The great nation of the United States was founded on the golden principles of freedom and equality for all. In fact, equality of the African Americans was the very basis for the American Civil War. However, even after so many years after the Civil War, the African Americans are still treated with discrimination. Even the criminal justice system of the U.S., which is considered to be the most extensive throughout the world, does not ensure equality of the black Americans. Even though the African Americans constitute only about 13.3 percent of the population of the United States, the prisons are full of them. The major reason behind such racial disparities is the racial prejudice at the hands of the very people sworn in to protect the minorities, like police officials and judges. Furthermore, the policies of the government also significantly contribute to this undesirable trend.
Black Americans are under great threat of being incarcerated, as they constitute almost half of the prison populations in the states of Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Michigan, Alabama, Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana and Virginia. This percentage is much more (at 72 percent) in Maryland. All these statistics demonstrate the high racial disparity faced by these people all across the United States. The conditions are even worse in the cases related to drugs. The use of drugs among the blacks and whites is almost the same, as shown by a 2013 survey conducted by the Health and Human Services Department of the United States. Yet, the African Americans are arrested more than twice their population on drug-related charges. As per the statistics of the FBI, of all the drug arrests, 29 percent constitute African Americans. The same can be said in regards to marijuana, with the blacks being 3.73 percent more likely to be arrested as compared to the white Americans.
Moreover, racial profiling is another form of racial discrimination against the blacks. The police stops are a notable example of this phenomenon, as African Americans are stopped and frisked at a rate double than the white Americans. Police racial profiles during daily survey procedures continue to be held in the US. It is a very wrong phenomenon as crime has no racial tendency. Anyone can become a criminal. Blacks, white people, Hispanic drivers are criminals or have the same opportunity to participate in criminal offenses. Furthermore, crime is a factor of action, not related to individual race. Many Caucasians are convicted by participating in illegal acts. Therefore, arrest and search of the police investigation should not be disliked racially.
The population of African Americans in the United States is a minority and they account for only 14 percent of national drug users. However, as stated earlier, it accounts for about 29 percent of those arrested for drug-related crimes. Most black people live in the poor, urban areas, so they are easier to find than white people living in the suburbs. This explains institutional racial discrimination in the American criminal justice system against blacks. Approximately 5 percent of the African Americans detained by police are not informed why they are detained. In addition, racism and others’ perceptions of blacks affect the judgment of the judges and the judgment of the jury.
Racism in the American criminal justice system is a major problem. This issue has always been present in the United States, however, it has been brought into the limelight in recent times. Blacks have a greater chance of staying in prisons and waiting for inspection than white Americans. For example, according to the review of the Criminal Justice Department of New York State in 1995, there is a disparity in arrest prosecution of severe crimes, according to which, the probability of being detained is 33 percent more for black criminals than white.
Furthermore, in the case of being arrested, almost 80 percent of the accused individuals obtain a public defender, however, in civil courts, most black people do not have public defenders. According to the 2015 report of the Federation of American Federations of Bar Associations, defendants often complain of crimes committed without having understood the legal rights. All Americans have basic right to hire lawyers, but this right does not apply to many African Americans. As citizen defenders are short to protect litigation on their behalf, countless innocent blacks are executed in prison. By contrast, Caucasian Americans have easy access to public defenders and most people can win a trial.
Young African Americans may be convicted for twice the crime of white Americans’ children. In the same way, unlike white children, black children are 2.5 times more likely to be arrested due to curfew breach. Children of African-Americans are twice as likely to be detained as white children. Furthermore, according to a study of the National Academy of Sciences, it is clear that blacks are more likely to be jailed than whites while waiting for their affairs to be heard. According to the survey, African Americans tend to be subject to imprisonment conditions instead of community service, unlike white-American Americans. This explains why more Americans are black than white people in prisons.
The same goes for the use of physical force by the police while arresting black Americans. Once arrested, they are under a greater threat of being faced by mandatory sentencing charges. For example, blacks are twice more likely to face imprisonment instead of community service in contrast to the white Americans. Moreover, after completing their prison sentences, these people face great difficulty getting a job. It is true that acquiring a job with a criminal record is hard for a person of any race, yet it is much harder for the African Americans than the white people. Moreover, blacks are more vulnerable to experience police brutality leading to death. The unfortunate case of Freddie Gray, an African American male who died in police custody in 2015, is a noteworthy example of the police brutality faced by the blacks due to their race.
In fact, the movement of “Black Lives Matter” was started in response to the severe police brutality against the African Americans the slogan “black lives matter,” is the battle cry of the movement against the brutality of the police against the African Americans. It began as the small protests in Saint Louis and gradually spread across the whole country. The movement shamed the American media and the politicians who do not do anything to mitigate racial discrimination against the African Americans. The strength of today’s movement manifests itself in many different ways. It has been offensive since its inception. Among the most popular on street protests and in social media, the refrain movement – “Stop it!” (Shut it down!) was more than just a slogan. It found its expression and in reality, when activists in dozens of cities blocked traffic, marched on highways, stopped trains, mated their hands on the railway tracks, took seats at intersections, delayed sports events and temporarily occupied shopping centers, large retailers shops, police stations and city halls. Activists state that racism against blacks is a systemic problem and it is necessary to struggle against it.
The wide scope of the movement is another indicator of its strength and the evidence that it touched the living. Protests under the slogan “Black Lives Matter” were held in all major cities of the country. But they also protested in cities with a small percentage of black population. Throughout the country, students from universities, secondary and even primary schools participated in them. Students of colleges joined them on campuses of all types, and there was even one action organized exclusively by medical students. Protests under the slogan “White robes for black lives” have involved students more.
An advanced line of structural racism against blacks is mass imprisonment and police killings that occur in the United States on average every 28 hours. This explains the popularity of the last words of Michael Brown “My hands are raised, do not shoot,” which became a slogan on marches across the country. The meaning of this phrase: We do not do anything wrong; the aggressor is a racist system, not us. Activists of the movement consciously challenge concept held by most white Americans that the blacks are themselves responsible for their situation. They argue that the system should be transformed to bring about an end to racial discrimination and violence.
The movement has a direct prehistory. The most recent predecessor movement also arose from a specific case – the persecution and murder of a teenage Trayvon Martin by a vigilant-rascal George Zimmermann in February 2012 in Stanford, Florida. Although many of the thousands of protesters associated this case with a wider injustice in terms of race, the protest faced obscurity as the American system of criminal justice could not even offer the appearance of an honest trial. The conclusions that the activists made from such circumstances form the consciousness of today’s protesters.
However, as the movement grew and brought the issue of racism to the global forefront, it was met with a negative response by the whites. The slogan, “All Lives Matter” is proof of the fact. It refuses to acknowledge the fact that the American criminal justice system does not treat all the people in the same manner. The same can be said for the slogan “Blue Lives Matter,” as representing the police as victims and the blacks as the aggressors is simply a distortion of the facts. Although the police officers that are slain deserve respect, they should not overshadow the racism faced by the black Americans.
In conclusion, it is true that the constitution of the United States calls for equality of all the Americans before the law, regardless of their race, the American criminal justice system is mired in racism. African Americans are always excluded from jury service. Furthermore, black offenders always receive a 10 percent longer sentence than a white criminal for the crimes of similar nature. They face the threat of being incarcerated, stopped needlessly at police stops and face police brutality at rates much higher than white Americans. Racism is a major problem in the American criminal justice system and it should be mitigated at all costs as all humans are equal.