We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Discrimination and Disparity in the Criminal Justice System Essay Sample

The whole doc is available only for registered users OPEN DOC
  • Pages:
  • Word count: 1067
  • Category: justice

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all the help you need with your essay and educational goals.

Get Access

Discrimination and Disparity in the Criminal Justice System Essay Sample

Disparity is not equal to discrimination.  Discrimination in the justice system is the differential treatment of individuals or groups based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio economic standing instead of on their behavior or qualifications. Disparity on the other hand, is a difference between groups that legitimate factors can explain. (Cole and Smith, 2006, p93-94) The line differentiating disparity and discrimination becomes blurred especially as society is increasingly become culturally diversed and a great chance of conflict can arise when a standardized law is applied to people with varied cultural orientations. In which case, the difference between disparity and discrimination becomes critical in matters of justice.

Discrimination is the differential treatment of people on the basis of socially constructed categories like race, belief, gender, etc. without consideration of a person’s actual behavior or qualifications. Accordingly, discrimination follows a continuum comprised of systematic discrimination, institutionalized discrimination, contextual discrimination and pure justice. (Walker, Spohn, & Delone, 2004, p17) At the ends of the continuum are the systematic discrimination and pure justice which represent extreme discrimination and the absence of discrimination respectively. Walker et al. concludes that the US justice system falls in the middle of the continuum characterized by institutionalized discrimination and contextual discrimination. (Walker, et al, 2004, p357-359). Institutionalized discrimination pertains to inequalities resulting from the enforcement of policies.

For instance, the police decision to intensify patrolling in minority neighborhoods of high crime rates can be considered a form of institutionalized discrimination especially when it results to a high rate of arrest of minorities.  Contextual discrimination refers to discrimination in a particular situation or context such as when ethnic minorities are treated cruelly at some point and in some places in the criminal justice system but no differently than whites at other points and in other places. (Harr and Hess, 2007, p114) An example of contextual discrimination is reflected in an instance when a harsher means was used by the police to apprehend a minority (Latino or African American) than his counterpart adversary who was white.  Another instance of contextual discrimination is the provision of special treatments (i.e. new beddings and pillows) to a convicted celebrity compared to another felon convicted for the same offense.

Disparity as mentioned previously refers to differences between groups that can be explained by legitimate factors.  For example, the fact that more 18 – 24 year old men are put to prison out of the proportion to their numbers in the total population is a disparity that can be explained that more men of these ages commit crime.  It is not considered to be caused by a discriminative policy that picks out young men to be arrested.  Discrimination occurs when people are treated differently unmindful or remiss of their behavior or qualification as in the case of Hispanics that are  regularly arrested and put to prison regardless of their criminal history but because of the stereotype that they are reckless and notorious gang members often engaged in illegal activities.

A major problem of the issue of disparity and difference in the justice system arises is if disparities result from discrimination. For instance, the high incarceration rates of African Americans or the high proportion of Hispanic inmates in all US prison occurs because the justice system is racist or it reflects the pervasive system extant in American society as a whole instead of the logical explanation that such occurs because more blacks and Latinos simply commit crime.  Discrimination and disparity exists within the criminal justice system in one way or another but it entails an intensive examination by experts to resolve and establish if it is a case of discrimination or a disparity.  A case can be considered discrimination if the act or decision is based principally on a person’s race, color, ethnicity, socio economic condition, sexual preference instead of  lawful or valid factors such as a person’s hidden agenda or previous criminal record.

Because of the dynamic complexity involved in crime, it is virtually impracticable to attain the end of pure justice.  However, the US justice system had continuously exerted efforts to adopt measures and conduct reforms in order to lessen if not eradicate the gross forms of discriminations in our pursuit for justice.  For instance, to effectively carry out the goals of justice and public safety, curriculum on police training academies include cross cultural information and ethics training especially focusing on understanding cultural differences.  Cross cultural information pertains to any crime associated perceptions and actions resulting from different cultural expectations, attitudes and procedures.  (Daye, D.D., 1996)

For instance, basic Spanish language skills as well as Spanish culture can be included in police training and education.  Another strategy implemented is the recruitment and deployment of minorities to the force and assigning them to manage cases involving offenders coming from the same culture.  In the legal aspect, a person accused of a crime is also provided rights and privileges by the constitution, which is contained in 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th amendments. These amendments pertain to the right for a trial by jury, representation by an attorney and other procedural rights during the litigation, protection from warrant less search, filing of double jeopardy cases, and regulating the verdict on punishments.  (Hall, 2000)

The US criminal justice system continuous to evolve and reform itself to reduce and eliminate discrimination, which is a form of injustice in itself.  However, as America become more culturally diverse with the rapid exchange of people, people need to be more watchful and vigilant perceiving any form of discrimination that can arise.  The justice system is not a single separate and absolute entity. Every citizen has a stake in participating in the improvement of the justice system to ensure that we maintain peace and order in society.


Cole, G.G. and Smith, C. E (2006). The American System of Criminal Justice. 11th Edition. Cengage Learning

Daye, D.D. (1996). A Law Enforcement Sourcebook of Asian Crime and Cultures: A Source Book on Asian Crime and Culture. CRC Press: ID

Hall, K., (2000).  The Rights of the Accused: The Justices and Criminal Justice. Taylor & Francis

Harr, JA and Hess, K.M (2007).  Constitutional Law and the Criminal Justice System. 4th edition. Cengage Learning

Walker, S., Spohn, C. & DeLone, M. (2004). The color of justice: Race, ethnicity and crime in America.  3rd edition. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

Crime and justice society

Can you really control the thoughts of an entire society? Winston Smith, protagonist of the novel 1984 by George Orwell, was living in an oppressive society with thoughts controlled by the government. Winston was considered a thought criminal for thinking against the government and for keeping his thoughts in a journal. Winston meets Julia who also thinks the ways of Winston. The two of them...

A Critical Analysis of Hobbes Law of...

Of Thomas Hobbes' 19 laws of nature, the first three, which add consecutively up to his concept of justice, are by far the most influential and important, with the ultimate goal being an escape from the state of nature. The first law states that we should seek peace, and if we cannot attain it, to use the full force of war. Directly building off of...

The Uniform Code of Military Justice

A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. There could be various definitions for this word. Throughout this essay their will be some referring to the values and orders of the military. The standards that have been set for the military are higher than the demands of its president. For instance, President Clinton lied while under oath...

Athletes Privilege and Justice

You’re laying down in your bed unable to sleep, yet so tired and exhausted you can’t move a muscle. Your world has fallen apart. Why, you ask? Because the man that raped you is still out there having the time of his life outside of prison because he was never convicted. This struggle is all too real for many young women on college campuses today....

American Criminal Justice System

To preserve social order, uphold the law, all while defending people from injustice is the primary objective of the American Criminal Justice System. (In 1964, Herbert L. Packer published a paper entitled “Two Models of the Criminal Process”) ( ). Crime Control and Due Process were the two models Packer used in explaining the contrasting outlooks over the preferred way to control criminals and crime...

Get Access To The Full Essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Become a member

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59
Become a Member