Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System

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Powell v. Alabama case can be traced to the year 1932, a time when the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the conviction of nine black men accused of raping two white women. The main reason as to why the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the conviction aligns with the fact that the nine men were not accorded a fair hearing because they were not represented by counsel. The Fourteenth Amendment clearly enshrines that all defendants have a right to be accorded an adequate counsel regardless of whether they can afford or not. Precisely, the Due Process Clause dictates that the court reserves the duty to assign counsel to a defendant irrespective of whether the defendant has requested or not. Notable is the fact that the nine defendants, in this case, were illiterate; hence, could not represent themselves. In a nutshell, the current case was reversed based on the primary fact that it violated the Due Process Clause contained in the Fourteenth Amendment. Powell v. Alabama case continues to be discussed across various contexts in the contemporary society. This is because of the varying opinions that the case sparked. As an example, the case sparked a contentious debate as to whether the Due Process Clause applies to capital offenses. Overall, the case continues to raise an array of opinions on defendant representation; hence, the reason for its discussion across various contexts.

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History of Mexican Americans in the United States

The history of Mexican Americans in the United States dates to the mid-18th century when various parts of the United States including Texas, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Nevada were part of Mexico. Due to annexation, these parts became part of the United States, and the Mexicans residing in these areas fell under the jurisdiction of the United States. Despite being under the jurisdiction of the United States, the Mexicans experienced intense racial discrimination. In the year 1910, the Mexican revolution forced a huge proportion of Mexicans to seek safety in the United States. This resulted in a surge in the number of Mexicans in the American lands. A reflection on the experienced of Mexican Americans in the criminal justice depicts their continued discrimination. This is evident by the high incarceration rates whereby one out of four prisoners is a Mexican American. The rate of incarceration of Latinos is 2.6 times higher than that of whites. Conclusively, inequalities in the criminal justice system are eminent as evidence by the continued discrimination in the accordance of justice to minority groups including the Mexican Americans.

Impact of disproportionate incarceration rates on public safety, offenders, and communities

Mauer (2011) article Addressing Racial Disparities in Incarceration offers a glimpse on an array of issues regarding racial inequalities that are evident in the criminal justice system. Disproportionate incarceration rates, which emanates from issues aligned with racial disparity in the criminal justice system poses various implications. More importantly, it is of the essence to realize that disproportionate incarceration rates result in economic constraints. Disproportionate incarceration rates result in massive incarcerations of offenders, which is proving costly. The government continues to spend significant amounts of its budgetary allocations on corrections at the expense of other crucial services such as funding of higher education. Conclusively, disproportionate incarceration rates are unsustainable due to its cost implications.

Besides, disproportionate incarceration rates impact on public safety and communities because it does not serve its purpose of reducing crime rates. Incarceration of offenders such as drug-dealers is yet to yield adequate results aligned with ensuring public safety. As other offenders are incarcerated, a new crop of offenders; hence, limiting public safety. In a nutshell, disproportionate incarceration rates raise an array of concerns about the legitimacy of the criminal justice system. Disproportionate incarceration rates also impact on communities in a significant way. Racial disparities that have been evident in the criminal justice system have and continue to pose significant implications for communities of color (Mauer, 2011). Massive incarceration of communities of color has resulted in the dissolution of families drawn from these communities. Besides, employment prospects of people drawn from communities of color remain low due to a negative perception of these communities caused by racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system has labelled people from communities of color as likely offenders; hence, reducing their employment prospects.

Video Responses

DAmicos video Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System offers crucial insights pertaining the scope of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. The video reflects on the incarceration rates of various races in comparison with the total population of these races. As such, the video notes that despite the fact that the population of whites is higher than blacks and Latinos, the rates of incarceration of the blacks and Latinos are higher. From this video, it can be deduced that different aspects of the criminal justice system are flawed including law enforcement, legislation, and sentencing. Therefore, there is a need for a review of various criminal justice procedures and policies to assure adequate functioning of the criminal justice system.

Featuring in the show Democracy Now, the video The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration 1 notes that despite the elimination of Jim Crow Laws, segregation on racial basis remains eminent in the criminal justice system. For a long time now, black Americans have been labelled drug offenders, and this is evident by the enforcement of drug policies in black American settings. Labelling of black Americans continues to cause disenfranchisement amongst the communities denying the blacks opportunities in various contents including employment sectors. My thoughts on the video align with the need to develop policies that would assure equal justice for all offenders irrespective of their race or social class. Such policies would assure


DAmico, D. (2013). Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System. YouTube.

Democracy Now. The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration 1.

Mauer, M. (2011). Addressing Racial Disparities in Incarceration. The Prison Journal, 91(3), 87S-101S.

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