The criminal justice system often has complex relationships with different cultural communities. In order to address such an issue, it is essential to conduct an analysis of the factors affecting communities’ problematic views on the criminal justice. Hispanic communities, refugees, and people of color constitute groups of individuals who have a strained relationship with criminal justice institutions and thus need to be approached in a different, more culturally-sensitive way.
Hispanic communities have a mixed view of the criminal justice system and the professionals who are part of it. Research shows that a considerable share of the Hispanic population in the United States has an unfavorable view of the police and negative attitudes are particularly common among the youth (Wilkinson, 2018). Such a phenomenon can be explained by the existing practice of racial profiling, which many Hispanic people get subject to. Additionally, some Hispanic people form their views about the U.S. criminal justice professionals based on their experiences in their country of origin (Wilkinson, 2018). Essentially, there is a variety of factors contributing to Hispanic individuals’ perception of the criminal justice system.
There are incidents of cultural misunderstanding which often occur between criminal justice professionals and Hispanic people. Most frequently, the sources of misunderstanding are the language and illiteracy, namely, the inability of certain Hispanic individuals to speak English (Wilkinson, 2018). Religion also becomes the point of misunderstanding in the relationship between the criminal justice professionals and Hispanic individuals because the latter may hold exotic religious celebrations. The deafness of some Hispanic people is another relevant factor in misunderstanding.
Refugees are another group which has a complex relationship with criminal justice professionals in the United States. A study by Chenane et al. (2017) discovered that both African and non-African refugees had a negative perception of the police. The reasoning behind such views is that refugees often tend to be undocumented, which makes them vulnerable in their interactions with criminal justice professionals. Additionally, refugees lack an understanding of the culture of the country and its laws, and therefore communication with criminal justice representatives can be difficult for them.
Cultural misunderstanding between refugees and criminal justice professionals is extremely common in the United States. The language difference is once again the most prevalent reason why the minority group and the police officers, as well as other agencies such as ICE, may experience communication problems (Chenane et al., 2017). At the same time, the overall illiteracy of refugees is also a factor because many of them lack basic education due to not having access to it in their country of origin. Refugees often have religious beliefs which are different from those of the majority of U.S. citizens. For instance, Muslim refugees may engage in various religious activities, such as praying in public, which criminal justice professionals may find suspicious. Finally, the deafness of refugees also can be an issue even if they use sign language.
People of Color
People of color have a long history of difficult relationships with criminal justice professionals. According to the recent statistics, 87% of black adults expressed an opinion that in their interactions with the criminal justice system, they are treated less fairly than whites (Gramlich, 2019). Such findings can be explained by the oppression of the people of color in American society, which still exists to this day. The killings of innocent people of color by police officers contribute to the negative perception of the criminal justice professionals by the community.
The incidents of cultural misunderstanding which happen between criminal justice professionals and people of color have several important aspects. First of all, the language rarely becomes a cause of misunderstanding unless the person of color is an immigrant. Yet, religion is a common cause because many people of color are Muslims which makes them subject to profiling by the police (Barlow & Barlow, 2018). Illiteracy also can contribute to cultural misunderstanding because some people of color who are immigrants do not speak English well. Deafness is another important factor which needs to be taken into consideration in order to prevent misunderstanding.
Practices Promoting Cultural Sensitivity in Criminal Justice Professionals
Criminal justice professionals need to embrace new approaches to change their relationships with the aforementioned communities for the better. First of all, the professionals must understand the needs and struggles of the community, and to achieve it, they must undergo diversity training. Evidence shows that diversity training improves the ability of police officers to effectively establish a favorable relationship with people of ethnic communities (Barlow & Barlow, 2018). Procedural justice is another component which crucial in the culturally sensitive approach to criminal justice. The professionals must always adhere to the principle of fairness when interacting with the members of the aforementioned communities and avoid engaging in any kind of discrimination or injustice. The fairness exhibited by criminal justice professionals will allow the minority populations to recognize police legitimacy and have confidence in officers. Finally, diverse hiring practices must be implemented to enable minority groups to interact with criminal justice professionals who have the same background as them.
Practices to Build Trust within Cultural Communities
As mentioned above, the creation of an understanding of the community is essential to the culturally-sensitive criminal justice system. Yet, the members of the cultural communities themselves must make efforts to promote understanding among all citizens. Criminal justice also must ensure complete transparency and accountability in their actions and disclose all of the information requested by the communities. Such an approach will be effective in building trust in different populations, including those explored as part of the current paper. Positive community interactions are another practice which criminal justice must embrace. For instance, police officers can attend or even hold community meetings and discuss the existing problems and find solutions (Barlow & Barlow, 2018). Finally, criminal justice professionals should attain visibility in the communities they serve to show citizens that they are always ready to assist them.
Hispanic, refugee, and people of color communities need a more culturally-sensitive approach on the part of criminal justice professionals. The members of the communities in question can be characterized by unfavorable views of police officers. The problem with the relationship between the aforementioned cultural groups and criminal justice professionals concerns language and religious differences. Yet, practices such as procedural justice, diverse hiring practices, diversity training, and the achievement of transparency can help to address the problem.
Dear Members of the Advisory Board,
I wish to present to you the suggestions which I have formulated based on my research into the topic of communities’ interactions with criminal justice professionals. Specifically, I analyzed the data on the views of members of the Hispanic, refugee, and people of color communities on the criminal justice system and professionals. During the research, it was discovered that the members of the aforementioned communities, to a considerable extent, have an unfavorable perception of criminal justice professionals, which can be explained by cultural misunderstanding and historical context. Thus, based on the analysis, I have outlined several suggestions to address the problem in question. First of all, criminal justice professionals need to undergo diversity training to get a better understanding of the communities’ cultures. Additionally, they need to embrace the highest level of accountability and ensure procedural justice. Finally, the professionals need to engage in positive community interactions such as meetings.
Barlow, D., & Barlow, M. (2018). Police in a multicultural society: An American story (2nd ed.). Waveland Press.
Chenane, J., Wu, J., & Song, J. (2017). African and non-African refugees’ perceptions of police: A study of two American cities. African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies, 10(1), 1–19.
Gramlich, J. (2019). From police to parole, black and white Americans differ widely in their views of criminal justice system. Pew Research Center. Web.
Wilkinson, B. (2018). The criminal justice system and Latinos in an emerging Latino area. Latino Public Policy, 8, 1–15.