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Unmasking Bias: Stereotypes in Criminal Justice

Jul 25, 2023 | 0 comments

Jul 25, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

The stereotype has contributed to a lot of wrongful arrests worldwide. Stereotype contributes to malicious propaganda about groups, for instance, the inaccurate media representation in America about the African American as criminals, and the way women have been portrayed for quite sometimes as not fit to hold a public office and the fact that they are the best suit to stay home mothers, the perception about Muslims more so the ones of Asian race and bearded have always been characterized as a terrorist. This stereotype is inaccurate, repulsive as well as immoral, to say the least.

It’s critical to get a clear understanding of the fact that the portrait of a crime as presented by society is sometimes portrayed differently from the actual crime. For instance in America, society portrays young black men as more prevalent to commit a crime. According to American Sociological Association, the general image of a young black man among Americans is that of a violent, and aggressive street thug a prevalent symbol of crime is that it is tremendously committed by young black men. In fact, the society presumption on racial identity about a crime is so entrenched in their mind to the extent that it becomes obvious that when a crime is committed the public precisely assume that the crime has been committed by a person of this race and in this case in America the black men are usually presumed (7).


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This characterization of minorities of groups has played a bigger role in influencing the quality of justice that the groups have received. The recent cases of Terrorism in America and Europe have proven this fact right. For instance in the recent school shooting incidences in public places like and school like the mass shooting case in Florida, in the court of the public opinion before the perpetrator was known everybody thought that the crime must have been committed by a foreigner who most likely is a Muslim and a member of ISIS or Al-Qaida. The public perception is not that far from the perception of the law enforcement agents and the first step in the investigation is usually profiling the people who are more likely to look or be of an ethnicity that is associated with such crimes.

Some of the misrepresentations of crimes such as rape cases come as a result of stereotypes and biases that are still at a higher rate among law enforcement agents. According to Lisak et al the study conducted on the satisfaction of the police report as well as the assessment of their attitudes has found evidence of enduring myths and stereotype on rape that affects how the victims of rape are viewed and how the classification of their cases work. this comes often when either the victim can’t recall exactly what happened either due to the fact the victim was drugged, assaulted, or even when the victim takes time to report, in this case, the police usually treat the victim with suspicion (4).

According to MacKinnon, the most recent charge that was based on stereotype was in Canada in the case where a girl accused her stepfather of sexual abuse. As per the complainant testimony, her stepfather started abusing her when was only 10 years and the crime continued until when she was 16 years. MacKinnon goes further and reveals that the stepfather used to grab her privates parts and had once replicated sexual interaction with her. This case demonstrates the case of a negative stereotype in the first judgment Clarkson indicated that a victim of sexual abuse would be expected to “demonstrate behavior consistent with that abuse or at least some change of behavior such as avoiding the perpetrator.” The case was appealed and the court of appeal reversed the judgment by clearly demonstrating that the judgment was based on using a sexual stereotype of the victim, a judgment which the court of appeal upheld. Judge Clarkson indicated that the judgment he made was based on logic as well as common sense but it was clearly based on the stereotype of the victim (1).

In the past decades, law enforcement agents have been the contentious practice of racial profiling when doing their law enforcement duties. Their actions have subjected the racial minorities to the investigations of crimes to reveal illegal activity, this may be linked to the fundamental stereotypes that are about the race of criminals. Although sometimes the assumptions that criminal justice agents base their investigation often turn out to be true, the majority of the factors that contribute to the validation of racial profiling are most likely grounded in erroneous and often prejudiced information

Cases of sexual and physical abuse have been erroneously handled, more so when it comes to the absence of witnesses with the only forensic evidence available. In such a scenario, the law enforcement officers, as well as the prosecutor’s decision about the accuracy of the statements that the complainant makes, are more likely to be influenced by the predominant cultural discourse and subsequent predeterminations about sexual slayers and their apparent victims (Hoyle et al 9). There has been a concern in recent years over the allegation of sexual abuse in the sense that it has not been accurately dealt with among the investigation agencies, the charities, and the politicians in the United Kingdom, there is a communal sense of sorrow on the fact that the reports of the abuse were not put into the thorough investigation to the extent that some of the victims who reported the crime were not believed.

According to Welch the public linking of crime with a black race has been researched extensively by many researchers. the one study that clearly shows that the African American is perceived by the whites as a violent race, the race that is more likely to abuse drugs as well as the one with a high likelihood of committing a crime as compared to any other race. A social survey conducted in 1990 showed that African Americans are prone to committing crime and violence (277).

On the flip side, statistics have proven the case of prosecution based on stereotypes to be viable to a larger extent. This evidence is based on various research that has consistently linked some groups which in this case are the ethnic and racial minorities to be involved in violent crime exceeding beyond their numbers in regards to their total population. The differential justice treatment experienced by the minorities is definitely based on the series of crimes that they have committed. Through such analysis and the fact that people usually group themselves based on race, ethnicity, or anything that they can have a sense of belonging, there is a higher chance that the group have some violent culture which can easily and be consistent to the extent that it can form a pattern and as a result leads to the stereotype

In conclusion, the procedure of investigation and prosecution should be applied in equal measures without discriminating or profiling a particular group. Many innocent people are serving sentence for the crime they did not commit courtesy of characterization. The recent acts of terror in America have been committed by the Americans who belong to the majority group. The current stereotype fuels animosity and the victims will always perceive the law enforcement agents as enemies therefore even sharing information that would help them curb crime becomes an issue

Work Cited


Hoyle, Carolyn et al. “The Impact Of Being Wrongly Accused Of Abuse In Occupations Of Trust: Victims’ Voices”. Law.Ox.Ac.Uk, 2018, https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxlaw/the_impact_of_being_wrongly_accused_of_abuse_hoyle_et_al_2016_15_may.pdf. Accessed 27 Oct 2018.

Lisak, David et al. “False Allegations Of Sexual Assualt: An Analysis Of Ten Years Of Reported Cases”. Atixa.Org, 2018, https://atixa.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Lisak-False-Allegations-16-VAW-1318-2010.pdf. Accessed 27 Oct 2018.

MacKinnon, Leslie. “Top Court Rejects Use of Sexual Stereotyping in Case of Man Who Abused Stepdaughter.” politics, 10 Feb. 2018, ipolitics.ca/2018/02/09/top-court-rejects-use-sexual-stereotyping-case-man-abused-stepdaughter/.

Welch, Kelly. “Black Criminal Stereotypes And Racial Profiling”. Citeseerx.Ist.Psu.Edu, 2018, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= Accessed 27 Oct 2018.

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