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Police or Custodial Brutality in the United States


The aspect of police or custodial brutality is the subject matter of this study. It is perceived that this has become a serious problem in the administration of law, order, and human justice in the United States of America, and despite individual, or institutional protests, the guilty police officials are seldom brought to books or punished for their misdemeanors, which is almost as good as overtly justifying their blatant violations of human and fundamentals rights, in the name of questioning or confessions. Thus, it would be an understatement to state that custodial brutality needs to be contained, if not condemned, in real terms.

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Minorities for choice treatment

This research has also found that the incidence of human rights violations during custody is more prevalent in the case of minorities, like African Americans or Hispanic Americans when compared to White suspects. The minorities face more physical and mental tortures, severe beatings and choking, third-degree methods, and other forms of physical degradations when compared to their white counterparts. (Overview). Even if disciplinary action were to be initiated against overenthusiastic police officers, it would not see the light of day due to inability, or reluctance on the part of fellow officers to testify against them seeking to condemn their actions as wrong and punishable.

Often, the use of inhuman techniques is viewed as an acceptable method of questioning, for eliciting facts and confessions in criminal cases. Even if public opinion is loaded unfavorably against the truant officers, it would be difficult to prove their guilt in court, due to lack of circumstantial evidence and witnesses, and the fact that this was performed in the course of official duties which their profession demanded, under the circumstances of trying cases.

Even the innocent can confess under custodial pressures

It is necessary that police, State and Federal laws need to provide robust laws to actively discourage and punish erroneous police behavior with detainees or potential offenders.

Unless preponderance of evidence points overwhelmingly to the guilt, or complicity of the Detainee only tried and tested means of obtaining statements or evidence need to be used. This is because, under extreme duress and coercion, it is possible to get statements admitting guilt from even innocent victims, in order to avoid further torturous processes being carried out on them by overzealous police officers.

Strengths and weaknesses


The main strengths of this article have been in terms of the fact that it has taken data based on evidence gathered from 14 major cities in the United States. Thus a wider coverage and comprehensive collection of data have been carried out in order to make the report as authentic and empirical as could possibly be rendered. The larger cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are well reputed for harboring criminal activities sometimes with covert support from the law enforcement agencies also.

High rates of crime generating factors like lower levels of education, high rates of unemployment, high proportions of minorities and nonwhites to whites, inequalities in wealth generations, and other socio-economic factors. A wider study has considered accurate possibilities for errant police behavior and conducts while interacting with probable criminals, especially with earlier records.

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The second area of strength, besides the volume of coverage is with respect to the problem, the study has also thrown up several good solutions for effectively dealing with the menace of racial discrimination in crime and crime-related activities.

It is seen that the recommendations presented by this study greatly enhances the accountability and pining of responsibility, for excesses carried out, by certain segments of the police force, by which, the entire force gets a bad name. It is, therefore, necessary, that aberrant police officers need to be identified and held responsible for their errant conduct, and also to ensure that the due process of law, including respect for human rights and freedoms guaranteed under Construction of US, are upheld for each and every potential offender and all other rights that are available to him/her are informed to him/her.

Among other recommendations, the need to have “tracking systems” so that errant police personnel removed from service in one department is not subsequently absorbed in another Police position. Similarly, the “decertification process” has also been clearly delineated in this study. (Summary and Recommendations: Investigation and Discipline).


Apparently, this study has not defended the reasons why police officials sometimes need to enforce stronger methods for law enforcement and deterrence of crime. It is often seen that in the context of terrorism and terrorists attacks, their training camps equip them, in the event of being caught not to yield, or sing, to even the most severe, relentless, and harrowing questioning sessions. In such cases, the law enforcement agencies need to subject suspects to psycho narcotic sessions, during which the suspects’ subconscious and unconscious minds are probed under the influence of drugs, and questions asked whose veracity could be immediately confirmed.

This study does not dwell on the professed advantages of using unconventional methods of eliciting information from criminals or hardened terrorists who would otherwise, not yield to orthodox questioning methods. Often law enforcers are under pressure to crack the case within a short time or prepare a report within a limited time.

Under such circumstances, they have no alternatives but to seek fast and intensive methods to present their case for a Court hearing, etc, and there are many circumstances when unorthodox methods are often sought for effective crime management.

Thus, the first weakness of this study is that it fails to address the reason why officers may sometimes need to resort to such devices for the protection of the law.

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Again, it is seen that the study does not provide the comparative statistics of crime in different states of the USA and makes analysis based on these comparative statistics.

It is very important that when making a competitive statistical analysis like this one, it is necessary that comparative analysis be provided regarding the incidence of crime, success, and failure rates based on each location of study.

Critical analysis

It is seen that much of this study has been concerned with the collection and collation of individual statistics, cases, etc., but not many original writings have been presented, regarding the writer’s own opinions and assessments, their views, and contemplation regarding police excesses. Even the report seemed to be based on the study and the authors themselves have not felt it either prime or necessary, to present their own views on the subject of police excesses of brutality which is a very controversial and contentious subject of modern-day criminology study.

The writer wishes to submit that the matter of police excesses or brutality is a contextual subject and needs to be dealt with, on a case-to-case basis. Whether brutality has been committed could be seen in the context of the magnitude and level and intensity of crime involved and perceived nexus of the suspects.

It is common knowledge that individual criminals, with motive, would accede to their involvement in crime, of their own volition, and it would need the summoning of all experiences and skill of police officers to crack the case. Besides, the matter of determining police excesses is more a matter of Court domain than anything else, since Courts would be the best institutions, to arrive at the conclusive decision, in these matters.

Impact statement on your political understanding or opinion

In the area of police excesses or brutality or custodial conduct, a line needs to be drawn between lawful questioning and excesses. Lawful questioning considers the aspects of human dignity and the rights enshrined in a democratic country, where a person is at liberty whether to Freedom of speech or silence, wherever necessary. It would be constitutionally going overboard, to force a person to sign a confessional statement under duress, or to coerce him to admit to a crime which he may not have committed. However, in the name of protection of the law, such odious practices are very much prevalent in human society.

Considering the other aspects, it is also seen that many heinous crimes go unpunished, or lightly penalized due to political pressures, lack of strong infrastructural systems, or paucity of witnesses or material evidence which are key factors for indictment and arrest.

While crime and its punishment are subject matters to be dealt with concerned authorities, it is sufficient to state that there is no crime, small enough to go unpunished, and there is also no retribution, or sentencing, harsh or strong enough not to be enforced or applied to criminals.

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It would be a matter of jurisdictional discretion to decide which course of action to be adopted. It would also not be improper to seek legal and statutory clarification before the police enforce their own brand of justice on criminals and legal offenders.


Overview. Human Rights Watch, 1998. Web.

Summary and Recommendations: Investigation and Discipline. Human Rights Watch, 1998. Web.

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