The Criminal Justice Systen

Topics: Supreme Court of the United States, Gideon v. Wainwright, Jury Pages: 7 (2105 words) Published: June 25, 2008
The Criminal Justice System: Unfair to Minorities and the Less Social Elite
The criminal justice system of the United States is said to be a fair system. The system is not supposed to discriminate against different races, religious groups or social classes, everyone is supposed to get the same equal treatment. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Many different types of people including African American’s, Hispanics and the poor are getting unfair treatment in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system discriminates against certain races and social classes.

One of the most famous cases of racial injustice of the criminal justice system is the case of Rodney King. Rodney King was a black taxi driver who was violently arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department in March of 1991. California Highway patrol spotted Rodney King driving at excessive speeds and when they pulled him over, he did not obey their commands to step out of his vehicle. He was then beaten repeatedly by PR24 baton ( also known as a police stick) and was later struck twice with a taser gun. Following the Rodney King incident , The Report of the Los Angeles Police Department (1991) found that “there was excessive use of force by Los Angeles Police officers and that this was compounded by racism and bias.” One quarter of the 960 Los Angeles Police officers that were surveyed agreed that officers were racial toward minorities. Witnesses who testified said that the Los Angeles Police Department as a whole “tolerated discriminatory treatment .“ They also said that they detained African American and Latino men who fit generalized descriptions of subjects.

In the New York State Judicial Commission on Minorities report (1991), a panel of judges, attorney’s and law professors found that “there are two justice systems in the courts of New York State; one for white’s and a very different one for minorities and the poor” (p.1). They also found “inequality, disparate treatment, and injustice based on race.” The panel also concluded that “minority cases often take only four or five minutes in court, and that black defendants outside of New York City frequently have their cases heard by an all white jury. Below is a table that shows the number of inmates n state or federal prisons or local jails.(5) 

Is there racial discrimination in in the jury selection process? Certainty. The Dallas Morning News examined fifteen capital murder trials from 1980 through 1986 and reveled that prosecutors excluded 90percent of African Americans qualified for jury selection. A study of the federal death penalty by the U.S. Department of Justice released in September, 2000 found 80 percent of federal defendants who faced capital charges were members of racial minorities, as were 74 percent of convicted defendants for whom prosecutors recommended the death penalty In the case of Strauder V. West Virginia (1880), the court took down a statute that limited jury service to white men on the grounds that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. This ruling however, did not stop some states from attempting to keep an all white jury. For example, in Delaware, jury selection was drawn from lists of taxpayers. Even though African Americans were eligible for jury selection, they were hardly ever selected because, as explained by state authorities, few African American’s in the state were intelligent, experienced, or moral enough to serve as jurors. Some states still also pulled jurors names from registered voters, the Department of Motor Vehicles or property tax rolls, and for some area’s racial minorities are less likely to be registered voters, own automobiles or own property. Therefore, the people who end up in the jury pool are middle-class white people.

In 1985, Sheri Lynn Johnson, a Cornwell law professor reviewed a dozen mock-jury trials. She concluded that the "race of the defendant significantly and directly affects the...
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