Article Critique The Myth of a Fair Criminal Justice System essay

article critique 1

Article Critique: The Myth of a FairCriminal Justice System

Author’s Name


In the article, “The Myth of a Fair Criminal Justice System” theauthor argues that the notion that the United States criminal justicesystem is fair is a myth. In 2003, a survey revealed that 66% of thecountry’s population thinks that the criminal justice system isfair. In 2002, 67% of the population agreed that the police treatmembers of their community fairly. While a large majority placestheir faith in the police, critics of the system mention that thebelief in the fairness of the criminal justice system is a myth. Assuch, people are ignorant or in denial of an effective system whichin fact does not act in favor of the laws established in the articlesof the constitution (Stylianou, 2003). The paper explains a myth astheories, which are unfounded or are of false notion. The paper seeksto determine the validity of this claim by analyzing the coreconcepts of the criminal justice system such as the 1) federalgovernment in which the correctional facilities are incorporated 2)the court system and 3) the police force. The three elements form thecriminal justice system and hence determine its level of fairness inthe country. According to the article, law making also plays asignificant role in forming the criminal justice system given thatall laws originates from the legislature. As such, it is vital tounderstand the how each of these components contributed to the legalsystem. Hence, if one were to determine whether the system is fair,one would carefully analyze any of these components in order todetermine the underlying issue (West, 2003). For example, supportersof the system claim that the law is fair in terms of sentencing andjudgments. However, this is not the case in that there is significantdisparity in the sentencing for crack cocaine compared to that ofpowder cocaine. In the mid 1980s, Congress supported the decision,which imposed high sentencing for people found with crack cocaine.For instance, sanctions provide that only 5grams of crack cocaine and500grams of powder cocaine will all carry the same term of 5 yearsimprisonment. Given that African Americans are more likely toconcentrate on selling crack cocaine, they make up 80% of theoffenders who risk facing the 5 years for possession of crackcocaine. Hence, the analysis of this particular law highlights thatCongress does not make fair policies seeing as most of the lawstarget minorities.


In essence, the authors use qualitative and quantitative researchmethods to obtain data, information, and statistics wheninvestigating the topic. In this case, qualitative data is fromquestionnaires, interviews and observations. On the other hand,quantitative research is information from numerical data such asstatistics. As such, the paper uses information from literaturereviews, books, journals, local and state government records (Romero,2006). In addition, the author uses methods such as interviews,questioners and observations using sampling of selected demographics.The incorporation of the two techniques ensures that the data iscredible and reliable. However, the article needs to employ bothprocesses properly to ensure that a direct translation of the resultsreflects on raw data and information from the primary and secondarysources. With that said, the article fails to meet some of thecriteria expected in reliable research. In essence, the authors donot provide the appropriate criteria used for collecting anddiscussing information, data, and statistics during the interviewprocess. For instance, the information has informative statistics onthe disparities in the legal system. However, the article does notexplain the process of collection and interpretation of information.In addition, though there is a use credible source, the authors onlyuse literature, which supports the thesis (Stylianou, 2003). In turn,the results reflect on personal views that are bias. At one point,the thesis argues that the country has adopted a crime control model,which seeks to attain justice without following to the correctprotocol or due process needed to determine fairness in the justicesystem. If anything, scholarly research shows that most of thecriminal sentencing is not to attain retribution given that the jurymakes decisions, which are consistent with vengeance. Hence, thesentencing does not suit the crime committed. While this informationexplains that deterrence is currently predominant in the courtsystem, the methodology used to support this information relies onjournals and books as opposed to actual primary data.

Evidence in Support of the Thesis

Notably,the information in the article explains the various flaws in thejustice system with respect to the various components of the criminaljustice system such as policing, court proceedings, the consistencyof the corrections process in terms of fairness, and the law makingprocess in terms of defining a criminal act. Therefore, the authorsapproach in supporting the thesis makes sense. With that said, thearticle has a positive and negative representation of informationwhen supporting the thesis. In terms of the merits, the research usessources of journals and books written on various provisions of thelaw (Stylianou, 2003). As such, information is not limited to onebranch of the criminal justice system. The use of primary andsecondary sources ensures that the article provides adequateinformation when analyzing fairness of the system. Furthermore,information is from updated sources that provide examples of recentfindings recent findings. On the other hand, while the article bringsto light various injustices under review, some of the sources do notsupport the information properly. Ideally, the authors mention thatCongress is responsible for establishing laws that discriminateagainst minority groups and hence promote inequalities in sentencingand punishment. However, the article does not explain how the courtsplay the role in enhancing unfair justice system. The article doesnot offer examples of police records or actual court proceedings toback the statements. If anything, the Congress is concerned about therising levels of drug distribution and use in various neighborhoods,schools, and streets. Most of the laws are essential in provide asafe environment (Stylianou, 2003). As such, to justify the notion,information should direct attention on the other components of thejustice system such as the police force and correctional facilitieswho work hand in hand to ensure that rehabilitation takes place. Thecurrent trend of research focuses on studying the underlying issuefaced in a specific area of criminal justice. Therefore, researchshould concentrate on police officers and correctional facilitiesthat have proved to be ineffective because of issues with internalorganization and funding (Swaroop &amp Morenoff, 2006). To add on,the paper mentions how the law does not follow the due process, whichthe constitution provides for American citizens. One of the reasonsgiven for disparities in the system is that is that 85% of thelawmakers at both the state and federal level are white. Moreover,80% of the lawmakers are male. Lastly, they age demographic is notproportionate to the average American. Hence, they follow laws, whichare both unfair and outdated. Though informative, the information isgeneral and does not offer either table or charts that highlight theclaims. Another issue is that the research does not focus ondifferent states. This does not offer proportionate representation ofthe incidents in different parts of the country (Romero, 2006).

Contribution to Literature/Literature Review

While the article by Robinson &amp Williams (2009) provides aconcise and elaborate analysis of unfair practices of the criminaljustice system, the information ignores important aspects incriminology owing to the wrong application of methodology. With thatsaid, the article explains that the law should use crime control,crime prevention, corrective justice, and procedural justice in orderto reduce the disparities, which cause unfairness (Swaroop &ampMorenoff, 2006). Ideally, crime control focuses on reducing the levelof crime in the country. The crime control process includes makingarrests, attaining a conviction, and carrying out court rulings andsentencing (Stylianou, 2003). He further states that most of thepunishments are hateful and are not reflective of the actual crimecommitted by the offender. Jurors make their decisions using bias asopposed to objective, rational, and dispassionate methods. Thearticle does not have actual statistics of a selection of jurors andthe various factors that influence their decision. According to thearticle, the system uses the crime control approach more agrees West(2003). On the other hand, crime prevention is less predominant inthe country. Rehabilitation facilities and law enforcement should begeared towards crime prevention as opposed to crime control.Corrective justice deals with punishment and corrections of offendersfor their crimes states Robinson (2001). In this case, justice isblind and all persons receive appropriate punishments, which reflecton their actual crimes. Corrective justice encourages a more punitivesystem by implementing longer sentences, incarceration, executions,and mandatory sentencing. Hence, the use of corrective justice in thelast three decades is responsible for eroding the fairness of thecriminal justice system in the country argues Romero (2006).Mandatory sentencing has become the pillar of the American justicesystem. Furthermore, sentencing places emphasis on drug traffickers80 % of who are from minority races. Legislative laws highlightinequities given that arrest target small level drug dealers whileignoring major suppliers of drugs explains Williams (2004). Inaddition, the Congress refuses to change laws that target specificdemographics despite the constant appeal by legal activists such asthe US Sentencing Commission. Moreover, the American Civil LibertiesUnion (ACLU), the US Sentencing Commission, and the American BarAssociation (ABA), and finally the Supreme Court also recognize thelack of fairness in the legal, which is the highest federal court inthe country (Swaroop &amp Morenoff, 2006). Robinson &ampWilliams(2009) further explain that according to Bureau of Statistics, anestimated 3100 African American males out of 100,000 in the UnitedStates receive state prison sentencings. In contrast, an approximate480 per 100,000 white individuals recorded in the country receivesuch rulings. Williams (2004), mentions that 93% of the inmate’ssentences are not relative to crime and robbery. Therefore, there isnot accountability for the disparities between black and white malesin state incarceration supports West (2003).


The author’s use of both primary and secondary research combinedwith the qualitative and quantitative methods to explain the thesis,which states that the fairness of the criminal justice system is amyth. While the information is essential in explaining some of thedisparities and inequities experienced in the overall justice system,the article fails to provide adequate referential data andinformation needed to compare and contrast their claims. To ensurethat the thesis is valid and reliable, the authors should employempirical research from statistics from courts, police stations, andcorrectional facilities to support his claims

In addition, the authors should widen the thesis scope to focus onvarious minority groups, disparities in dealing with femaleoffenders, and fairness of criminal justice system in juvenilefacilities. This will highlight the relationship between thedevelopmental stages of crime in different demographics and theeffectiveness of the correctional process within these categories.Lastly, the article should indicate the future topical trends in thecriminology and the justice system. This will transfer the objectiveto focus on alternative topics that can assist in solving challengesidentified in the criminal justice system (Swaroop &amp Morenoff,2006).


Robinson, M., &amp Williams, M. (2009). The Myth of a Fair CriminalJustice System. Justice Policy Journal, 6(1), 1-55.

Romero, M. (2006). Racial Profiling and Immigration Law Enforcement:Rounding up of Usual Suspects in the Latino Community. CriticalSociology, 32 (2/3), 447-473.

Stylianou, S. (2003). Measuring Crime Seriousness Perceptions: Whathave we Learned and What Else do we want to know. Journal ofCriminal Justice, 31(1), 37-56.

Swaroop, S. &amp Morenoff, J. (2006). Building Community: TheNeighborhood Context of Social Organization. Social Forces,84(3),1665-1695.

West, A. (2003). Chicken Little, Three Blind Men and an Elephant, and&quotRacial Profiling&quot: A Commentary on the Collection,Analysis, and Interpretation of Traffic Stop data. Journal ofForensic Psychology Practice, 3, 63-77.

Williams, L. (2004). Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice. Women’sStudies Quarterly, 32(3/4), 6-13.