According to our classroom text the Color of Justice “Race is defined and refers to as the major biological division of mankind, as distinguished by color of skin, texture of hair, bodily proportions and any other physical feature” ((Walker, Spohn, DeLone, 2016, p. 10). When it comes to race the three identified racial groups are separated as followed: Caucasians, Negroid and Mongoloid. The fact that there are only three racial groups leaves all other races such as Asian, Native Americans and Armenians forced to identify as one of the three above racial groups creates a racial disparity. Racial Disparities are when a person feels like a person has formed a bias opinion based upon ones race, these biases are often formed into what is known as discrimination. These biases are formed based off of a persons defining themselves as a certain race or them being labeled by other racial groups. When it comes to our criminal justice system does race matter? Many might say it does and many might say it doesn’t, but I personally believe that race does play a major factor in our criminal justice system.
So because of that my main goal for this paper is to show how racial disparities in the criminal justice system stem beyond the bases of criminality and more towards the racial lines. In our criminal justice system there are many factors and facets but race is a major one and often times it determines who is most likely to come in contact with the system, who is most likely to be incarcerated, how harsh of a sentence will that person receive and overall ones race determines how he or she will be treated throughout the entire trial/courts process. In order for one to understand how race plays a role in our system, one must understand where racial biases and discrimination come from. So, for this next section I would like to give a background on the history of race and how its linked to crime.
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“The Black Codes” was a law that was passed in the south in 1865 post the American Civil War, this law was put in place to restrict the freedom of African Americans. Black Codes not only took the freedom away from African Americans but they were also used to discourage free blacks from residing in certain states by denying them equal rights, including the right to vote, the right to public education, and the right to equal treatment under the law. Black Codes were acts passed by our government that made other laws open to interpretation and easily manipulated. With that being said these laws were not enacted to bring together our nation and in fact they were put in place by whites whos only goal was “to create a criminal justice system on the basis of criminalizing black people by ensuring their continued oppression so that they were once again targeted and punished for nothing more than the color of their skin” (Davis, pp.28-29).