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Racial Disparity

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Disparity and discrimination have some similarities, for example, both of these terms mean, to some extent, inequality. However, when examining the criminal-justice system, there are noticeable differences in these two meanings. When trying to figure out these terms and how they would relate to the criminal-justice system, disparity and discrimination of racial and ethnic has been apparent by countless people for as long as society can remember. For instance, disparity could be a consequence of discrimination when referring to the criminal-justice system. Disparity refers to inequality of all areas of the criminal-justice system; from racial profiling and focusing on only certain types of groups or people is always a type of racial and ethnic disparity. Racial disparity in the criminal-justice system is present when the proportion of a racial or ethnic group within the control of the system is greater than the proportion of such groups in the general population (The Sentencing Project, 2008). Racial disparity is established, even though it may not always be associated to premeditated discrimination. On the other hand, discrimination is a distinction based on the personal characteristics of an individual resulting in some disadvantage to that individual.

To get a better understanding of the differences between disparity and discrimination, researchers have created a type of continuum for discrimination and disparity in the criminal-justice system while doing processing. What came out of this research were five important elements that evolve in the spectrum. The elements are categorized from the most severe level of discrimination, which is considered the highest, to the nonexistent level of discrimination, which is the lowest. According to the Law Encyclopedia, the five elements in order are contextual discrimination, individual acts of discrimination, and pure justice. The spectrum is clearly defined as pure justice being at one end, and there is no racism or inequality on this side of the spectrum. This end has longer sentences and higher incarceration rates for people that are considered minorities that results simply from higher rates of criminal involvement. On the higher end of this spectrum, there decisions made on racists assumptions and the members of minority groups are discriminated against on every level of the process. The part of the spectrum that lies in the middle represents different levels of discrimination. This would result in institutional terms and would not be an advantage for minority groups or organizations is considered a complete disadvantage.

In the United States, the economic structure systematically puts minorities and any person of color at a disadvantage when considering the court system. In addition, some of the disadvantages seem to carry over into the criminal justice system. In some criminal cases minority defendants are more likely to be less fortunate and cannot afford and



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