A summer of civil disturbance in Ferguson, Missouri, after the fatal shooting of a black teenager by a white police officer, appears to have had an effect on how the public view the criminal justice system.
A recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found Americans of all backgrounds are more likely to see the U.S. criminal justice system as racially biased.
Overall, the survey which probed public perceptions on the economy, religion, politics and race, painted a grim picture of life in America with the fabled “American Dream” as far away as ever for many.
Americans appear to be increasingly critical of the criminal justice system with regards to race.
“Over the last year, Americans’ confidence in the criminal justice system’s equal treatment of racial and ethnic minorities has dropped significantly,” stated the study.
Today, fewer than 4-in-10 (38 percent) in the United States believe that black Americans and other minorities receive the same treatment as white Americans in the criminal justice system, while a 56 percent of Americans disagree. In 2013, the public was evenly divided on the question, with nearly half (47 percent) of the public agreeing that all Americans in the criminal justice system receive equal treatment regardless of race and 47 percent disagreeing.
The results are based on 4,507 telephone interviews conducted in English and Spanish between July 21 and Aug. 15.
While the 2013 result was hardly a vote of confidence in the ability of the criminal justice system to treat the races equally, the events in Ferguson appear to have further hit public confidence in law and order.
Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9. The case is presently before a grand jury in St. Louis County, and under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Ever since the shooting of the unarmed black teen, the town has been in the grip of unrest and sporadic rioting.
In the Public Religion Research Institute the majorities identifying themselves as Republicans, tea party members, as well as the elderly said they see the criminal justice system as fair. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans and 58% of tea party members stated they believe the criminal justice system does not discriminate on the basis of race.
The study revealed complex perceptions about discrimination which break down along racial lines. About as many white Americans who said they think the country’s criminal justice system is racially biased against minorities also believe that anti-white discrimination is as serious a problem as discrimination against minorities.
The criminal justice system in Texas has not escaped from claims of racial bias. In 2012, The American Civil Liberties Union settled a class-action suit filed against officials in Tenaha and Shelby County in Texas, who were accused of racial profiling motorists by stopping them without any legal justification and seizing their assets. The suit was filed on behalf of three alleged victims — James Morrow, Javier Flores and William Parsons.
In a press release, ACLU claimed local police seized $3 million between 2006 and 2008 in at least 140 instances. The ACLU said police routinely pulled over motorists — usually black or Latino drivers — without any legal justification, asking if they were carrying cash and when they had money, ordering them to hand over the cash or face charges including money laundering or other serious crimes.
If you have been unfairly treated by the criminal justice system you should contact an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney who can expose the unfairness in a police or prosecution case against you.