Bias is a big part of our world. Everyone is profiling each other based on our appearance or race. Stereotypes are another example of bias because people believe them and they spread all over. There are many things out there that make people of some race seem like they are lousy or weird. There are many examples of where innocent have been wrongly accused of crimes based largely on stereotypes and prejudicial profiling. Some examples of stereotypes and prejudicial profiling leading to unfair treatment of the suspects are the West Memphis Three case, the Central Park Five case, and the Stop & Frisk Program. The judicial system is here to help us, but it often uses stereotypes to profile criminals and these stereotypes often lead to false arrests, which undermine the effectiveness of the judicial system.
The “West Memphis Three” case demonstrates how prejudicial profiling can lead to false arrests and convictions due to stereotypical misconceptions, proving that bias undermines the effectiveness of the system. In the case “West Memphis Three,” the judicial system targeted Damien Echols, Jessie Misskelley, Jr, and Jason Baldwin based on stereotypes. The police and the district attorney’s office accused these boys of murdering the three younger boys, Steven Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers because of the three suspects’ Satanic beliefs. There wasn’t much evidence that they had on these boys except finding the murder weapon behind one of the boys’ trailers, but they did not have DNA evidence to prove that any of the accused boys had used that knife. Nathaniel Rich, an American novelist and essayist, wrote about the “West Memphis Three” case and said, “The belief that the murders must have been committed by members of a cult was the foundation on which the prosecution built its case. It was, at the time, the most conceivable explanation for the extraordinarily grotesque details of the crime scene, where the bodies of the three boys, were found naked, bound, mutilated, and submerged in a shallow gulley.” The bodies of the three young boys were mutilated. One victim had his scrotum cut off and the skin of his had been removed. Almost everyone in West Memphis shared the same religious beliefs: baptist. There weren’t many people who believed in satanism in West Memphis. These facts lead to the judge and jury convicting the three suspects because stereotypes had made Satanism a dreadful, violent religion. Stereotypes had made people believe that Satanists sacrifice people. Since the boys had been cut up badly and then a knife was found behind one of the boys’ trailers, it lead them to have a stronger belief that the boy committed the crime. These boys were also outsiders and considered weird by others in their town, and the stereotypes about Satanism made people think the worst about those who were different. The police falsely arrested these boys without DNA evidence and used stereotypical and prejudicial profiling to justify arresting them, which the court system including the judge and jury used to justify the convictions of these boys, thus undermine the effectiveness of the judicial system.
The “Central Park Five” case demonstrates stereotypical profiling based upon race leading to the false arrest of five boys aged 18 and younger proving that it is a problem that racial bias is so effective in getting a conviction. In the “Central Park Five” case, five boys are accused of raping a higher class white female jogger. Four boys were African-American and the other boy was Latino. These five boys were with a group of black males walking through Central Park hanging out and they started making trouble so the cops came. They caught these boys and brought them to the precinct. At the time, there was a lot of crime going on in New York City because crack was introduced and a majority of the people committing crimes were lower-middle class young black males. Eisa Ulen is a freelance journalist and has written for such prestigious magazines and newspapers such as Essence, The Washington Post, and Ms, and had written about the film of the “Central Park Five” case saying, “The film tries to establish that the police coerced these children, lied and told them they would be able to go home if they confessed, and told them what to say on camera about a crime they did not commit. It also presents an argument that the prosecutors ignored obvious discrepancies in the evidence used against the boys.” The detectives that were investigating the body of the jogger had stopped the police from letting the boys go because they believed the boys raped her. Stereotypes in that time had every black or latino male guilty of any crime if they were in range of the scene. The police did not have any real evidence to prove that these boys committed the crime, so they took advantage of them and made them confess to doing the crime that they did not do because the police assumed they were guilty due to racial and stereotypical profiling. This case proves that racial and stereotypical profiling is detrimental to impartiality within the judicial system.
Certain cities have adopted a program called the “Stop and Frisk Program,” which demonstrates the dangers of stereotypical and prejudicial profiling within the judicial system, often leading to false arrests, proving that this kind of program harms the effectiveness of the system. The “Stop and Frisk Program” is basically when police officers stop a person and ask questions and frisk them for any weapons, drugs, etc., because of suspicion. A group of young teenage males were walking to a basketball game and were stopped and frisked because they had been wearing scarves to cover their face that look liked ski makes, and also it was one of the coldest days in Philadelphia. A black teenage male from the group had been sexually assaulted when being frisked by a lady police officer. The female officer pulled his genitals so hard during a patdown that one of his testicles ruptured. He was charged for reckless endangerment of another person, simple assault, and resisting arrest In an article written by Aubrey Whelan, an Inquirer staff writer, wrote about the incident saying “Police say one of the students "caught the attention" of officers stationed near the subway stop. As officers approached, the group scattered.” Stereotypes made police to believe that any group of any race is always suspicious and in the situation above the police were caught by the attention so they believed that something was going on. They quickly made an assumption and profiled these kids upon their race and appearance and took action. This lead to the bias thinking of the police officers because of crimes before happening in groups, such as a flash mob or just vandalizing. Also there is racial profiling involved, even though the program wasn’t made for that, because black and latino are the vast majority of being stopped. The Stop and Frisk Program proves that stereotypes and racial profiling has taken over the bias of police officers.
The judicial system is a great system that we have and it helps the people in our world, but the people of law enforcement makes it seem an unfair system. There is much racist and stereotypical profiling from the officers. Because of these false arrest and accusations, the lives of people are ruined.