Racial profiling is a wide spread term in the American justice system today, but what does it really mean? Is racial profiling just a term cooked up by criminals looking for a way to get out of trouble and have a scapegoat for their crimes? Is it really occurring in our justice system, and if so is it done intentionally? Most importantly, if racial profiling exists what steps do we take to correct it? The answer to these questions are almost impossible to find, racial profiling is one of many things within our justice system that can be disputed from any angle and has no clear cut answers. All that can be done is to study it from different views and sources and come up with one’s own conclusion on the issue.
Racial profiling, as defined in Criminal Justice Today is, “Any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, or national origin, rather than the behavior of the individual…” (Schmalleger, 2009, p. 294) but is racial profiling limited only to police action? In June off 2002 a telephone survey of adults was conducted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut, in this survey people were asked, “Do you think that African Americans’ civil rights are being respected by the country’s criminal justice system?” 69% of Non-Hispanic Whites said, “Yes, they are respected.” as opposed to 33% of African Americans that think the justice system is fair. (Cole & Smith, 2007, p. 104) What causes this huge percentage gap among the races? Within our criminal justice system there are many disparities and cases of suspected discrimination, because of that our country is race divided on the issue of whether or not discrimination exists in a system perceived as the best of it’s kind.
The following are examples of disparities within the system according to Cole and Smith (2007) in The American System of Criminal Justice:
African Americans account for one-third of all arrests and one-half of all incarcerations in the United States, although only 12% of the people in the United States are African American.
The per capita incarceration rate for African Americans is seven times greater than for whites.
Since 1980 the proportion of Hispanics among all inmates in U/S/ prisons has risen from 7.7% to 16%.
About one-third of all African American men in their twenties are under criminal justice supervision.
The rate of unfounded arrests of Hispanics in California is double that of whites.
Among 100,000 African American men aged 15-19, 68 will die as the result of a homicide involving a gun, compared with about 6 among 100,000 white men in the same age group.
The robbery victimization rate for African Americans is 150% of that for whites, and they are victimized by rapes and aggravated assaults at similar rates that exceed those for whites.
The crime victimization rate is 260 per 1,000 Hispanic households versus 144 per 1,000 non-Hispanic households.