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Penal is a word pertaining to punishment and the penal system or penal practices are those related to trial of a person to judge if he should be punished or not and if yes, how much and for how long should he be punished. The penal practices are governed by standard penal laws that are similar yet customized in every country. For example, theft is the same crime but punished with imprisonment in USA, cutting of hands in Saudi Arabia and some time ago, punished by being shot in China. Thus the penal practices can vary from country to country and region to region.
Objective of Penal System
The objectives of penal system are evident and clear. There is a party, a person a group or an organization that committed crime and another party that was wronged. The first objective of penal system is to compensate the affected party by punishing the criminal, secondly to punish the criminal so that he does not commit such an act again. Thirdly, the penal practices are symbolically often tough. This is because the society is told via penal laws and practices that criminal behavior will not be tolerated in the country. Thus justice and fairness is the basic objective behind penal system at individual as well as societal level.
People, for the sake of identification, were divided into races in the history. However, the races were often considered a means of discrimination and prejudice besides pride and honor. Even today in the era of globalization, people from every part of the world travel to different locations where their race might be in a minority. Racialism is a practice, or a problem, where individuals are dealt with on the basis of racial consideration and not their individuality. The racism has often spoiled the taste of diversity and human interaction, equal opportunity, justice and law.
Penal practices racism
The penal practices are independent practices that punish a criminal exclusively based on the act of crime. The criminal is not punished as a person belonging to a particular race, color, religion or gender. The age of a criminal genuinely counts while punishing a person for his crime. The racism in penal practices on the other hand can influence the penal practices but that makes the credibility of the system doubtful. There are some allegations on the U.S. penal system that it has been punishing blacks far more than the whites and other races. This is supported by the fact that the number of blacks has increased in prisons since last few decades (Spivakovksy, 2013).
The penal systems in U.S., Australia and Europe are suspected to be involved in racism. The number of people of color has increased in the prisons (Davis, 1998). This number of colored prisoners is considered as "self-evident" that racism governs the penal system. The point of concern is that in terms of representation in total population of the country, blacks make up the minority yet there are more blacks in jails than the whites. In some periods in recent history, as discussed after wards, the increase in the number of prisoners totally comprised of blacks. This gives rise to questions whether the blacks are actually involved more in crimes today or they are victims of racism.
The African-Americans have historically faced discrimination in America. They were brought to the America as slaves and their human rights were severely violated. Having no representation in politics, law and with rights to own property, the Africans were treated like animals. Now, although the era of slavery has ended, the silent discrimination against the blacks has not yet ended (Davis, 1998, p. 362). Even the kinds of punishment are discriminatory. The blacks are punished more often to labor in prison than the whites. The labor was once considered the only job of the blacks.
It is reported that that in past between the times of 1874 to 1877, the Alabama jail population tripled that consisted of almost all the African-Americans. The number of blacks in U.S. prisons increased between 1920's to 1992 from 20% to 54%. This could have been supported if the population of the country also experienced same changes. But the irrational ratio of races in jail is a point of concern. It is a strong fact that the number of people in jail dominantly depends on the unemployment. The increasing number of minority races in jails should initiate the debate to find and solve if the minority races have higher unemployment rates. If the increasing blacks are actually involved in the crimes that this might tell that they are discriminated in the society and having less number of jobs thus are poorer.
Implications of Penal practices racism
Being the supporter of diversity and the human rights, America as well as Europe holds high responsibility to fairly treat free people as well as the inmates. The criminals should only be punished for the crimes they have committed and not for their racial and religious affiliations. The implications of penal practice racism can be very negative since it violates basic human rights to liberty and justice. The minority can be fairly treated by having a jury that also has human rights personnel to ensure that the criminal is punished for his crime and not race so that fairness prevails.
Ethics and morality is sister of law only the difference is that law is the dominant brother who punishes when it is violated. Ethics and morality also require to fairly treating people. People have right to justice and equality and cannot be differently treated for same actions. There are many theories of ethics and each one of them says in its own way those men inherently deserve to be treated well. It can be their right, our duty, and social need, need of utility or whatever but a man should be morally dealt with and compensated well.
Theory of Ethics of Justice and Fairness
The theory of justice and fairness morally advocates that everyone should get their due rights. Justice particularly means giving everyone their due and this word can be interchangeably used with fairness. The judgment of the people, the theory says, should be such that the people should not be underpaid or over punished. Also one should not be paid more for doing same task and should also not be punished more or less than others for doing same crime. Thus, "equals should be equally treated and unequal's unequally." Genuine disability, disease, minor age can be the reasonable justifications but treating people differently because of their racial orientation is a crime in itself in the eyes of theory of justice and fairness.
Over Representation of Indigenous People
The native people in any area have higher population normally than the immigrants. In the same way, the blacks were brought to America and slaves and they have a minor population although the number brought as slaves was quite huge. Yet, the minor population state does not seem to be translated in number of black prisoners i.e. black prisoners are much more in number, and increasing, than whites. The system is often biased towards the majority and thus they are often punished much less than the minorities would be (Cunneen, 2006). Not only USA but also in countries like America, the natives are dealt comparatively leniently than the minors. The "brown" races are often considered inferior thus they often fall prey to systemic bias. The act is punished without identifying the root-cause thus the actual problem often remains unsolved. The case should however be opposite and the cause should be eliminated by punishing the criminal.
The New Jim Crow
In the legal and political perspective, New Jim Crow means such a political, social and legal occurrence in USA that deals with civil rights issues. Michelle Alexander named her book after Jim Crow's civil right notions. The book, considered secular bible for a new social movement, criticizes that there is huge level of imprisonment in USA. She says that most of blacks and Latinos in the world are imprisoned in U.S. jails (Alexander, 2010). She believes that the people of color seem to be penalized for racial orientation. It is advocated that young blacks, once called felons are always considered prisoners. Thus they seem to pay the price for their life. The war on drug is also a way the minor races are treated discriminatorily.
Bird, Martin, and Nielsen (1996) also support that there is clear evidence given the number of prisoners that the inmates' population is increasingly comprised of people of color. The prisoners from particular minor racial background are punished more severely than the natives. It is not to say that the punishments are very grave for minor crimes. But the criminals having committed same crime are differently treated based on their racial orientation. This leads to gang formation in prisons as well thus making the situation much worse than before. The situation could have been handled…[continue]
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