The debate of whether or not race and class plays a significant role in the criminal justice system still remains a big question. You will get different answers from different people. For example, if you talk to people who have been to prison or has been part of the criminal justice system you will get a different answer than someone who just relies on the media and what they see. I am one of those who has experience in the criminal justice system. Not only because I am majoring in it, but because I have actually worked at a prosecutor’s office. I would say yes. This is simply based on the patterns that I saw with in my time with the prosecutor’s office and some research. As for the question of whether or not class place a role in criminal justice system, I think the answer to that is it depends. I don’t think that the social class matters too much, but I think if you are a celebrity or a famous person you will get out of anything. . This question is harder to answer, but at the end of the day, I think that it does not matter at all.
It is kind of unfortunate that this is even a subject that we have to study. It really kills me to say this, but the answer to this question is yes. Yes, race does play a huge role in the criminal justice system. The first time that the question arose for me was when I found out about few of my colleagues. Long story short, my white American colleagues got less time in prison for the same crime that was committed by my African-American colleagues. After doing some research, I found out that This occurs outside of the courtroom too. According to statistics. “Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes. To be more specific, 1 in every 12 African Americans in their 20’s are in the criminal justice system as prisoners (Morris, 1). The Sentencing Project reports that African Americans are 21 percent more likely to get arrested than their white counterparts. Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. Currently, African Americans make up two-fifths and Hispanics one-fifth of confined youth today. to be sentenced to prison.” the main argument here is that people of color get longer sentences than their white counterparts.
Social class plays a role in the criminal justice system. A key reason why whether or not the social class in the criminal justice system is so hard is because it seems like the only rich people that get away crimes are the celebrities. This includes Wall street CEOs, Professional athletes, politicians and even Actors/Actresses. There are a lot of celebrities that get away with crimes. One example is the Donte Stallworth incident. Donte Stallworth was an ex-nfl player who played for Cleveland Browns. On March 14, 2009 Donte Stallworth got in a car accident which ended up killing a pedestrian. Mr. Stallworth did admit that he was drinking the night before. Three weeks later, Mr. Stallworth was charged with DUI manslaughter.His sentence was that he got 30 days in jail and 2 years of probation. This basically means that he cannot leave his residence without permission. That is a really short sentence as is, but what was even stranger was that Mr. Stallworth was supposed to pay the Reyes’ (Mario Reyes’ family) $2,500. The Reyes’ did not want the money. Instead, they wanted him to donated the $2,500 to the charity group Mother Against Drunk Driving (Philips, cnn.com). A lot of people argue that on the other we have Aaron Hernandez’s case which is literally resulted in the exact opposite of how Donte Stallworth’s did. Mr. Hernandez got life in prison.
One issue that is probably not that important, but still kind of important enough is the body structure. Study shows that wealthier people tend to be slimmer because they tend to like running more than lifting weights and playing sports. According to Lisa McIntyre’s book The Practical Skeptic: Core Concepts in Sociology, she describes 3 different body types. the first one is ectomorphs which is basically when someone is thin and fragile. The second body type is endomorphs which is when someone is short and fat. The final type of body type is mesomorphs which is muscular and athletic (McIntyre, 172). Normally people of higher social classes are ectomorphs and look pretty innocent while people who are poorer are either endomorphs or mesomorphs and look like they committed a crime.
Donte Stallworth at his trial
The question about whether or not the race plays a key role in the criminal justice system is still a debatable topic. This will always be one of the most debatable topics ever. There is really no one answer to this question. You can ask anyone you want, but you will get different answers from people. I maybe a little biased because as a colored individual has who had their fair share of run ins with the criminal justice system. Not only that, but I have had experience in observing the criminal justice system. After doing a little research, I found that it is very common for race to play a key role in the criminal justice system. This also includes in the “criminal justice system” for schools. Meaning that colored students tend to get suspended or even expelled more than their white counterparts, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated. Black and Hispanic students represent more than 70 percent of those involved in school-related arrests or referrals to law enforcement. It is obvious these numbers differ by state, county and even cities, but even working within the criminal justice system I saw similar numbers. I did notice the pattern at my place of work.
Another issue that should be addressed is whether or not social class plays a key role in the criminal justice system. After doing some research, I found a common theme. That theme was that the only time social class plays a role in the criminal justice system is if they are a celebrity/ famous person. Other than that. people who are wealthier do have a slight advantage because they can pay themselves out, but other than that, it does not play a big role in the criminal justice system. Even on occasions, their celebrity status does not matter. An example of this is the Aaron Hernandez case. He was a former NFL receiver who got life in prison. Although, like i said earlier, most celebrities get off pretty easy.
- Cole, D. (1999). No Equal Justice. New York, New York: W.W. Norton and Company.
- Mauer, M. (2007). Uneven justice:states rates by incarceration by race and ethnicity. The Sentencing Project.
- Stallworth Charged in man’s Death. (2009, April 1). Retrieved December 14, 2015, from http://espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=4033632
- McIntyre, L. (2006). The practical skeptic: Core concepts in sociology (3rd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.