None Dare Call It Justice: Eighteen Examples of Racism in Criminal Legal System

Photo by Dave Nakayama | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Dave Nakayama | CC BY 2.0

Racism may well be the biggest crime in the criminal legal system. If present trends continue, 1 of every 4 African American males born this decade can expect to go to prison in his lifetime despite the fact that the Census Bureau reports that the US is 13 percent Black, 61 percent white and 17 percent Latino.

When Brown v Board of Education was decided in 1954 about 100,000 African Americans were in prison.  Now there are about 800,000 African Americans in jails and prisons: 538,000 in prisons and over 263,000 in local jails.  Black men are nearly six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Hispanic men are 2.3 times as likely, according to the Sentencing Project.

Why?  Because our country has dramatically expanded our jails and prisons and there is deep racism built into every step of the criminal legal system.  Some think the criminal legal system has big problems that need to be reformed.  Others think the racism in the criminal legal system is helping it operate exactly as it has been designed to incarcerate as many black and brown people as possible.

Here are 18 examples of racism in parts of different stages of the system.  Taken together, the racism in each of these steps accelerates the process of incarceration of African American and Latino males.  Together, they demonstrate that racism may well be the biggest crime in the criminal legal system.

One.  Racism in Police Stops

Who is stopped by the police,…

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