In spite of all the progress that has been made during the last several decades in the area of race relations in the United States, a recent study suggests that many white Americans still hold negative views about blacks.
The Associated Press, in conjunction with Yahoo News and the Political Science Department at Stanford University, conducted a poll about racial prejudice among white Americans and its effect upon the (yet undecided) presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. Although the poll's findings were examined with an eye towards the upcoming election, some of its findings, if valid, would seem to have profound implications for the day-to-day workings of the American criminal justice system as well.
Some of the poll's findings were that:
During the past eighteen years that I have been a practicing criminal defense lawyer, I have represented many black people who have been charged with such violent crimes as battery, aggravated battery, assault, aggravated assault, manslaughter, and murder. It is sobering indeed to think that some of the jurors in those cases believed that my clients were violent (and therefore guilty??) before they knew anything at all about either the particular client or the facts of his particular case.
Also, given the fact that many of those who work in the criminal justice system are themselves white, one must wonder whether at least some white judges, some white prosecutors, and yes, even some white defense lawyers, hold racially-biased attitudes towards those black individuals who stand accused of committing crimes.
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