Essay: Looking Into Minority Groups and Court System

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¶ … implicit stereotyping and biases, as well as explicit attitudes and biases, and their impact on the American court system.

Bias and Stereotypes

The term "colorblindness" has been utilized to denote the action of separating a defendant's personal characteristics from case-related facts. Claiming colorblindness at court implies asserting the fact that the jury/judge is not concerned with the defendant's socioeconomic standing, race, or gender but, instead, is only concerned with impartially judging case-related facts (Chapter 8 ). However, the question social psychologists and scholars of law continue to pose is whether claimed colorblindness indeed shields judges from their individual biases or not. A number of experimental studies have been carried out to investigate the colorblindness phenomenon. These researches prove that people almost definitely have certain biases towards other people, but might be unaware of it. Such unconscious prejudices are called implicit stereotypes and biases.

The phenomenon of implicit stereotyping represents a perceptual fact of individuals unknowingly holding biases toward certain individuals or groups on the basis of their past experiences. By contrast, explicit attitudes and stereotyping denotes a phenomenon wherein the individual is well aware of the attitudes and prejudices he/she holds against any individual or group. It is not surprising that in case of explicit bias, an individual acts on his/her biases. Furthermore, socio-cognitive studies have proven that even in case of implicit biases, individuals continue to act towards the individual or group supporting that bias/stereotyping (Chapter 8 ). For instance, the crime justice field carried out "shooter experiments" wherein law enforcement officials were put through video simulations. The "shooter situations" forced participating officials to make instantaneous decisions with regard to whether or not to shoot with their weapon when they sense an approaching threat.

How Bias/Racial Disparity Affect Courtroom and Judicial System

History teems with examples wherein minority groups are denied basic justice when it comes to judicial cases, one of which is a historical Southern U.S. account, in the period after the Civil War. In this age, in spite of the declaration that each and every citizen (including minority group members) now enjoys fundamental individual rights, states amended their constitutions, basically disenfranchising African-Americans and the poor White-American community. This political atmosphere denied minority group members fair trial by jury as well as posts as jury members. Vigilante justice for the minorities took the shape of lynching (which was, shockingly, encouraged and not just tolerated). Justice, perhaps, only started being doled out to minorities after the late-60s Civil Rights campaign (Chapter 9 ). According to Amendment VI of the U.S. Constitution, the defendant in criminal trials has a right to seek counsel to defend his stance. The founding Fathers incorporated this right of seeking counsel in Amendment VI for preventing the occurrence of unfair practices such as those witnessed in Britain, wherein individuals charged with felony could not defend themselves. However, unfortunately, in spite of the inclusion of this right, several impoverished suspects couldn't afford a lawyer and Amendment… [END OF PREVIEW]

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