Social Injustice | Teen Ink

Social Injustice

December 7, 2013
By Anonymous

Sexism and racism do not occur as much these days but there are still many criminals that feel as if the sentence they receive is due to factors like racism and sex. There are many social injustices in our country one of the main is our Criminal Justice System. Many of people forget about the laws that state that, people are innocent until proven guilty and then the person or possible criminal end up getting the wrong sentence (“Treatment in the Criminal Justice System”). Racism and sexism are often confused or and mistaken for one another. Many times a jury makes a group or majority decision. A person naturally forms judgements or opinions on a person when they have to face or view them it might impact the final decision being made causing an unfair sentencing to the person given the accusations. When sentencing a criminal people believe that sexism and racism play in to the type of sentence given to a criminal.

What is racism? Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, traits that distinguish that race as inferior or superior to another race or races (“Video: Racism in Criminal Justice System?”). Racism is one of the greater impacting problems in this country today, “African American people usually are put into situations where the commission of a criminal act is often seen as the most effective resolution to their problems” (Boudart). A jury is formed by a selection of a certain group of people with specific qualities and requirements. Before a person can become a member of the jury, a person has to sign agreements and contracts and answer multiple questions referring to their history and everyday life. Once a member, the person has agreed to make decisions only by the information presented to them about the trial. Even though a one may agree that they are still able to have their own opinion on the race or appearance, which could potentially persuade their final decision that affects the criminal.

Another influential part of the Criminal Justice System is sexism that is the act of having prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex/gender (Sexism, System of Gender and Ethnicity). Most people get ethnicity and sex or gender mistaken for one another. They are closely related in terms of what they are, but ethnicity is history or background on their ancestors basically “where you come from”(Boudart). Jury selection most of the time is inter racial and is evenly, or close to evenly split by sex and race so it does not affect the sentence that the criminal faces. However in some cases a person may be against their own sex and cause the criminal to get a sentence that is not necessary towards them, or it may cause them to get off with no sentence when they were deserving of one. The sex of a person and how it affects the opportunities given to them can be a determining factor for their future.

Next, There are many examples of when racism or sexism could have been one major determining factors that have helped decide the sentence that the criminal was sentenced to. Many people believe the Casey Anthony trial and final sentencing was given to her because she was a woman and a mother, which means she would never do that to her child. This is wrong and sexis because people are capable of doing anything no matter what their sex is, “people can not risk quietly standing by while the state, once again, uses children to advance sexiist, punitive legislation that emboldens the PIC...” and just because she is a mother does not mean she is not capable of having a mental or psychological issue causing her to murder her child (Treatment in the Criminal Justice System). Some examples of another case where racism played an important role is in the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin case. Many say if George Zimmerman was an African American male, and Trayvon Martin was a white male and the same thing happened then the sentencing would have been different. “ It's been shown time and time again that race plays an undeniable role in whether we view a stranger as dangerous” (System of Racism in Criminal Justice System). With these changed circumstances he would not have gotten off so easily and would have gotten a more harsh punishment, and then the Jury potentially would not have believed George Zimmerman when he claimed “self-defense” and then the outcome could have been based off of the criminal and the suspects race which would lead to a more harsh or weaker sentencing on the criminal.

There are many cases that have happened in the past where sexism and racism have impacted the outcome of the trial, also many people get these terms confused or mistaken for one another. If people were more open-minded and gave others a chance, then factors like gender and color would not alter the outcome of a situation. If things were looked at the same and opinions were not formed based on pointless things like race and gender and could only use what information was given to them, life might be a little more fair because most people are alike and relatable, and people are all humans and, people all make mistakes which can be forgiven.

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