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Defining Racism and the Difficulties of Proving Discrimination Our group is taking the position that the perception of the criminal justice system as being racist is a myth Since this assertion can be interpreted in many ways it is necessary to specify what it means and does not mean First we are going to explain that there is racial prejudice and discrimination within the criminal justice system in that there are individuals both white and minorities who make decisions at least in part on the basis of race We do not believe that the system is characterized by prejudice and discrimination against minorities systematic Individual cases appear to reflect racial prejudice and discrimination by the offender the victim the police the prosecutor the judge or prison and parole officials But conceding individual cases of bias is far different from conceding pervasive racial discrimination There are studies that argue that the evidence at most decision points fail to show any overall racial effect in that the percentage outcomes for minorities and whites are not very different There is evidence however that some individual decision makers for example police officers judges are more likely to give breaks to whites than to minorities it appears however that there is an equal tendency for other individual decision makers to favor minorities over whites This canceling out effect results in studies that find no overall racial effect It is important to note that though racial discrimination has occurred numerous individual cases against minorities and whites there is no systematic bias against minorities Second if one defines racism as a conscious attitude or conscious behavior by no evidence that most individuals in the system make decisions on the basis of race In short the definition of racism often predetermines the answer to the question is the criminal justice system racist Furthermore to argue
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