The American population is a composition of multiracial groups of people from various origins. The whites are the majority and the minority groups are comprised of the African-American, Asians, Indians, Native Americans, Jews and Arabs. Racism has been a big problem to the American people and has been practiced by groups as well as individuals from the white majority. Such people believe that they are superior to other races and for that reason can deprive them of their basic rights, including going to the extremes of denying their human rights. Over the years, the blacks have suffered huge discrimination in areas of education, health facilities and employment.
In response, the blacks are more prone to turn into criminals, and statistics show that the majority of armed violence, rapes, robberies, drug abuse and trafficking is mainly practiced by the black population. This trend has had a negative impact on the dispensation of justice to the blacks because quite a number of legal arms of the government usually prejudge black suspects (Streib, 2007). For instance, the rate of drug taking among the black and white population is almost the same but blacks are four times more likely to be arrested on drug possession charges than whites are. This means that there exist extra-legal factors which are not legitimate in the dispensation of justice, such as race, sex and social class among the judicial systems. Furthermore, half of the prisoners across the United States are blacks and the ratio of blacks to whites is quite significant. Some possible explanation of this trend is that the African-American population is differentially active in crime more than whites. Their conviction to some extent might be influenced by the bigotry of other people, such as the police, prosecutors, probation officers, judges and state defense. Individual classes of racism occur when certain people discriminate people due to their class and race. Under such conditions, one is likely to give false evidence in case a certain race is under investigation leading to wrong judgments
Availability of mental health services in the criminal justice system.
The growing number of convicts with mental challenges in the United States raises many questions on the number and quality of the correction and rehabilitation facilities. According to a report by the assistant secretary for Legislation ASL, approximately 7000 individuals diagnosed with serious mental illnesses are convicted every year. More than a half of these prisoners suffer from drug and alcohol addiction (Van & Lubin, 1999). Legal experts prefer that diversion so that the convicts could serve their jail terms doing community services rather than anguishing in prison cells for minor offences. According to them, this would help reduce the number of individuals who suffer from mental illnesses in state and federal prisons, and also facilitate the delivery of criminal justice. Jail diversion is the induction of certain programs which examines convicts with the criminal justice system in order to ascertain the possibility of the existence of a mental illness.
It involves mental health experts who screen the detainees and liaise with the prosecution, defense lawyers and the courts to send the convicts to facilities which provide special care for mental convicts. According to a research conducted to determine the quality of accessibility to mental health facilities and criminal justice in a Los Angeles jail, specially trained security agents are sufficient to provide security and logistics because they possess enough experience in managing violent behavior in mentally ill detainees. The study observed that mental health experts were always ready to offer their help in diagnosis and handling cases of minor violence, as well as socially interacting with the convicts. The number of facilities is, however, not sufficient to cover the overall need of the American population. Therefore, the government and federal authorities should move to build more facilities to contain the growing number of social misfits who are mentally ill.
According to Lum (2010), Cultural competence is the ability to interact with people from different religious, political, ethnic and economic backgrounds. It entails understanding and respecting of the beliefs, values and customs of those we work closely with. It comprises a change of false beliefs of other people and recognition that our practices, ideologies and values are just but one way. Cultural competence enables workers to feel respected and comfortable in their social circles, and this makes them more effective in their duties.
To be culturally competent, one must have the will to allow the values and opinions of other workers. One is required to ignore one’s own ideologies and beliefs and start concentrating on learning how others perceive things. Some public policies need to be looked into in order to develop cultural competence. One of the policies is to create self-awareness. You cannot be in a position to understand others if you cannot appreciate whom you are. The first step is to accept yourself, your background and your values. Then it is necessary to appreciate that you share a lot in common with other people in things like eating and dressing. The next step is to recognize that people are different in thinking and practices, but they are human beings and as such, they might be more correct in their line of thinking that you are. If people lower themselves a bit, they are more likely to appreciate others.
According to Willie et al. (1995), public education on various cultures can help in significantly promoting cultural competences. It is of immense importance that this should be done at the early stages of learning to prevent the development of false beliefs about other people. Cultural studies should be introduced in junior classes detailing the values, practices and beliefs of different cultures. This promotes mutual understanding among young children and enhances good interaction and reduces the prejudgments as a result of false beliefs and stereotype thinking.
Social interactions with people from different backgrounds should be encouraged. Close friends can be very resourceful in learning a new culture. In so doing, one also gets a chance to sell his way of thinking and beliefs, the result being a healthy co-relation among individuals from different backgrounds. Communication is an important tool through which people interact with others. It is important that people use suitable language when addressing different groups of people and avoid offensive words or mimicking others. Laws should be enacted, in fact, to punish racial and other forms of discrimination that can hurt an individual’s identity.