Racism and the Criminal Justice System in the US


Many social injustices are realized not only in the US but also in other industrialized countries. Racism, of late, has been a key issue to focus on in the country due to the efforts that are being made to bar the issue from escalating more. In the US, the number of prisoners constitutes 5% of all detainees globally, with 25% of the number in the US being African Americans (Ezorsky 2018). Thus, it means the criminal justice system needs to undertake various measures to control the issue and safeguard the dignity of black Americans. This paper explores how racism is maintained through the criminal justice system and employment practices in the US.

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America appears to be the most diverse democratic country globally. However, the economic gains and the industrial prosperity are not fairly shared across the entire society in the US. Some communities have been marginalized, as evident through disparate treatment of people of color when it comes to the criminal justice system. The reason behind the segregation of African Americans is based on ethnicity profiling and mistrust in the criminal justice system (Solomon, Maxwell, and Castro 2019). It has been unable to promote equality in social mobility as one of the major elements in the stratification system in any given society.

Challenges Behind Racial Disparity in Criminal Justice System in the US

Four factors can be associated with the issue of racial discrimination in the US judicial system. The first is the lack of acknowledging the cumulative aspect of racism. Thus, it means that racial inequality has been built at many stages of criminal justice system paraphernalia, such as in arresting people, which may be accompanied by shallow scrutiny of the matter or subject of nabbing people in the criminal justice implementation metrics (Ezorsky 2018). The other factor is the lack of encouragement in terms of communication among the key implementors in decision points of the system. Therefore, under this factor, it means there have been no strategies to tackle the problem on an effective basis as many law practitioners had the stereotype on the woke supremacy battles as one way of uplifting the policies if some political moves, especially the democrats.

The third key aspect is that the criminal justice personnel have ignored the need to know that a decision may not be feasible for some people. Therefore, it means the unique features behind the racial disparity are catalyzed by the egocentric battles between the defending experts and the decision-makers. At the end of the day, the person representing the minority will be seen to be attracting attention hence seeking sympathy favors before the courts or congress chambers (Bearak et al. 2021). Lastly, people serving in the judicial arm of government are yet to have a full implementation on the racial disparity matter as African Americans need to be regarded as the right citizens of the US.

Racial Disparities Projections in the US’s Criminal Justice System

Lack of equality in the judicial system results in divergent impacts, especially in matters regarding ethnicity. Structural racism is evident due to the notion that black people are associated with poverty and a lack of intervention metrics that can last for the desired period. More than 13,500 officer-initiated traffic stops in the western side of the country stopped minority drivers at higher rates than the white personnel working in the transport and logistics industry (Noon 2017). The roadblocks were erected and, in most cases, the officers would find contraband items in vehicles belonging to black people more than the ones for the whites.

New York state-based study revealed that minorities charged with felonies had more chances to be detained when compared to whites. 10% of minorities are held in remand or detained in New York while 33% are in other parts of the state (Noon 2017). Therefore, it means the minorities would be subject to criminal charges with more chances compared to whites. 38% of prison and jail inmates are comprised of people of color compared to 13% of the overall population share. The Latinos are approximately 19% and 15% of the share of the population, respectively (Noon 2017). A person who is black-oriented and born in 2001 has a 33% chance of spending some time in prison at some period of their life.

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On the other hand, a Hispanic male would have a 17% chance while whites 6% (Noon 2017). Therefore, the reports indicate that the rate at which black Americans are subjected to criminal charges is higher, and there is a need to get some insights that would enlighten the criminal justice system on the need to be just, fair, and considerate to all people seeking justice in the US (Noon 2017). That would lead to few cases of racial discrimination when it comes to seeking justice in courts for every citizen of America. The juvenile drug arrest rates for black Americans were high, as shown in Figure 1 below. Therefore, the US needs a major implementation of a policy concerning the criminal justice system to ensure equality is achieved.

Juvenile Drug Arrest Rates 1980-2003
Figure 1: Juvenile Drug Arrest Rates 1980-2003 (Noon 2017).

Racial Discrimination in Jury Selection

Jury service is another area that has been affected when it comes to selecting personnel in the criminal justice system. Most of the state laws have excluded black people living in the US on matter legal system. Since the 19th century, there are numerous cases of racial discrimination against black people who serve in the judiciary. In 1959, the US court of appeals made a judicial notice for the fifth circuit that continued widespread racial discrimination where lawyers residing in many southern jurisdictions never raised the issue of systemic exclusion of black Americans from juries (Solomon, Maxwell, and Castro 2019).

The same institution noted that it had understood what transpires when a white attorney for a negro defendant makes exclusion claims in areas that are dominated in segregate practices in the criminal justice system. There followed many years later when community pressures went ahead to dissuade some defending legal personnel from raising jury discrimination claims in the southern region.

Many lawyers who represented black Americans noted the issue of racial misconduct more so when it came to listening to submissions from the clients to the white-centric attorney. For instance, the case of Batson v. Kentucky in 1986 saw judge Leonard Wexler confronting the rules that prohibited attorneys from using racially discriminatory challenges during sessions in court (Ezorsky 2018). Generally, the courts in the US have ignored African Americans who are obliged to give important verdicts in many cases that involve breaking of laws of the country. In the US, it is hard to have major issues involving racial demographics of juries, although there seem to be people who have not effectively implemented that despite their knowledge and expertise power in criminal justice matters.

Law Enforcement

The police are the most visible contributors to criminal justice system inequalities. The group is tasked with responding to calls for emergency services, monitoring law and order for citizens in the US, and intervening where necessary. However, impunity has dragged the police force where they overlook cases where black Americans are involved. There is speculation about increased police presence in minority areas (Weller 2019).

Thus, the police have exercised broad discretion in their capacity when it comes to the matter of arresting civilians. The police, who are key personnel in justice delivery, must be trained on the importance of equality and law when in their lines of duty. The recent incident in Minneapolis policemen who assaulted George Floyd is an example of how men in uniform have contributed to racial discrimination. The issue sparked a raft of reactions with the hashtag ‘Black Lives Matter’ prevailing in all sections globally (Weller 2019). The recent arrest and charge of Derek Chauvin mark an epitome of a long journey towards equality for black people in the US.

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Arraignment and Release Decisions

When a suspect is nabbed and arraigned in court, there are several decisions made. In that case, the racial composition is a key mindset people have when it comes to the level of scrutiny in court for the victims. Due to the multiple players who are involved in processing the criminal case, there seem to be more complicated occasions (Solomon, Maxwell, and Castro 2019). For instance, the police, the complainant, witnesses, suspects, and the prosecutor contribute towards the end game for such legal matters. In this case, a significant number of cases are leaned towards helping the whites get released while sidelining the African Americans.

Adjudication and Sentencing

With a high number of inmates in the US as compared to other parts of the world, there’s still the issue of racial discrimination in sentencing the people who are said to be ‘guilty’ sometimes. The imposition of a sentence is a matter of interest because the severity of the subject is determined by the ethnicity and background of the victim. More sensitive cases that ay range from severe penalties in the mix are handled by higher courts which seem to be superior, an aspect that undermines the majority in the society (Ezorsky 2018). The main focus here is the extent to which the matters are presented and heard in court for white and black people. For the black Americans, there seems to be a piece of less timely evidence that is required to sentence someone to years of service in correctional points in the US. It is high time that America rises above all the other states and fights against these inequalities, starting with racism in society.

How Racism Is Maintained Through Employment Practices in the Us

The US economy was developed by the exploitation and occupational discrimination of people of color. Many government policies and institutional cultures necessitated this system where legacies of slavery and anti-discrimination issues being rampant in the US since the civil war. For many years, people of color were enslaved and made to work in inhumane environments such as agricultural, domestic, and service industries that were full of humiliation by the white masters (Noon 2017). Even today, the trend is still evident in many sections of work in the US. Someone who has not stepped in or lived in the US, can observe racial discrimination in the working environment for black people.

Even in the film industry, roles that seem to be blue are seen delegated to black people. However, there are well-enlightened groups in the US that understand the need for equality for all human beings. Despite the US abolishing slavery in 1863, the action does not seem to coincide with what happened later in terms of occupations for liberal black workers (Gupta 2019). The reconstruction period saw Jim Crow laws put in place and which gave codified black people in the southern society. With globalization reducing the need for labor in many industries, any form of job engagement would be whites given priority over the black Americans.

Various Job Sectors in the US

Occupational discrimination has been evident, especially against African Americans, which has resulted in intentional government policy. At this time, black Americans are the majority in jobs that pay lower, more so in agricultural and other fields, as shown in Figure 2 below. Asians, African Americans, and Hispanic people make up to 38% of the entire US workforce (Solomon, Maxwell, and Castro 2019). However, the same group constitutes 58% of miscellaneous agricultural personnel, 70% of maids and housekeeping duties, and 75% of baggage porters, concierges, and bellhops (Solomon, Maxwell, and Castro 2019). There is a need to value these types of work and abolish the Jim Crow mentality that the sectors of occupations are for the less privileged groups, in this case, the black Americans. These sections of occupation often pay less, as shown in Figure 3 below, and there is supposed to be a policy that neutralizes salaries and remuneration for various job sectors in the US.

Total Employed People by Occupation, Race, and Ethnicity in 2018.
Figure 2: Total Employed People by Occupation, Race, and Ethnicity in 2018 (Solomon, Maxwell, and Castro 2019).
Annual Median Wage by Occupation in 2018
Figure 3: Annual Median Wage by Occupation in 2018 (Solomon, Maxwell, and Castro 2019).

African Americans Challenges in Getting Fair Jobs

The US labor market before the coming of the coronavirus had seen a record of more than 109 months of uninterrupted job growth. The overall unemployment had fallen to the minimum level, with many people capable of securing jobs (Gupta 2019). However, African Americans have faced more challenges to get sustainable jobs compared to their white counterparts. The affected groups face fewer chances to get jobs, and when they get one, they tend to be underpaid or subjected to hard-working environments. These issues have been classified as structural racism as they bar the victims from better chances of getting economic growth and expansion in their lives.

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The labor market has seen a rise in the number of people of color working in various industries. Compared to the number of African Americans in the US, the lucky people to get well-paying jobs are fewer than whites have been on the fate when it comes to employment issues. The US unemployment rate for all persons who are 16 years or older has been down to 3.5% as of September 2019 from its 10% peak in October same year reaching the lowest number in five decades, as shown in Figure 4 (Weller 2019). Amid the growing rate of the labor market in the country, the black people’s unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in what was considered a historic low. At the same time, the white counterparts’ rate of unemployment had reached 3.5% not historically but in 50 years (Noon 2017). That means the levels at which white workers are preferred over the black ones are high hence makes sense when the research concludes that there are still elements of racism in the US employment practice.

Women of color are mostly caught between poor jobs and widespread financial crisis in the labor market. More than 84% of black mothers are breadwinners of their families, a figure that translates to a larger share compared to other races or ethnic groups (Bearak et al. 2021). African American women work in low-paying jobs more than black men or white women. That translates to a steep pay interval for the affected groups. For the black American women who worked full time in 2018, they earned 61.9 cents for every dollar that white men earned (Weller 2019). Generally, black workers have less access to job opportunities than whites.

US Unemployment Rate 1950’s -2020
Figure 4: US Unemployment Rate 1950’s -2020 (Weller 2019).

The Need to Leverage Racism in the Criminal Justice System and Employment Practices

The US criminal justice system should be provided with insights through special interest groups and lobbying movements to cease racial disparity in the administration of justice. The members of the public are supposed to identify stages at which criminal justice paraphernalia is disproportionate in representing minorities (Gupta 2019). This research suggests that there should be policies that protect the interest of African American citizens in judicial matters. The key decision points in the system should be checked well to make sure no amount of intimidation, impunity, and egocentricity is witnessed. That would be achieved by having recruitment of black attorneys in key juries so that they can assist in combating the issue.

When cases of disparity in racism are identified, the reasons for the happenings will be barred through the change institutionalization in such matters. The employment sector needs to be given credit as one of the major contributors to the growth of the US economy. Thus, African Americans need to be given equal opportunities in employment by having them get placed in key working positions and well-paying jobs (Noon 2017). If the unemployment rate is lowered equally for all groups in the US, that will mark an epitome of a long journey towards fighting racism in both the criminal justice system and employment practices.


Racial discrimination has been maintained in both the criminal justice system and the employment practices in the US. Most of the people held in custody or serving sentences in jail are people of color. There have been unfruitful efforts to combat racism in the judicial system. The reason why there is intensive discrimination against black people in court issues is due to impunity. The white people rarely get heavy punishments as they always get favor during the process.

The employment practices in the US have seen most black people lack sustaining jobs despite the US having a low unemployment rate. Most people who work in well-paying jobs are the whites. In any case, an African American secures a job, they are likely to have low payment and strict working pressure. To combat these issues, there is a need to raise voices and sensitize the public about the need to have equality in criminal justice and employment matters. There should be also policies that impose heavy punishment for people who embrace racial disparity.


Bearak, J., Popinchalk, A., Burke, K., & Anjur-Dietrich, S. 2021. “Does the Impact of Motherhood on Women’s Employment and Wages Differ for Women Who Plan Their Transition into Motherhood?” Demography, 7(5), 66-69. Web.

Ezorsky, G. 2018. Racism and Justice. Sydney: Cornell University Press.

Gupta, T. D. 2019. Racism and Paid Work. Rosedale: University of Toronto Press.

Noon, M. 2017. “Pointless Diversity Training: Unconscious Bias, New Racism and Agency.” Work, Employment and Society, 32(1), 198-209. Web.

Solomon, D., Maxwell, C., & Castro, A. 2019. “Systematic Inequality and Economic Opportunity.” Web.

Weller, C. (2019). “African Americans Face Systematic Obstacles to Getting Good Jobs.”. Web.

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