Bias in the judical system

Jan 2013
790
Charlottengrad
#1
To not derail the thread :


No, that is a theory on causation developed by assuming a bias by reading too much into statistics describing a correlating effect. Again, I ask you. If Asian females are the least likely to end up in jail or get a long sentence, is the US judicial system set up that is both sexist and racist, in order to protect them?
Of course the US judicial system is not set up to protect them. That also was not the argument.

The answer is absolutely not. There is simply zero indication that is true. And yet individuals, in order to continue promoting theories of correlation=causation for racism cannot acknowledge that using identical logic for a similar situation cannot work, because its ludicrous to believe that the US system is pro-Asian women to the detriment of everyone else. But they CANNOT ADMIT THAT, IT DESTROYS THEIR RACEBAITING NARRATIVE OTHERWISE.
Nobody is arguing that the system is pro-anything. Nobody is arguing racism. I'm saying humans have prejudices. Including people who work in the judicial system. These prejudices manifest themselves in their work. Naturally. I'm not making a value judgement here, just stating that this is happening and that it is human. And I don't think there is anyway to deny that tbh.

Women get softer sentences because circumstances involved are nearly always different. Women commit far less violent crime to the extent that its simply unusual to have them in court for such. Certain immigrant groups in Germany or elsewhere are sentenced harsher because they are more likely to commit crimes, especially violent, as a whole. And yet East Asians in Germany, also an immigrant culture, aren't jailed as frequently or sentenced harshly. Why? Because their culture is completely different.
But there you are kinda proving my point. In two ways, point a) immigrants in Germany behave the same way and commit the same crimes as Germans in the same social class as they are do. Now, some immigrant groups belong mostly to the social classes that commit most crimes and thus are overrepresented. But that is not due to them being immigrants but because of them belonging to the low income, low education, no real chances in life social class. Point b) judges should be blind for the highlighted part. It should not matter if the accused belongs to an immigrant group or not, if (s)he is a man or a woman. But it does, as you pointed out. And that is exactly the argument here. You confirmed what I wrote.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,998
Dispargum
#2
I see very little bias in the judicial system itself, but the courts are often forced to apply biased laws made by the legislature. In US federal law, possession or sale of crack cocaine is punished far more severely than powder cocaine. The intoxicating effects are similar. The only real difference is cultural. African Americans prefer crack. Whites prefer powder. So African Americans draw harsher sentences for the same behavior as whites. There might be a similar argument for marijuana vs alcohol. When the laws were passed, marijuana was seen as a minority culture while whites consumed alcohol. The intoxicating effects are similar but marijuana was criminalized while alcohol was condoned. There's a growing tendency to make criminals pay for the criminal justice system. There are a growing number of stories in the news of poor people kept in prison long beyond their sentences just because they can't pay their fines or court costs. Louisianna passed a law to finance the Public Defender's Office without tax dollars - only fines collected by the courts. Consequently, the Public Defender's Office there is underfunded and has too few attorneys for the work they are tasked with.


The one example of judicial bias I've heard about is the tendency of judges to think of themselves as attorneys first and public servants second. Some judges can be far too tolerant of lawyers who bicker over petty points of law for no purpose other than to run up their billable hours. California divorce courts are notorious for allowing petty arguments to run on for months sometimes even years during which no one gains except the lawyers.
 

Tulun

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
3,587
Western Eurasia
#3
it is in itself not problematic if the social background of the criminals are also considered even if the two criminals commited the same crimes. For example if a stable, law abiding and supporting family is waiting the criminal outside it can help them resocialize and lighter/shorter punishment may be enough, compared to if they would return to a destructive criminal enviroment after release from the prison.

Btw the "typical criminal" in every society from New Zealand to Guatemala belong to the same group: young, single, unemployed urban males. So if there is a particular ethnic group which is overrepresented among young, single, unemployed urban males in the society, sure there will be more criminals among them too.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,998
Dispargum
#4
it is in itself not problematic if the social background of the criminals are also considered even if the two criminals commited the same crimes. For example if a stable, law abiding and supporting family is waiting the criminal outside it can help them resocialize and lighter/shorter punishment may be enough, compared to if they would return to a destructive criminal enviroment after release from the prison.

Btw the "typical criminal" in every society from New Zealand to Guatemala belong to the same group: young, single, unemployed urban males. So if there is a particular ethnic group which is overrepresented among young, single, unemployed urban males in the society, sure there will be more criminals among them too.
You're talking about jurisprudence - the idea that the court should consider the circumstances of the crime and act accordingly. So if a wealthy white middle aged woman killed her husband and a poor, immigrant, young, single man killed a stranger I would expect two very different sentences to be handed down. The woman only had one husband and is therefore unlikely to repeat her crime, but there are lots of strangers in the world. Jurisprudence can be problematic, but I don't consider it a form of bias.

Jurisprudence was invented by the Romans and has been a part of law ever since. If you want an example of law free of jurisprudence, read the Mosaic Law in the Old Testament. If you do crime A your punishment is B. If you do C your punishment is D. Judges have no discretion for circumstance.
 
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Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#5
Correlation does not equal causation. Its easy to find out that one group get less convictions and sentences than another, basic statistics tells us that. But the numbers don't explain anything, they don't give "Why?" Statistics are meaningless without the proper ability to not only analyze, but to know when certain numbers are overall useless in determining anything deeper besides a most basic explanation.

There are discrepancies by ethnicity, sex, age, height, weight. Ever a lot of 500-600 lb men in prison? No? Because the criminal justice system is biased for them, protecting them? See a lot of 90 year old facing criminal charges? A young career criminal that manages to get old is going to be a 90 year old someday, why aren't they catching a pinch and a trial and a conviction? Is the system designed to save 90 year old career criminals?

Statistics are paraded around these days constantly by people who have no clue what they represent or how to use them. An idiots guide to making an argument, because it allows someone with an otherwise weak theory or suggestion to be backed up "by science!"

I deal with this same sort of nonsense every day at work. Mid and upper level managers are constantly trying to figure out ways to get more work out of employees, which is fine, because that is their job. The way they go about it is to look at job complete rates. But those don't just not tell the whole story, they don't tell even a sliver of it. So they're making decisions about who works hard (and thus who doesn't), who gets a raise, who gets bonuses, and who gets fired, all based on faulty data. The numbers are correct, they're tied into a database that doesn't count a completed task until its finalized. However, there was always a bigger picture they were missing, and for some reason it was constantly little ol' me who had to explain the billion and one variables they missed. Like the simply ones: Not ever task is the same size, some are short, some are gigantic, so you cannot grade them all on the same scale. Not every task done by an individual is finalized by them because its part of a larger piece of work; for instance, I might spend half my day working on some giant project with numerous other employees and then I submit my work to them upon completion, while our database doesn't log that, so I essentially spent half the day doing nothing, while the person who does get the credit seemingly did a Herculean task all by themselves. Without proper understanding of variables...nay, full and total understanding of all variables gathered and missed, statistics are next to useless for anything besides a basic tool for big picture optics.

And this is the same problem with using statistics to try to find bias in the criminal judicial system. Any conclusion, unless you can factor in all the variables at play, are utter bollocks.
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#6
Just to provide another example of the problem with statistical analysis, I have used this analogy at my work and have bullied numerous bosses into watching it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTmDbtqhHgc

Its the scene in the movie Schindler's List when the evil SS officer Göth inspects the number of hinges one of the Jewish prisoner machinist had made, then breaks out a stop watch and says, "Make me a hinge, Jew." At which point the machinist bangs out a good hinge quickly. The SS officer checks the time, calculates it, and then cross references that number with the output. That is statistics, if it takes someone x amount of time to make a product, then in y amount of time they should be able to make z amount of products. That is simple math, and for many, thought to be infallible.

In the movie, as a result of not making enough hinges they take the Jew outside and attempt to shoot him in the back of his head, for slacking off, but over the course of the scene numerous different handguns wont work (showcasing the problems of German manufacture). Meanwhile, the Jewish machinist finally explains that missing variable that explains it all. Earlier in the day the machines were being recalibrated, so the SS had made all the machinist shovel coal instead. But it doesn't matter, they have already made up their mind to explain the problem, slacking off. They already drew the wrong conclusions and now will not listen to reason, because reason invalidates their original theory that they wanted to validate (Jewish laziness and justification for murder), which in the end comes down to issues with ego and confirmation bias.

A perfect example of what happens when you are fed numbers that don't provide the full story. The US criminal judicial system and incarceration rates are the same way. You absolutely cannot analyze them without understanding the variables without coming to the wrong conclusions.
 
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Mar 2018
266
UK
#7
There are clearly a lot of different levels bias can be ocuring here.

1) Do people of a certain [race/sex/age/etc...] get [stopped more/convicted more/harsher convictions] than others?
2) Is (1) be explained by people of that [race/sex/age/etc...] behaving differently than others
3) Is (1) explained by the judicial system treating someone of that [race/sex/age/etc...] differently than someone else when all other factors are equal?
4) If the answer to (3) is yes, is this done deliberately? By either the judge himself, or by the way the judicial system is designed or operated.


These are generally difficult questions. Simple statistics won't give you an answer, but you can do multivariable analysis to get close to an experiment with a control trial. The consensus by the community that has done actual research on this (ie, not SJW on the internet) is that the answer to the questions are:
(1) Yes, definitely and obviously
(2) Yes, different [race/sex/age/etc...] behave differently and this partially explains (1)
(3) Yes, this also happens, with the details varying lots from place to place. But I dont know anyone who actually disputes that young black men get longer convictions than young white girls for carrying pot even when all other factors are taken into account (at least, as well as they can be taken into account). If you have a scientific paper that disagrees with that, please share it, I'm curious.
4) Very rarely is it consciously deliberate by a judge. It's more of a cognitive bias where someone's [race/sex/age/etc...] is used to make a judgement. It's hard to see how "the system" is constructed to do this however, or even what "the system" means other than some amorphous thing to be angry at.


So it isn't simply black and white. You could arguably level the "racism" accusation at any of those 4 levels (ie, blacks commit more crime because racism pushes them into it), but that is some entirely murky and unhelpful use of the word. I would argue that (1) and (2) are not racist, more facts about how people behave. However (3) is a racist outcome based on a subconscious racist way of thinking in (4). I struggle to see why the justice system would not be better in every way if this wasn't the case, although it does seem like a very difficult and slow thing to fit. Unconscious biases are hard to not take into account, because they save so much mental effort and are not always completely false.

But fixing these biases seems important even (1) is 99% due to (2) and only 1% due to (3).
 
Jul 2016
7,353
USA
#8
There are clearly a lot of different levels bias can be ocuring here.

1) Do people of a certain [race/sex/age/etc...] get [stopped more/convicted more/harsher convictions] than others?
2) Is (1) be explained by people of that [race/sex/age/etc...] behaving differently than others
3) Is (1) explained by the judicial system treating someone of that [race/sex/age/etc...] differently than someone else when all other factors are equal?
4) If the answer to (3) is yes, is this done deliberately? By either the judge himself, or by the way the judicial system is designed or operated.


These are generally difficult questions. Simple statistics won't give you an answer, but you can do multivariable analysis to get close to an experiment with a control trial. The consensus by the community that has done actual research on this (ie, not SJW on the internet) is that the answer to the questions are:
(1) Yes, definitely and obviously
(2) Yes, different [race/sex/age/etc...] behave differently and this partially explains (1)
(3) Yes, this also happens, with the details varying lots from place to place. But I dont know anyone who actually disputes that young black men get longer convictions than young white girls for carrying pot even when all other factors are taken into account (at least, as well as they can be taken into account). If you have a scientific paper that disagrees with that, please share it, I'm curious.
4) Very rarely is it consciously deliberate by a judge. It's more of a cognitive bias where someone's [race/sex/age/etc...] is used to make a judgement. It's hard to see how "the system" is constructed to do this however, or even what "the system" means other than some amorphous thing to be angry at.

So it isn't simply black and white. You could arguably level the "racism" accusation at any of those 4 levels (ie, blacks commit more crime because racism pushes them into it), but that is some entirely murky and unhelpful use of the word. I would argue that (1) and (2) are not racist, more facts about how people behave. However (3) is a racist outcome based on a subconscious racist way of thinking in (4). I struggle to see why the justice system would not be better in every way if this wasn't the case, although it does seem like a very difficult and slow thing to fit. Unconscious biases are hard to not take into account, because they save so much mental effort and are not always completely false.

But fixing these biases seems important even (1) is 99% due to (2) and only 1% due to (3).
(3) doesn't prove a racist outcome if you explore the details.

Go sit yourself in a state and federal courthouse around the country and go observe some trials. What you'll nearly always find is that the reason African Americans get hammered for the same crime the middle class white girl gets pinched for has nothing to do with with race and everything do with lawyers.

Anyone with even the most basic understanding of the legal system in any country should know the proper answer to the question when asked if you want a court appointed defense, is to say "HELL NO!" Why? Because they suck. They're overworked, they don't have any time for case prep, and they basically exist for plea bargains that nearly always favor the prosecutor (who is largely looking for a high conviction rate) instead of their client. They simply don't have the time or abilities to really provide a good defense, and most doing it don't care, they are just doing it as a stepping stone in order to learn the system well enough to get hired by a big name private law firm who headhunt former public defenders because they know the system and they need people like that. The black male youth arrested is likely illegitimate (no father, born out of wedlock). Likely either failing school or having already dropped out. Likely poor and remaining family all on public assistance. Likely member of a gang or embracing gang culture. Catching an early drug conviction and sentence isn't a life destroyer, in their unfortunate culture, its a right of passage, it means they are real "gangsta," and aren't "frontin'." Back in the day when this was happening predominately to white Irish and Italians and Jews living in the same urban ghettos, they called it being "stand up."

Meanwhile, Little Miss White Suburbia likely has a two parent household, both of which work, so they have money to spend, a house to get a second mortgage on to pay to keep daughter out of jail/prison). Money buys a private attorney who knows the law, who has the time to focus on clients, who has an actual obligation to their clients since they are actually paying them. They know the tricks, they know that to reduce a sentence they get the girl signed up for meetings with Narcotics Anonymous right away, or better yet, check them into rehab for treatment, in order to demonstrate to the judge that they are proactive in seeking treatment for their illicit drug problem. At the trial and sentencing they bring report cards from school and either written affidavits or actual character witnesses, anyone willing to lie under oath to the fact that Little Miss White Suburbia is an upscale citizen who understands she made a mistake but doesn't need to be made an example of, etc. And since they aren't in a high crime area, the prosecutor isn't likely trying to win over voters to get reelected by convicting their daughters, not trying to score points on stiff conviction rates off of young girls who did something stupid but don't deserve to have their lives destroyed, so when they accept a plea bargain the defense can plea it down to things like probation, etc. Slap on the wrist.

Now let's talk location, because this is HUGE factor when it comes to sentencing. Not only are some states harsher than others (which must be factored in when considering the raw data), often with mandatory sentences for drug crimes, but also many cities are as well. The cities are really where the crime in the US is, where many of the African Americans live too (among other low income residents), so location is a double edged sword. Crime drives out tax payer residents who leave to live the cities to live in the suburbs, which have less crime and better schools, and often better job prospects too. That removes people who pay taxes, so every year the city is taking in less money, while still needing to pay out just as much in the form of services and salaries and pension to govt employees, stipulated by labor contracts. This makes politicians crap themselves because they see what this means down the road is a high crime city that is bankrupt, and nobody wants to develop, nobody wants to even drive through it. The politicians desiring to get elected, or reelected, those running on "cleaning up the streets" platforms will do so by pressuring law enforcement and the district attorney to go after all crime. They're the ones pushing the stiff sentencing, and the mandatory sentencing. Why? Because they are legitimately sick and tired of the horrific crime destroying once very prosperous American cities.

Anyone who had studied criminology knows that a major theory associated with the War on Drugs and the lowering of the violent crime rates since the early 90s, which is very popular among law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys alike, is the theory that the drop in crime rate is the result of convicting criminals on lesser crimes (like simply possession) who otherwise would escape. In the simplest way of describing this, they believe that someone who might bang on the corners, sling drugs, commit violent crimes such as armed robbery and even murder, are rarely caught. And that is absolutely true, most individuals in inner cities will get away with their crimes unless its blatant, very high profile (more money dumped into investigations, overtime for detectives, additional support), and definitely the criminals involved are stupid, at least some of them that leave a trail of evidence or someone involved rats on the others and willingly testifies against the others for a reduced sentence (Going after the weakest link in a gang to gain a collaborator is a long time prosecuting strategy). So with stiff sentencing on drug offenses, they are actually getting thugs and murderers off the streets.

Now this is a theory, not proven. But there is some truth to it, as well as a lot of bullcrap associated with it too. A lot of very bad people do get locked up for these small drug offenses. And also a lot of not-so-bad people do as well. And many of them affected do come from specific ethnic backgrounds (though that is a correlation, not a causation). Meanwhile, the theory absolutely influences the US criminal judicial system, because many in positions of power actually believe it. Which is just another reason that inner city people, regardless of color (be they black, Latino, white, etc) get hammered for crimes that those in the suburbs or rural areas might not.

These are just a few very basic and simple variables that are rarely if ever considered when discussing this subject. And the reality is, unless an individual has a good understanding of the soft science of criminology especially, but also sociology, and to an extent psychology, they can never, and should not, attempt to tackle this issue seriously. So when someone says "when all factors are equal," make sure you understand they never are.
 
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Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
2,998
Dispargum
#9
The police, the district attornies, and the courts are government agencies that depend on support from voters and tax payers and are therefore susceptible to political pressures. Those segments of society that vote more often and pay higher taxes tend to get better service from government. Those segments of society that don't pay taxes (because they're poor) and who vote less often or not at all tend to get less government service. When whites have irrational fears of blacks committing crimes, there tends to be political pressure on the police to arrest lots of blacks.

Police and district attornies do not have the resources to investigate and prosecute all crimes equally. They tend to pursue the most bang for the buck. Non-violent drug offenses come with disprotionately long prison sentences which is how the police measure bang. Drug offenses therefore tend to draw more police attention than the social harm might seem to warrant. If the poor use more drugs because their miserable lives demand more escapist behavior, and if the poor won't fight back at election time nor can they withhold their tax dollars, then the police will arrest lots of poor people on drug offenses. Meanwhile, wealthy and middle class whites are also using drugs, but because there is little social harm the police don't bother to investigate drug use in white neighborhoods. If the police did work middle class and wealthy neighborhoods with the same vigor as they work poor neighborhoods, those white voters and tax payers would stop supporting the police.
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
12,278
#10
Which judicial system are we talking about ?

In Europe / the US in general, it is not the system as a whole that is biased... However

1- Individuals including judges, have their biases and it will affect the particular trial where such individuals have influence

2 - In some countries government or certain organizations can influence the outcome of certain trials thus biases that they may have will be reflected in the results