The United Kingdom criminal justice system isn’t much different from that of the U.S. when it comes to racial bias and the unfair sentencing of Blacks and other ethnic minorities.
According to a recent study, Black people in the U.K. are much more likely to be arrested and jailed for a criminal offense than white people. The research also revealed stark disparities in the likelihood of sentencing for Black and Asian citizens, compared to white citizens.
The Independent reports that the study was conducted as part of a landmark review, led by Labour MP David Lammy, into racial bias in the U.K. criminal justice system. The report found that for every 100 white women sentenced to jail for drug offenses, 227 Black women were handed prison terms. For Black men, the disparity was also notably high, with 141 Black men jailed for every 100 white men.
“Our criminal justice system has a trust deficit,” Lammy wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May voicing his concerns about the apparent discrimination and racial bias.
In addition, the new study also showed that the likelihood of receiving a prison sentence depended on the type of crime committed and categories of the courts. Either way, Blacks and ethnic minorities always fared much worse or received harsher sentences for the same crimes committed by white people.
For example, 208 black men and 193 Asian men received jail time for every 100 white men when it came to convictions for sexual offenses, not drug offenses.
The fundamental differences between jails and prisons are also concerning factors here. Jails typically hold inmates awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences for misdemeanor crimes, whereas prisons are designed for offenders serving long-term sentences for more serious crimes and felony convictions.
Jails are also known to provide educational and work release programs for inmates to get their lives back on track upon their release, HG.org reports.
According to he report, Blacks in the U.K. are more likely to be convicted of serious crimes compared to their white counterparts — resulting in prolonged stints in prison rather than jail.
The study’s findings made it clear that there may be an issue of implicit racial bias permeating the U.K. criminal justice system. Now, it’s up to the nation’s leaders to further investigate the problem and come up with effective solutions to solve it.
“These emerging findings raise difficult questions about whether ethnic minority communities are getting a fair deal in our justice system,” Lammy said in a statement. “We need to fully understand why, for example, ethnic minority defendants are more likely to receive prison sentences than white defendants.”
“These are complex issues and I will dig deeper in the coming months to establish whether bias is a factor,” he added.
The scope of the landmark review was later broadened by Justice Secretary Liz Truss to include the issue of lack of diversity in the nation’s judiciary. Just 6 percent of U.K. court judges are from race or ethnic minority backgrounds, compared to 13 percent of the larger population, according to Reuters.
The news site reported that researchers of the study are expected to produce a final copy of their report, complete with recommendations, by next spring.