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Racism in the American Criminal System Essay

Updated August 10, 2022

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Racism in the American Criminal System Essay essay

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On a chilly cold night, the man was driving down the narrow streets of Baltimore City. He turned right to E. Cross St, where the cars were parked on each side of the road. He looked for an empty parking spot, but couldn’t find one. It was easy to get frustrated when no parking space was found. The man turned to the next street where the roads were narrower, but fortunately, he found a space to park his precious Camry. He got out of his car and inhaled the fresh air. He started walking towards his house and was thrilled to finally see his family after weeks of hard work. He could imagine his wife’s radiant smile, and his baby’s little brown arms hugging him tightly.

Suddenly he heard a gunshot behind him. He turned around and was surprised to see a police officer staring at him with disgust. The officer said, “ You have the right to remain silent”. The words started fading slowly. He was shocked and confused. There were blinding red and blue lights everywhere on the street. He couldn’t see anything, all he knew was that he was being dragged away into the car. Coates claims in the book Between The World and Me that people of color face discrimination across the nation in American Criminal Justice System. Drug arrest, capital punishment, and the number of traffic stops indicates that American Criminal system is corrupt and biased, therefore Coates is correct.

Drug arrest is one of the examples that confirms that there is racial discrimination in the American Criminal Justice System. The war on drugs caused the number of drugs arrest to increase drastically. Since the 1800s, the United States had declared war on drugs. The government tried to eradicate illegal drug use, distribution, and trade by increasing and enforcing penalties for offenders. The war on drugs has affected Americans of every race; but, minorities have been most dramatically affected. African Americans and whites use illegal drugs at similar rates, however, the imprisonment rate of African American drugs charges is much higher than white.

According to the research by the University of Michigan, “African Americans are about five times as likely to go to prison for drug possession as whites, and innocent black people are about 12 times more likely to be convicted of drug crimes than innocent white people” (Gross et al, 16). The statistics indicate that due to racial biases, the law enforcement arrest people of the color more often than the whites. The race has become one of the visual cues to identify drug dealers. If an individual lives in a small black neighborhood, they are more likely to be arrested. It is easier for police to catch drug dealers in the low-income neighborhood than in suburban areas. Therefore, they target African Americans and other minorities.

Another example of racism in the American Criminal System is in capital punishment. Capital punishment is also known as the death penalty and defined as a sentence of execution imposed on criminals. The color of a defendant and a victim’s skin plays a huge role in deciding who gets sentenced to capital punishment. According to the many studies, defendants are much more likely to be sentenced to death if they have killed a white person. “Between 1973 and 2016, 156 people who had been sentenced to death were subsequently determined to be innocent. During the same period, 1,142 people have been executed. This means that for every ten people executed, more than one person has been exonerated.” (NAACP Death Penalty Fact Sheet, 1) An African American named Ralph Daniel Wright, Jr. was convicted of murder of his girlfriend, therefore he was sentenced to death on May 11, 2017, and was 159th person exonerated from death row in the United States since 1973. The criminal justice system cannot be trusted if innocents people can be convicted, sentenced to death, and executed.

Finally, the statistics concerning vehicle stops highlights the vast disparities that exist between races. The Stanford Open Policing Project collected hundred million records of traffic stops from thirty one different states and found evidence of racial bias. They found “when pulled over for speeding, black drivers are 20% more likely to get a ticket (rather than a warning) than white drivers” ( Pierson et al, 1) . Minorities are also more likely to report being ticketed, arrested, handcuffed, or searched by police, and that they more often were threatened with force or had force used against them.

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Racism in the American Criminal System Essay. (2022, Aug 10). Retrieved from