In every western country, members of the minority groups are disproportionately likely to be arrested, convicted and/or face imprisonment. These groups include recent immigrants and people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. The criminal justice system, crime patterns, and legal traditions vary from one country to the other, however, research and statistics on minority groups and crimes seem to be consistent across the world. In every country, minority crime rates and incarceration are usually higher than for the majority. In the United States and England for example, there are more blacks in prison than white.
According to criminal justice statistics, people from certain minority ethnic groups are more likely to come into contact with the justice system than the majority group. It is evident from this research and statistics that, members of these ethnic groups are more likely to be involved in crimes than white people. However, it is important to note at this early stage that not all disadvantaged ethnic groups are involved in crime.
Political debates involving minorities and immigrants and relationships between different races, top policy, and political agenda of many western countries. In this era of rapid economical and social change, the majority of people feel insecure and threatened, with much of the blame placed on immigrants and minority groups. Minority groups in Europe and United States are subjected to violent attacks and other related hate crimes by whites who are the majority.
Social and economical disadvantages play significant roles in high crime rates among minority groups. In most developed countries, unemployment is usually higher among minority groups. A higher percentage of members of minority groups live in deprived, low-income houses, with only a very small percentage owning a house. Such economic and socio disadvantages drive members of the minority groups to commit offending behaviors and lifestyles like drug use and alcoholism.
In the 19th century, white disadvantaged people in Wales and the United States committed more crimes than those who were socially and economically advantaged. Today, blacks and Hispanics form the biggest percentage of socially and economically disadvantaged groups, hence increasing the likely hood of members of these groups committing a crime. The same is true when dealing with a large diverse ethnic group. For example, Indians, Bangladesh, and Pakistanis are members of one diverse ethnic group from Asia. However, the economic and socio characteristics of Indians living in England or the United States are different from their counterparts, Bangladeshi and Pakistanis. Indians are wealthier and are less likely to be involved in crime than either the Bangladeshi or Pakistanis.
The Justice systems of a country play a significant role in disadvantaging members of minority groups. While it may be reasonable to detain a person who seems likely to commit a crime, such actions usually result in disproportionate confinement of members of minority groups than members of the majority group. In many countries, people who are detained are more likely to face a prison sentence. Another source of trouble for a minority group in relation to the justice system is the ‘guilty plea rewards’ which results in reduced sentencing. In many countries, member of the minority groups feels that the system alienates them. This explains why members of minority groups are more likely to plead guilty to criminal charges so that their sentences can be reduced.
Stereotyping and cultural behaviors of members of minority groups is another factor that works to their disadvantages. When offenders from minority groups share some distinctive dress codes, recreation and leisure activities, speech, and place of residence, members of the public especially those from the majority group and officials from the justice system always assume that any individual with similar characteristics is likely to commit a crime.
Social and economic pressure leads to categorizing and classifying people in a bid to manage interactions with them. These classifications naturally result in stereotyping, with negative side effects like prejudice and bigotry especially when it is aimed at minority groups. A good example is when many black males commit the majority of taxi robberies in London or New York. There is a likely tendency of a cab driver to fear picking a black man in these cities to avoid being robbed.
In the United States, the lifestyles of young black males are more likely to leads to victimization as a result of prejudice. In other instances, a combination of demographic and social factors plays a bigger role in disadvantaging minority groups, leading to contact with the police and the justice system. Some of these factors include associating with people who are already in trouble with the police or spending a lot of time in public places. This makes a person more likely to be marked by police, becoming an easier target of disproportionate search and/or arrest.
Selective policing is another factor that puts members of minority groups at a disadvantage. In many developed countries, there is a heavier police presence in areas where minority group lives. In other countries, particular ethnic groups face concentrated policing than other groups. Such selective policing portrays a member of the minority groups as a people who are always out there to commit a crime.
When crime becomes a political agenda, the minority groups are more likely to face the wrath of politicians. In New York, the percentage of Latinos and blacks who are arrested for the procession of marijuana is very high compared to white, although it is a known fact that a higher percentage of white youths smoke more marijuana than Latinos or blacks. To many people, these operations are meant to criminalize black and Latino youths as objects of fear, portraying them as terrorists. When young Latinos and blacks are subjected to jail terms, the level of crime is likely to increase once they are released as they are less likely to finds jobs when they already have criminal records.
A high rate of unemployment among members of minority groups leads to the formation of street gangs. In the United States today, 90 percent of youth gangs come from the minority group with Hispanics 19 times more likely to form streets gangs than white and blacks 15 times more likely to form streets gangs than white. These gangs are a source of violent crimes which make members of the minority group an easier target by the law enforcement authority.
There is a need to change the situation and improve the feeling of pride and confidence among members of minority groups. This will play a significant role in improving safety within the communities. Some of the strategies that can be adapted include working in close co-operation with minority groups to improve their welfare, building partnerships between different groups, and cultural integration.
Members of the minority groups are disproportionately more likely to come into contact with the law enforcement authorities in every developed country than the majority groups. Many factors contribute to this worrying trend. This includes prejudice, politics, selective policing, socio and economic disadvantages, and the justice system.
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