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Due process of law has become a casualty of the war on crime. As representatives of both parties compete to show which is the toughest on crime, the criminal justice systems in the United States have become so result-oriented that little attention is paid to the fairness and reliability of the process which leads to those results. In the quest to obtain more convictions and death sentences, little concern is being shown for the likelihood of error and the need to provide equal justice for persons of color and the poor.
Yet the criminal justice systems are making some of the most important governmental decisions in society—who will lose their liberty and for how long, and who will be put to death. The operation of the criminal justice system is particularly important to the African-American community. One third of African-American men between the ages of 18 and 30 are under some type of court supervision and by the turn of the century one half of all black men will be in prison or jail, or on probation or parole.
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