility that Turner could be released earlier, due to good behavior, which inevitably took place. The issue of racial bias materialized when the sentence was given . The three counts he was charged with were all felonies and the prosecution had an ironclad case, yet he still only received a minimal sentence. Under the California Penal Code, violation of section 289 can be punished by a max imum of life in prison with the possibility of parole (Penal Code section 289(e)). There is a significant difference between life in prison and a half a year in jail. The case against Brian Banks was not as strong as the case against Brock Turner, but sti ll received a longer sentence. Profiling during the arrest process (Coker, 2003). Although most officers will not say that race had influenced their decision t o arrest. In regards to traffic stops, people of color are more likely to be pulled over and once they are pulled over they are more likely to be searched by the officer . A study performed in San Diego found that African American drivers were 60% more likely to be pulled over than Caucasian people and Hispanic people were 37% more likely to be pulled over than Caucasian
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 8 people. People of color are also more likely to ha ve their vehicle searched than Caucasian people. Caucasian people had 4.1% possibility of being searched while African American individuals had a 1.1% chance and Hispanics had a 12.7% chance (Coker, 2003). There is an assertion that police earmark people of color for traffic stops, which Lundman & Kaufman (2003) found to be true. The researchers also found that people of color were less likely to report the traffic stop was for a legitimate reason because they thought they were being pulled over due to t heir race/ethnicity . Higher socioeconomic status drivers drive more often, therefore are more likely to be stopped by police. Although, they are less likely to perceive it as illegitimate (Lundman & Kaufman, 2003). A police officer s personal bias lead s to racial profiling , which has been exacerbated by certain rulings by the Supreme Court. There have been multiple Supreme Court cases that outline the legalities of a traffic stop. In Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996), the Supreme Court ruled that it is lawful for a police officer to detain a motorist if there is probable cause in the belief that he/she has violated traffic laws. It was ruled that this type of detention does not violate the Fourth Amendment, the protection from unreasonable s earch and seizure. In the case of Ohio v. Robinette, 519 U.S. 33 (1996), it was found that officers are not legally vehicle. The lack of notification can allow police officers the ability to search people who do not know their rights and this affects people of color because they are stopped more often than Caucasians. Theoretically there are three ideas that influence minority dispersed police stops. The first is prejudice, which police are actively racist towards minorities. The second is cognitive bias and stereotyping. This is an unconscious bias towards some individuals. The police officers
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 9 could have an illusory correlation that some individuals are mor e prone to crime. This could be due to the correlation between crime and race or crime and poverty/socioeconomic status. The third is race based deployment, where there is no bias. There is a racial difference in police stops because the officers spend more time in lower socioeconomic and higher minority neighborhoods (Alpert, Dunham & Smith, 2007). annual report of vehicle stops. Search rates are defined as the pe rcentage of drivers who were stopped by police and a search was conducted. People of color were searched almost twice as much as Caucasians. Caucasian motorists were searched 6.86%, African Americans were searched 12.26%, Hispanics were searched 14.96%, American Indians were searched 10.83% and Asians were searched 3.45%. To put this data in perspective, the percentage of all motorists in Missouri that were searched was 7.91%. California, Hispanics were stopped 43% compared to the Caucasian and Asian 16% and Hispanics hold 31% 77.2% of the 627 vehicle searches involved African Ameri can or Hispanic individuals. The Maryland State Police found that of the 823 search individuals, 72.9% of them were African American even though 74.7% of the stopped motorist were Caucasian. In Colorado, people of color were not stopped at a disproportio nate rate to Caucasian. Although Hispanics were more likely than any other race to receive a citation. It was also found that people of color were subjected to all types of searches more often than Caucasians. In addition, the New York Police Departme nt has been using stop and frisk procedures often in the early 2000s but plummeted dramatically after 2011. This was due to the
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 10 controversial use of the policy and the questionable effectiveness on reducing crime (Ferrandino, 2012). Stop and frisk is an aggressive form of policing and has a zero tolerance mentality. The policy allows the police officer to stop an individual, question them and a possible pat down may be conducted (frisk). Notwithstanding the fact that, the Fourth Amendment requires that the officer must have reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed/has been committed or that the suspect is armed and dangerous. The reasonable suspicion is the idea that a police officer must have a reasonable impression based on objective facts to stop an individual (Rudstein, 1990). In 2013, the Supreme C ourt held that the use of stop and frisk was a violation of the Fourth Amendment as well as the Fourteenth Amendment, which does not allow the state to restrict privileges of citizens nor deny a citizen equal protection of laws ( Floyd v. New York, 959 F. Supp. 2d 540, 2013). The court found that it was unconstitutional because of the questionable use against people of color, meaning that people of color were targets of the stop and frisk metho d more than Caucasians. Crime rates did not dramatically decrease as the use of Stop and Frisk by the police was increased. In spite of the fact that the results and use of the policy were not proportional, the dilemma was people of color were subjected to the policy far more often than Caucasians (New York Civil Liberties Union, 2019). The problem with complete ly understanding if there is a racial reason for an arrest, is that officers do not admit to their initial intentions when arresting an individual. Extralegal reasons are occasionally used as reasons for arrest. These reasons can be disrespecting the offi cer, failure to cooperate, or having a bad attitude towards the officer (Kochel, Wilson, & Mastrofski, 2011). Extralegal reasons could be a decent indicator of racial profiling. There are legal to arrest. These circumstances are the strength of exculpatory evidence, cooperating witnesses, seriousness of the offense, mandatory
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 11 the arrests made by pa trol officers are at the discretion of the said patrol officer. Since patrol people of color end up in corrections. Minorities have a more difficult time i n the criminal justice for many different reasons. Researchers have found that minorities are presumed to be a suspect of a serious offense, they have also found that minorities are more often going to show disrespect toward police officers (Kochel, et al. , 2011). This could be d ue to many different reasons, t here are multiple explanations such as, the minorities anger towards the police, past encounters with the police and/or prejudice that could have been enforced by the media. Race and Class The cases of Brian Banks and Brock Turner not only highlight racial inequality in the on his race a nd his low socioeconomic status. Alternatively, Brock Turner was high lighted as a star swimmer from Stanford University and shown wearing a suit in his pictures , which signaled to viewers that he had money . In the U . S . considerably better than the average context of Blac p. 42). Thus, racial inequality has historically been confounded by low socioeconomic status. Discrimination based on the race, income, and the intersection of the two has had a number of consequences regarding the c riminal justice system, such as racial profiling during arrest, access to effective counsel, prosecutorial discretion and judicial bias. The cases of Banks and Turner can be looked at only with respect to race but that could
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 12 correlation, therefore, socioeconomic status must recognized as a factor in racial disparities in the c riminal justice system. Albeit, socioeconomic status is not commonly referred to as a co variable to race. It is easier for the media to attract attention to certain cases. For example, the Turner case was publicized considerably in the United States, it caused public outrage for a few months until it disappeared from the headlines. There was not outrage and public disgust when Mr. Turner was released early, barely serving his minimal six months i n jail. Income inequality can exacerbate the disproportionate incarceration of people of color. Looking at the cases of Banks and Turner only with respect to race is an overgeneralization. There is a difficulty in what racial injustice is because not all people can afford the same kind of representation. In most cases, the minorities are of lower socioeconomic status (Mulia & Zemore, 2012). If a defendant cannot afford a high powered attorney a public defender is then appointed to them. Clients of p ublic defenders rely on public defenders to help them through the criminal justice system. The system is meant to be fair and just, but many times this is not the case. Stereotypes and misconceptions of people of color can cause problems in the criminal j ustice system. It is difficult to quantify race being a factor in any decision because many times individuals do not want to admit that they are not indifferent to race. There have been multiple cases where a person was arrested because of their appearan ce or based on stereotypes, such as Courts and Sentencing In an attempt to ensure no racial disparities, the Fourteenth Amendment requires all people to be protected under the law. This amendment is great o n paper but does not do much in actually protecting people of color against injustice because people of color are commonly treated more harshly. An impartial jury being is hard to achieve in some cases because, as stated
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 13 previously, people do not often fr eely admit they are bias ed toward different races. The Eighth Amendment also constrain s the courts to follow the Rule of Proportionality. This requires the punishment to be proportional to the crime that was committed , but Caucasians are often punished m ore lenient than people of color. In many cases, the more serious the crime the more of a possibility that the offender will be prosecuted for that crime, but that is not always true (Sommers, et al., 2014). Multiple factors that influence a District A ttorney's decision to prosecute a defendant or dismiss the case. Prosecutors take an oath to uphold the U.S. and the States Constitution, therefore upholding federal and state laws. The ethical obligation is to only prosecute cases that they believe hav e probable cause and cases that can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt during trial, which is the convictability of the individual that was charged with the crime. After law enforcement presents a case to the prosecutor and it satisfies the legal guideli nes, the prosecutor proceeds with the case. The guidelines differ for different crimes depending on the specific statute associated with it. They also look at the ease of obtaining a jury that will side with the prosecution or the strength of the defense that will be presented. Prosecutors tend to circumvent cases that have little to no victim credibility or problems with evidence. The problems with evidence could include lack of evidence, tampering and/or withholding evidence. Convictability is one of prosecute or dismiss, as well as the seriousness of the offense. There is a positive correlation between the seriousness of the offense and the decision to prosecute (Sommers, et al., 2014) . It is important to note that dismissal is not the only option for prosecutor . Prosecutors can reduce the magnitude of the charges at trial or through a plea deal before trial, which is favorable for the defendant. Depending on the county and time of year, prosecutors have a substantial workload.
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 14 The workload is lightened by plea bargains. Although, people that commit violent crimes are not offered plea bargains as much as other crimes . Most of the cases that are brought to a District Attorney, result in p lea bargains so they never even make it to trial (Sommers, et al., 2014). In the plea bargain process it is extremely important to have adequate representation due to the strong legal diction in the written plea. This creates a problem for ethnic/raci al minorities of low socioeconomic status because they are most likely going to be represented by a public defender. Public defenders have a heavy caseload, which sometimes causes them to only meet their client s minutes before they appear in front of the judge (Hoffman, Rubin & Shepherd, 2005). The difference between private counsel and public defenders is that public defenders receive less favorable plea bargains for their clients. Public defenders have a large caseload, they have less time and economic incentive to fully evaluate their cases. This can cause them to push a defendant into a plea bargain when they had a high possibility to receive an acquittal (Hoffman, Rubin & Shepherd, 2005). The right to have a Public defenders was granted via Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335. (1963). Gideon was a landmark case, in which Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with felony burglary. Gideon was denied court appointed counsel. He was unable to adequately represent himself at trial , was found guilty and was sente nced to five years in prison. Subsequently t he U.S. Supreme Court found that the denial of court appointed counsel was a violation of the Sixth Amendment, thus giving indigent individuals the right to counsel. Although this is a right given to all p ersons, there are simply not enough public defenders for indigent persons to completely rule out adequate representation as a confound variable. In 2007, there were 957 indigent defense offices with 15,026 public defenders on the state and local level. T he offices handled an average of 5,823 new cases, giving one public defender 371 cases (The Sentencing P roject, 2013). Racial bias could be a variable in a public
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 15 defenders initial evaluation of the case, therefore deciding how much time they will dedicat e to the case. Several studies have found a correlation between race and unfavorable prosecution. The outcomes of these studies varied. Some studies found there was a positive correlation, others said there was negative correlation and others said there was no correlation (Wu, 2016). There could be different factors in the area of study that caused this difference such as socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity of the majority population (more/less minorities in the population or more/less Caucasians in the population). A meta analysis of the research on prosecutorial discretion stated that there is a significant finding that race and ethnicity influences the decision to pursue a full prosecution and the fi ling charges (Wu, 2016). Some studies do not ac count for the race/ethnicity of the majority population in their results but do state them in the limitations of the study. When looking at charge reductions Ball (2006) found that in borderline serious cases, individuals that fall into the minority, male , young, and unemployed category are less likely to be offered a reduction in charges. This finding was exponentially true when the previously stated category was compared to individuals that fall into Caucasian, female, older, and employed category . Onc e again there is a separation between race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Johnson (2003) found that there is a larger percentage of people of color that go to trial instead of taking a plea deal. This finding has a questionable causality because of the possible confound variables. An older study found that defendants who were African American had a distrust of the criminal justice system and expressed it by not taking a plea deal (therefore, not pleading guilty) and pursuing trial (Albonetti, 1990).
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 16 In each case there is a possibility of dismissal, which many defendants hope for. Once again, the studies that attempt to find the correlation between case dismissal and race and ethnicity were consistent. Baumer, Messner, & Felson (2000), found that r ace/ethnicity was not a significant predictor when initially filing charges, but there was a significant predictor in the decision to dismiss the charges. In a multijurisdictional study, Franklin (2010) found that race was a predictor of case dismissals a s Caucasians who were middle aged were treated with more leniency than younger African American individuals (Franklin, 2010). When looking at drug offenses, Caucasians have a greater likelihood that their cases will be dismissed than the defendants that are Hispanic or African American (Sommers et al., 2014) . In public order offenses, African American defendants were more likely to have their case dismissed, whereas Hispanic defendants were less likely to have their case dismissed (Sommers et al., 2014). There were also studies finding that all races and ethnicities were charged but their cases dismissed equally, not showing any racial bias. The disparity of findings show that race and ethnicity as factors in decision making is difficult to quantify. As stated previously, violent crime can carry a fairly long prison sentence, depending on the aspects of the possible subsequent charges. There were different findings of social disparities with those charged with violent crimes (homicide, robbery and aggra vated assault). Ulmer, Kurlychek, and Kramer (2007), found that Caucasian defendants were substantially less likely to have the prosecutor on the case pursue mandatory sentences than Hispanic defendants. Although, just because a prosecutor seeks mandatory sentences does not imply that the defendants received the mandatory sentences at the end of the trial. Mandatory minimums places the most power with the prosecutors, rather than the judges (Clair & Winter, 2016). The power shift is caused because the pro
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 17 discretion . Researchers also found that Caucasian defendants were less likely to be charged with third strike sentences (Chen, 2008). Race of the defendant was not the only thing that was initial charging decision. Minority males were less likely to receive a plea deal despite the race/ethnicity of the victim (Sommers et al., 2014). It is i mportant to note that different crimes receive different sentences; therefore not all individuals charged with a crime receive the same sentences. After a defendant has been found guilty by a jury, guilty by a judge in a bench trial, or guilty by plea deal, they are sentenced for their crime. The sentences handed down to the defendant come in different forms. The offender can be charged with two crimes when going to trial, usually a serious crime and a lesser offense in hopes that the defendant will be guilty of at least the lesser offense. If the defendant is found guilty on multiple counts, they are either given a concurrent or consecutive sentence. A concurrent sentence is more favorable because the defendant would have the ability to serve each sen attached to the end of the previous sentence. A defendant can receive a deferred judgement, postponing the sentence, similarly a suspended sent ence. This postponing could give the defendant the opportunity to complete the required probation. There is determinate sentences, which do not allow for early release. As well as indeterminate sentences that give a range of years, stated in the statutes, along with statutory presumptive sentences that consider aggravating or mitigating circumstances. There are also maximum and minimum sentences, which are self explanatory. A mandatory sentence can also be given to a defendant, giving the judge no discretion. Mandatory sent ences would limit the possibility of social injustice. M andatory sentences brings about a larger problem in the
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 18 corrections system because there will be more individuals sentenced to a prison sentence . Then c ausing overflow in prisons, which can allow for some offenders to be released early depending on their sentence or can create unsafe working conditions for the correctional officers. To further demonstrate inequality , young minorities of low socioeconomi c status seem to have more punitive consequences than mid aged Caucasian individuals of higher socioeconomic. Statistically, African American male offenders receive longer sentences than Caucasian male offenders that committed a similar offense. On averag e, African American male offenders received a 19.1% longer sentences, in the fiscal years on 2012 2016 ( Schmitt, Reedt, & Blackwell, 2017). In o ffenses that have sentencing guidelines, African American male offenders were, on average, sentenced to 7.9% lo nger than Caucasian male offenders (Schmitt, Reedt, & significant effect on the demographic differences in sentencing. In 2016, African American males were sentenc ed 20.4% longer when accounting for past violence and 20.7% longer not accounting for past violence ( Schmitt, Reedt, & Blackwell , 2017 ). Female offenders of any race on the other hand, receive shorter sentences than Caucasian males ( Schmitt, Reedt, & Blac kwell, 2017). Equally important, seven million people are on different forms of correctional control and 2.2 million people are incarcerated in local jails, state and federal correctional facilities (The Sentencing project, 2013). In 2016, it was found that Caucasian men were 6 times less likely to be incarcerated than African American men and 2.7 times less likely than Hispanics. On a larger scale, more than 60% of those in prison are people of color. To break down the racial disparities that are inc arcerated, Caucasians make up 30.2%, African Americans make up 33.4%, Hispanics
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 19 make up 23.3%, and other races/ethnicities make up 13.2% of federal and state prisons (The Sentencing project, 2013). The rate of imprisonment per 100,000 follows the same tre nd; African American men were imprisoned the most at 2,215, then Latino men at 1,092, Caucasian men at 400, African American women at 96, Latina women at 67, and Caucasian women at 49 (The Sentencing project, 2013). Clair & Winter (2016) interviewed judges in United States Northeast State Courts, the majority of the judges were Caucasian 42 (African American 10, other 7). Due to disparities in sentencing, a judg e allocated the difference to institutional racism however, it is not purposeful. Institutional racism states that discrimination is expressed in laws/policies or intuitional bias regarding conformity to the majority culture and rejecting cultural differen ces (Gushue, Walker, & Brewster, 2017). Other judges implied that the racial disparities are due to Latinos, owing to the fact that their surnames occasiona lly appear differently in documents (i.e. passport & ID), consequently constituting a greater flight risk (Clair & Winter, 2016). To simplify, according to the judges interviewed, disparities in the criminal justice system are due to court officials, prio r criminal history, and poverty. In addition, Edkins (2011) found that the disparities in sentencing length and incarceration rates between races is partially due to defense clients to take less favorable plea bargains but would not advise their Caucasian clients to take the same plea bargain, therefore the African American offenders receive a harsher sentence. Attorneys that were part of the sample justified this decision b ecause they believed that the plea bargain
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 20 racial bias. Reluctance of Reform Racism can be viewed as a product of right wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. Right wing authoritarians believe that out groups threaten their traditional values and are often self righteous. Whitley ( 1999) found that people classified as high right wing authoritarian are more prejudice against Native Americ ans, Africa n Americans, women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, and individuals with visible handicaps. The other personality is social dominance orientation, they see themselves as superior over others and want to remain in the superior status (Wh itley, 1999). Individuals who work in the criminal justice system often use stereotypes of minorities to justify their prejudice towards the minorities, which perpetuates racial and income disproportionalities (Whitely, 1999). It is important to unders tand that there are two different kinds of racism in nature and can be seen simultaneously. Symbolic racism is the type of racism that is apparent and can be seen without effort. It is defined as anti minority attitudes that are expressed indirectly by e individualism, work ethic, and self reliance, and the belief that minorities violate these values (Sears & McConahay, 1973). Simply put, these individuals are incline d to think that minorities violate U.S. values. The second kind of racism is aversive racism. Dovidio & Gaertner (1986), explained aversive racism as the feeling of ambivalence from a conflict between an egalitarian belief system and unacknowledged negat ive feeling about minorities. These individuals tend to be afraid of minorities, although they do not view themselves as prejudice.
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 21 Moreover, individuals under the umbrella of the previous two racisms create a roadblock in bringing a stop to racial injus tice in the criminal justice system. Aversive racism can be more detrimental to people of color in the criminal justice system for many reasons. When others are afraid of minorities, they tend to associate minorities with criminals, especially after a re cent headline in the news about a minority being arrested for a crime. The fear of minorities can be due to moral panic theory. The theory hypotheses that societies create stereotypes about perceived threats and there are moral causes of the threats (Coh en, 1972). The stereotypes cause an increase of civilians reporting a minority acting suspiciously. Thus, the suspicious behavior increases the possibility of civilian police interaction, which could also lead to more arrests, even if the crime the indi vidual was arrested for was not the same as the crime reported. A ll the evidence in news and social media, people can see that prejudice is still prevalent, but justific ation theory helps explain why people choose to do nothing. The theory explains that people at the social order accept the system because it is what they have always known and are inclined not to question it. Self blame can also be a factor in the accept ance of the system, which can be confirmed by symbolic racists. Jost, Langer, Badaan, Azevedo, Etchezahar, Ungaretti, & and this confers a psychological advantage to reason the criminal justice system has stayed relatively constant. pose s a psychological threat to Caucasians, who for the most part control the political resources raised the hypothesis that police officers that patrol in Caucasian areas are more likely to be
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 22 lenient than in areas with more minorities. The researchers found that when the percentage of minorities increases, police leniency decrease with it and police officers are more likely to use law enforcement authority. These findin gs were consistent with the minority threat hypothesis and have been consistent with prior and ongoing research. Discussion Minority Representation Minority influence is a stepping stone in terms of finding a solution to the influx of minorities in the pun ishment side of criminal justice system. There are different theories that suggest that minority representation can be beneficial. Minorities are at a disadvantage in status and power because of the lack of representation (Latane & Wolf, 1981). The soci al impact theory is the thought that social norms are influenced by majority rule. The majority influences social pressure on the minority (Latane & Wolf, 1981). The other theory is the Conversion Theory. The theory states that minorities can convert th ose in the majority to their own beliefs and attitudes. Maass & Clark (1986) express that there are four factors that provide minorities power, which is beneficial due to their initial lack of power. The four factors include consistency in group opinion ( unity), confidence in their views, unbiased ideas, and resistance to natural social pressure. Minority representation in police departments and courtrooms can assist in reducing discrimination. There are 18 thousand lo cal, county, state, and federal agen cies in the United States (Census Bureau, 2016b). The current police officer demographic statistics strongly favor Caucasians. The demographics are 79% Caucasian, 13% African American, 2.6% Hispanic, 2.1% Asian, .4% Native American, and 2.9% of another racial group (Census Bureau, 2016a). People of color do not account for half of the police officers. There is no
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 23 counterbalance in the police departm ents. The unequal representation will be difficult to solve with respect to police officers because as stated previously, some people of color fear the police which will prevent them from wanting to have a career in law enforcement. Decreasing fear of pol ice would be the first step in increasing minority representation in police departments. To decrease fear, police officers must be held accountable for their actions, such as being charged and convicted of unlawful sh ootings. Also more policies could be p ut in place that are not bias towards minorities. Caucasians also comprise most of the positions in the courts (lawyers, judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers). Caucasians hold 86.8% of court official positions, which is more than the police of ficer demographics. Consequently, people of color hold less court official positions. To be precise, African American hold 5.1% of court official positions, Hispanic hold 1.9%, and Asian hold 5.2%, Native American hold .2%, and other 1% (Census Bureau, 2 016a). Increasing financial aid for higher education for minorities could increase minority representation in the courts. Many minorities are of lower socioeconomic status so they are less likely to be able to afford to an undergraduate degree or a law d egree or doctorate. Without a higher education degree there is less of a chance that an individual will meet the requirements for any job in the court system. D iscrimination permeates throughout the criminal justice system . Those in power within the criminal justice sys t em ( law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges) should insure they are self aware because of the innate vulnerability to prejudice and discrimination. Minorities are at a disadvantage in status and power (Latane & Wolf, 1981 ), which consequently contributes to stereotyping and reduced minority representation of individuals working in the criminal justice
Criminal Justice System and Minority Demographics: Utilizing Minority Representation 24 system . In order to combat racism and inequality, the criminal justice system must enter into period of reform that works to decreases bias towards minorities. Minority representation is closely linked to the Contact Model posed by Gordon Allport (Crisp & Turner, 2009). The Contact Model states that people should be brought into contact to reduce prejudice. The model does not fully work unless three conditions are met. The three conditions are equal status, common goals, and institutional support. Minorities in police departments and court official positions would meet the equal status because police officer minorities wou ld be at least equal status and a judge would be most likely a higher status than those who hold prejudice towards minorities. Hiring minorities for criminal justice positions would satisfy institutional support. Finally, those who work in the criminal j ustice system want to decrease criminal activity, which are common goals for minorities and those who are prejudice d. All people should be treated equally under the law. Yet, equality has not been achieved even after years of the inequality being social recognized. Minorities continue to be targeted in traffic stops across the United States. Minorities are also charged and sentenced to longer terms than Caucasian s. Utilizing minorities for careers in the criminal justice system can decrease the unfair treatment that minorities are receiving. However, this is just a starting point and more policies must be revised and c reated.
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