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Racial Disparities in the United States


The racial disparity, also referred to as racial inequalities, describes how people are treated differently depending on their color or ethnicity. These discrepancies can take many forms, such as unequal access to resources and employment opportunities, discriminatory treatment by law enforcement and the criminal justice system, and unbalanced accessibility of health care and education. The criminal justice system in America main goal is upholding public safety, preserving civil rights, and preventing and regulating crime through law enforcement and judicial processes. The system is founded on due process rules, which provide justice and equality before the law. Intricate and varied connections exist between racial injustices and the criminal justice system in the United States. According to studies, African Americans, in particular, are overrepresented among persons of color in the criminal justice system. Racial inequities in the criminal justice system result in disproportionate sentencing, higher imprisonment rates, and a greater chance of becoming violent victims or offenders. This leads to the patience of racial inequality and furthers the transmission of adverse perceptions. There are numerous contributing elements to racial disparities inside the American crook justice gadget, such as systematic racism and poverty.

Racial disparities

The disproportionate incarceration of people of races, especially African Americans and Latinx people, proves that the American criminal justice system is unfair to people of color (Painter-Davis et al., 2009). African Americans and Hispanics make up a disproportionately large amount of the country’s jail population, with the highest imprisonment rate in the world (Painter-Davis et al., 2009). According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, imprisonment rates for Hispanics and African Americans are respectively 5.1 and 2.4 times greater than for white persons (Ashley, 2022).

Additionally, there are still racial discrepancies in the sentencing system. Studies show that white criminals are less likely than African American offenders to get harsher punishment for the same act. This is true even if whites and Blacks both commit the same crimes at the same rates (Painter-Davis et al., 2009). The huge proportion of Hispanics and African Americans who are stopped, questioned and arrested by police also raises questions about racial injustice. Even after accounting for different variables like age, gender, and incident type, research has proven that African Americans are much more prevalent than white people to be told to stop, interrogated, or even jailed (Ashley, 2022). These differences are a blatant example of the racism that permeates the American criminal justice system.

The critical factors contributing to racial disparities include systemic racism, poverty, inadequate resources, and differential treatment. The outcomes of systemic racism as racial disparities within the fairness and effectiveness of the crook justice machine are a long way achieving and particularly troubling (college, 2020). From the earliest encounter among police and community contributors via the trial and sentencing of people accused of crimes, systemic racism has impacted the criminal justice machine without delay. Systemic racism has been linked to uneven law enforcement, with persons of color much more likely than whites to be detained and charged for the same acts. This is exacerbated by the reality that people of coloration are much more likely than white humans to stand obligatory minimal sentences, harsher penalties, and lengthier phrases for identical criminal motion. Furthermore, it has been located that racial inequities within the crook justice system make contributions to excellent extra costs of recidivism and imprisonment amongst people of color. Systemic racism and racial inequities in the criminal justice gadget, in the long run, extensively impair fairness and efficacy. African Americans are much more likely to be unfairly targeted and penalized for their sports, which may have disastrous results for their lives and groups. This maintains a cycle of inequity and injustice in our society, further entrenching systemic racism.

Studies show that African-American individuals are much more likely than white individuals to reside in poverty, which directly affects their likelihood of being arrested or convicted (University, 2020). Racial disparities in poverty significantly impact the fairness and effectiveness of the criminal justice system. African American Individuals are more frequently than white people to be detained, charged with, and found guilty of crimes; they also frequently get harsher punishments and lengthier prison terms. People of color also frequently lack access to competent legal counsel and are less likely to be able to pay bail or other costs incurred by the criminal justice system (Dragomir & Tadros, 2020). This might exacerbate already-existing racial inequalities in the criminal justice system and lead to unfair or unjust outcomes. Overall, poverty as a racial inequity may significantly negatively influence the fairness and efficacy of the system of criminal justice (Dragomir & Tadros, 2020). Legal aid, alternatives to jail, and other social services that can aid in crime prevention and lessen racial inequities within the criminal justice system must get more funding to address this issue and advance a fairer system.

People of color frequently do not have access to quality legal counsel, which might increase the likelihood of being convicted University, 2020). The lack of resources, as well as the racial discrepancy in the criminal justice system, have a negative influence on the system’s fairness and performance. As a result, communities of color are less likely to have access to resources such as legal counsel, bail, and diversionary programs, which can lead to more racially biased outcomes (Dragomir & Tadros, 2020). This can also result in lengthy wait periods for trials and sentences, causing the system to become backlogged and inefficient. In addition, a lack of resources can increase mistrust in the criminal justice system among people of color because they may think their issues are not taken seriously or given the same weight as those of other racial or ethnic groups.

Furthermore, persons of color are more susceptible to being stopped, searched, and given harsh punishment than white people. The racial disparity has a wide-ranging and seriously troubling impact on the fairness and efficiency of the criminal justice system. Research has shown that racial injustices exist throughout the criminal justice system, including the police, the prosecution, and the punishment (Dragomir & Tadros, 2020). Due to this unequal treatment, a disproportionate number of persons of color are imprisoned, frequently for crimes for which white people would not be sentenced to jail time. This is unfair and unjust and seriously jeopardizes the criminal justice system’s effectiveness (Dragomir & Tadros, 2020). Furthermore, unfair treatment of one group at the expense of another can result in a lack of confidence in the legal system, which makes it harder for the police to serve and protect the community adequately.

There are various ways to support the continuing work in America to reduce racial inequities and advance equal justice for all (Hargons, 2019). People may join in legislative conversations to resolve these concerns, get involved in their local communities, and support groups that promote racial fairness. As well as helping with legal aid groups and writing to political officials to urge reform, contributing to charities that promote racial justice and equity is a terrific way to help (Hargons, 2019). A crucial component of any endeavor to advance justice and fairness is educating oneself on racism’s background and its ongoing effects on our society (Hargons, 2019).

In sum, the root causes of racial discrepancies must be addressed to ensure fairness and effectiveness in the criminal justice system. This may also be accomplished by putting systems that support fairness at all points in the criminal justice system, such as expanding access to legal counsel and non-incarceration options and ensuring that law enforcement personnel are held responsible for their conduct. If the racial disparity is not addressed, the criminal justice system will continue to be unfair and ineffective.


Ashley Nellis, P. D. (2022, December 16). The Color of Justice: Racial and ethnic disparity in state prisons. The Sentencing Project. Retrieved February 12, 2023, from

Dragomir, R. R., & Tadros, E. (2020). Exploring the impacts of racial disparity within the American juvenile justice system. Juvenile and Family Court Journal, 71(2), 61-73.

Harris, C. T., Steffensmeier, D., Ulmer, J. T., & Painter-Davis, N. (2009). Are Blacks and Hispanics Disproportionately Incarcerated Relative to Their Arrests? Racial and Ethnic Disproportionality Between Arrest and Incarceration. Race and social problems, 1(4), 187–199.

University, S. (2020, June 9). Seven factors contributed to American racism. Stanford News. Retrieved February 12, 2023, from

Varghese, F. P., Israel, T., Seymour, G., Becker Herbst, R., Suarez, L. G., & Hargons, C. (2019). Injustice in the justice system: Reforming inequities for true “justice for all”. The Counseling Psychologist, 47(5), 682-740.


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