What Are Some Cultural Diversity Issues in Criminal Justice?

Yana Paskova/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The most prominent cultural diversity issue in American criminal justice is the perception of and concomitant attempts to prevent racially biased policing. Tensions between law enforcement officers and minorities have caused agencies to seek measures designed to reform police-community relations. Furthermore, cultural norms in legal matters differ. Following the course of action that would be expected in one country can lead to being arrested in the United States.

The widespread perception that law enforcement personnel allow racial biases to determine whether or not they choose to enforce a law has caused numerous agencies to review and attempt to reform police culture. For example, In Virginia, former governor Mark Warner introduced and received legislative support for a committee, including representatives of various community groups, as well as the secretary of public safety, to address this. The panel emphasized the need for accountability and leadership, and its recommendations led to police academies adding discussions of bias and its negative consequences to their curriculum.

Cultural norms in other countries can also cause criminal justice issues domestically. In eastern Iowa, a Chinese national student’s parents were arrested for bribery and tampering with a witness, but the charges were dropped when it was revealed that they were operating under a different set of expectations from the legal system. While bribery is technically illegal in China, it is common, and its prohibition is rarely enforced. Thus, the student’s parents assumed that it was expected in the American legal system as well.