chapter  11
13 Pages

Race and the Criminal Justice System

ByPat Whitehouse

When people refer to ‘systems’ they usually imply the co-ordination of theory or an organized combination to achieve function or classification. Within the criminal justice system there is mounting concern, expressed by organizations representing black people and others, about the racist nature of practically every component institution: the police, prisons, the courts and their ‘servants’, and the social and probation services. The component institutions have different functions; they sometimes meet, often in courts, but their aims rarely coincide; rather, they overlap, and their aims seem to coexist uneasily for a minority of defendants that they process in that setting. The function of the system overall is the control of dissent, and for social workers involved in the system I would argue that their main function is to make that control ‘justified’ rather than justifiable.