20 Law & Ineq. 53 (2002)
U.S. Prisons and Racial Profiling: A Covertly Racist Nation Rides a Vicious Cycle

handle is hein.journals/lieq20 and id is 59 raw text is: U.S. Prisons and Racial Profiling: A
Covertly Racist Nation Rides a Vicious
DJ Silton*
There are more [B]lack people in prisons and jails than in
colleges and universities. The term 'institutionalized racism' is
not too harsh a term for this statistic.' Although provocative,
Judge C. Victor Lander's comment accurately describes one of the
United States' worst ills. Winston Churchill opined that one could
judge a society by looking at its prisons.2 By that reasoning, a
society must address its criminal justice system as part of solving
its problems. Currently, the U.S. criminal justice system is doing
* J.D. expected 2002, University of Minnesota. B.A. 1998, University of Michigan.
For their comments on earlier drafts of this article, I would like to thank Benjamin
Fetcher, Angela Hall, and Rumna Chowdhury. I would also like to thank
professors john powell and Gerard Fergerson for their comments and their work in
educating the community at large on the prevalence of racial discrimination in this
The writing of this article commenced prior to the tragic events of Sept. 11,
2001. The ultimate results of those events have yet to become clear, but I am
certain that they will significantly influence the discussion of this topic in the
1. Hon. C. Victor Lander, Racism in the Criminal Justice System, 2 ANN. 2000
ATLA-CLE 1801 (2000).
2. Sir Leon Radzinowicz & Roger Hood, Judicial Discretion and Sentencing
Standards: Victorian Attempts to Solve a Perennial Problem, 127 U. PA. L. REV.
1288, 1348-49 (1979) (quoting Winston Churchill, Home Office Supply (Report), 19
PARL. DEB., H.C. (5th Ser.) (1910) 1343, 1354).
The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and
criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any
country. A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused
against the State, and even of convicted criminals against the State, a
constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a
desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who
have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts
towards the discovery of curative and regenerating processes, and an
unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the
heart of every man-these are the symbols which in the treatment of crime
and criminals mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and
are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it.

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