• Uncategorized

Minority Groups and the Court System

MinorityGroups and the Court System

MinorityGroups and the Court System

Fora very long time, the minority groups have been disadvantaged at theU.S (United States) court system (Mauer, 2011). This trend has led toquestions on the criminal justice system and its viability tosentence individuals. Evidence that exists for the skewed courtdecisions points to biases that border on race and stereotypes. It isagainst this background that the paper seeks to begin by explainingthe difference between implicit biases and stereotypes and explicitstereotyping and attitudes. This paper then proceeds to explain howbiases might affect courtroom proceedings and the manner in whichracial disparity in sentencing affects the judicial system.

Explainthe difference between implicit biases and stereotypes and explicitstereotyping and attitudes

Implicitbiases refer to the attitudes or stereotypes that in an unconsciousmanner affect the understanding, actions and the decisions ofindividuals (Kang et al., 2011). The biases often occur involuntarilyand are made up of both favorable and unfavorable assessments. Giventhat they occur involuntarily, a person is often not aware of thehappenings. They are known to be immersed deep in the subconscious ofindividuals hence making them different from the known biases, whichpersons may choose to reveal for the purpose of social or politicalcorrectness. Usually, implicit biases cannot easily be accessedthrough introspection (Kang et al., 2011). On the other hand,stereotypes refer to the thoughts that individuals harbor against thecharacter of another person, which can be defined by the way theperson does his or her things. The reflection on the character ofindividuals may not be the reality. Stereotypes can be said to occurvoluntarily.

Explicitstereotyping refers to the positions or generalizations held byothers, which are extremely expressed or directly stated. Usually,the explicit stereotypes are accessible to individual’s consciousand often are the things that individuals will report when queriedabout differences in groups. For the attitude, it refers to thegeneral feeling that an individual has against the other. Often, inattitude the person who reports reflects the behavior of anindividual.

Howbiases might affect courtroom proceedings

Biaseshave effect when exercising peremptory challenges in courtrooms. Acase in point is the Batsonv. Kentucky(1986) and J.E.B.v. Alabama(1994) rulings that attempted to quench the application of racial andgender bias when selecting the jury (Johnson, 2016). From this, theattorneys had no choice but to confirm the non-racial or thenon-gender reasons that were related to the challenge. One questionthat arises is how a judge justifies and establishes that thejustifications raised are legitimate. For example, in South Carolina,an attorney exempted a juror who had dreadlocks of African-Americanorigin from the bench when hearing a case because of peremptorychallenge. When the decision was challenged the defense attorneydefended himself by stating that he was uneasy about the juror as hehad dreadlocks. In their ruling, the South Carolina Court noted thatthe reason was not race-neutral that the juror could be excluded asthe dreadlocks were extensively linked to the African Americans(Johnson, 2016). Often, persons have a small meditative comprehensionbehind the decisions they make. Therefore, requesting the judge to beapprehensive and explicitly expound on the implicit bias in provokingthe eligibility of the black or female juror can be endemic withfabrication and distortion of facts. Under the best circumstances,the decisions by the jury should be without much effort and be lesssubjected to the effects of non-conscious procedures. When it gets toa situation, where the courtroom is cognitively demanding, then thecognitive thoughts of the jurors’ is exploited. At this point,their implicit bias is likely to result in a prediction ofguilt-related judgments.

Anyattempt to suppress the thoughts of the jury by telling them not tobe full of attitude and practice impartiality can make the thoughtsto be hyper-accessible owing to the rebound effects. In the end, thebiases of the jury may likely to increase. Often, even thedemotivated jurors can never engage in effortful judgment anddecision-making.

Therefore,biases can affect the deliberations by the jury. The use of juryrises from the fact that cross-examining an individual by the juryresults into the complete and less biased evaluation of the evidencebefore the court (Malavanti et al., 2012). The jury is a group andgroup consensus leads to less error. Nonetheless, the jurors are justnormal humans, and they come to trial with certain beliefs andknowledge that will affect their decision-making process implicitly.A case in point is the juror’s knowledge of cultural stereotype ofblack individuals as aggressive and dangerous can be linked to theprobability of shooting when annoyed (Malavanti et al., 2012). Havingthis kind of knowledge of negative cultural stereotype aboutAfrican-Americans can only affect the decision made by the juror.This is a decision made from the point of bias.

HowRacial Disparity in Sentencing affects the Judicial System

Thedisparity in the justice system has been witnessed for a long period.Nonetheless, the racial dynamics in sentencing have progressivelychanged (Mauer, 2011). The change remains a reflection of a move fromexplicit racism to more furtive expressions and conclusions. Withouta doubt, it is evident in the U.S that there is direct racialdiscrimination against the defendants who are perceived to come froma minority group in sentencing outcomes. At the federal, there isoften more direct discrimination as compared to the state level(Mauer, 2011). Often, the Blacks stand higher chances of beingdisadvantaged in regards to the sentence length at the federal levelwhereas the Latinos have a higher opportunity of getting adisadvantageous decision for incarceration. At the state level, theLatinos and the Blacks are often more likely to be disadvantaged indecision to incarcerate as opposed to the decision that concernstheir length of sentence (Mauer, 2011).


Thearticle has divided its areas of discussions in three critical areasthat are related to this paper. First, the paper discusses the U.SSupreme Court (USSC) and its deliberations. In regards to this court,the article explains the efforts that have been put in place toensure that there is an end brought the racial injustices happeningin the courts(Clemons, 2014).Further, the article proceeds to discuss the existence of implicitracial bias. While expounding on this second part, the article iscognizant of the disturbing issue of racial bias in U.S especiallyaffecting the Black American community. In the third section, thepaper discusses the racial disparity that exists within the criminaljustice system in U.S (Clemons,2014).The reference date for this third section is 2014. This article alsoaddresses the “stop-and-frisk” policy as shown by the New YorkPolice Departments along with the incarcerations that involve blackmales. According to the article, the failure to accept and providejustification for implicit racial only means that the discretion bythe actors in criminal justice has increasingly widened (Clemons,2014).


Theevidence that exists for the skewed court decisions indeed points tobiases that border on race and stereotypes. Through an examination ofthe differences between implicit biases and stereotypes and explicitstereotyping and attitudes, a clear understanding of the concept isbuilt. This paper has comprehensively explained how biases affectcourtroom proceedings and a case in point is the Batsonv. Kentucky(1986) and J.E.B.v. Alabama(1994) rulings. The manner in which racial disparity in sentencingaffects the judicial system is clearly brought out through theincarceration differences among the races.


Clemons,J. T. (2014). Blind injustice: The Supreme Court, implicit racialbias, and the racial disparity in the criminal justice system.&nbspAm.Crim. L. Rev.,&nbsp51,689.

Johnson,V. (2016). Arresting Batson: How Striking Jurors Based on ArrestRecords Violated Batson.

Kang,J., Bennett, M., Carbado, D., &amp Casey, P. (2011). Implicit biasin the courtroom.&nbspUCLAL. Rev.,&nbsp59,1124.

Mauer,M. (2011). Addressing racial disparities in incarceration.&nbspThePrison Journal,&nbsp91(3suppl), 87S-101S. Retrieved fromhttp://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Addressing-Racial-Disparities-in-Incarceration.pdf[Accessed 12/11/2016].

Malavanti,K. F., Johnson, M. K., Rowatt, W. C., &amp Weaver III, C. A. (2012).Subtle contextual influences on racial bias in the courtroom.&nbspTheJury Expert,&nbsp24,1-7. Retrieved fromhttp://www.thejuryexpert.com/2012/05/subtle-contextual-influences-on-racial-bias-in-the-courtroom/[Accessed 12/11/2016].