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Race and Class

Autor:   •  December 12, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,084 Words (5 Pages)  •  735 Views

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Race and class have long been issues in the criminal justice system. The American criminal justice system, writes Cole, "has effectively become a two-tiered system, with differing levels of regard depending on the race or class of a given citizen who comes into contact with it." (Cole, 2000, p. 1) Those who have encountered and been confronted by law enforcement for fitting the description would likely agree, yet, Cole attests judges, prosecutors, juries, and legislators are equally at fault. Cole perceives that this incongruity reveals two levels of constitutional rights: first class for the privileged, and steerage for minorities and the poor. Is this, however, accidental? From this we can substantiate Cole's main proposition, our criminal justice system affirmatively depends on inequality. (Cole, 2000) Specifically, Cole secures his founding argument that the Constitution's principle language fails to protect all equally based on the disparity of two individualities: race and class.

At all costs, racial biasness should be avoided and is not to be used as a primary material or determinant (in the workforce). Cole surmises, accidental or purposely, the occasion for race to not be of influence is impossible. In Coles "No Equal Justice," we examine concerns ranging from police behavior and jury selection, to sentencing. It is argued that our system does not merely fail to live up to the promise of equality, but actively requires double standards to operate. Unless examined, one may not agree or observe that a majority of Americans endorse double standards of justice because without them we could not appreciate the constitutional protection of our liberties. Such disparities, Cole argues, allow the privileged to enjoy constitutional protections from police power without paying the costs associated with extending those protections across the board to minorities and the poor. Due to discounted and snubbed police discretion, and lack of judicial oversight "racial prejudice and stereotypes linking racial minorities to crime, rush to fill the void." (Cole, 2000, p. 3) In theory, the Constitution guarantees indigent defendants effective counsel. In reality, Supreme Court rulings have allowed judges to treat lawyers as effective even when they conduct poorly developed investigations, fail to succinctly cross-examine witnesses…etc. However, as argued, prosecutors cannot seek to exclude potential jurors because of their race. Cole conveys "African Americans make up about 12% of the general population, but more than half of the prison population... one in three young black men between the ages of 20 and 29 was imprisoned, on parole, or probation." (Cole, 2000, p. 2) The country's race and class divisions are felt in every aspect of American life, from infant mortality and unemployment, public education, to housing, where racial segregation is the norm and integration the rare exception. These


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