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Cultural Diversity In Criminal Justice Essay

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Despite claims by some that civil rights for racial minorities have been fully achieved in the United States, racial disparities in the criminal justice process remain and appear to be expanding (Leadership Conference on
CivilRights,2001).Racialdisparitiesexistateachphaseofcriminaljustice
processing, and it is the police who are the gatekeepers to that process
(Barlow & Barlow, 2000; Chambliss, 2001; Cole, 1999; Mauer, 1999;
Miller, 1996). As a result of decades of Supreme Court decisions limiting restrictions on law enforcement, police have tremendous discretion with respecttosearchandseizureinthecontextoftrafficstops(see,forexample, Maryland v. Wilson
, 1997;
NewYork v. Belton
, 1981;
Ohio v. Robinette
,
1996;
Pennsylvania v. Mimms
, 1977;
United States
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In a cultural diversity awareness training class for police officers conducted by one of the authors, a police officer explained why he stops Black people who are driving through his suburban community even though it makes him uncomfortable. Although most officers presumably justify their stops based on presumed criminality, this officer stated that he
Barlow, Barlow / RACIAL PROFILING: A SURVEY 337 stops and questions African Americans because it is precisely what his supervisors want him to do. He stated, “When someone from a $350,000 home calls the police and wants us to stop someone, we are going to do it and the chief is going to make sure we do it.” The officer went on to ask,
“Now, how do I stop that person without him thinking I’m a racist?”
As long as the courts do not take an active role in putting a stop to this practice or at least make it uncomfortable for them, police will continue to feelthatitiscondoned.Racialprofilingisnotacaseofafewbadapplesor rogue cops. It is a systematic strategy, often rationalized by a false belief thatracialminoritiesaremorecriminalandmorelikelytouseillegaldrugs than White people. Some police officers defend racial profiling,
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