Disparity and discrimination

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Disparity and Discrimination
Tony Gonzalez
Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice/CJA 423
September 15, 2010
Ron McGee

There are various forms of socialinequalities that affect, most especially, certain social groups. Some of these inequalities are easily visible in the criminal justice system, not only in the manner in which the system treats the membersof a community but also in the manner in which they conduct their internal affairs. The two types of inequalities analyzed in this writing are discrimination and disparity in three of the majorcomponents of the criminal justice system.

Disparity and Discrimination
At first glance the terms disparity and discrimination seem to be perhaps similar. One could argue that disparity is a result ofdiscrimination and that discrimination creates disparity; a clarification of the terms will give a better understanding of these analogous yet dissimilar words. Black’s Law Dictionary (2001),describes disparity as, “[i]nequality; a difference in quantity or quality between two or more things.” Racial disparity exists in the criminal justice system when an ethnic or racial group that controlsthe system exists in a proportion higher than the population they control (Reducing Racial Disparity, n.d.). The analogy with discrimination is evident as disparate treatment is only proven through ashowing of discriminatory intent or motive (Black’s, 2001).
Discrimination is described in the American Heritage Dictionary (Third Edition) as, “[t]reatment or consideration based on class orcategory rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice.” Discrimination in the criminal justice system is evident in cases of racial profiling where adverse actions are taken against minoritiessolely because of their race or ethnicity. Black’s Law Dictionary makes reference to the term favoritism as a related but distinguishable term, hence the analogy with disparity. Racial disparity arises...
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