Nearly half of young Americans lack confidence in justice system: survey

Wed Apr 29, 2015 3:04pm EDT
 
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

(Reuters) - Nearly half of young Americans believe the U.S. justice system has racial and ethnic biases and they strongly believe the use of police body cameras will make law enforcement fairer, a Harvard University study showed on Wednesday.

The survey was released as Baltimore recovered from riots this week that followed the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after suffering a spine injury while in police custody.

The unrest has renewed a debate over race and policing that has flared in demonstrations across the country since the deaths last year of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City.

In a survey of Americans ages 18 to 29, Harvard's Institute of Politics asked if they were confident the U.S. judicial system could "fairly judge people without bias for race and ethnicity."

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they had not much or no confidence, the researchers said.

Among African-Americans, 66 percent said they had not much or no confidence in the system's fairness, while 53 percent of Hispanics expressed similar misgivings, the study found.

The survey also found 80 percent of those asked said equipping police officers with body cameras could help reduce racial inequalities in the justice system.

The finding comes a day after the Los Angeles Police Commission approved rules governing the widespread use of body cameras in the nation's second largest city, bringing it a step closer to becoming the largest U.S. metropolis to provide the vast majority of officers with the devices.   Continued...

 
A figure of a child holding an open book decorates a flagpole at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington October 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst