The Challenges of Contemporary Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice

Subject: Law
Pages: 4
Words: 964
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College

Racial and ethnical prejudice

The criminal justice system of the United States has made significant leaps in its legal system overhaul in past years. However, the issue of racial and ethnical prejudice continues to haunt the system (Cole et al, 2012, p.52). The various criminal justice agencies experience challenges while dealing with people of diverse cultural backgrounds. Racial and ethnical prejudice has led to unequal and unfair treatment of people from certain cultural backgrounds, especially the minority groups (Cole et al, 2012, p.56). Citizens have lost confidence and trust in the criminal justice system because it violates the “liberty and justice for all” pledge that defines the system. It is important for the criminal justice system to deal with the critical issues of ethnical and racial prejudice in order to continue giving justice to all communities despite their origin.

Cultural competence

Cultural competence is one of the ways that can be used to improve the relationship between the criminal justice system and the community. It refers to the successful interaction between people from different cultural backgrounds (Cole, 2000, p.73). Psychologists claim that a propensity to social bias is a vital part of the human make up. However, it can be eliminated through proper communication and interaction. Prejudices play an important role in determining the direction that interactions take. Social bias prevents people from interacting with others from different cultural backgrounds (Cole, 2000, p.73). This aspect has influenced the American criminal justice system negatively. Employees of the criminal justice system need to communicate effectively in order to improve their relationship with the community.

Social bias and prejudice influence several aspects of the criminal justice system such as policing patterns, jury deliberations and decisions, and the sentences issued by judges in courtrooms (Cole, 2000, p.81). It is important to improve cultural competency skills in employees of the criminal justice system. This can be achieved by encouraging inter-cultural interactions and by encouraging employees from different cultural backgrounds to work together (Cole, 2000, p.84). Developing better cultural competency skills improves communication and the management of issues related to race, culture and ethnicity. The most important aspect is establishing work environments that encompass the diversity of race and culture. This has been a major challenge for the criminal justice system for many years.

Common goals and motivations

Employees should always remember the goal of the criminal justice system: to give liberty and justice to all. This gives all American citizens a right to justice. The racial or ethnical background should not be a hindrance to giving justice to citizens. Therefore, it is important for all employees to advance justice and fairness in playing their roles in the criminal justice system. A criminal is a wrongdoer despite their ethnic background, and should be punished in line with the laws of the United States (Cole, 2000, p.88). Responsibility on the part of every employee improves the integrity of the American criminal justice system, hence making it reliable and just to all.

The criminal justice system has several departments that serve different roles and that have different motivations. In court, these departments act as adversaries but all serve the same purpose: to foster justice (Cole, 2000, p.62). Employees should be more concerned with the overall objective of the system rather than the motivation of their departments. This ensures that employees act within the jurisdiction of the constitution. In addition, it ensures that they uphold the law in all their decisions and operations.

Culture and the criminal justice system

Culture is an important aspect that is associated with the criminal justice system. It encompasses ethnicity, gender, race, religion, nationality, language etc. Culture influences the criminal justice system because of its influence on human behavior (Falk, 2010, p.61). Culture has a significant influence on human interactions and communication styles. Employees of the criminal justice system should be knowledgeable on the existence of cultural differences (Falk, 2010, p.61). The diverse workforce of the system exposes the employees to the cultural collision. Employees can avoid cultural collisions by listening to each other, inculcating trust and responsibility and working in teams.

Culture can be defined as a collection of beliefs, norms, history, traditions and customs of a community that affects its judgments, interactions and behaviors. It is important for employees of the criminal justice to understand the concept of culture. Culture influences people’s attitudes and behaviors (Falk, 2010, p.64). These attitudes affect their interactions with other people. It is important for employees to identify their attitudes and determine which have been inculcated by cultural influences. These are the ones that promote unfairness in the criminal justice system because employees always strive to serve and give justice to their own people at the expense of people from other cultural backgrounds (Falk, 2010, p.66). Cultural collisions are caused by differences in gender roles, political opinions, traditions, customs and beliefs. These differences adversely affect the criminal justice system. Employees should strive to avoid discussions that could expose the cultural differences between themselves and the people that they interact with (Falk, 2010, p.68).

Social cognition and social bias

Social cognition determines how people think about social categories such as race and ethnicity. Examples of social cognition include stereotypes and attitudes. On the other hand, social bias refers to the negative or positive social preference of a social group based on social cognition. It is easy for employees of the criminal justice system to develop stereotypes against certain races or ethnicities. This leads to unfairness and discriminatory behaviors (Cole, 2000, p.35). The fact that implicit social bias influences decisions are an important aspect to consider in restoring trust and confidence in the system. Employees should view all people as human beings and not as members of certain races or ethnicities. In addition, they should treat them equally and fairly as American citizens.


Cole, D. (2000). No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Criminal Justice System. New York: The New Press.

Cole, G., Smith, C., and DeJong, C. (2012). The American System of Criminal Justice. New York: Cengage Learning.

Falk, Gerhard. (2010). The American Criminal System: How it works, How it Doesn’t Work and How to Fix It. New York: ABC-CLIO.