Race Crime and the Law Term Paper

  • Length: 8 pages
  • Subject: Race
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #13974800

Excerpt from Term Paper :

This explains why he continually refers to the perception of racism. This is a way of showing how racism is damaging to African-Americans and to the functioning of the legal and criminal system, but without actually making accusations of racism. Kennedy then goes on to argue that officials have to be forced to respect the rules prohibiting racial misconduct and that police and prosecutors engaged in illegitimate racial practices have to be deterred from doing so. Again, Kennedy makes the argument in such a way that he is not insulting his audience of white readers. Rather than state that the system is racist, he argues that some people act in racist ways that ruin the system. The truth might be that the entire system is racist simply because it does not strongly deter racist behaviors from occurring. Kennedy chooses not to approach the problem this way. Instead, he frames the problem by suggesting that the system overall is good, but that there are some individuals who engage in racist behaviors. The way to prevent this from happening is to put in place stronger controls, where the rules prohibiting racial misconduct need to be stronger and where punishments need to be upheld. The end result is that the system does change to become less racist. However, for the reader it appears more like this has to happen to prevent the few bad examples from marring an entire system. This is another example of Kennedy making his point in an effective way that eliminates the possibility of insulting his largely white audience. This shows both Kennedy's intelligence in making his argument and also his awareness that the system is governed by white people and is predominantly racist. Kennedy simply chooses not to openly suggest that the whole system is racist, instead framing his argument as if people are simply closed-minded to the larger issues.

It must also be noted that Kennedy does not ignore serious issues of racial discrimination. However, he does frame them so the problems seem to be a result of a system or of the individuals in that system, rather than of society itself. A good example is seen where Kennedy describes abuse of power. Kennedy describes how police officers and judges can abuse their power and engage in racial misconduct. The abuse of power occurs because they are able to engage in this behavior unchecked. The emphasis is placed on controlling the behavior of those in power and maintaining standards. Kennedy argues that if standards and control are not maintained, then people can abuse their power without consequence of any action being taken. This creates a situation where complete control is lost, with this extending to problems greater than just racist behavior. With this argument, Kennedy places serious issues of racial abuse and discrimination in a context where the problem is a lack of control and an abuse of power. This takes the focus away from the issue only as a racial one and makes it a larger problem with significant consequences for the public, regardless of whether a person is black or white. This is another example of Kennedy framing his argument in an intelligent way so that it better appeals to his argument. After all, if you show a largely white population about the problems of black people, there is a limited amount of personal concern. However, if you expand this issue so that it can also be seen as impacting the white person, it has a much higher level of personal concern and the argument gains a lot more weight. Kennedy's argument here also shows that issues of race in criminal justice are related to the larger system. They cannot be changed simply by making everyone in the system less racist and more understanding of black people. Instead, the system itself needs to have controls that limit racist behavior. In essence, Kennedy is showing that the solution is not to change the views of people, since individuals judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers, may still have racist ideas and the beliefs of each individual cannot be controlled. Instead, the solution is to control the behavior of individuals. This means that a prosecutor or a law enforcement officer may indeed have racist ideas. However, if the system is designed to identify racist behavior and punish it, the individual cannot act in a racist manner regardless of their own perceptions and ideas. This is a practical way of eliminating racist behavior. In addition, this is also the way that the entire criminal justice system is managed. After all, individual judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers, cannot have opinions and ideas forced on them, but are free to feel however they like. However, this does not mean that they can act however they like. Instead, they are governed by guidelines stating what is and is not acceptable. They are also governed by the system and by their role in it. Control then is not managed via individuals, but by the elements of the system itself. Kennedy shows that he is aware of this and makes no arguments that attempt to change racist beliefs. Instead, his focus is on making changes that prevent racist behavior. This shows that Kennedy's approach is practical and linked to making real changes in how things are done, not to trying to make changes in how people feel.

Another important aspect of Kennedy's book is that his focus is largely on the idea of black people as not being protected by the system as they should be. It is notable that black criminals being mistreated is also a serious issue, but Kennedy does not put a strong focus on this. It seems that this is done because the desire for a system that protects you is something that the white and black people share. Kennedy's focus then puts the emphasis on an issue that white people will be able to relate to, since white people are also sensitive to the issue of criminal justice not protecting their safety as it should. Kennedy explores this by showing how there is often a leniency seen in cases where white law enforcement officers have abused black individuals. These are cases where the criminal justice system should be protecting the abused individual. Instead, the system appears to play a larger role in protecting the white abusers. This is a significant breakdown in the system and most white readers will relate strongly to the issue, since there is a shared belief that the criminal justice system should protect the innocent. This makes one of the major issues being protection of the innocent. By showing that the black community does not receive the protection they need and deserve, questions are raised about the validity of the criminal justice system. At the same time, this creates an understanding of why the black community views law enforcement and the courts with suspicion. This is another case of Kennedy framing the argument well so that the issues raised are ones that white Americans will be able to identify with.

Overall, Kennedy makes a strong case against racial discrimination and shows how race is closely linked to the criminal justice system. Kennedy explores and highlights the issues, including offering solutions to the problem. The most impressive aspect though, is the way that Kennedy frames his argument to appeal to a white audience. Considering that a white population is largely in control of the criminal justice system and will be responsible for making decisions, it is impressive and significant that Kennedy finds a way to make his argument appeal to this white population.

Works Cited

Kennedy, R. Race, Crime, and…

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