Implicit Bias in Criminal Justice: Growing Influence as an Insight to Systemic Oppression
The State of Criminal Justice 2020 (American Bar Association 2020).
7 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2020 Last revised: 25 Aug 2021
Date Written: July 7, 2020
Implicit bias continues its rise as an increasingly important concept among advocates of criminal justice reform. Also known as “unconscious” or “nonconscious” bias, the idea in recent years has enjoyed greater acceptance as a means of understanding how bias and bigotry can impact the decisionmaking of actors at all levels of the criminal justice system. Taken wholly, the decisionmaking creates structural biases against certain social outgroups. Implicit bias helps to explain some of the disproportionate and disparate aspects of the criminal justice system, and especially why prosecution and punishment are heavily skewed against certain groups. There are ample opportunities for the biased attitudes to manifest throughout the process, which effectively work to the detriment of those entangled in the system, from suspects to defendants to prisoners, probationers, and parolees. Of course, the first movers of this system are the police, but other parties include prosecutors, defense counsel, judges, and juries, among other officials in the system whose decisionmaking is susceptible to implicit bias. Even legislators who write the laws are susceptible. This chapter aims to describe this concept and the main challenges that implicit bias presents to the administration of criminal justice.
Keywords: Implicit Bias, Explicit Bias, Criminal Justice, Criminal Law, Police, Jurors, Judges, Unconscious Bias
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