August 12, 2014

Vast majority of blacks view the criminal justice system as unfair

Over the weekend, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen was shot and killed by a police officer in a St. Louis, Missouri, suburb. Following the shooting, the predominately black city of Ferguson erupted into protests, prompting U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a federal investigation into the incident.

Vast majority of blacks view the criminal justice system as unfair The shooting comes only weeks after the New York City Police Department was criticized for subduing a black man who later died in police custody. Both deaths have led to questions of whether discriminatory practices contributed to these incidents.

Blacks are much more likely than whites to say that blacks faced unfair treatment in dealing with police or in the courts, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey. And blacks perceived racial biases to be greater in the criminal justice system than in other institutions.

Seven-in-ten blacks said that blacks in their community were treated less fairly than whites in dealings with the police. In comparison, 37% of whites and 51% of Hispanics held that view. Also, 68% of blacks said that the court system was unfair to blacks, far more than whites (27%) or Hispanics (40%).

While half or more blacks said that blacks were treated less fairly than whites at work (54%) or at school (51%), those are still smaller percentages when compared with perceptions of unfair treatment by police or in the court system.

Additionally, younger black men are more likely to report unjust treatment by the police. Nearly one-quarter of black males ages 18-34 said they had been treated unfairly by the police in the last 30 days, according to a Gallup poll conducted June to July 2013. This represents a similar percentage with those 35-54 (22%), but double the rate cited for those 55 and older (11%).

Topics: African Americans, Criminal Justice, Discrimination and Prejudice

  1. is a Research Analyst at the Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project.

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  1. malik3 months ago

    White people are indenile, they know racism is alive and well but would never admit it. We need to work together whites and blacks to end racism and spread the word.

  2. Donnie Walsh4 months ago

    There are far more whites committing crimes in ski masks as well as suits and ties. The common reality is the entire playing field is NOT balanced. The white power structure because that’s what it is – A White Power Structure, ie., Financial/Banks, Law Enforcement/Military, Big Oil/Wall Street all have systematically raped, pilfered, stolen, manipulated a system and laid waste to an average family’s opportunity to hold a job, keep a house and afford healthcare and an education and now want to blame the victims.

    1. Eli Jackson4 months ago


      1. White Man on the Right4 months ago

        Unfortunately, you didn’t provide proof Eli.

  3. Jack Dixon4 months ago

    Black people are not shooting each other at alarming rates in Chicago and other urban areas because of gun laws or our drug laws or a criminal justice system that has it in for them. The problem is primarily cultural — self-destructive behaviors and attitudes all too common among the black underclass. The problem is black criminal behavior, which is one manifestation of a black pathology that ultimately stems from the breakdown of the black family. Many want to talk about what others should do for blacks instead of what blacks should do for themselves. But if we don’t acknowledge the cultural barriers to black progress, how can we address them? How can you even begin to fix something that almost no one wants to talk about honestly?

    1. eric2 weeks ago

      Very well said. Agree with you 100%

  4. Joan Secrest4 months ago

    I would agree in some instances. But when you have looting, violence , lawlessness, that is the impression given.
    The problem is Eric Holder and the Progressive democrats who formed social programs to divide the poor families in this country. Incentives count. They are real. Giving money to poor mothers only if the father of their children can not live there has destroyed the family in the inner cities. What the communities need to learn is that this is how the government can control their lives. If there had been fathers in their lives someone would have told them, if a policeman stops you, you say “yes sir!”. That is what you do. Daughters and sons are told the same thing. If you have a problem, later, after you have calmed down, you contact the police and tell them what happened and file a complaint. Police treat whites the same in most cases, but we have been told by our parents, don’t go after the police, they have the power on the street, and many times they need it. Don’t test them. I know that many blacks do not believe that whites get pulled over for speeding or questioned, it is not so. Jesse Jackson and AL have told you they are out to get you, instead of telling you to say “yes, sir” and then file your complaint. Most of the time we know we have done something wrong and we have to be able to admit that. If we don’t we take the risk, an incident can occur.

    1. Sakonya4 months ago

      One cannot file a complaint if one is dead, because they were not given even a chance to show a driver’s license, or any kind of I.D., which probably should not have been required anyway. Black people can’t even drive or walk down a street without being stopped, for no other reason than the one that is trumped up by some power hungry and racist cop.

  5. suetiggers4 months ago

    It IS unfair (and I’m one of the many whites who feel this way) !!

  6. max4 months ago

    Regrettably, there is a confluence of some level of disparate treatment of Blacks in the legal system and other areas with a cultural self-pity. In addition, there are manifest behavior patterns within Black culture as seen in the media and in venues controlled by Blacks themselves that emphasize confrontation, disrespect for authority, and decreased perception of the value of self-control. That is to say, too often various members of the Black community play to the stereotypes for both internal and external consumption. The Ferguson riots exemplify this far too well.

    1. Sakonya4 months ago

      Your comment is just plain wrong on so many levels that I hardly know where to start. I will start with your first assumption that there is “cultural self-pity” in the Black community. What is that? Do we pity ourselves because of our culture? Do we pity the aspects of the culture itself? Do you realize that the term “culture” emcompasses many aspects of any group’s identity, including language which is complex within itself, food, religion, artistic expression and other facets of life? The term does not make sense. Secondly, I, at the age of 62 yrs. old, have not seen Black leaders nor Black media advocate nor encourage any “disrespect for authority”, or any general overindulgences that are not found within the dominant cultural stream that runs throughout America. There are aspects within Black culture, like some of “rap” music that may fit that description, but, the elements you named are also in “rock, “rave”, “hard rock” and other types of music associated with whites, and youth of all races, nowadays. Many Black leaders, including Martin Luther King, have been the epitome of peacekeepers, despite being harassed, maimed and killed in various ways when they called for major social changes and fairness. Thirdly, what is happening in Ferguson is not a “riot”, it is a demonstration of protest and a crying out of the angst over another unarmed young Black man, being gunned down in the street, by a policeman, who shot him at least six times, when he had his hands in the air. Sure, there are riotous elements to the protest, like when the police launched tear gas and percussion devices at peaceful protesters and some looting and destruction from those that had ulterior motives. The majority of the protesters were exercising their “Constitutional rights”, to which they are entitled to do. They weren’t armed like the Bundy posse, that threatened federal agents, with high powered guns, in Nevada, this year. Now, maybe those are the ones to which you should apply your labels as they were making terroristic threats and coming to the defense of a poacher and thief who owed at least a million dollars to the government. Try applying your labels to them.

  7. weefuddled4 months ago

    Considering the number of blacks convicted of all manner of crimes compared to their percentage of the population, do you Really wonder that the police would be more inclined to be suspicious of young blacks? Just listen to your nightly news cast. Wish it wasn’t so.

    1. Sakonya4 months ago

      Many aspects of the judicial system are anything but fair and there exist broad discrepancies in the way that Blacks and whites are charged, found guilty or not guilty and then penalized. The drug laws are a big example of this, and it runs all the way through the entire system. Justice is not blind, not when it comes to the color of the one brought before her in this country.

  8. Muthyavan.4 months ago

    It is only a short period of time has passed ,since over turning the age old system of slavery and colour discriminatory practices. Breaking that old system in these modern days , there are many colored people in highly educated ranks. In police services, justice , and in all other human services. It will take centuries to forget the bad past and make every body think and believe strongly in their minds regarding the existing present day human equality. More Worse thing are happening in many other part of the world even today, with worse human rights abuses are in practice. Among same coloured type of people, speaking the same languages and practicing the same religion. These so called discriminations and bad treatments are no where close to several hidden practices adopted and practiced in many other part of the dark world.

  9. M. Smith4 months ago

    What you state is the exact opposite of what I hear, repeatedly, on major news stations, obviously not “main” stream media.

  10. M. Smith4 months ago

    The behavior this polling suggests is now, and has been, at the “habit” stage. The people engaged in this mindset are fighting an uphill battle to rid themselves of it. First they will have to “want” to be rid of said behavior before any progress can be made. Any attempts by an outside force to provide an inducement will amount to enabling of the same old behavior.

  11. Kate4 months ago

    I am a white woman who has actually witnessed this via friends who are not white and also work within the legal/correctional field. Black men get longer sentences and are also convicted more often than whites. There is a lot of research that proves this is true from around the country, so it is not mere perception of blacks in the U.S. Additionally, I have seen non-white friends harassed by police, stopped more often, followed in stores and treated disrespectfully, including by fellow restaurant or store customers who assume the person works for the store, etc. I also know people in bi-racial marriages who face judgment and discrimination with complete strangers asking things like “oh, are your children adopted?”

    1. Eddie4 months ago

      There is a big difference between asking questions to acquire an answer, vs. asking questions to be discrimanant.

    2. Jack Dixon4 months ago

      Black crime and incarceration rates spiked in the 1970s and ’80s in cities such as Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington under black mayors and black police chiefs. Some of the most violent cities in the United States today are run by blacks.

  12. paintcan4 months ago

    Seems there should be a civil rights movement with laws that gives that group everything they want .. but ..wait ..didn’t we already do that?

  13. Packard Day4 months ago

    What a coincidence. The vast majority of Americans view blacks (as a cohort, but NEVER as individuals) as…well…criminally inclined. If not that, than certainly as a minority group that tends “to punch way over their weight” with regard to its familiarity with criminal behavior.
    Would that such were not so…