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Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice (Essay Sample)


The Supreme Court has repeatedly asserted that a defendant is not entitled to a jury composed in whole or in part of persons of his own race. Although these rulings establish that states are not obligated to use racially mixed juries, they do not prohibit states from doing so. In fact, a number of policymakers and legal scholars have proposed reforms that use racial criteria to promote racial diversity on American juries. Some have suggested that the names of majority race jurors be removed from the jury list (thus ensuring a larger proportion of racial minorities); others have suggested that a certain number of seats on each jury be set aside for racial minorities. How would you justify these reforms to a state legislature? How would an opponent of these reforms respond? Overall, are these good ideas or bad ideas?


Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice
Professor Name:
(January 05, 2014)

Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice
A significant number of the minority groups in the United States distrust the judicial system. It has been noted that in most cases, a minority group defendant is tried by a jury comprising of all whites. It is argued that a minority defendant is arrested by police officers who are whites, at the same time indicted by a grand jury comprising of all the whites, prosecuted by district attorneys who is white, convicted by a white jury, sentenced by a judge who is white, denied appeals by state appellate court jurists who are whites, face federal judges who are whites and at the same time face prison officials who are all whites. It is argued that such a system creates a picture of racial inequality expressed by the criminal justice system in the United States.
Race is a sensitive issue in verdict legitimacy, trial fairness, integrity of the criminal justice system and on the quality of the criminal justice system. Marginalized communities in the United States, to some extent have no faith with the judicial system (Champion, 2008). Taking a critical look at an all white jury facing a defendant who is black, there are high chances that the black defendant will face a harsh ruling. There are high chances that the black defendant will be found guilty of the offenses. Facing the all white jury has high chances of racializing the criminal justice system (McNamara & Burns, 2008).
Political and judicial efforts in diversifying the jury have generated debates among the different stakeholders. It has been noted that the supreme court of the United States argues that the defendant can face a jury comprising or without persons belonging to the defendant’s race. The supreme court of the United States has set it free for the states to make own choices in issues relating to racially mixed jury (McNamara & Burns, 2008). Legal scholars and policymakers argues that there is a need for reforms in the judicial system in the United States in making sure that racial diversity is cultivated in the American juries (Tarver et al., 2001).
Legal scholars and policymakers have suggested removal of some juries from the majority jury list and include juries from the minority communities in the United States. There are arguments that some positions should be set aside to represent the racial minorities in the United States justice system (Walker et al., 2011). Taking a historical approach, it was noted that Massachusetts State before the civil war had allowed African-American people in the jury, an indication that people of color were allowed in the jury (McNamara & Burns, 2008). Replicating the same practice in other states has received support and debates on an equal measure.
Surveys indicated that in 1875, the United States Congress supported inclusion of men of color to the jury system. In the court case Strauder v. West Virginia in 1880, the supreme court of the United States argued that the West Virginia laws were against defendants of the African Americans origin and that the state did not practice protection of law to all the residents (, 2013). People of color over the years have been discouraged by the system in taking an active role in the jury (Champion, 2008).
A number of states have developed racially diverse tribunals; surveys have indicated that ethnic and racial minorities are underrepresented in the federal and state criminal courts. A jury comprising of the minority groups in the United States is still a challenge, a fact that is contributing to racism in the American judicial system (Tarver et al., 2001). It has been noted that in majority of cases, in eliminating and avoiding organizations concerned with the human rights and the media hype on cases involving minority groups, trials are relocated from areas with minority groups to areas with majority whites.
An example of such a sensitive trial involved Rodney King assault case in 1992 that was moved to Simi Valley with majority whites from Los Angeles with majority blacks (, 2013). Another case involved Amadou Diallo murder trial in 2000 (, 2013). The case was moved to Albany with majority whites from the Bronx which has dominant Hispanics and Blacks. There are indications that the American criminal justice system is not fair enough to minority communities, a indication that reforms to the American justice system are necessary (Walker et al., 2011).
Opponents in th...
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