Color of Justice: does it Matter?

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80-90% of blacks and Latino Americans are put behind bars for a drug bust. A drug bust is to seize of illegal drugs by law enforcement. A drug bust also can wrongfully incriminate people of color including blacks and Latino Americans. By wrongfully incriminating people of color one can lose their homes, jobs, and even children as a result. This is just a normal day for many people of color where no one would even bat an eye, but for Caucasians, this would cause an uproar in society. The War on Drugs is supposed to aid reduction of illegal drug trade, drug prohibition, and aid in an increase in whites getting arrested for drugs crimes. With this being said, the rate at which whites get arrested for these exact same crimes as African Americans and Latino Americans will never reach the same rate as them. This shows the racist manner of how the criminal justice system behaves.

Within our jails, African Americans and Latino Americans make up a majority of the population making a racial discrepancy. A racial discrepancy is when a certain ethnic group within a controlled environment out numbers the general population. Law enforcement claims that this is because these certain groups commit more crimes than the general population. This is a lie due to the fact that all races use drugs while whites are using and dealing drugs at a higher rate. Another fact is that individuals normally buy from people of the same race. With all this being said, popular culture misleads the public of the reality of drugs assuming that it is only black individuals doing the deed. The criminal justice system cannot be explained by “old fashion racism” because it prohibits a discussion of a particular practice or forbidding association with political discourse. In Alexander’s chapter, one discusses mass incarceration including many on parole and probation, which result in “colorblind” that makes it hard to justify that it is systematically racist and to just cover up racism. This relates largely to the American population turning their backs on the obvious correlation that a high percentage of people of color are locked up and is seen as “second class status.” The objective is that it is hard to unseen what is happening to people of color, but one must use its “common sense” to see that the justice system is highly racist in many ways.

Furthermore, there are two steps of racism of mass incarceration. The first step is how law enforcement decides in what ways and whom they approach. The second step is “refusing to accept any charges of racism.” Alexander explains that the anti-drug policy is highly discriminatory because these crimes are handled in a different manner than other crimes. Along with most Americans of all races have violated drug laws, and the law enforcement cannot simply put all of the American population behind bars because it is known as a consensual act. Police and law makers have to approach drug crimes with a different approach then regular crimes like theft, assault, etc. The biggest decision they had to make was to whom they would target: African Americans. This was largely influenced when Reagan was President who used media that targeted and linked black culture to drugs. This not only targeted the American population, but also enforced police to view this bias assumption.

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With this being said, police acted in this racial manner. Many advocated to try to undo police behavior towards people of color when an officer stops and searches them. Sadly, this is not a success. For example, in the Whren vs. United States, the “Supreme Court ruled that ‘claims of racial bias could not be brought under the Fourth Amendment.” This meaning that one cannot fight any racial bias against the criminal justice system. Another Case Alexander talks about was McCleskey vs. Kemp. This case was about a black man, Kemp, sentenced to death due to the black man shooting a white police officer, McCleskey. Kemp brought forward strong statistical evidence that proved that killing white individuals were eleven times more likely to be put on death row. Even though the court knew Kemp had a strong case with supporting evidence which also showed the court racial bias affects, the court insisted that racial discrimination must be tolerated in the system. Another case that showed racial discrimination was about an 18 year old African American man being sentenced 10 years for selling crack. African Americans are more likely to sell crack cocaine than powder cocaine, which results in unfairly targeting African Americans due to the length of time in jail for crack verses powder cocaine. Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are not substantially different. Luckily, there was an African American judge on the case who knew about the racism in the criminal justice system. This judge used the War on Drugs to lessen this young man’s sentence as if he had the powder form. Sadly, this was reversed by the Court of Appeals. Sadly, this Georgia court admitted that racism is too deeply involved in the criminal justice system that is cannot change or the whole system will crumbled. Not only does people of color get discriminated while be on trial, prosecutors of color are also on that bandwagon. The courts have yet to make significant changes, and if challenged, many do not succeed to change this system.

To continue on the theme of the court system, one must talk about the discrimination within juries. The early 1800s blacks were prohibited to be on a jury until 1860 where they still were banned from time to time. One might think that today it would be different, but if there is a death row case, the juries are all of white descent. African Americans are prohibited to serve on juries if someone is on death row and many other types of crimes for many uncalled for reasons. With all this being said, it ties back to colorblindness and that actions need to be taken to resolve the elephant in the room in the criminal justice system.

The court system is highly racist, but one must not forget who puts these low income people of color in these systems: the police. Racial bias is highly incorporated in the police department. Police officers have the freedom to justify their actions in any particular situation when dealing with poor individuals of color. The police do not show compassion and safety, yet they represent fear and violence in poor ghettos. Why people of color? This is because they have a small extent of counterattacking. While police take African American drug dealers off the streets, a new drug dealer will violently take their place. Hence, this drug war will be forever continuous. In 2002, researches showed that the Seattle Police Department were heavily influenced by racist stereotypes towards the drug problem. With this being said, this would not hold up in court due to the fact that the criminal justice system makes it impossible to make claims on racial bias hence no one is accountable. To make matters worse, there is a “dirty little secret,” which allows police officers to “license to discriminate.” With this being said, it is legal for them to stop someone of a specific race if that is not the only reason for doing so. Police officers will target people of color than whites who have a higher chance of carrying illegal substances on them than of color individuals. With many studies performed, these stop and frisk stops result in humiliation, injustice, untrustworthy, and sometimes murder of the unarmed by the officers. With this being said, people of color get stopped the majority of the time while whites can walk away freely.

All in all, Alexander vs. Sandoval was the “last remaining avenue available for challenging racial bias in the criminal justice system.” This meaning that the justice system needed to have sufficient evidence that racial profiling was needed. With all this being said, there is a huge racist bias in our criminal justice system. Many are aware of this problem and have acted to make a change, but all of these efforts continuously get shut down. Change is needed so justice can be served for all Americans.

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Color of Justice: does it Matter? (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from
“Color of Justice: does it Matter?” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
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Color of Justice: does it Matter? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2024 Apr 22]. Available from:

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