University of Phoenix
Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice
September 06, 2010
In this paper I will illustrate racial disparity in sentencing in the criminal justice system. The causes of racial disparity and the reasons it is on the rise, the research statistics, and the proposed solutions are discussed.
Racial Disparity in Sentencing The intersection of racial dynamics with the criminal justice system is one of longstanding duration. In earlier times, courtrooms in many jurisdictions were comprised of all white decision-makers. Today, there is more diversity of leadership in the court system, but race still plays a critical role in many criminal justice outcomes. This ranges from disparate traffic stops because of racial profiling to imposition of the death penalty based on the race of the victim or the offender. A particularly important aspect of the role of race in the criminal justice system relates to sentencing because the prospect of a racially discriminatory process violates the ideals of equal treatment under law under which the system is premised (The Sentencing Project , 2004, p. 1).
Existence of racial disparity confirmed by research: Young, black, and Latino males (especially if they are unemployed) are subject to particularly harsh sentencing compared to other offender populations. Black and Latino defendants are disadvantaged compared to Whites with regard to legal-process related factors such as the “trial penalty,” sentence reductions for substantial assistance, criminal history, pretrial detention, and type of attorney. Black defendants convicted of harming White victims suffer harsher penalties than blacks who commit crimes against other Blacks or White defendants who harm Whites. Black and Latino defendants tend to be sentenced more severely than comparably situated White defendants for less serious crimes, especially drug, and property crimes.
References: Mauer, M. (2007). Impact Statements as a Means of Reducing Unwanted Sentencing Disparities. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, 5(1), 19-46. Paternoster, R., & Brame, R. (2003). An Empitical Analysis of Maryland’s Death Sentencing System with Respect to the Influence of Race and Legal Jurisdiction. . Spohn, C. (2000). Thirty Years of Sentencing Reform: The Quest for a Racially Neutral Sentencing Process. Criminal Justice, National Institute of Justice, Vol.3(2000), 427-501. Retrieved from www.sentencingproject.org Tabak, R. (1999). Racial Discrimination in Implementing the Death Penalty. [EBSCO Host database]. Retrieved from The Kennedy Commission. (2003). Racial Disparities in the U.S. Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from www.drugpolicy.org The Sentencing Project. (2004). Racial Disparity in Sentencing. Retrieved from www.sentencingproject.org U.S. v. Armstrong, 21F. 3d 1431 9th Circuit 1996 1480 (California 1996).