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Touro Law Review

Authors

Yu Du

Abstract

The debate on whether racial bias is still embedded in the criminal justice (CJ) system today has reached its plateau. One recent article in the Washington Post has claimed an overwhelming evidence of racial bias in the CJ system. Whereas some scholars argue that racial disparity is an epitome of real crime rates, others indicate that implicit and/or explicit racial bias against Blacks held by law enforcement agents persists in the system. This review considers both supporting arguments and relevant counterarguments. After evaluating empirical and rigorous research during the past five years, the review maintains that racial bias still exists in the system. Implicit and/or explicit racial bias indeed influence law enforcement agents’ legal decisions and practice. Implicit bias has more detrimental consequences than the explicit one, mainly because it operates unconsciously within almost everyone, including police, prosecutors, judges, prison staff, and parole officers. Even well-intentioned law enforcement agents are not immune from the impact of implicit bias on their decision making. Implicit racial bias may further exacerbate the Black-White racial disparity in the system, as well as in the society.

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