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Inequality in Legal System

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Inequality Paper

Inequality in the Legal System

In the United States, true equality has never existed. From the Declaration of Independence to modern times, the US legal system has failed at any attempt at equality. '...all men are created equal...' may be what the Declaration says, but 'some men are more equal than others' is how the legal system really interprets that phrase. The actual reality of the Declaration of Independence is that all free, white, landowning men are created equal. Therefore, inequality has always existed in the united States' legal system and continues to exist today; however, the inequality presently in the system is not as blatant as what it once was. Slavery continued in the United States for nearly ninety years after the Declaration, and African Americans still feel the sting of inequality today.

One of the most controversial issues today is the act of racial profiling. The most common form is direct, meaning victims are directly profiled, usually by the police. In this form, individual officers act on racial stereotypes against racial minorities, especially African Americans. Recent studies in New Jersey and Illinois have confirmed that minorities are disproportionately targeted by police officers, although minorities are almost helpless in reporting 'color of law' attacks. It is their word against a legal official and, in most cases, the minority victim does not receive justification because the officers are cleared of charges. Out of nearly 10,000 color of law complaints received each year by the Department of Justice, only about thirty police officers are actually prosecuted. According to a June 1999 study done by the American Civil Liberties Union, many states have denied that racial profiling occurs despite overwhelming evidence supporting it. The public wants to believe that police officers are doing their jobs righteously by protecting and serving; however, according to the study, most Americans can recognize the difference between racism and assertive, effective policing.

Millions of Americans watch television everyday for various reasons, but

the most common one is to get the latest news. People like to stay informed, but what good is it when they are constantly being misinformed? The media tend to 'profile' just as much, if not more, than police, just in an indirect way, thus, the second form of racial profiling. The media fails to cover their own profiling, but are the first to criticize police racial profiling. When they actually do acknowledge their own profiling, they tend to try to cover it up more than give coverage. The number of African Americans involved in an issue are usually over-represented by the media, therefore further inflaming the issue. Certain issues constantly associated with African Americans include drugs, crime, welfare and the affirmative action policy.

Indirect profiling by the media focused mainly on tow topics: drugs and crime. Public opinion polls indicated the overwhelming majority of Americans had 'relatively little firsthand experience with the extent of the problems associated with drug use.' Also 'the majority of Americans report getting most of their information about the seriousness of the illicit drug problems from the news media, mainly television.' In March 1998 two studies on the United States drug policy were released by the Physician Leadership on the National Drug Policy. The first study concluded that drug treatment of drug addiction was not only an effective health measure, but that it was much more cost-effective than the

criminalizing policies of the current 'drug war.' One section of the study showed how, contrary to popular perception, drug addicts are not primarily members of minority racial and ethnic groups. The research showed, conclusively, that drug addiction reaches across all strata of society. The most likely drug users and abusers are actually educated Caucasians. Last year 70 percent of regular marijuana users were reported as Caucasian.

These findings were not covered by any of the three major newsweeklies including

Time, US News & World Report or Newsweek.

The practice of racial profiling has become a major destructive issue in our society today. The practice



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