African Americans and Latino Americans are incarcerated more than five times the rate of whites in State prisons across the United States (Crutchfield, Fernandes & Martinez, 2010; Walker, Spohn & DeLone, 2012). First, the introduction will provide a brief definition of what racial/ethnic disparity in the criminal justice system entails. The introduction will then use a literature review to give a rationale for what has contributed, over the years, to the existence of racial disparity in the United States criminal justice system.
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In this case, the review will talk about factors like higher crime rates, inequitable access to resources, overt racial bias, and legislative decisions (Schlesinger, 2005; Tonry, 2010). The literature review will outline research statistics and quantitative research findings that provide factual information regarding the overview of the research problem (racial and ethnic disparities in the U.S pretrial criminal processing). The introduction will provide a brief overview of how racial disparities obscure criminal justice legal decisions.
The literature review will also explore the impact racial/ethnic disparity has had in the U.S criminal justice system over the years to provide a rationale for the need to explore the research problem. The introduction will point out a gap in the existing research studies by stating how few qualitative research studies seek to find practical solutions to the ethnic/racial disparity problem in the pretrial criminal processing by obtaining views from various stakeholders in the criminal justice system including victims of the system.
Unwarranted ethnic/racial disparity exists in a county or a state’s criminal justice processing of defendants. As such, it can occur at any point within the processing. In that case, my research study will collect data from relevant stakeholders within the criminal justice processing system. In particular, I will seek to book an interview appointment with three key stakeholders including a parole board member, a prosecutor, and a police officer. The sample interviewees will be selected in such a way that they will have to come from different ethnic backgrounds, especially the ethnicities that relate directly to the research problem including the Whites, the Black Americans, and the Latino Americans.
I will sample the interviewees, contact them, and obtain the signed consent to participate in my research activity. The interviews will be conducted at the ideal undisclosed location of the interviewees’ choosing. Particularly, I intend to ask a total of ten standard questions, which will be an integration of open- and close-ended questions. The sample interview questions will be as follows:
- Do you believe that there is a racial/ethnic disparity in pretrial criminal processing?
- [A] Yes [B] No
- If yes, please provide your perceived stages in the pretrial criminal processing that you see the prevalence of racial/ethnic disparity.
- What do you think contributes to the disparities in those stages?
- If No, what is your perceived explanation for the high number of convicted Black-Americans as compared to other ethnic groups, as depicted by various quantitative research studies?
- Do you believe that the imposition of harsh punishment/Laws in crimes that vary significantly across races like drug crimes have contributed to the persistence of ethnic/racial disparities in the pretrial criminal processing? Please explain your answer.
- Are there policies in the criminal justice system that target specific areas or people in our concurrent society? Please elaborate on your answer.
- How do societal stereotypical norms contribute to the heightened ethnic/racial disparities in pretrial criminal processing?
- What are some of the policies in the criminal justice system that aims at restraining ethnic/racial disparities in pretrial criminal processing?
- Are the existing policies effective?
- [A] Yes [B] No
- If yes, how effective have they been in reducing ethnic/racial disparities in the pretrial criminal processing?
- If no, what do you think are some of the ways that the policies can be made more effective in reducing ethnic/racial disparities in pretrial criminal processing?
- What measures do you think will be effective in reducing ethnic/racial disparities in the United States’ pretrial criminal processing?
From the interview responses, I intend to establish the following key findings:
- The main contributors of ethnic/racial disparities in the pretrial criminal processing including stereotypical norms contributing to the heightened ethnic/racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
- Policies in the criminal justice system that target specific areas or people.
- The effectiveness of policies in the criminal justice system that aim at restraining ethnic/racial disparities in the pretrial criminal processing.
- Unimplemented measures that can aid in reducing ethnic/racial disparities in the United States pretrial criminal processing.
In the discussion, I will use the theories of criminal legal decision-making like the uncertainty reduction perspective to map the findings to theoretical articulations. Moreover, the discussion section will use the theories of discrimination including intentional, unconscious, statistical, and organizational discrimination to explain the findings. Also, the findings will be compared and contrasted with similar research findings through literature review analysis. In the discussion, I will explore avenues for further research regarding the effectiveness of policies that can aid in solving the research problem. Finally, I will justify the recommendation for reducing ethnic/racial disparities in the pretrial criminal processing through the literature review analyses.
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Crutchfield, R. D., Fernandes, A., & Martinez, J. (2010). Racial and ethnic disparity and criminal justice: How much is too much. J. Crim. L. & Criminology, 100(1), 903.
Schlesinger, T. (2005). Racial and ethnic disparity in pretrial criminal processing. Justice Quarterly, 22(2), 170-192.
Tonry, M. (2010). The social, psychological, and political causes of racial disparities in the American criminal justice system. Crime and Justice, 39(1), 273-312.
Walker, S., Spohn, C., & DeLone, M. (2012). The color of justice: Race, ethnicity, and crime in America. Boston, BO. Cengage Learning.