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What Is Diversity?

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  • August 22, 2013
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Diversity in the Criminal System

What is diversity? Diversity means different things to different people. For some people it is defined as access to opportunities, equal regard in the workforce for all, affirmative action and social tolerance. The concept of diversity should represent, embrace and appreciate values, beliefs and uniqueness of all individuals’ characteristics. The Audit Commission (2004) reports that to promote diversity effectively we need to stop doing the things that create barriers and start doing the things that break them down. While there are positive examples of practice, there still remains a need for further development of new knowledge and skill to work effectively to meet individual need. Butt (2006, p7) assesses the impact of stereotyping, being judgmental and making assumptions about the needs of individuals and communities. The expectation of fundamental fairness and equity in the criminal justice system is a basic assumption held by most American citizens. It is often noted that the search for truth and justice in America takes place within the domain of a judicial system that is immune to bias either in favor of or against individuals and groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion, or gender. As American citizens, it is our right to expect and demand impartiality from our criminal justice system. Unfortunately, substantial research evidence suggests minority groups and the poor in America are subject to disproportionate arrest rates, disproportionate conviction rates, and greater punishment severity. Race and socioeconomic status play a significant role in the outcomes of the many stages within the criminal justice process. An impartial criminal justice system is essential for social cohesion and solidarity within a community because it helps foster public trust and support of the government, its institutions, and its agencies. Alternatively, a judicial system that appears to favor one group of citizens...