Just Sociology

Systemic Discrimination: Institutional Racism Within the Criminal Justice System

Institutional racism within the criminal justice system is the practice of discrimination, prejudice, and ignorance against minority ethnic peoples. Despite being deeply embedded in the system, it remains an enduringly difficult problem to address.

This article discusses two main topics that shed light on institutional racism. The first topic examines institutional racism within the criminal justice system, analyzing the Stephen Lawrence case and the Macpherson Enquiry as well as the disproportionate and discriminatory nature of police stop and search.

The second topic discusses the disproportionate use of stop and search powers, examining the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on the subject as well as evidence of racial bias in stop and search.

Institutional Racism within the Criminal Justice System

The Stephen Lawrence Case and the Macpherson Enquiry (1993/1999)

The Stephen Lawrence case and the Macpherson Enquiry highlights the extent of institutional racism within the criminal justice system. Stephen Lawrence was an African-Caribbean man murdered in a racist attack by a gang of white youths in 1993.

Despite compelling evidence of racist abuse and a probable racist motive, the Metropolitan police failed to prosecute the attackers. In 1999, the Macpherson Enquiry characterized the homicide investigation of Lawrences murder as institutionally racist”.

The Macpherson Enquiry emphasized that the failures surrounding the Stephen Lawrence investigation were a collective failure of the police force. The Enquiry found that the Metropolitan police’s actions were not an appropriate service for Britain’s minority ethnic peoples.

The Enquiry also identified the underlying factors that contributed to the failure, which included discrimination, prejudice, ignorance, and racist stereotyping. Disproportionate and Discriminatory: Reviewing the Evidence on Police Stop and Search

Police stop and search is a controversial practice that has long been associated with police racism.

Research into stop and search in the UK provides evidence of disproportionate and discriminatory practices, particularly towards black people. Phillips and Bowling (2002) found that police officers used racial stereotypes to justify stop and search practices.

Black people were often stopped and searched because they were believed to be involved in violent crime or drug abuse. The research found that police officers viewed black people as “incomprehensible,” “suspicious,” “hard to handle,” “naturally excitable,” and “aggressive” and believed they lacked brainpower, were troublesome, and tooled up.

Various Chief Constables have recognized the existence of prejudice within stop and search practices. The efficacy of stop and search as a policing tool has been questioned since it occurs disproportionately and too broadly.

Stop and search is often used on a fishing trip rather than with the suspicion of wrongdoing. Racially prejudiced attitudes, particularly about skin color or drug offenses, play a significant role in police interactions with minority ethnic peoples.

Observatory data provided by the Home Office shows differential behavior that occurs within police stops and searches. Evidence suggests that police officers tend to treat ethnic groups differently, and this differential behavior is brought about by pre-existing racist attitudes.

Racial bias affects how suspects are perceived, thereby prejudicing the outcomes of the investigation. In court-room observations, it has been found that racial bias affects sentencing processes.

London riots uncovered racial sentencing disparities between black and white offenders since the predominant majority of sentences where given to black and minority ethnic individuals. The argument is that there is a lack of diversity within judges that leads to the black community being over-policed and under-represented in the judiciary.

Recent research has highlighted how racial bias occurs even before cases make their way to criminal courts. Disparities in magistrate court rulings have been found to exist between Haringey Magistrates Court and West London Magistrates Court, which has been attributed to the influence of the stop and search practices.

These statistics indicate the disproportionate nature of stop and search practices; clearly, police forces need to address discriminatory policing practices. The Stop and Search statistics brought about by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010) also illustrate the discriminatory nature of stop and search.

The disproportionality ratios for Dorset, West Mercia, Warwickshire, and the West Midlands overwhelmingly emphasize the need for legislative reform. Despite the UKs Section 60, Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, which allows police officers to arrest and search people without reasonable suspicion, senior officers continue to act on suspicion alone.

Disproportionate Use of Stop and Search Powers

Disproportionate Use of Stop and Search Powers: The Equality and Human Rights Commission Report (2013)

The Equality and Human Rights Commission published a report in 2013 outlining the disproportionately high numbers of black people targeted through stop and search practices. The report stated that black people were more likely to be stopped and searched compared to other ethnic groups.

Additionally, the report found a correlation between stop and search policies and the proportionality ratios in Dorset, West Mercia, Warwickshire, and the West Midlands. The report recommended the withdrawal of the Section 60 stop and search powers as they provide an opportunity for discriminatory policing.

It also recommended that the law needs to balance the need for safer communities while respecting individual rights.

Evidence of Racial Bias in Stop and Search Powers

As previously noted, police officers who use stop and search practices often hold preconceptions about ethnic groups, and these preconceptions lead to systematic discrimination against minority ethnic groups. Mark Hammond, CEO of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, argued that there was a lack of diversity within policing, which leads to disproportionate and discriminatory policing practices.

The evidence shows that black people, in particular, are viewed negatively and are targeted more frequently in stop and search operations. The use of disproportionate and discriminatory practices in stop and search demonstrates institutional racism within the criminal justice system.

It is essential to recognize the existence of institutional racism and take steps to address it to ensure that minority ethnic peoples are treated equitably.

Conclusion

In conclusion, institutional racism within the criminal justice system remains a significant problem in the UK. This article addressed two topics that highlight the extent of institutional racism within the system.

The Stephen Lawrence case and the Macpherson Enquiry revealed the underlying factors that contribute to institutional racism, such as racist stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice. Meanwhile, the disproportionate and discriminatory use of stop and search practices underscores the systemic discrimination against minority ethnic groups.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report recommends legislative reform to address these issues. It is essential for police forces to recognize the existence of institutional racism and take steps to address it to ensure that minority ethnic peoples are treated equitably.

In conclusion, this article highlighted two main topics that demonstrate the extent of institutional racism within the criminal justice system. The Stephen Lawrence case and the use of stop and search practices revealed how prejudice, discrimination, and racial stereotyping contribute to systemic discrimination against minority ethnic groups.

It is vital to recognize the existence of institutional racism and take steps to address it, ensuring equitable treatment for all.

FAQs:

1.

What is institutional racism within the criminal justice system?

Institutional racism within the criminal justice system is the practice of discrimination, prejudice, and ignorance against minority ethnic peoples.

2. What is the Stephen Lawrence case?

The Stephen Lawrence case is a case of an African-Caribbean man who was murdered in a racist attack by a gang of white youths. 3.

How were police stop and search practices analyzed in the article? The article analyzed the disproportionate and discriminatory practices of stop and search and provided evidence of racial bias against minority ethnic groups.

4. What did the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission report examined the disproportionate use of stop and search powers and the discriminatory practices that resulted. 5.

What is the significance of addressing institutional racism in the criminal justice system? Addressing institutional racism in the criminal justice system is important to ensure equitable treatment for minority ethnic peoples and promote social justice.

Popular Posts