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Asian Race and Judicial System, Essay Example

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Essay

People of color are widely overrepresented in American jails and prisons today.  Does the criminal justice system treat racially diverse individuals differently than whites?  Are there stages within the American criminal justice process that hindrance Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans?  Is America really a place of freedom and equality?  This paper examines the relationship between racial minorities and their treatment in the American judicial system.

During what stages of the judicial system do racially diverse individuals experience the most inequality?  From the initial meeting with police officers to the final court hearing, where do individuals experience injustice?  Perhaps police officers send more racially diverse individuals to court to begin with.  In fact, African Americans, Hispanics and Asians are more likely to be pulled over by police officers and further more likely to be searched for illegal substances and weapons.

Once sent to court, factors such as the seriousness of offenses, criminal histories of offenders, and legislatively established aggravated elements such as the presence of a weapon at the time of a crime influence the ruling of a judge in court.  However, even with these legally significant elements have been taken into account, racial and ethnic inequalities have been continually observed in the processing of felony cases in the United States.

These inequalities and differences tend to manifest during different points in various jurisdictions.  Some of these inequalities seem to be minor and insignificant; however, these minor discrepancies in treatment affect the American prison system, judicial system, and individual lives.  Small differences in racial treatment manifest in inequalities such as what an individual is charged with, whether he or she is released pre-trial, bail amounts, whether or not the individuals are convicted, and what overall sentence is given to the individual.  These are very significant differences to the individuals processed in the judicial system and they add up to significant influences on minority communities within the country.  This is a huge public concern with significant implications for the overall community and minority groups alike.

Racial inequality is in fact a present concern within the American judicial system.  As observed in a recent court proceeding, race plays a role in how individuals are treated and convicted in court trials.  A recent court case involves an Asian American drug conviction.  The case included a young adult, Asian American male who was pulled over for a broken tail light on his vehicle.

Once pulled over, the young man and his vehicle were searched without just cause.  The police officers discovered cocaine in the trunk of the vehicle and charged the man with the possession of an illegal substance.  The man received no other criminal charges.

The young Asian American male was arrested and his bail was set astronomically high, especially for the charges he was being tried for.  The amount of bail resembled a murder case rather than a minor drug offense.  After all, the amount of cocaine discovered in the vehicle was a considerably small (personal use) amount, and the Asian American man had no prior convictions on file.

The man entered his court proceeding with no criminal history, yet he received the maximum penalty and incarceration for his charges.  He was polite and presentable during his proceeding.  Yet, the judge treated the man very unfairly during his court proceeding.  She spoke to the defendant as though he were incompetent.  She was strict and unwilling to allow him adequate time to present his case.  It was apparent that the judge’s decision had been made before she entered the court room that day.

This court proceeding involving the young Asian American with drug charges shows that minorities receive disparate treatment and harsher sentences even with regard to the first offender waiver and exceptional sentence provisions.  The proceeding demonstrates that the perception that a lack of consistency exists in prosecutorial rulings regarding criminal cases with minority individuals is legitimate.  The case shows that some law enforcement officials and judges alike tend to treat minority grouped individuals with disrespect engaging in offensive behavior geared toward racially diverse individuals.

People with less economic resources are underprivileged in the American judicial system.  These individuals are less likely to make bail and afford alternatives to incarceration.  According to research and statistics, those who are financially underprivileged also tend to belong in minority groups.  Racially diverse individuals tend to fall into lower socioeconomic classes than whites.

According to the Asian American drug court case proceeding, lawyers, judges, and other officers of the court as well as court staff have made offensive comments and have demonstrated various biased behaviors and attitudes toward minority grouped individuals who tend to appear in court.  Furthermore, it is perceived that juries are not racially diverse; minorities are underrepresented in the jury system potentially leading to unfair convictions and sentencing among the racially diverse individuals who face charges.

This case involving the Asian American young man serves as evidence that race and ethnicity vastly affect sentencing of criminally charged drug offenders in the United States.  Through observation, this is apparent for both the severity of the sanction and the procedure of alternative sanctions.

In addition to the unfair treatment within the correctional system and judicial system, minority groups lack the proper rehabilitation upon re-entering society after serving time in jail or prison.  There are fewer programs for racially diverse people than for white, middle class to upper class, adult males.  Many programs lack the necessary skills needed to re-enter poverty stricken and racially diverse communities.

Furthermore, because of the unfair and unequal treatment with judicial personnel, minority groups report fewer crimes and tend to take matters into their own hands.  A perception exists that the criminal justice system provides insufficient access, protection, support, and services to victims of crime who belong to minority groups.

Implications of discrimination and inequality in courts may lead to minority groups not trusting the court system to handle disputes and help them in times of need.  As a result, many individuals who belong to minority groups tend to take justice into their own hands, potentially acting in violent and criminal behavior.  It is perceived that Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans receive less guidance and help from police officers during times of distress and trauma.

It is apparent that racial discrimination and inequality exist in three elements of the justice system – the correctional system, judicial system, and incarceration system.  People of color and ethnic diversity represent a large population of individuals who are filed through the American judicial system.  Is it an adequate representation of crime within the American population?  Is it fair?

Racial profiling, especially in the American judicial system, violates the United States Constitution’s foundation that all individuals are equal and protected under the federal law.  In addition, the United States Constitution’s Fourth Amendment guarantees that individuals (all individuals despite race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, etc.) should be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  Furthermore, racial profiling has been discovered to consequence from individual officer, judge and jury racism and stereotyping, from long-standing and institutionalized biases, and from the administrative culture and attitudes of law enforcement organizations.

People of color are greatly overrepresented in the American judicial system today.  As demonstrated through the case of the Asian American drug offender, and other research and studies, racial profiling is evident in the American judicial system.  People are not treated fairly in the justice system.  There are certainly stages within the American criminal justice process that hindrance Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans.  Three elements of the justice process discriminate against people of color.  Is America really a place of freedom and equality?

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