One can use the parameters of race, class, gender and type of an offence among others to capture the picture of the typical inmate in the United States jails and prisons. In this regard, African-Americans are usually convicted out of crimes related to homicide and robbery. White inmates, on the other hand, are mostly charged under driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol laws. Minority youths—Native Americans, Hispanics and Africans Americans—are the most associated with violent behaviors. In addition, most homicide crimes are likely to be committed at the age of 18, where male African-Americans are most likely to be the offenders followed by Whites and female African American respectively. In terms of social, the minority poor make most of the jail population.
One of the social implications of these jails and prisons is the encouragement of racism—mostly arising from the informal handling of juvenile cases. These jails and prisons are also likely to cause a division between the White majority and the minorities comprising of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans among others. This is in view of the fact that most of the juvenile cases that are transferred to adult courts mostly feature these minority groups, and most of them lead to conviction. True, most of the people in jails and prisons are from the minority groups mentioned above.
From a personal perspective, these jails and prisons population is a reflection of the way the society sees certain groups and individuals. This is because these minority groups making most of the population have historically been marginalized by the majority whites and, therefore, being in jail can be seen to be ok with them. In my own view, these jails and prisons populations cannot be used to term the criminal justice system as racist. This is because convictions are always based on legal parameters and in most cases; an individual is afforded his constitutional rights. It is the prevalent racism in the society; rather, that provokes the minority juveniles to commit a crime and subsequently get convicted.
Juveniles are unique in the criminal justice system, in a number of ways. One, the trend of juveniles being victimized with precarious crimes like homicide, rape, violence among others is more widespread compared to adults. Further, this victimization heavily implicates the minority groups in the society, with Africans Americans falling in the category of the most victimized. Although this high susceptibility is attributed to family and social structure, some of the crimes they are associated with bring on board the emotive issue of racism on the criminal justice landscape.
While the rest are shared across the diverse society, African Americans juveniles are associated with a half of the homicide crimes, in addition to committing 60 percent, of robbery. Of all the juveniles convicted with driving under the influence of alcohol and other substance, only ten percent are not Whites. While it might be true that most of the violent crimes are committed by Native Americans, all forms of crime are prevalent among the majority and minority juveniles.
The issue of racism starts to demonstrate itself from the fact that juveniles from minority are more likely to have an encounter with the police than their majority counterparts. If it is true that police are discriminatory when dealing with these youths, then that can explain their overrepresentation in the juvenile court system. The fact that a jury relies on the type of offence to determine whether the case should be heard in an adult case or not is explains the high number of juveniles in prisons and jails. This is because, as pointed out earlier, the minorities are associated with the most grievous crimes.
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