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Create a 8 pages page paper that discusses the persistent problem of racial disparities in the federal death penalty. In the legal system, in particular, there is a great deal of racial inequality afflicting a great number of people trapped in prisons. The question is frequently raised whether this racial inequality is a matter of racism, or simply a matter of economics, and whether fixing racism or fixing economic conditions for these groups is the better option (Shulman, 1984). There is a definite structure in “structured inequality” when it comes to the legal system: a structure that reflects the structure of the system itself. The legal system of the United States is centered on the roles of judges, lawyers, lawmakers, criminals, and the members of juries.

Each of these players in the legal system has a certain role to play, and in some cases, contribute to the structured inequality we see reflected in the statistics of how prevalent incarceration is within African-American populations. However, the question of a single, linear cause is a mistaken one. The cause of this inequality cannot be isolated and accounted for. A more responsible model of cause in this situation is reciprocal causality: a condition in which cause and effect mutually contribute to the problem. For instance, if racist targeting by police starts a young man in the prison system, it is economics and his need to turn to crime to stay alive that keeps him in the system. There are, of course, many more causal factors than simply racism and economics that make up structured inequality, but these are the largest categories for analysis. The reinforcement of causal factors by other causal factors creates a situation in which members of particular racial groups lack the resources to escape a cycle of crime and poverty. African-Americans, in particular, statistically suffer the most from this vicious cycle. To identify the specific problems, however, one needs to look in detail at how the legal system is structured in order to pinpoint the factors involved to make the system unequal in how it enforces the law.

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