Systemic discrimination and racism in criminal justice systems have seen people belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities killed and subjected to violence at the hands of law enforcement and other criminal justice actors.
People belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities are disproportionately represented in all stages of criminal justice systems as a result of discrimination. In 2020, Black Americans make up 40 per cent of the prison population, despite representing only 13 per cent of the general population.
Discrimination against indigenous populations have led to higher arrest rates and a greater number (and longer periods) in pre-trial detention in relative comparison to other populations. In Mexico, up to 97 per cent of people in prison belonging to indigenous communities are being detained pre-trial.
Racial disparities among sentencing authorities have seen minorities being more likely to receive a custodial rather than a community pre-trial measure or sentence. In the United States research showed that non-white defendants receive bail amounts that are twice as high as bail set for white defendants and are also less likely to be able to afford it.
Punitive drug policies have disproportionately impacted minority populations – and particularly women.
There are also low numbers of minorities and members of indigenous communities among criminal justice agencies’ staffing (including prison and probation staff). In England and Wales, where black, Asian and minority ethnic people are over-represented among the prison population, the majority of staff are white.