Opinion: Unwarranted Justice: Systemic Racism in the Criminal Justice System

In modern American society, whether or not systemic racism exists has been hotly debated lately. Although many will argue that systemic racism is not real, the American criminal justice system has been proven to be biased towards white people and against African Americans on many levels from length of prison sentences to severity. sentences, illustrating the reality of the racism system in the United States.

African Americans receive significantly longer sentences than whites for the same crime. As shown by a US sentencing commissionblack men who committed the same crimes as white men were sentenced to prison terms about 19% longer.

Along the same lines, African Americans in general receive nearly 10% longer sentences than whites who have committed the same crimes, as evidenced by Marit Rehavi and Sonja Starr. In fact, in federal courts, the average sentence length between 2008 and 2009 was 55 months for whites and 90 months for blacks, according to the same documentation.

Moreover, the very jurors within our justice systems express racial bias against black people. According to a West Virginia Law Review in 2010, when a dark-skinned perpetrator was presented as evidence in an armed robbery case, mock jurors were found to be more supportive of a guilty verdict than participants who were shown evidence of a lighter-skinned author.

The empirical study conducted was carried out to test the biased evidence hypothesis, which posits that jurors can “unintentionally assess racially ambiguous trial evidence when racial stereotypes are activated.” The result of this study confirms the hypothesis, proving how much systemic racism exists, not only within the criminal justice system, but also in the mindset of a juror when confronted with racial stereotypes.

The US justice system also appears to value the lives of black and white people differently when they are victims of crime, as evidenced by sentencing murderers to death based on the race of their victims.

According to a North Carolina Law Review, murderers who killed white people were 3 times more likely to be sentenced to death than those suspected of killing black people between 1990 and 2007. whites are more likely to be sentenced to death than defendants who murder black victims. While 66.7% of white victim cases end in a death sentence, only 44.4% of black victim cases end in a death sentence, an abysmal difference of 22.3%.

As reported by DePaul Universityit is stated that approximately ⅓ of defendants with white victims who were sentenced to death could have avoided the death penalty if their victims had been African Americans.

In a Cornell Legal Studies research article titled “The Death Penalty in Delaware: An Empirical Studyit is shown that black defendants with white victims were 7 times more likely to be sentenced to death than if their victims had been black. Additionally, black defendants who kill white victims are more than 3 times more likely to receive the death penalty than white defendants who kill white victims.

Moreover, it is indicated in a Washington Race Study that black defendants were 4.5 times more likely to be sentenced to death than white defendants. These studies repeatedly show how the American criminal justice system favors white lives over black lives, illustrating how systemic racism severely affects people with racial bias.

These studies and many others have shown us that systemic racism is very real and very influential in our American criminal justice system. There’s no denying that black people are treated differently, mostly badly, than white people in our so-called “justice” system.