Racism and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system: Exploring the experiences and views of men serving sentences of imprisonment

Irwin-Rogers, Keir (2018). Racism and racial discrimination in the criminal justice system: Exploring the experiences and views of men serving sentences of imprisonment. Justice, Power and Resistance, 2(2) pp. 243–266.

Abstract

An array of macro level statistics reveals a damning portrait of racial disproportionality across various components of England and Wales’ criminal justice system. This paper outlines some of the most striking areas of disproportionality, before providing an insight into the lived experiences that lie behind these statistics. Based on four focus groups with a total of 26 participants serving sentences of imprisonment in a London prison, the paper explores men’s experiences and views of racism across several components of the criminal justice system including policing, the courts and imprisonment. The data were collected as part of a project led by the charity, Catch22, and was conducted to inform an independent Parliamentary Review into the treatment of, and outcomes for, Black and Minority Ethnic individuals in the criminal justice system of England and Wales. Participants’ primary concerns centred on institutionalised forms of racism such as the police’s use of stop and search and the targeting of alleged gang nominals, as well as racism operating at the micro-level of decision-making, including decisions around so-called privilege levels in prison.

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