Jim Crow And The Criminal Justice System - Afro-american Studies 236 - Research Paper

2899 words - 12 pages

Jim Crow and the Criminal Justice System
Afroam 236
Although the Jim Crow era has long passed, African Americans are still strongly affected
by it today. During the Jim Crow era, African Americans were forced into a second-class
citizenship that intentionally put them at a great disadvantage. Jim Crow was a system of laws,
customs and policies that worked to discriminate against African Americans in nearly every form
of social, economical and political life. Despite the fact that Jim Crow laws were overturned
through the Civil Rights Movement, discrimination still continues through the law enforcement.
The rules and laws that govern felons today are very similar to the rules and laws that
discriminated against black people during the Jim Crow era. Not only are black men incarcerated
at much higher rates in the United States than any other race, but black men are also killed by
police officers at high rates as well. The high rates of incarceration and police shootings lead
people to believe that black people are more likely to commit crimes than white people, when
that is not always the case. The system has created a public consensus image of criminals as
being black males, and people cannot help acting along subconscious biases. Because of this,
white people are blinded by the negative stereotypes associated with black people, which causes
a large racial divide in attitudes towards the law enforcement.
Following the Civil War, the political and economic infrastructure of the South was
essentially left in shambles. Plantation owners were left bankrupt. The racial order that had been
prospering under slavery was now gone and white people needed some type of institution to
maintain their superiority. During this time period, the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Amendments
were passed, giving African Americans full citizenship and the right to vote. In addition to this, a
public education system was created that gave several black people the chance to learn how to
read and write. Educated African Americans began voting, opening schools and businesses, and
taking control. This bit of power that African Americans were gaining was soon shut down with
the emergence of Jim Crow. Jim Crow laws were created with one goal in mind: making African
Americans second class citizens. This was achieved through revoking voting rights, violence,
unfair policing practices, and segregation. Segregation administered the separation of whites and
blacks in everyday life. Black people were forced to go to separate schools, attend separate
churches, sit at the back of the bus, and even drink from different water fountains. These policies
were upheld by the Supreme Court case Plessy v. Ferguson, which declared black people to be
“separate but equal” under the law.​ 1
With the rise of Jim Crow, the federal government made less and less efforts to enforce
civil rights. The government again gained control over African Americans through the law
enforcement. False imprisonm...

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