Profiling and discrimination are alive and well both in our private lives and in the public sector. Profiling is done in the criminal justice system, many who work in law enforcement will not...

Profiling and discrimination are alive and well both in our private lives and in the public sector. Profiling is done in the criminal justice system, many who work in law enforcement will not admit it.

Do you see these two concepts as problems in your life or future life? What can you do about them if anything? 

Asked on by skeys

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Of course, those of us on this site are teachers, not members of the criminal justice system.  As such, it will be hard for us to answer this question from the point of view of a member of that system.

I would argue that racial profiling and discrimination are problems that almost anyone who enters the criminal justice system will have to deal with.  For example, a police officer who works in a big city is likely to have trouble avoiding racial profiling.  The officer will see that the people he or she arrests are typically non-white.  This will lead the officer to be more likely to suspect non-white young men of being involved in criminal activity.  We can see this dynamic in the “stop and frisk” program that was being run in New York City.  There, the overwhelming majority of people stopped and frisked were people of color.  This sort of profiling and discrimination is sure to happen anywhere where there is a significant population of poorer non-whites.

As to what can be done about this, it is not clear that any one police officer really can do anything.  Of course, each individual can try very hard to be aware of the danger of prejudice and profiling.  Each individual can remind themselves to look for specific actions that would indicate criminal intent.  In other words, they can remind themselves to look for what the people are doing, not what they look like.  However, it will always be difficult to ensure that no profiling or discrimination occurs because police officers are often working under very stressful conditions where it is not very easy for them to be methodical, calm, and rational. 

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