Philosophy of Criminal Justice System

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Do you know someone that is currently or has been in prison? Was it your father, brother, cousin, uncle? According to the reality that we face daily, it could have justly been them all. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and when broken down in respect to African American race, one out of every eleven people is behind bars (US Bureau of Justice, 2009). Year after year, we witness that more African American men, compared to other races, are imprisoned. For what you may ask? And simply answered for being a black man in America. The concepts of discrimination, racism, and most importantly oppression that many leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X sought to eliminate in our country have no longer been used with segregated restaurants and water fountains but instead have manifested through mass incarceration of our African American men. The criminal justice system was created to direct and uphold social control, deterring and mitigating crime, or sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts (Patillo, 2006). The original purpose seems as though it has been set off by other ulterior motives, as prisons are described to “warehouse young African American men”(Alexander, 2010). Michelle Alexander, the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, argues that the criminal justice is just another way to further stifle the black community from reaching its full potential as a people. She describes the criminal justice system as the disposal of African American men who are no longer needed for the advancement of the economy and a means to permanently put African American men in the lowest social class possible: criminals. “The fact that more than half of the young black men in any large American city are currently under the control of the criminal justice system (or saddled with criminal records) is not – as many argue – just a symptom of poverty or poor choices, but rather evidence of a new racial caste system at work.” (Alexander, 2010) This problem has continued to plague our communities and render our black men helpless and hopeless against the criminal justice system. By approaching the situation as it relates to most affected population in the country, the situation must be attacked by closely breaking down the political philosophy of our criminal justice system as it relates to discriminatory laws, social discrimination, and social stigmatization. What is Philosophy?

In order to solve any problem philosophically, you must first understand philosophy. Philosophy is defined generally with four definitions which are: the love of wisdom (total knowledge), rules of your life under maximum uncertainty together with the connection of those rules, thinking about thinking, and lastly the grounds of critique. However, in addition to these generalized definitions, philosophy is also is defined by others in various different ways. The author, Thomas Nagel, does a profound job in defining philosophy through his text. He provides that the definition of philosophy lies within the questions that we pose to ourselves that appear to be the most complex and irresolute. He breaks down this definition as it relates to the nine elements that he explains to further define philosophy. They are knowledge of the word beyond our minds, knowledge of minds other than our own, the relation between mind and brain, how language is possible, whether we have free will, the basis of morality, what inequalities are unjust, the nature of death, and the meaning of life (Nagel, 1987). Through application of these problems does he argue that philosophy and its purpose is defined. We search for the answers of these questions through the two things that we are taught throughout our lives: science and religion. We have come to understand that philosophy, religion, and science are similar as much as they are different especially in terms of how...
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