Research Paper: U.S. Justice System vs. India

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[. . .] And 2,880 victims of child rape have been reported but the system has failed "to contain it. This is very disturbing" (Malimath, 16). And one enormous problem exists in the Indian justice system that keeps it from functioning to its fullest capacity, and that is, "The Criminal Justice System does not trust the police" (Malimath, 19). The courts also view the police "…with suspicion and are not willing to repose confidence in them" (Malimath, 19).

Similar Problems With Both U.S. And Indian Juvenile Justice Systems

An article in the peer-reviewed UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy points to the fact that the plight of children brought into juvenile justice system is "often ignored. Police abuse is commonplace in some jurisdictions" and "Children languish in the system for years" (Rickard, 2010, p. 109). Children are kept in India's "…decrepit detention facilities" and they have no access to education or employment opportunities, Rickard explains (109). When the Juvenile Justice Act was passed in 1986 in India it did not align with the United Nations Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency.

Juveniles and children are not treated well in either India or the U.S. In fact in the United States police are "frequently faulted as a weak link in the juvenile justice system" because the police either "misuse or abuse" the discretion that individual officers assert (Rickard, 114). This ultimately leads to the fact that many children and juveniles become involved in the justice system that "otherwise" should not be there. In India, police funnel children into a system that is "already overworked and under-resourced" (Rickard, 114). Worse yet, the police arrest children under false pretenses in India, and abuse is commonplace, the author explains.

"A significant amount of abuse can occur before the child even comes into contact with the formal juvenile justice system," Rickard continues (114-115). While the police are the first responders to whatever alleged trouble the juvenile has become involved with, and there is something positive to be said about the police handling an incident "on an individualized basis," Rickard continues. However, police handling of juveniles can quickly "…deteriorate into discrimination and other abuses" in both India and the U.S. -- and in India, "False arrests are a common occurrence" (Rickard, 116). A boy was released on bail in Bangalore, an Indian state, in 2007, but he was picked up the next day and incarcerated again. An investigation was conducted into the matter, as to why the boy was locked up for a month; the case was revealed as a false arrest "…but no action was taken against the police" (Rickard, 116).

Meanwhile, as to the juvenile justice system in the U.S., a peer-reviewed article on Human Rights and Juvenile Justice in the United States (Sarri, et al., 2009) takes the position that children have legal rights and human rights and indeed Rule 15.1 of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice asserts the following: "…throughout the proceedings the juvenile shall have the right to be represented by a legal advisor or to apply for free legal aid where there is provision for such in the country" (Sarri, p. 9). However, that rule is not always followed, and children are often pushed and shoved into a system that is not at all just.

In a study that Sarri references on page 11, counsel for children is often "adversarial" and that children represented by counsel "…received more punitive dispositions than children not represented." Moreover, when public defenders have a number of cases, they "…become beholden to the court for continued assignment of new cases" and hence they lost their ability to "…function independently for their clients" (Sarri, 11).

Another unjust situation for juveniles in America is the fact that up to 260,000 children under the age of 18 wind up being processed in adult court. The data compiled by Sarri shows that children prosecuted in adult court "…Are often treated more punitively than adults for felony offenses" and children in prison for property and drug crimes receive sentences similar to adults (Sarri, 16). In terms of human rights, children should be restricted to a separate system of justice, not adult justice, the authors explain.

Moreover, youth of color are disproportionately represented in all parts of the justice system. The estimates by scholars shows that from the time of birth about 5.1% of all persons in the U.S. will become incarcerated in a prison at some time, but 28.1% of black males can expect that they will be confined to prison as well. That is six times as many black youths as white youths. In terms of injustice, the degree of minority population concentration in any given urban area of the U.S. can be "…correlated with increased apprehension even when controlling for crime rates" (Sarri, 18). Once a juvenile African-American is arrested and put into the system, he or she can expect to be treated "more severely than non-minority youth, particularly in the early stages of processing" (Sarri, 19).

Very little attention has been paid to the discriminatory policies in place in the U.S. system of justice for youth of color, which is a major flaw in the American system. It may not seem as serious as some of the injustice meted out to youth in India, but in a democracy such as the United States, which boasts that it is the most powerful and democratic country in the world, the lack of justice for youth is a glaring gap in the system.

The differential processing "…of persons of color by both the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems is a matter of increasing national concern," Sarri explains (19).


In conclusion, the gaps in justice in India would appear on the surface to be far more serious because of the overwhelming evidence of corruption. That is, corruption of judges and courts, bribes and other illegal activities and policies is a problem in India that the government is fully aware of, is very candid about, and is trying to solve. But while there does not seem to be a large amount of corruption in the courts of the United States, there are injustices in the juvenile justice system which should be addressed. If both countries would address their shortcomings in terms of the systems of justice, those policies would be greatly beneficial for the two largest democracies in the world. After all, democracies should be role models for nations that are not yet democratic, and the U.S. And India should be mindful of their roles in the world in that regard.

Works Cited

Bhushan, Prashant. (2009). 'My Honest And Bonafide Perception.' Outlook India. Retrieved September 15, 2012, from

Country Listing. (1995). India: The Criminal Justice System. Center for Children's Law and Policy. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from

Global Corruption Report 2007: Corruption in Judicial Systems. (2007). New York: Cambridge

Loyola Library. (2010). Criminal Justice System in India. Retrieved September 14, 2012,


Malimath, V.S. (2003). Committee on Reforms of (the) Criminal Justice System / Report /

Volume 1. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from

Ministry of Law and Justice. (2011). About Us. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from

Rickard, Erika, and Szanyi, Jason M. (2010). Bringing Justice to India's Children. Retrieved September 14, 2012, from

Sarri, Rosemary, and Shook, Jeffrey. (2009). Human Rights and Juvenile Justice in the United

States. Institute for Social Research / University of Michigan.

TNN (2007). 'India's judicial system slow, corrupt.' The Times… [END OF PREVIEW]

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