The History of the African Americans and Criminal Justice System of America

HomeEssaysResearch PaperThe History of the African Americans and Criminal Justice System of America
Criminal Justice System of America


The history of the country is always tightly connected with the history of criminal and noncriminal offenses and a justice system. The system of justice in the United States is very unique because the country is multinational. People from all over the world have immigrated to the United States to find a better life. Since the beginning of civilization, all peoples and cultures had their own imagination of what is right and wrong. Thus, the principles on which the justice systems of countries have been created are also different. The American justice system should have been created with the consideration of cultural differences of citizens. The unique system of justice has been created, but nowadays one may see some racial tendencies in a judgment. African Americans suffer most of all. In this paper, the researcher will try to understand the backgrounds of such treatment.

In my opinion, such questions as this one should be studied and researched thoroughly, because the main principle of building up the United States of America was that all its citizens have equal rights, and they deserve to be treated properly. The first Africans were slaves. The treatment of them was the worst ever, but now they have the same rights as others. They should fight for their rights to be equal to white Americans. On the other hand, they are afraid to fight for their rights. African Americans do not want to get into more troubles with the law than they are being now.

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The main aim of this research is to show that since the very beginning to be the African American was considered to be bad. Those people were considered to be blamed in all the offenses possible. This paper is aimed to prove that our society should forget about everything that has happened before. African Americans have the same rights as white Americans do. There are both geniuses and bad people as in every nation. The paper will show that a bad historical background may influence badly on the treatment for those living nowadays.

This topic is interesting, because the law is supposed to be fair, and the judges should keep it. This research should prove that African Americans must be judged as white ones. The law should be not only strict but implemented towards all people equally; it should not matter what color of skin they have.

In most criminal movies and novels, if a criminologist sees that the African American was present in a murder or robbery scene, he or she is supposed to be guilty. Often it does not matter that the African American is a mere witness, and he or she has not made any offense. They are considered to be blamed immediately. That is why the project will be interesting for criminologists as well as for investigators. This research is aimed to ruin the stereotypes of African Americans.

The African Americans are treated not only badly, but unfairly. According to the statistics, in 1965, Congress adopted a Voting Rights Act. This law influenced the vote right of African Americans. Nowadays, more than a million African Americans have no rights to vote, because they have been accused of felonies. The year before, in 1964, Congress adopted the law about discrimination in the employment sector. Nowadays, three out of ten African Americans will remain unemployed because they have been arrested. I do not think that this is fair, because everyone deserves to get a job in order to have the money for living. If an African American, after being released, does not find any job, or a house, he will have to make an offense to go back to jail. Those African Americans being in prison now have no other choice, as to have the fate of a criminal. The more recent research has shown that one out of eleven African Americans is in prison. This is much higher than the Caucasians (one out of forty-five) or the Latinos (one out of twenty-seven). The jails in the United States are filled mostly with the persons who have black or white skin (70%). In my opinion, one nation cannot be so cruel and consist only of criminals.

Literature Review

The topic we consider in this paper is very specific. There is not much literature devoted to this issue. The scientist has begun to get involved in racial problems in American criminal justice not so long ago. The fullest research in the field of unfairness and race discrimination in the criminal justice system of the United States was made in the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. This was published in 2010. This book deals with such questions as a process and the tools of race discrimination by investigators. It described the way of not only the discrimination happening in prison but as well the way African Americans are treated after the release (they are labeled as “felons” and are considered to be the second class). The author of the book agrees that some African Americans have achieved a lot in their lives. However, there are many of those who do not, and the majority of people still consider Afro-Americans to be like a plague of society.

The main sources used, while making this research, are the archives of the FBI. These are the scientific articles about racism and its influence on the American justice system as well as the way how Afro-Americans are treated in the court. Also, I have taken into account the cases, in which both the Americans and Afro-Americans were involved. Their cases were described together with their sentences. The data of statistics were also very important, together with the research and conclusions. Such resources as the United States Incarceration Rate or the International Centre for Prison Studies were applied too.

This research is mainly based on the information found in different law magazines and newspapers, as well as in the online archives of the FBI. In the past decades, it has become clear that we do not see the problems existing in our society. We do not want to understand that the problems should be solved and that something has to be done to prevent such unfairness that one may see nowadays. The United States has always been considered to be a fair country, where all people and nations have equal rights. However, if we take a closer look, one may understand that it is not true. The lawyers are now trying to find a way to treat African Americans as they deserve it. In such a way, they destroy existing stereotypes.

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Research Questions

In my opinion, this research is very important not only for judges or attorneys but also for ordinary people, especially for African Americans, because this paper deals with such question as to the discrimination not only in our society but particularly in the criminal justice. In this paper, I want to show that African Americans may, and have to, be treated equally with the Whites. There can be no exceptions in the justice system. The main idea is to try to make people think, that the Whites are not a perfect race, in every race, there are bad and good people. On the other hand, I want to show that the background influences greatly not only on the person’s life but on the life and development of the whole nation.


The United States of America has proclaimed equal rights to everybody. But is it so? Do all people have equal rights in our modern society? The answer is: no. We do not realize that our society may be even crueler and unfair than the people in the East. Obviously, there are no strict rules of behavior or a strict punishment for misdemeanors. However, the way we treat non-whites is horrible. In my research, I want to study thoroughly the impact of the African American background on the modern state and position in US society.

In the literature used, there are a lot of examples of unfairness towards African Americans. After having read the articles, it seems to me, that the policemen were taught to arrest only the non-whites. Michelle Alexander states that such a situation exists not only in criminal justice but also in ordinary life as well. African Americans do not have proper education; they are unemployed and have bad living conditions. As said before, the statistics are the only thing to be believed in. According to the following figures:

1. 11.8% of African Americans are taken while driving (compared to 8.9% of the Whites);

2. 75.7% African Americans are stopped for increasing the speed (compared to 66% of Whites);

3. 15.9% of African American drivers are stopped and have the search in their cars conducted (compared to 7.9% of Whites);

4. The research has shown that 32% of African Americans have all the chances to be arrested and get into jail, and only 6% of white males have those chances;

5. African Americans are treated badly during a trial and are sentenced for the crime strictly. For the same crime, Whites are receiving a suspended sentence;

6. The African American youth is most likely to be arrested than the white;

7. 43% of criminals sentenced to death are African Americans;

8. In 1998, 72% of the federal National Household Survey on Drug Abuse was the Whites, and 15% were African Americans, although African Americans are mostly arrested for keeping drugs.

Right now, the point is that who makes ordinary citizens treat African Americans as they are treated. Since establishing the United States as an independent country, the Africans were slaves. However, on the other hand, they have made this country prosper. Their hard work, their sweat, and blood are the reasons why the United States of America is a dream country for many people in the whole world. Of course, the first settlers were working for their own; but with the development of technique and science and with building ships and exploring the world, the Africans have become the working power of Americans. This is the same as in the times when they had been slaves. One cannot say that all the Africans were honest and liked their new life. But one cannot also say that all they were robbers striving to steal more from their owners.

Those times have passed, but it seems that the Americans cannot forget the times when African Americans had been slaves. The attitude remains the same. It seems that African Americans owe Americans something. The discrimination has become a trend or tendency in recent years. If a person is African American, he or she is treated badly. People think that he or she may steal something or kill someone. African Americans are always considered to be intended to offend the Whites.

This research will prove that African Americans do not have the same rights and white Americans. This has become a very serious problem not only of the justice system but of the American society, in general. In my opinion, the laws should be revised and changed as well as the investigation should be made and results should be published. Thus, every citizen may compare the attitude to any African American and a white American.


Method of Data Collection

The research requires not only many efforts but a lot of time to find the information and researches previously made. For this project, the data have been collected mainly from published resources. In the last two or three decades, the question of racism in the courtroom is very sharp. The attention is paid not only by journalists but by lawyers, investigators, and judges. Although there is no wide choice of articles and researches, those researches found are essential. The secondary data will also be used, because, on one hand, it is impossible to read everything written on the topic. On the other hand, researches have different points of view. It is very important to consider different opinions while trying to understand what can be better done for society. If there has not been the lack of time and abilities, such methods as interviews or surveys could be used as well.

The main disadvantage of the theoretical method is that the researcher cannot implement his or her theory to life. He or she cannot prove practically the results of the research. In this paper, the effect of the history of African Americans is considered. However, one may talk about theoretical studies and refer to the previous studies and statistics done before. On the other hand, the theoretical information may be old or may not fit into the case directly. The last century information may be republished; the date of republishing may be put, which means that the researcher believes in the information and considers it to be topical. But the research will not be completely true, because of such an article.

This method can be good for those who like sitting at home and making theoretical research or a conclusion on the information read before. Nowadays it is much easier, because with the help of the Internet one may find all the articles needed. Besides, people question in social networks about their attitude to one or another aspect.


Every poll has some dependent and independent variables. The independent variable is altered, and a dependent variable is an object of studies. In this research, it will be proved that African Americans are discriminated in the courts all over the country. That is why the dependent variable will be the population of African Americans in the United States nowadays; and as this was in the nineteenth century. The independent variable may be totally different. One may take the number of offenses committed by African Americans in these periods and count the percentage or the heaviness of these offenses. A sentence and a punishment should also be included as the independent variable. These are the main and most important variables. They are being used, because such statistics will show that African Americans have been always treated as those people that should be killed and destroyed as a nation. In my opinion, the statistics with such variables will be able to prove that Americans are not as sinless as they want to seem.


The main purpose of this research is to show that African Americans are held as hostages of stereotypes. They are considered to carry drugs in their pockets, to steal everything they see, and to kill those whom they do not like. The aim of research influences on the questions asked. The list of questions may be the following:

1. How many African Americans have been arrested for keeping and carrying drugs? And how many white Americans have been arrested?

2. How many cars of African Americans have been searched without any visible purpose and how many cars of white Americans have been searched as well?

3. How many false convicted African Americans have been released and how many white Americans?

4. How many thefts were committed by African Americans and by white Americans in the nineteenth century and nowadays? How strict was the punishment for them?

5. How many people have been killed by African Americans and how many by white Americans?

Then a comparison table or a diagram should be made, which shows the difference. The data for the table or diagram may be taken from different sources of statistics, including the latest police reports.

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Sample and Sampling Technique

The research is aimed to show the difference in treating African Americans and white Americans in the court or at the police officer. Therefore, the population of the United States will be taken, the number of African Americans and white Americans too. That means that there will be two huge groups in the research. The target population should be neither small nor great. In the research as this, the target population should not be the whole population. It will be very difficult to calculate the results and to question the whole nation. In my opinion, the target population may be not higher than 10 000 people.

The population will be sampled by the means of the Internet and by asking people personally in the street. The main disadvantage of this method is a lie. People may lie not only on the Internet but in the street. That is why there is a high probability that the results will not be exact. For this purpose, while making the research, one should also consult researches and statistics derived from the past. It is better when not only one resource is being used, but few ones. It depends on whether it will be annual police reports or newspaper articles or archives.

If respondents lie, the results will not be true. That will mean that the whole research has been senseless. This research is specific because one cannot ask how the Africans were behaving while being the slaves; and how they had been treated. But the situation now is clear. One may have thousands of questions to ask, but the point is whether ten thousand people agree to answer them.

Even if one risks and goes out to find those that will answer these questions, it is not very easy to find someone answering them. Some people think that this is the way the FBI spies the society; the others refuse to answer because of their moral or religious principles and so on. One may think that the easiest way is to stand and wait. If so, this research will never be finished. The best time to make people answer the questions is when the person is either a bit drunk (but this does not fit the research, because many drunk people cannot answer the simplest questions), or they are having fun. That is why the best place for questioning is the annual town affairs, or school events, or while being in amusement parks. The researcher should remember that if he or she asks people to answer the questions, while on strike, they will become mad and angry, and it will not help anyone.

The other way of recruiting people to participate in questioning is to present them something; for example, a cookie or a candy. Both children and adults enjoy having presents, even such small ones. If the researcher promises to give the candy or the cookie after answering questions, people will answer. This method of recruiting may be called the most efficient, because one does not need to wait or go somewhere else, probably to another town to find those, which will answer these questions.

The last thing to decide is time. One cannot make such research the whole life, but it is not done during one night. The optimal variant is during the year. During this period, not only one questionnaire may be made, but the new sources may be found or new articles published.

Analytic Strategy

In the research, the quantitative analysis will be used, because the research is dealing with the number of offenses and accusations. One cannot use the qualitative analysis, because the quality of offences will not be displayed. The way of hearing to the cases or the treatment will not be shown in details. However, it will be mentioned, because the research is aimed to prove not only how many African Americans have been treated unfairly, but also the way they have been treated.

To conclude, one may say that African Americans are not only part of our nation but the part of the culture in the United States. However, the difficulty is that they are not treated properly, and the main reason is the unpleasant historical background.

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