Politics requires us to take a look at the big picture of current issues in order to solve them. Politics also considers similar historical evidence in much of its decision-making. In order to answer the question; is discrimination by race a national problem in the U.S., we need to look at some research. In Whitewashing Race, the Myth of a Color-Blind Society, Michael K. Brown and his associates presented three waves of social research that have been executed regarding discrimination in the Criminal Justice system. The first wave was implemented prior to the Civil Rights Movement, the results were that race did indeed have an impact in the system, such as in the courts and the police force. The second wave of research was completed throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s and was led by Alfred Blumstein of Carnegie-Melon University. Blumstein conducted research (with controlled variables) which compared African American rates of arrest for violent crimes with the imprisonment of African Americans. The results were this: “Blumstein found that about 80% of the difference between black and white imprisonment rates for crimes of violence had disappeared” (Brown, et al., 2004). The third and final wave mentioned in Brown’s article was done in the 1990’s and found that discrimination exists in the criminal justice system but in more indirect, complicated and sometimes subconscious forms. Why the sudden difference between wave 2 and wave 3? Robert Crutchfield can answer that question. Crutchfield pointed out that Blumstein’s national level of discrimination in the system did not accurately depict state rates (Brown, et al., 2004). There have since been several studies/research articles that confirm the theory that racial discrimination in the Criminal Justice system is a state-to-state problem, not a nationally universal one. This, of course, makes perfect sense since slavery was rooted in the South. Longstanding customs are culturally historic and some (like slavery) have an immense impact on the future. The three waves of research presented here tell us two important facts. One; discrimination in the system is declining over time and two: the problem is concentrated at the state level. Being aware of this problem is the first step, the next would be attempting to speed up the decline of discrimination until it is no longer a factor in our Criminal Justice System. To do this, I believe we cannot change the views of the people in our Criminal Justice System who discriminate unless we attempt to educate them. Just like many if not most people who discriminate, these offenders fall under the category of ignorance. Time too, I believe will aid in the dissipation of discrimination because these offenders soon will be discriminating against the majority, immigration will soon lead to a more racially neutral America.
- Do you think the problem of discrimination in the Criminal Justice system is universally national or state-wide?
- What could be done to rid our Criminal Justice System of racial Discrimination in our states?
(Source: Upper Southampton Patch, 2015, “And the Most Racist Place in America is…Closer Than You Think”)
Brown, M., Carney, M., Currey, E., Duster, T., Oppenheimer, D., Shultz, M., & Wellman, D. (2004). Whitewashing race: The myth of a color-blind society. Choice Reviews Online.
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