Table of Contents
People of color, particularly African Americans, continue to be victims of a predatory and biased justice system. The justice system was initiated to serve and protect people and is now the greatest threat to citizens. Arguably, it is an equity model that mainly favors one population and demonizes the other. Glaser (2015) identifies racial profiling as any action taken for security, safety, and public protection reasons that depend on religious, ethnic, racial, place of origin, or color stereotypes, instead of realistic suspicions, to identify potential criminals for differential treatment or more scrutiny. Racial profiling is mostly undertaken in places with high Hispanic or African American populations and, most recently, Muslims since the 9/11 attack (Glaser, 2015). Understandably, the police want to utilize the best enforcement tactic to minimize violence and crime rates; however, racially profiling particular populations is a strategy that is not only ineffective, immoral, or unethical but also breaches fundamental human rights.
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Mass Incarceration of Marginalized Populations
Racial profiling has resulted in a tremendous rise in the imprisonment of marginalized groups, especially African American men, who are mostly considered the families’ breadwinners. According to Tucker (2014), at least half of the fathers in State Prisons report being their families’ breadwinners. As a consequence, the spouses and children of such men experience collateral damage. For example, the children are unlikely to perform well in school and usually demonstrate behavioral issues. Similarly, their partners have higher chances of experiencing financial challenges.
Mass incarceration is among the several ways marginalized communities are being controlled in the United States today. Most Blacks from poor communities are easily preyed on by law enforcement because of their limited knowledge of their constitutional rights (Tucker, 2014). Some police officers take advantage of that and falsely accuse and charge African American men for crimes they did not commit. At the same time, some serve hefty sentences for small crimes like drug possession and vandalism. The inconsistencies highlight the injustices in the Criminal Justice System and build resentment in the African American community.
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Mistrust Between the Marginalized Communities and the Police
Racial profiling has caused the erosion of public confidence and trust in different agencies, including law enforcement units and the criminal justice system. As a result, thousands of African American men of different ages live with intimidation and fear of facing detention (Braga et al., 2019). Most of them are law-abiding citizens trying to live their lives. However, they are usually handled with little to no respect when encountering law enforcement officers. Police officers racially profiling Blacks always consider them victims.
Several searches involving the police end in fatality due to their brutality, and the officers are rarely held responsible. The action is among the primary reasons the public has limited to no confidence or trust in the criminal justice system’s effectiveness (Braga et al., 2019). Police brutality has taken a toll on the black community. Nevertheless, it is significant to highlight that to enable criminal justice institutions’ effectiveness, the system should be unbiased and show fairness to everyone, irrespective of color. Regulations on the trajectory toward fighting crime should be ethnically impartial and precise to target wrongdoers (Braga et al., 2019). Establishing a symbiotic association between the police and the community will soothe tension, reduce frustrations and hatred, and rebuild trust.
Mental, Emotional, and Physical Distress
Racial profiling also causes psychological distress in the communities on the receiving end of the brutality. Yang et al. (2015) identify psychological stress as exposure to stressful events that threaten mental well-being, with the inability to cope successfully with the emotional challenges that arise. Victims and their family members have higher chances of experiencing physical and stress-associated health conditions. Some individuals who have encountered traumatic experiences with law enforcement officers need constant medical treatment. Often, the treatments are extra expenses that most African Americans and their families cannot afford (Carter & Reynolds, 2011). The inability to afford the treatments comfortably results in most people experiencing psychological distress and, worst case scenario, suicide.
Besides, families of imprisoned members have higher chances of experiencing stress-associated mental health conditions like anxiety and depression that could also result in suicide. African American parents are scared of their children experiencing racial profiling, being apprehended for criminal activities they did not commit, and being shot by supremacist officers (Carter & Reynolds, 2011). They constantly worry and fear that their children might also experience police brutality.
Racial profiling by law enforcement is against universal legal standards, including non-discrimination ethics, equality rights, and equal protection before the law. Racial profiling does not address criminal activities as the innocent are wrongly accused and imprisoned while the guilty still roam the streets. Racial profiling is an unsuccessful policing method and should be replaced with more effective strategies like hotspot policing. The act enables the stereotype that African American males are more likely to engage in criminal activities. The baseless stereotype has already caused increased imprisonment of African Americans, mistrust between the police and the Black population, and distress. Also, racial profiling has led to the deaths of suspects who are not guilty of the crimes. From the assessment, the adverse impacts of racial profiling undermine American core values.
- Braga, A. A., Brunson, R. K., & Drakulich, K. M. (2019). Race, place, and effective policing. Annual review of sociology, 45(1), 535-555.
- Carter, R. T., & Reynolds, A. L. (2011). Race-related stress, racial identity status attitudes, and emotional reactions of Black Americans. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(2), 156.
- Glaser, J. (2015). Suspect race: Causes and consequences of racial profiling. Oxford University Press, USA.
- Tucker Sr, R. B. (2014). The color of mass incarceration. Ethnic Studies Review, 37(1), 135-149.
- Yang, L., Zhao, Y., Wang, Y., Liu, L., Zhang, X., Li, B., & Cui, R. (2015). The effects of psychological stress on depression. Current neuropharmacology, 13(4), 494-504.