Term Paper: Race Plays a Role

Pages: 30 (9035 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] The same is true for Hispanics and other individuals who are of different cultures and races. Supreme Court decisions often travel around in circular patterns and make the actual understanding of the ruling very unclear

. There is much confusion when trying to read these types of document and the court often goes on for many pages before they actually get to the point of the matter. By the time they have talked on so many issues it is quite possible that race has come into the picture and has gone unnoticed or has been categorized under some other term that would not cause offense

. It is difficult to read these Supreme Court opinions and understand what they have to say without becoming lost by all of the legalese that is used in these documents.

Courts, Judges, and the Real World

They often speak of a world that does not seem overly realistic when compared with the world that we actually live in . They talk of justice and they talk of everyone being equal but they do not treat these individuals in such a way as to indicate that they actually believe that. When they deal with race they discuss it in such a way that they appear to say that it is neutral. In other words, they state that police officers do not profile individuals based on race, that those who conduct searches and seizures would not be that likely to search an individual who is of a minority race, and that everyone has an understanding of when they can refuse a police search and when they cannot

In reality, the world is very different from this and most people are not aware of being able to refuse this type of search. Most people who come upon a police officer requesting a search of their person or property will comply because they feel that they will get into much more trouble if they do not agree

. They may believe, like most individuals in this country seem to, that refusing a search admits some form of guilt. This is not necessarily the case, as many individuals who have done nothing wrong take offense to having their privacy intruded upon and will not want an officer searching their person or their property for any reason. However, when individuals resist this type of search officers tend to believe that they have guilt and that they are hiding something. When these people are of minority race officers tend to be more believing of the idea that these individuals are hiding something and this is why they do not wish to consent to a search

. This is often not the case, but because of racial profiling and the attitudes that many individuals have about others of minority race in this country it often becomes a problem for many.

The Burden of Proof and Suspicion

Another problem that exists with the court is burden of proof

. There have been many allegations brought by individuals in the past that an officer has treated them unfairly based only on their race. However, the burden of proof that these individuals have in the court system is so difficult that most cannot meet it

. When they cannot meet this burden they are often found to be guilty and many individuals argue that the burden is excessive and unfair to these individuals. When the burden is unable to be met by these individuals they look as though they are lying or trying to slander the officers who arrested them. This could not be farther from the truth in most cases but it does happen and because the Supreme Court has such a strong burden of proof placed on these individuals that are very few that are ever able to meet it and prove that an officer treated them unfairly simply because of their race

Part of the reason that this is so hard to meet is largely due to the fact that, even if an officer did treat them unfairly based on their race, there are usually many other reasons that an officer can come up with that he or she can use to state that an individual was treated differently than another. These can include the use of a weapon, what type of attitude the individual displayed, whether or not they resisted arrested originally, and countless other factors

. Because so many different things can be utilized to make these individuals look as though they have done something wrong, it is much easier for the officers to prove that this person was not treated unfairly and that the accused was not treated differently simply because of the race that they belong to.

The court also uses a reasonable suspicion test which sometimes allows officers too much discretion where race is concerned

. This is due to the fact that, even though racial profiling is not allegedly allowed, many officers use the way someone is acting and the neighborhood that they are in for reasonable suspicion of guilt

. Many minorities live in neighborhoods that are poor and do not have the higher quality of life that is enjoyed by many Caucasians in this country. This is not always the case, but it is a stereotypical generalization that also happens to be reasonably accurate. Because of this, many individuals who live in these types of communities are deemed as suspicious even though they have likely not committed any crime

. Even though the suspicion is warranted in some cases, it also would appear that these individuals are targeted as being suspicious simply based on where they live. Because a large number of minorities live in these types of areas, and because suspicious people are considered to be living in these kinds of areas, those who are of a different and minority race are often targeted for arrests and surveillance

Officers can claim that this was done because they lived in a particular neighborhood, but all individuals who realize that only a particular minority lives in that neighborhood will see this suspicion as racial profiling

. However, it is quite likely that the court will not see things the same way and therefore will not understand that this issue dealt with race, or will understand it and choose to ignore it based on the test of suspicion

. This paper will deal with the empirical evidence that shows that individuals of minority races, specifically African-Americans and Latinos, are treated unfairly based on their race. This is particularly true where drug crimes have occurred. There is a great deal of overwhelming evidence that indicates that these individuals are treated differently and more harshly by the court system than their Caucasian counterparts who have committed the same offenses.

Minorities and the Law

Large and disproportionate numbers of African-Americans are often arrested based on the drugs laws

. These include both men and women, and this is also why there is a disproportionately large number of African-American individuals awaiting a death sentence

. Even the attorney general will concede that there are more African-Americans on death row than Caucasians and that the drug crime laws that are utilized in this country today are the primary reason for that

. Also discussed will be the aforementioned issue of the courts and how they look coldly on those who attempt to say that they have been treated unfairly based on their race. The burden of proof in these cases will be discussed and it will be seen that the bar has been set so high that these individuals cannot possibly meet it. Because these individuals must prove that they were treated differently than white individuals who were similarly situated this becomes a very tricky thing to do

This is largely because the definition of similarly situated can be argued upon in many different ways and all individuals who discuss it would come to a different understanding of the issue

. Courts who are not convinced that a white individual has been similarly situated will find many ways in which they can find that individual dissimilar. This is very problematic for those who are attempting to push this claim through the courts and prove that they were treated unfairly

. It also becomes an issue if the prosecutor is the only one with the similarly situated information that is available, or if there are no Caucasian individuals who have been similarly situated for the courts to draw upon this particular information. It is important that the standard of proof is set high, because there is no need for unnecessary claims that clog up the court system more than what it already is

However, it is much easier to prove discrimination cases than it is to prove these types of cases in which individuals were treated wrongly by the justice system because of their race. The same… [END OF PREVIEW]

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