Racial Disparities In The Criminal Justice System

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Through the years, the world has made substantial progress towards ensuring equal treatment under law for all citizens. However, the cycle continues, as disparities within the justice decision making process is growing at each level of the criminal justice system. Although the drug policies and sentencing guidelines that are put into place by our legislators are said to be “race neutral,” they have actually shown to be pervasively biased, affecting both innocent as well as guilty minority citizens.
There is no question that the most important stage of the criminal justice system is the sentencing phase. It is at this stage where prosecutors, along with law enforcement personnel, attempt to determine who will or will not be granted leniency …show more content…

There are many other factors that are also considered, such as the current laws, the “degree of involvement in a crime, disparate law enforcement practices, sentencing and parole policies and practices, and biased decision making” (Mauer, 2011). Take for example the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. The purpose of this act was to ensure mandatory sentences for serious drug traffickers involved in the preparation, selling and packaging of crack cocaine. However, Congress’s haltingly decision to address this concern left the penalty structure completely skewed. Although there is a distinct physical difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, both share the same pharmacological roots. Since crack cocaine was cheaper to purchase and could be sold in small quantities, it was said to be more addicting. Although this theory was found to be false, Congress remained silent about it while the offenders were disproportionately sentenced. What this meant was that 500 grams of powder cocaine carried the same mandatory sentence as 5 grams of crack cocaine which was five years. And although there were White, Latino and African Americans cocaine users, 80 percent of those users sentenced in federal court for crack cocaine offenses were African American (Mauer, …show more content…

It is for this reason legislators should consider adopting alternative policies and practices that may assist with high racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Some recommendations include: Establishing a national criminal justice commission to examine incarceration and racial disparities; Scaling back the number of prosecutions for low-level drug offenders when it comes to the war on drugs; Abolishing mandatory minimum sentences; Developing new policies and procedures and integrating them into training programs to reduce racial

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