Race age-old question has been the reason why. Why

  Race and ethnicity
has always been an issue to the way the criminal justice system functions. Some ethnic groups are targeted
more than others and have been for a very long time. An age-old question has
been the reason why. Why are some groups on the spotlight and viewed as
inherently bad and criminal while others are considered to be lawful and ethical?
In countries with a lot of diversity it is very clear that non-white people are
more likely to be the victims of hate crime for their religious beliefs, their
ethnicity, their colour and their sexuality. In the following paragraphs many
questions that are important in resolving the issues around race and why the
Criminal Justice Systems seems to focus on certain groups of people when
looking for someone to blame but forsakes when they are the victims of criminal
activities.

  For
many decades sociologists and criminologists in the United States have argued
whether people of colour (especially African Americans) are misrepresented in
the Criminal Justice System. Latter reviews of the research reveal that more
than half of the studies surrounding the subject identify race as an important
component. In his report about
Stephen Lawrence, a black teenage boy who got killed by six white boys while
waiting for the bus with a friend, William MacPherson (1999) said that
institutional racism is the collective failure of an organization to provide an
appropriate and professional service to people either because of their
culture, colour, or ethnic origin. Moreover, MacPherson conducted an inquiry as
to why the police and the crown prosecution service are prejudice in handling
some cases because their effort to pursue evidence and prosecute the offender
are inadequate. With that being said it is clear that the prejudice of the
Criminal Justice System can indeed explain the disproportionate treatment of
ethnic minority groups. When ethnic minority groups are the victims of a crime
sometimes their cases get swept under the rug by the Criminal Justice System
due to the racist nature that is embedded in our wider society. An example of
disproportionality in the Criminal Justice System is the conviction and
sentence rates of indictable offences. Although more white people were found
guilty of that said offence, black and ethnic minority groups sentenced rates
were higher.  On the contrary belief 75
percent of the people who are stopped while driving in England and Wales are
white while the remaining 25 percent being black, Asian, mixed, or other. But,
the percentage of people who got searched and arrested as a consequence to
being stopped were higher for black, mixed, and Chinese or other. In the United
States the arrest per 1000 people population showed great disproportionality.
More than half of the people being arrested were black (56.5 per cent), almost
38 per cent were mixed, 20.5 per cent Asian, 19 per cent white while the
remaining were Chinese or other. In 2008 the 40 per cent of the male prison
population were black. McConville et al (2014) and others have found evidence
of racial discrimination on the sentencing decision made by the court. More
specifically Asians and Blacks are more likely to be treated unprofessionally
during their court trial. An argument by Hall et al (2013) was made to point
out the increased policing of black people and the stereotypes attached to them
due to the exaggeration of black crime of the media and the state. In addition,
the disproportionality of the Criminal Justice System can be detected in the
overrepresentation of black people who are imprisoned. The disproportionality
of people of ethnic minority background cannot go unnoticed. Ethnic minorities
are the least likely to be accepted as practitioners within the Criminal
Justice System, that’s the reason Bowling (2002) implied that the recruitment
practices are prejudiced. Very often people of colour and of ethnic minority
background are discouraged from joining or continuing a job within the Criminal
Justice System due to past experiences and negative feedback of other ethnic
minority people. Also, the racism they encounter from their colleagues can
attribute to that. Considering all the above information, it is safe to say
that the racism within the Criminal Justice System can explain the
disproportionate treatment of minority ethnic groups. In addition, women of
colour and of ethnic background feel that once they join the force they will be
subjected to racism and sexism. Some researchers wanted to discover the reason
behind disproportionality in the juvenile justice system. Most delicately
accounted the reason behind the disproportionality to be “extra-legal” or
“research selection” while a smaller group of researchers (Debro, 1975, Mann,
1980, Wright, 1990) argued that the reason is racism of the Criminal Justice
System. An even smaller group (Hagan, 1974, Kleck, 1981) argued that the reason
of disproportionality in numbers can be explained by the higher involvement
rates in serious crimes by youths of colour. Scarman (1981) said ‘a police
force which fails to reflect the ethnic diversity of our society will never
succeed in securing the full support of all its sections’

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  On a different note,
an issue has been raised on whether migration has become criminalised or not.
One might argue that due to the many migration laws that exist today that
migration has indeed been criminalised. The European union in their attempt to
govern migration created new criminal divisions of irregular, illegal and
undocumented migrants. In 2009 the council of Europe commissioner expressed his
concern about the tendency to criminalise the irregular entry and presence of
migrants in Europe.  He indicated his
thoughts by saying the following, ‘such method of controlling international
movement corrodes established international law principles; it also causes many
human tragedies without achieving its purpose of genuine control.’ It was also
stated that irregular immigrants are not criminals and should not be treated as
such, they should not be subjected to detention at all and that member states
of the European Union are obligated to find an alternative to detention and
that detention should be as short as possible. The immigration law has been
influenced and directed to be what it is today by crimes committed by
immigrants. A federal statute surrounding the law is to restrict any foreigner
who has been convicted of a criminal activity from entering the country. After
that, the criminal and immigration law have developed a better relationship,
where many immigration violations are characterised as criminal offences and
can lead to deportation. Moreover, in many of the European states when a
foreigner who is crossing the European borders from a non-European country and
is subjected to immigration control can face administrative sanctions.  The residents of a country feel threaten when
immigrants arrive because they expect to act unlawfully, that’s is the image
given to them by news and the rest of the media. They focus only on the crimes
committed by immigrants and that helps to their criminalisation. Additionally,
immigrants are afraid to report crimes committed against due to the constant
fear of being deported. In 2017 the president elect of the United States Donald
Trump, issued a new ban, descripted by the people as a ‘Muslim ban’, that
didn’t allow people from certain countries to enter the United States. Staying
on the subject of the U.S, Mexican mothers and fathers were being deported and
consequently divided from their American born children in an attempt to clear
the land of immigrants from immigrants. In 2012 almost 400.000 people were
removed from U.S soil. People flee their countries seeking asylum and get
rejected in the process or they get detained for a long time before being
released under supervision. An example of migrants being criminalised are the
very strict asylum policies of Sweden. Many migrants chose to share their
experiences, many got detained in centres for as long as 25 months, other got
send back to their countries and many, who unfortunately did not get the chance
to share their story, chose to commit suicide because they would face a harsher
treatment if they were eventually transported back home. Detention and removal
of an individual from a country are seen as mechanism for preserving their
national security. With all of the above being said it is clear that migration
has become criminalised. Everyone residing in a country, whether that is a
police officer or a salon owner, never expect from an immigrant to be law
abiding because that is what they are shown. Moreover, many ethnicists want to
preserve their national status and ethnicity intact they feel threatened by
anyone foreign. Since the dawn of time people travelled countries and
established civilisations and the world as we know it today. The world would
not be the same if Alexander the Great stayed in Macedonia and if Christopher
Columbus did not discover America. It is true that these people may not have
been the best humanitarians but in the aftermath, they will be known for ever.
People would travel from land to land when their provisions would run out or
when they were threatened by war. Today people might migrate because of economic,
social, political, or environmental reasons.

  Today, more than
ever before, people are afraid of going to crowded spaces, like a concert, the
train station, or a shopping centre, due to the constant fear of a terrorist
attack. Terrorism is very hard to tackle because no one can really know when or
where it’s going to happen. The government and the police have taken some
measures when it comes to combating terrorism. If you take a stroll around the
city centre, you will see armed police officers patrolling the streets. That
may be scary and unnatural to see but people feel safer when they know they are
protected and that there is someone there that will act no matter what. What
must not happen is to target certain groups of people because the majority of
terrorists belong or rather believe they belong in those groups. After a major
event that impacts people’s lives they tend to associate the religious or
ethnic groups of the people responsible to crime committed. After the 9/11
incident in the United States the West targeted Muslims, attacked them and made
them feel unwanted and unsafe. There was an instance when a group of friends
were removed from the aeroplane because they were speaking Arabic and the other
passengers felt threatened. A country that is the home to diverse group of
people cannot target and try to push its people out. If the police have
suspicions and evidence that someone, who happens to belong in an ethnic
minority group, is going to do something to harm the society, then they have
every reason to keep an eye on them. But, to target innocent people because
they are Muslim, or Arab is unjustifiable. In addition, black people should not
be targeted because of their colour or because they look “dangerous” in our
society’s standards. Our society has for a very long time associated black
people with criminal activities. That’s the reason why the police are more
anxious and observant when they encounter people of colour. The general racism
of our society is also planted in the minds of police officers who may or may
not act in a prejudiced and racist manner when interacting with black and
ethnic minority groups. Targeting religious groups and putting surveillance on
predominately Muslim communities is going to create a schism not only with the
police but with other groups as well. The police should not target minor groups
but rather individuals who pose a threat to national security, targeting all of
people within a religious or ethnic group is going to create chaos in society
and an awful relationship between the two. The job of the police is to make each
and every person of the community regardless of their skin colour, their
religion or their sexuality feel protected and safe. That will create a
trustworthy relation among the police and the public and the it will help in
the smooth function of the society. When a person of colour is stopped or is
randomly selected for a check at the airport they automatically think is
because of their clothing or the colour of their skin, and most of the times
that is the reason behind it.

  Another question that needs to be answered is
whether slavery was a hate crime. This is a very sensitive question that needs
to be addressed discretely. There is no doubt that people of colour have been,
and some are still going through one of the most horrific situations anyone
could think of. To this day black people are being enslaved and sold, in some
parts of Africa. There is actual footage of an auction where people are buying
black Africans. These people are being told that they are going with a boat to
a different country but in reality, they are being sold as slaves for 400
dollars. Slavery is not a new-found issue, it has been going on since the
ancient times and not only black people were subjected to it. After 1400 B.C.
slavery began to rise again with the first documented case being in Lagos,
Portugal in 1444. After 400 years nations began to abolish slavery. The
abolition of Slavery Act passed in 1807 criminalising the British Atlantic
slavery trade. Starting from the beginning of the year 1808, the United states
passes legislation forbidding the slave trade. In the years to follow most
European countries abolished slavery such us, Spain and most of the Spanish
colonies, Holland, Sweden, and France. One of the most monumental moments in
U.S. history was when then president Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the liberation
of slaves starting from the 1st of January 1863. The 13th
amendment follow soon after in 1865 banning slavery. one of the human rights
stated by the United Nations in 1943 is that no one will be held in slavery or
in servitude slavery and that the slave trade and slavery must be restricted in
all forms. Going back to the initial question if slavery is or is not a hate
crime. First of all, what is a hate crime? A hate crime is any crime or
criminal activity targeted towards an individual because of their skin colour,
their religion, their sexual orientation, or their gender. It is difficult to
answer the question, but one might argue that indeed slavery was a hate crime
due to the fact that black people were targeted because of the colour of their
skin. There is no indication that in the past people were actually prosecuted
for owing slaves and if they did there is no evidence that shows that they were
prosecuted for a hate crime. On the contrary, someone might say that in ancient
history and more particularly ancient Rome anyone could be sold as a slave
regardless of their race or religion. Moreover, slavery could not be classified
as a crime back in the 17th century because owning slaves was
completely legal. One thing is for sure, people are not property, they cannot
be sold or bought. There is a huge difference between cleaning houses for money
on your own terms and being sold to work 20 hours a day for the profit of
someone else.

  To conclude, today
in our modern society many things from the past that are degrading human lives
are still happening today. Prejudices and behaviours that indicate that some
human lives somehow are worth less than others are still deep rooted in the
heart of our society. People are afraid to get a job in the Criminal Justice
System because they don’t want to experience verbal and psychological abuse.
The racism of some people that is in fact coming from our racist society and
the stereotypes that surrounds all kinds of people, make the idea of a just and
fair world seem like a fantasy.  Human
lives are being sold like a piece of clothing and everyone else in the world
just goes on with their life because they are simply not affected. Children of
colour and of ethnic minority background need to feel represented, seeing a man
or a woman of colour in uniform will help them trust the police and to make
them want and know that it’s possible to be in such position when they grow up.
Furthermore, people need to stop pretending that people are inherently bad or Muslims
are by default terrorists, black people are thugs and people of any ethnic
groups are criminals. People are just people and they need to be treated
equally and respectfully.