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Posted on August 21st, 2012, by

Formally, all citizens of the USA have the right to a fair trial. However, the position of representatives of lower social classes and ethnic minorities is actually oppressed and unequal compared to representatives of upper classes and dominating ethnic group. Nowadays, it is possible to estimate that the contemporary criminal justice system is still predominantly white and male, while the position of minorities is extremely poor and they have little opportunities to exercise their right to a fair trial. However, it is necessary to admit the fact that they can appeal to the court, in case of the violation of their right or limitation of their right to a fair trial.

On analyzing the current situation concerning the right to a fair trial, it is necessary to underline that the criminal justice systems is characterized by the relatively low efficiency and limited opportunities to exercise the right to a fair trial. At the same time, it is not a secret that minorities in the contemporary criminal justice system are underrepresented that limits their right to a fair trial even more (Reiman, 2006). In spite of the considerable democratization of relationships between representatives of different ethnic groups, minorities still remain excluded from the wide access to the criminal justice system.

Basically, the inferior position of minorities in the contemporary criminal justice system is determined by several factors. First of all, it should be said that the criminal justice systems is traditionally oriented on the employment of the highly educated, experienced professionals who do not have any criminal records and whose social background is supposed to be ideal. What is meant here is the fact that individuals, who have some criminal records or whose relatives have such records, have practically no chances to succeed in the criminal justice system.

At the same time, it should be said that the underrepresentation of minorities in the criminal justice is not only the problem of the criminal justice system proper, but it is also the problem of socio-economic position of minorities. In fact, the socio-economic position of minorities is lower than the position of dominant ethnic group. As a result, representatives of minorities have fewer opportunities to receive higher education because of their poor socio-economic background. Obviously, the lack of education prevents minorities from employment in the criminal justice system.

Furthermore, the criminal justice system is, to a significant extent affected by biases that dominate in the entire society. To put it more precisely, the crime rates within minority communities is often higher compared to the dominant ethnic groups. Moreover, criminal records and statistics also indicate to the fact that minorities are more susceptible to the commitment of crimes compared to the dominant ethnic group (Reiman, 2006). It is not a secret that the share of white population in prison is considerably lower compared to non-white, such as African Americans or Latin Americans. At any rate, the share of white inmates is considerably lower compared to the general number of American population than the share of non-white Americans.

Naturally, such statistics enhances the existing prejudices and biases against the minorities, which limits consistently their right to fair trial. In fact, minorities are often viewed as unreliable and, what is more, representatives of minorities are viewed as people that have some relationships with the underworld (Reiman, 2006). Obviously, such an attitude to people representing minorities deprives them of an opportunity to succeed in the criminal justice system because they are traditionally associated with the criminal world but not the justice system.

Thus, the underrepresentation of minorities in the criminal justice system deprives them of the right to fair trial. The latter is determined by the dominating stereotypes and biases which portray minorities as groups which tend to anti-social behaviour and minority neighbourhoods are traditionally viewed as areas with high criminal rates. However, in actuality, such a negative view on representatives of minorities results not from the criminal inclinations of these people but rather from their social environment and their low social status. It proves beyond a doubt that the dominant ethnic group as well as the criminal justice system at large are not confident in representatives of minorities simply because of the negative stereotypes and biases.

On the other hand, the attitude of the general public and people working in the criminal justice system to representatives of dominating groups is absolutely different from the attitude to representatives of minorities and is basically characterized by respect. At the same time, they have betted educational opportunities and positive public image that makes their chances for a successful career in the criminal justice system substantially higher compared to minorities. In addition, the dominant position of the white group contributes to the formation of the specific corporate culture, which is rather exclusive than inclusive in regard to minorities.

As a result, the view on the representatives of lower classes and minorities is extremely biased. Moreover, they are believed to tend to criminal activities that are determined by their social position. This means that the fact that an individual live in a poor social environment, has a low income and lives in the poverty stricken neighbourhood, for instance, will have lower opportunities to succeed in the criminal justice system. Obviously, the position of minorities is even worse than the position of representatives of lower classes because often they have low income levels and they are considered to lack qualification to perform successfully in the criminal justice system. It proves beyond a doubt that the position of the criminal justice system at large will be absolutely different in relation to representatives of upper classes since their social and financial successes are viewed as marks of their virtue. Consequently, it is often believe that a rich person, originating from a good social background is simply unable to commit a crime.

However, the real situation is quite different. In actuality, it is obvious that the social background of an individual cannot be a determining factor in criminal justice system. Needless to say, people cannot be classified according to their social status since representatives of all classes can commit crimes. This is why it is extremely important that the existing criminal justice system was free of biases and prejudices based on the social position of an individual. In this respect, it is necessary to remind that the criminal justice system should be highly objective and primarily focus on the real evidences and proofs before the final decision concerning to an individual accused or suspected is made.

At the same time, it is worth mentioning the fact that people can defend if their right to a fair trial is abuse. However, the procedure resembles a kind of vicious circle because, to defend this right, people need to appeal to the court. But it has been already mentioned above that the existing justice system is unfair and, therefore, the legal appeal to justice is likely to have no positive outcomes and the right to a fair trial is likely to remain unprotected. Moreover, it is necessary to remember about the fact that people, whose right to a fair trial is abused, are, as a rule, representatives of lower classes or ethnic minorities, whose educational level and level of incomes are low. As a result, they need the professional juridical assistance to defend their right to a fair trial, but such assistance implies the payments which offended people can hardly afford.

Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that the problem of the execution of the right to a fair trial persists because, today, many people are deprived of this right. As a result, they suffer from injustice, while the lack of financial resources and legal support deprives them of an opportunity to protect their right to a fair trial.

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