Racisim and the criminal justice system

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by MIghtyG, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. MIghtyG

    MIghtyG
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    With all the talk of the Stephen Lawrence trial both on here and on the news it has got me thinking about something, in 2003 new laws were introduced which allowed judges to pass down harsher punishments if a crime was motivated by sexual orientation, disability, race or religion.

    My question is thus:

    If someone murders someone because they are gay/black/white etc is it really all that different to someone murdering someone for another reason?

    If a white man kills a black person because they are black is it any different to a white person killing a white person because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time?

    Surely a life is a life and the two crimes should be treated equally, murder is murder regardless of race, religion, sexuality etc etc.
     
  2. mooperman

    mooperman
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    what your talking about is motive though.

    IE, killing someone because they are black/female/christian is a reason (albeit not a very good one).

    killing someone for no reason other than wrong place/wrong time would usually mean some kind of mental illness perhaps.....

    always look for the motive...
     
  3. Jenn

    Jenn
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    The race, religion, sexuality part is an aggravating circumstance to the crime.

    Basically if you kill someone because of an argument or they owe you money etc. then you had a "valid" reason to be angry although it's still a crime to kill.
    If you kill someone/a stranger out of the blue simply because of who they are, it's a hate crime and you had no reason other than your own prejudice.

    I suppose it's hard to explain but it makes it worse than if you had "a proper reason".
     
  4. themediaman

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    Pretty much in a nutshell............

    Jailed for longer for being a wa*nk*r basically...........
     
  5. MIghtyG

    MIghtyG
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    I know what you are saying, mooperman and Jenn, but what im trying to say is if for example:

    1:

    A white gange spots another white person who is from another gang on their 'turf' then make chase, stab and kill the person.

    is that the same, more or less worse than;

    2:

    A white gang sees a black person who is from another gang on their 'turf' make chase, stab and kill this person. A witness to the crime says he heard someone shouting racial insults during the attack.

    From my, basic, understanding this would make the second example a racial assault and would subject the perpetrators to harsher punishment as it could be seen to be an attack based on race. Is this fair and just?
     
  6. Jenn

    Jenn
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    It depends if the attack was because the black person was from a rival gang or if just because he was black.

    If you start shouting racist stuff then race becomes part of the motive.
     
  7. jp_bl_68

    jp_bl_68
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    There was actually an episode of South Park that dealt with the issue of "hate crimes" rather well, I thought.

    I agree. The idea that someone could be punished more severely for a racially motivated act of violence seems ridiculous to me.
     
  8. lucasisking

    lucasisking
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    The trouble with that is there are plenty of nasty sods out there who aren't mentally ill but will attack a man with no (or very tenuous) provocation (the 'Begbie' out of Trainspotting type- we've all seen or encountered them). It could be white on white.

    That's surely equally indefensible, yet isn't 'racially' or 'hate' motivated. Is the victim and his family any less worthy of concern?

    Furthermore, suppose such an individual picked on someone of a different colour? Would that automatically count as racially aggravated? The victim could be black but that doesn't necessarily imply a racial motivation.
     
  9. snellfish

    snellfish
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    You cant talk about racism on avf general chat!
     
  10. SBT

    SBT
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    You can if it's white on black,but not black on white apparently :rolleyes:
     
  11. Mshulla

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    I think mooperman has pretty much covered this.

    If the sociopath/psycho you are describing is angry and decides he's going to bash the first person he meets and the first person he encounters happens to be black then there isn't a racial motive to the crime though clearly there is a question about his mental stability.
     
  12. Jenn

    Jenn
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    I think to be classed as a hate crime, it has to be quite clear race/religion/sexuality is the main reason.

    So if you got into a fight with a black guy (assuming you are white) say because you caught him burgling your house (I'm not saying burglars are black before someone puts words in my mouth, it's just an example as to why someone would fight someone else), it wouldn't be a hate crime because you'd have fought him all the same if he was white.

    If however you were in a club picking a fight with someone just because he brushed past you and you started shouting racist abuse like telling he should know his place and N word and you're going to show him etc, then your attack is based on race purely out of hate.
    It's not a case of being drunk, mentally disabled or anything other than hate.

    Of course a life is a life but there are aggravating circumstances. Wouldn't you agree that say viciously torturing someone and killing the person is worse than shooting once killing instantly?
    The motive and method can make it worse.
     
  13. Ian J

    Ian J
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    I think that we all know what constitutes a hate crime and this discussion is about whether the punishment should be different for a so called hate crime than if the perpetrator did exactly the same thing but without the hate motive.

    One comment in mitigation that is often made by defence counsels (not in murder though) is that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol as if that should partly excuse him. I've often thought as everyone knows the likely effects of drinking too much that the sentence should be increased if the crime was committed under the influence of drink or drugs
     
  14. snellfish

    snellfish
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    IanJ, Mods, Admin (who ever keeps deleting this post without reason, which I can keep posting all day)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2012
  15. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Wrong as you now can't post anything for a further seven days and don't complain that you weren't given due warning
     
  16. Jenn

    Jenn
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    I was replying to
    I already explained in my opinion why a hate crime attracts a different sentence.
     
  17. DrPhil

    DrPhil
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    Agreed. You often hear of people defending cheating on a partner because they were drunk.

    If you are going to get so steamed that you don't know what you are doing then be related to accept the consequences for any unimaginable things you may get up to!
     
  18. logiciel

    logiciel
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    As a gay man I substitute "sexual-orientationally" for "racially" and totally agree.
    I don't want to be treated any better or any worse than anyone else, and I don't want the state to go out of its way to be what it thinks is "nice" to me - when actually it's actually being quite the reverse by totally misunderstanding what being gay is all about.
     
  19. Pecker

    Pecker
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    I believe the argument is this - if someone murders an innocent person because they're black, why should they get a longer prison term than someone who has murdered an innocent person for having red hair.

    In that respect, I agree with the criticism of the law.

    But the change in law came because we had a number of racist murders and attacks. SL was one of only three members of an ethnic minority killed in the Eltham area alone in less than 5 years.

    We don't have anything like that level of violence against people with red hair.

    It's like the ban on fox hunting. It's just as cruel to chase gerbils down the street with a pack of dogs - it's just that nobody does.

    Race hate crime is a very real problem, which needs tackling. It would be nice when we reach a stage where it is so rare that this sort of law isn't necessary.

    Steve W
     
  20. Ivor the Engine

    Ivor the Engine
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    Those groups identified in the CJA are groups who are subject to victimisation by those who may not otherwise engage in criminal behaviour - i.e. they are targetted for a specific reason.

    I would have thought that these groups were fairly distinct and were better served by having better protection in law.

    Saying this I'm not in one of those groups.
     
  21. Jenn

    Jenn
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    The state is not trying to be "nice" to you or people of a different race or religion.
    The state is punishing these criminals harder not to please you but to discourage racists, homophobics and antisemites (or other religion haters) to indulge in gratuitious violence and murder because of their prejudice.

    I would think the odds of someone being killed for no reason by a stranger just for the sake of killing are lower than someone being killed purely because of his race/religion/sexuality, so obviously it is an issue.
     
  22. jp_bl_68

    jp_bl_68
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    But people are killed for reasons that don't involve their gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation. If I understand British hate crime law these killers could be punished less severely than killers with racist/sexist/homophobic motives.
     
  23. Jenn

    Jenn
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    I've mentioned it already and I'll mention it again, the race part is an aggravating circumstance.
    There are different types of aggravting circumstances in crimes and they all make a sentence heavier.

    For example if you kill someone with extreme violence, you're likely to get a longer jail sentence than "standard".

    Without the nuances, we'd have a set length of time for murder and anyone who kills anyone gets the same amount regardless of motive, circumstances etc.
     
  24. Geege

    Geege
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    The only offences that could be considered aggravated are:

    Wounding (GBH)
    Assault occasioning actual bodily harm
    Common Assault
    Criminal Damage
    Causing fear & provocation of violence
    Intentional harassment alarm or distress
    Causing harassment alarm or distress
    Harassment (section 2 and section 4)

    So murder isn't included.

    Any incident could be classed as a "hate crime" or deemed as a "Racist incident" however only those offences above can be deemed in law to be racially or religiously aggravated.

    and which means there was:

    Demonstration of hostility by the defendant
    Motivated by hostility of the defendant.

    and which carries a higher punishment if there is an aggravating factor, which I agree with but not with all offences. After all murder is murder. My problem is with the sentences themselves. Many should be harsher and certainly for murder(life) should mean life - not 14 or 15 years in the case of Norris and Dobson.
     
  25. MIghtyG

    MIghtyG
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    This is kind of my thinking on the subject, by singling out someone of a different race/sexuality etc and treating them differently in anyway to someone who was not of the same race/sex whatever then isnt that just another form of discrimination regardless of if its intentions were good?

    By saying "you assaulted someone the same color as you so you get 3 months in jail" then "you assaulted someone a different color so you get extra, you get 5 months" then you are saying that the someone of different color is different and should be treated differently. Is that right?

    Say, for example, a neo nazi was in a club with his girlfriend. A black person attempts to grope his other half and he flys into assault him and screams racial abuse as he does.

    He is a racist, he has shouted racial slurs but the motivation was not racial hatred. Should/would he be given a harsher punishment simply because he was another color? is that not the definition of discrimination?
     
  26. Jenn

    Jenn
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    But you don't know for sure that the race was not the trigger. Would the man have reacted violently if the other person was white, or did the fact that the person was black spur him into attacking because he felt doubly "offended"?
    That he shouted racist stuff would point to race being part of the motive.
     
  27. Ian J

    Ian J
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    They are guidelines only and in extreme cases like your hypothetical scenario it's down to the judge to use his discretion and common sense
     
  28. lucasisking

    lucasisking
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    I appreciate the distinction for purposes of classification. What I was getting at was why that particular motive attracts harsher punishment than another. If race or hate motivated crimes are deemed 'worse' than their vanilla equivalents, then the legal system must see some kind of additional conseqence to society for those crimes. I wondered what that additional consequence might be- maybe damage to community relations?
     
  29. Jenn

    Jenn
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    The CPS : Racist and religious crime ? CPS prosecution policy

    This explains a little bit.
     
  30. shodan

    shodan
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    A crime is commited because of the defendants perception of the victims race - Racially motivated.

    A crime is commited and a racial element (ie an insult is said, which is the normal way racial crime occurs) is added to it - Racially Aggravated.


    Once the evidence supports a prosecution that the offence is racially motivated then the CPS may authorise a charge of one of the offences listed by Geege (assuming it is one of them) as a Racially aggravated offence of assault / criminal damage / public order.

    If it isn't one of those offences then an additional charge of a racially aggravated public order (if it is racial slurs added before/during/after the offence) may be added on.

    This is how it works in the real world.
     

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