Criminal Justice System Has Had


In this regard, Bailey and Green note that this institutionalized racism "meant too that they continued to suffer from the social oppression that extended into and was sustained by the criminal justice system. Like public accommodations, the criminal justice system was 'Jim Crow'" (emphasis added) (p. 66). Just as the growing pressure from millions of Rosies who had quit riveting and returned to the American home no longer satisfied with the status quo, though, the second-class citizen status of African-Americans was threatened by the returning black servicemen and women who, in their minds, had fought one white supremacist regime in Nazi Germany on behalf of another one back home. According to Bouza, these powerful social forces represented a juggernaut that was unstoppable, but the going was still not easy or quick: "The pressures of the civil rights and feminist movements, the riots of the 1960s, and the grudging, growing awareness that the police would need black representatives, especially, to cope with the problems in the ghetto gradually moved the agencies to make some progress" (Bouza, p. 141). A number of court decisions have resulted in further advancement for minorities as well; in fact, since the late 1950s, blacks have begun to take political control of America's cities and by 1989, most of the ten largest cities in the U.S. either had a black mayor or a black police chief, or both (Bouza, 1990).


History has shown time and again that those who are in power will do just about anything necessary to stay in power. It is perhaps one of the most painful ironies of American history -- a betrayal and hypocrisy most foul from a minority perspective perhaps -- that in a country founded on the principle that "everyone is created equal," attempts have been made over and over to ensure that white male American remains a "little more equal" than everyone else. The criminal justice system in the United States has changed in substantive ways over the past 40 years, and Americans of Japanese and African descent are no longer confronted by the same social forces that were at work during the period from 1940 to 1960, but the fact remains that the ugly face of racism continues to pervade the American consciousness in many ways. In fact, it may well be several more generations before Americans in general and the criminal justice system in particular can look at a person without first seeing what color skin is involved.


Bailey, F.Y., & Green, A.P. (1999). Law never here: A social history of African-American responses to issues of crime and justice. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Black's law dictionary. (1990). St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.

Bouza, A.V. (1990). The police mystique: An insider's look at cops, crime, and the criminal justice system. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books.

Collins, D.E. (1985). Native American aliens: Disloyalty and the renunciation of citizenship by Japanese-Americans during World War II. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Klarman, M.J. (2004). From Jim Crow…