How does race and ethnicity impact criminal justice?

By granting suspects of important crimes constitutional rights, in theory, the Supreme Court validates the outcomes of the criminal justice system as fair. The United States can take concrete steps to reduce both the existence and the effects of racial prejudice in its criminal justice system. It's time for the United States to take affirmative action to eliminate racial disparities in its criminal justice system. Criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing disparities and unjust racial practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.

The Government has addressed some of the obvious racial inequalities that pervade every aspect of its criminal justice system, but these efforts have been relatively modest in scope. This report outlines the racial disparity that pervades every stage of the United States criminal justice system, from arrest to trial, sentence, and post-prison experiences. As research by academic Devah Pager has revealed, whites with criminal records are treated more favorably than blacks without criminal records. Congress and state legislative bodies have submitted amicus curiae reports to the United States Supreme Court on various issues related to incarceration policy and criminal justice.

Government officials should also review policies that do not perform any public safety function, but instead impose collateral consequences on those convicted of criminal offenders, for example, in the areas of employment, education, housing and the social safety net, and promote similar reforms in the private sector. Patterns of disenfranchisement have also reflected the dramatic growth and disproportionate impact of criminal convictions. In addition to implementing policies that provide little benefit to reducing crime and impose large costs on people of color, policy makers and criminal justice leaders have been slow to address discriminatory policies for which they offer no justification, such as the biased use of officer discretion and income-driven policing.

Luis Mersinger
Luis Mersinger

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