African Americans And The Judicial System Essay

1521 words - 6 pages

The prison system exists as a form of formal punishment for persons of wrongdoing and serves as a secure dwelling to protect the public from persons who engage in illegal and or violent behavior. Minorities are the majority of the prison population. Because of possible ingrained stereotypes regarding racial groups and drug related criminal offenses there are an elevated number of minorities in United States prisons (Tamborini, Huang, Mastro, & Nabashi-Nakahara, 2007, p. 342). Legal authorities and juries may show bias towards minority groups resulting in a disadvantage when it comes to charging those of the African-American race. African-Americans are generally more frequently targeted than Caucasians regarding drug related crimes. Due to the nature of inexpensive forms of illegal substances more frequently used in inner-cities, African-Americans may be more easily and more often pursued (Staples, 2011, p. 34). Opposition shapes the notion that minorities make up the majority of drug related criminal offenders. There are more persons of the African-American race charged for drug related crimes but this can possibly be attributed to skewed perceptions of a particular races’ tendency to engage in illegal behavior as well as lack of financial options and socio economic status to hire an attorney to defend their case, which negatively influences sentencing outcomes and statistics.
As humans we hope to be revered as thoughtful beings without outside or possibly internal factors affecting our decisions, especially when it comes to someone’s freedom. According to an article “The Influence of Race, Heuristics, and Information Load on Judgements of Guilt and Innocence,” by Tamorini, Huang, Mastro, & Nabashi-Nakahara (2007), when it comes to making decisions in the environment of a judicial setting many factors affect judges’ and juries’ abilities to build sound decisions. Generally we want to approach decisions with placing ourselves in another’s shoes, however, seeing past how we view ourselves within our own racial group can again lead to stereotyping behavior.
By eliminating race from the equation of reaching a conviction there is one less variable by which to stereotype an offender. Although this is not a fix all solution to judicial fairness it is an attempt at equal punishment for similar offenses. In an article “Playing the race card: Making salient in defense opening and closing statements,” outcomes for offenders of both black and white races were alike when no reference to race was mentioned throughout the deposition (Bucolo & Cohn, 2010, p. 300). Thus, learned tendencies affect perceptions of particular groups and ideas throughout our lives regardless if we make a conscious effort to disregard them.
When considering the socio economic status of all parties involved in the handling and distribution of drugs it becomes clear which group can be more easily targeted for crimes. According to Officer Moldes of the Austin, Texas...

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