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Survey reveals racial disparities in criminal justice system

Racial disparities are a significant factor in how people in Texas and across the country encounter the criminal justice system. An individual's personal experiences tend to inform the level of trust or regard that they have for police departments, the court system or other agencies. According to one study, black Americans are much more likely to say that racial bias and discrimination is a serious problem in the American justice system. Indeed, a full 87% of black participants in the survey said that black defendants are treated less fairly.

Even though this view was more common among blacks, it was also believed by a strong majority of whites -- 61% of white respondents agreed. However, they differed more sharply on how seriously they viewed the problem. While 79% of blacks said that this was a very big issue, only 32% of whites said the same. The respondents also had very different feelings toward the police. On an 0 to 100 scale (with 100 being the warmest), black adults estimated their feelings for police at around 47. That number was 72 for white adults.

While a majority of both white and black respondents said that black people are treated less fairly by police, many black respondents were particularly concerned about their own experiences. Around 44% said that they had personally been unfairly stopped by police due to their race, with 59% of black men reporting this experience.

Experiences of discrimination and unfairness from local police are far from uncommon, especially in communities of color. When it comes to criminal charges, black defendants may also face harsher prosecutions, even when all parties denounce racial injustice. A criminal defense lawyer can work with a defendant of any background to present a strong defense and challenge police assertions.

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