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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 179184 Find in a Library
Title: No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System
Author(s): David Cole
Date Published: 1999
Page Count: 225
Sponsoring Agency: The New Press
New York, NY 10005
Publication Number: ISBN 1-56584-473-4
Sale Source: The New Press
120 Wall Street, 31st floor
New York, NY 10005
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Book (Hardbound)
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The author contends that the poor and minorities cannot be expected to respect a criminal justice system that does not respect them and does not provide equal justice.
Abstract: Despite a veneer of neutrality, race-based and class-based double standards operate in virtually every criminal justice setting, including police behavior, jury selection, and sentencing. Such disparities allow the privileged to enjoy constitutional protections from police power without paying the costs associated with extending these protections across the board to the poor and minorities. The double standards themselves inflict even greater costs on society by compromising the legitimacy of the criminal justice system and by exacerbating racial divisions nationally. The most potent force in the war against crime is the perceived legitimacy of criminal law. If large segments of the population lack faith in the criminal justice system's fairness, the system is bound to fail. Moreover, the exploitation of inequality in the criminal justice system is driven by the need to balance two fundamental and competing interests, the protection of constitutional rights and the protection of law-abiding citizens from crime. Specific suggestions are offered for moving beyond the double standards, and a powerful argument is made for rebuilding the sense of community that is essential to a safe and healthy society. Endnotes
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Criminal justice system effectiveness; Indigents; Low income target groups; Minorities; Race relations; Race-punishment relationship; Racial discrimination; Social classes
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