Disparity and Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System Research Paper

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Disparity and Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System

Discrimination in the justice system is the dissimilarity based on the difference in treatment given to people regardless of their qualifications or behavior. The criminal justice system has different forms of discrimination including pure justice, contextual discrimination, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic discrimination. Every stage of the criminal justice system experiences systematic discrimination. Further, this form of discrimination occurs without variation in all corners of the world. This implies that systematic discrimination happens when a certain gender, ethnic, age or race group encounters discrimination in different parts of the world. Critics are of the opinion systematic discrimination does not exist while other believes that it exists when groups of people encounter consistent discrimination in the criminal justice system (Robinson & Williams, 2009).

Institutionalized discrimination is associated with disparities in the results and not in the policies. Institutionalized discrimination is based on the aspect of results and not race, gender, or ethnicity. An example of institutionalized discrimination is where a police officer whom normally patrols in minority or poor neighborhoods frequently because of the high rates of crime. Therefore, minority and poor areas are likely to experience high rates of arrests. The variation in the arrests made in the middle class area vs. The minority area is a result of policies enforced by law practices. Contextual discrimination is a form of discrimination that exists at certain times, in some places and some contexts. Previous studies indicate that defenders were forced to pay large bails while they were not able to pay bail. In conclusion, pure justice is a concept that demonstrates that discrimination does not occur at any place or time in the justice system (Mustard, 2009).

Both disparity and discrimination occur within the system of criminal justice at one phase or another. Nevertheless, experts must assess the decision in order to establish whether it was made based on legitimate factors such as criminal records of the offender. As discussed earlier, discrimination forms are found in the arrest directions while disparities occur during sentencing. In order to establish elements that influenced the decision, experts must analyze the intention of the person making the decision within the system of the criminal justice. For instance, it must be analyzed whether a sentence given to an offender was because of the offender's criminal record or whether the judge was biased in the sentence (Walker, Spohn & DeLone, 2004).

However, it is almost impossible to enjoy utmost pure justice because the criminal justice is system is influenced by various factors. Unlike discrimination, disparity is based on the explanation of different legitimate factors. The key variation between discrimination and disparity is extralegal or legal factors. Therefore, when conclusions are made based on the degree of seriousness of the crime and the prior criminal record of the offender, it results into disparity. Nevertheless, when decisions are made based on gender, lifestyle, social class, ethnicity or race, the result is discrimination (Robinson & Williams, 2009).…

Sources Used in Document:


Mustard, B. (2009). Racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in sentencing: Evidence from the U.S.

Federal Courts. New York: Springer.

Robinson, M. & Williams, M. (2009). The myth of a fair criminal justice system. South Carolina:

Edward Elgar Publishing.

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