The Most Critical Issue in the U.S. Criminal Justice System: Systemic Racism
Systemic racism is the most critical issue in the criminal justice system (CJS) in the United States. This type of discrimination permeates every level of the CJS, from police stops to sentencing disparities to incarceration rates. According to a study conducted by the United States Sentencing Commission, “Black male offenders received sentences on average 19.1 percent longer than those of similarly situated White male offenders” (U.S. Sentencing Commission 2016). This is reflective of the broader trend of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Another alarming statistic is that Black Americans are five times more likely to be incarcerated than White Americans (The Sentencing Project 2017). In addition to the systemic racism that exists in the criminal justice system, there is also an issue of implicit bias. Implicit bias refers to attitudes or stereotypes that individuals unconsciously hold and is a major factor in the disproportionate incarceration of people of color (Henderson et al. 2019). This issue is compounded by the fact that many police forces are still largely white and male. Therefore, biases against people of color are perpetuated and amplified throughout the criminal justice system. Cont…
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