Document Type


Publication Date



Racial prejudice, African Americans, criminal justice system, slavery, systemic racism


Racial prejudice against African Americans has been the leading cause of high incarceration rates amongst the African American community. Within the United States, the census reported that African Americans make up about 17.9 percent of the population, with one-third of the people making up the incarcerated population in America. The disparity in those numbers highlights the current situation that is plaguing the nation. Blatant cases of racial profiling that have received media attention are a true testament of the broken law enforcement system from coast to coast. Racial prejudice cases have affected the black American community since the beginning of their journey to America. A very prominent African American activist that has most commonly been known for her activism within the Black Panther community, Angela Davis, once wrote, “Although government, corporations, and the dominant media try to represent racism as an unfortunate aberration of the continues to influence contemporary structures profoundly, attitudes and behaviors” (Davis, 2003, p.24). The truth behind these words rings a sense of accuracy concerning the state of the criminal justice system and not only its relation to slavery. Slavery was used as a method to undermine blacks to maintain a level of superiority and security. The prison system is a bigger scale of the significant racialized system. Although slavery has been deemed unconstitutional, our current penal system has some disturbingly similar characteristics. Racial prejudice in the criminal justice system has been an ongoing issue since the transition to America. A myriad of predisposed ideas does institutionalized racism, for instance, the natural biases towards African Americans, the idea that someone looks criminal, the harsher sentencing amongst all races, and the race-neutral laws that negatively affect the African American race have all single-handedly played a role in the criminal justice system.