Differential justice is the differences in the way social control is exercised over different groups. In the US, African Americans and Latinos are disadvantaged in the justice system. On average, white offenders receive shorter sentences for equal crimes. Public officials, using their own discretion, based off their own biased options, decide whether or not to drop charges, to set bail and for how much, and if to even set parole or simply deny it. Seventy-six percent of victims in death penalty cases are white, and 41% of people on death row are African American. African Americans make up less than 15 percent of America’s population, yet they are 40% of people thrown into jail (BET). This can be contributed to poor access to legal representation. Poorer people have less access to better lawyers, ones who are not being over worked in the public sector.
“A defendant surrenders many civil rights upon conviction, but equal protection of the laws is not one of them (Angulo, Carlos, and Weich, Ronald).” Under a federal court consent decree, traffic stops by the Maryland State Police on I-95 were monitored. In the two-year period from January 1995 to December 1997, 70% of drivers stopped and then searched by the police were African American, while only 17.5% of overall drivers, as well as total speeders, were black (Angulo, Carlos, and Weich, Ronald). Minorities in the US as a whole are mistreated and wrongfully accused of crimes. The justice system treats whites better and gives larger breaks. How can such a small percentile commit more crimes than a population that completely out numbers them? The answer is simple, and it’s a concept known as differential justice. Minorities are often charged because they are a minority. They are considered deviant in the larger culture because they are different from the larger ethnic group, whites.
For example, O. J. Simpson was found not guilty, by a jury, for two murders on October 3, 1995. Since then most people believed him to have committed those two murders. In September of 2007, a group of men, led by O. J. Simpson, entered a room at the Palace Station hotel casino and took sports memorabilia at gunpoint. On October 3, 2008 O. J. Simpson and all the remaining members of the group were found guilty. On December 5, 2008 O. J. Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison. O. J. Simpson was more than likely treated unfairly in his trail, because of bias jury who still believed he had murdered the people back in 1994.
Our society has stereotypes, and will continue to have them for some time. Something that can be done to lessen the effects of bias in the justice system is retiring older members and putting in younger less biased people. Also there could be a media campaign that promotes equality between races. Remove stereotypes about a certain race commit certain crimes by providing more information. When it comes to poor representation in court we could raise taxes so that more public lawyers are available to poor individuals.
“Half of All Innocents in Jail Are Black .” BET, 2012. Web. 23 FEB. 2013. http://www.bet.com/news/national/2012/05/21/commentary-half-of-all-innocents-in-jail-are-black.html
Angulo, Carlos, and Weich, Ronald. (2011) “Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System”. WEB. 24 FED. 2013.