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Racism in the Justice System

Friday Oct 12th, on Criminal Defense Articles |

Protecting your rights when navigating the criminal justice system is imperative. That's why anyone accused of wrongdoing should be represented by an Albany felony attorney. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to ensure fair outcomes in the justice system as a result of entrenched racism. Recent reports confirm that racism is an inherent problem within the U.S. criminal justice system, resulting in disparate treatment of black Americans.

Racism is Entrenched in the Justice System

The troubling new reports on racism in the justice system come from the Vera Institute of Justice, which published a brief entitled An Unjust Burden: The Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in the Criminal Justice System.

The brief summarizes research demonstrating a history of racism and oppression within the United States.  The findings demonstrate significant racial disparities at all levels which were described as “significant and indisputable.”  For example, the research revealed:

  • Black people are more likely to be stopped by the police;
  • They are more likely to be detained before a criminal trial;
  • They are more likely to be charged with more serious criminal offenses, including those that carry mandatory minimum penalties; and
  • They face harsher sentences than white people when convicted of similar criminal offenses.

The research also summarized older data, including an earlier study that found police chose black faces more often than white faces when asked to determine what “looks criminal.” 

Among the different conclusions in the report was the conclusion that living in communities that are poorer tends to increase the chances of exposure to risk factors that lead to offending and arrest. Unfortunately, a history of unequal opportunities and oppression – including practices such as red lining and white flight from neighborhoods – has made it more likely that black people will live in conditions of poverty that make it more likely they'll break the law and more likely they will be arrested when they do.

Even with this factor in place, however, the research found that the concept of black-on-black crime is a myth designed to draw attention away from systematic problems in the justice system. The theory of black-on-black crime is that the problem in the U.S. isn't with biased policing but is that black people often shoot each other. But, the research doesn't bear this out, as it shows victims and offenders are most often of the same race regardless of whether the victims and offenders are white or black.

The troubling research raises awareness of the problems of entrenched racism, but unfortunately it is not easy to solve those issues and many efforts at criminal justice reform have failed. An Albany felony attorney can provide legal representation to defendants of all races and in all situations who have found themselves facing criminal charges and who need help to effectively navigate the criminal justice system. Contact an attorney today to learn more about what an advocate can do to help you protect your rights as you face charges.

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