Is the criminal justice system biased?

Essay by Shermika L. JamesUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, February 1997

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Most criminologist use two sources of criminal justice data in the United States: the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) and the National Crime Victimization Surveys (NCVS). The URC data is made from law enforcement agencies and include crime incidents reported to or obtained by the police. NCVS data is obtained from a very complex national survey of a sample of homes and provide information about crime incidents and victims for both reported and unreported crimes, excluding homicide. For my report I obtained research information from questionnaires and from several text books. I gave the questionnaire concerning bias in the criminal justice system to four whites, four blacks, one Asia, and one Mexican. Although this sample is not representative of racial attitudes in general, it can used to develop a better sense of differences among students.

To discuss my findings fully I must define a few terms. The Criminal Justice System is the network of agencies that respond to crime, including the police, courts, jails, and prisons.

Minority Group is a group of people who, because of physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out for differential and different and who regard them as objects of collective discrimination. Discrimination is the act of singling out for unfair treatment. Labeling is stereotyping, or putting a tag on someone, and treating them accordingly. Self-fulling Prophecy is an expectation about how things will be the situations that they predicted or expected. Finally, Differential Association is the idea that interacting with others learns criminal behavior.

It is no secret whites and blacks in America experience life differently because of their race. Therefore, whites and blacks view the criminal justice system differently. My research found 70% of those studied agree the courts do not offer equal treatment. Although both agree that the system is biased, whites seem to...