MinorityGroups and the Court System
MinorityGroups and the Court System
Implicitbias is also known as implied social cognition and it speaks of theattitudes or stereotypes that typically affect an individual’sunderstanding, actions and decisions in a manner that can only betermed as unconscious. In most cases, the biases encompass both thefavorable and unfavorable valuations. These assessments occurinvoluntarily without one’s awareness or intentional control.Experts purport that implicit bias is entrenched deep within thesubconscious in a way that is not accessible through introspection.The implicit attitudes lead to the feelings and outlooks that peoplehave about other people concerning their race, ethnicity, age andappearance among other characteristics. Contributing factors to theimplicit associations develop over time through exposure to messages,life experiences, media, and news. As such, the primarycharacteristics of implicit bias include pervasiveness in thateveryone possesses them, they are related to specific mentalconstructs, they are malleable and they are not aligned with what onewould show outwardly (Moskowitz & Li, 2011).
Thisaspect is defined as an attitude characterized by oversimplificationand pejorative in nature towards individuals that are different.Stereotypes arise as a result of incomplete or distorted informationaccepted as truth without confirmation. It is a belief that a memberof a certain group belongs there due to given characteristics whichmay be generalized and inaccurate in a social perspective. Examplesof stereotypes can be observed in sex, race, sexual orientation,religion and so on. An example is a study popularly known as theWilliams and Best Gender in 1992 which showed that males wereperceived to be adventurous, powerful, dominant and independent(Moskowitz & Li, 2011).
Contraryto the implicit biases, explicit attitudes are found at the consciouslevel. As such, there are perceptions that are formed deliberatelyand can be easily self-reported. A classic example is when meetingsomeone new who is wearing a Miami Heat basketball jersey whichhappens to be one’s favorite team. A person might decide that theyalready like the new acquaintance and hence begin a friendlyconversation. The conscious element in explicit attitudes can bedescribed by the conscious observation and recognition of the sharedinterest, followed by the deliberate decision of getting along andthe ability to speak to the new friend (Moskowitz & Li, 2011).Essentially, the explicit attitudes are conscious, deliberate,self-reporting and are based on social and personal values.
Effectsof Biases on Courtroom Proceedings
Bothimplicit biases and explicit attitudes have the ability to affect andinfect the courtroom activities. One of the noticed examples is thatrace, attractiveness, affability and nervous behavior of defendantshave profound effects on the rate of conviction and length ofsentences. Likewise, the voice, appearance, and presentation of theattorneys, coupled with the manner of presentation of evidence can bemisleading to the jury moving them to believe an untrue informationor ignore some aspects of a case. The jury, based on their ownbackgrounds may have biases that cause them to look at a case througha biased lens despite the call to act impartially. Court interactionsinvolve the words, actions and behaviors that judges, lawyers, andcourt staff portray towards the public. Such interactions indicatethe beliefs, attitudes and messages have their effects on the outcomeof cases (Casey et al., 2012). Several common behaviors have beendiscussed more so concerning the racial and ethnic biases. Thesebehaviors include the conduct which communicates hostile bias andnaïve stereotyping, as well as judges and lawyers who displayconscious or unconscious biases, for instance, calling majoritylawyers counsels while giving informal titles and references tominority lawyers. Additionally, biases have led to the establishmentof mistaken conclusions by judges, lawyers, juries, and staffregarding the behavior of witnesses and litigants. This is due toignorance of variation in the socially accepted behavioral normsamong cultural groups. Another effect in the courtroom is where thecase strategies tend to exploit racial stereotypes and biases evenwhen the references are not considered relevant (Malavanti et al.,2012).
HowRacial Disparity in Sentencing affects the Judicial System
Racialdisparity in the criminal justice system has existed for quite a longtime now. Historical activities show that the dynamics in sentencinghave changed over time and are indicative of a shift from explicitracism to a furtive manifestation and outcomes. The effect of racialdisparity is an aspect that cannot be ignored since its outcomes areunfavorable and it also portrays the unfairness entrenched in thejudicial system. Several examples exist that demonstrate the impactsof racial disparity in sentencing. For instance, blacks are likely tobe disadvantaged in terms of sentence length while Latinos in termsof incarceration. Additionally, the young black and Latino males aremore likely to be given severe sentences compared to their white malecounterparts. Whites seem to have higher reduction sentence time thanthe minority groups, minority groups receive severer sentences andwhites are likely to hire more competent attorneys. Anotherobservation is that black defendants who wrong whites are givensevere sentences compared to blacks who victimize other blacks andwhites who victimize those of their own race [ CITATION Kan15 l 1033 ].
Moreover,the race of the victim has an effect on the outcome of sentences,where the cases with white victims result in death sentences most ofthe time. In some jurisdictions, however, the race of the defendantis likely to impact the sentence outcomes. In this regard, minoritydefendants are likely to get death sentences than their whitecounterparts [ CITATION Jil15 l 1033 ].All the above-cited effects have led to the overrepresentation ofminorities in the justice system, criminal cases and inmates inprisons while being underrepresented as judges, lawyers, and staff.
Thearticle entitled Multiculturalism in the Criminal Justice Systemprovides an in-depth outlook on the problems caused by culturaldiversity and the various minority groups as they interact with lawenforcement. The various processes in courts, correctional facilitiesand sentencing are explored hence showing the precise issues faced byeach of the groups. The article goes on further to explain theeffects of multiculturalism on the officials of the judicial system,an aspect that has been described in this paper. Not only is thearticle comprehensive but also addresses the illustrated issues in apractitioner-driven approach (Hanser & Gomila, 2015).
Basedon the above article, it is evident that the solution to the issue offairness and humane treatment is available. What is missing is thewill to change. Human beings have not acknowledged the fact that theenvironment and society has a huge effect on behavior. Our attitudescategorically reflect our experiences, associations, and openness tothe variations (Casey et al., 2012). Since continuing with thecurrent biased practices is a no-win situation, the effects of racialand ethnic bias can be reduced through awareness of judges, staff andthe general public, focusing on the treatment of minorities, ensuringthat courtroom interactions are fair, persuading minorities thatnegative attitudes are not tolerated by the justice department andlastly assuring the public of equal, fair and dignified access tojustice.
Casey, P., Warren, R., Cheesman, F., & Elek, J. (2012). Helping courts address implicit bias:. Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts.
Hanser, R. D. & Gomila, M. N. (2015). Multiculturalism and the Criminal Justice System. London: Pearson.
Kansal, T. (2015). Racial Disparity in Sentencing. New York: Open Society Foundations.
Malavanti, K., Johnson, M., Rowatt, W. & Weaver, C. (2012). Subtle Contextual Influences on Racial Bias in the Courtroom. The Jury Expert, 109-121.
Moskowitz, G., & Li, P. (2011). Egalitarian goals trigger stereotype inhibition: A proactive form of. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 103-116.
Suttie, J. (2015, September 22). How Bias Warps Criminal Justice. Retrieved from GGSC: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_bias_warps_criminal_justice