Class justice in the Netherlands even worse than in the US

Chances of a prison sentence are bigger for Dutch citizens with a Moroccan or Antillean background than for African-Americans in the US.

vrijdag 14 september 2018

More often suspected by the police
For the same offense, young people with a non western migrant background have a 5.6 times bigger chance of being regarded as a suspect than indigenous peers, for the same offence. This is shown by an analysis by PhD student Willemijn Bezemer, which Control Alt Delete published today. For Moroccan-Dutch youngsters the chance to be considered a suspect is even 8.4 times as large.

Bezemer, who is affiliated with the Erasmus University, closely scrutinized an investigation of the WODC. This study examined whether young people who claim to have committed a criminal offense are also in the police system. Bezemer concludes: "If we merely look at the group of youngsters that admits to have committed a criminal offense, youngsters with the aforementioned non-western migrant background are much more often considered a suspect by the police and much more legal action is taken against this group in comparison to indigenous youngsters."

More often put in jail by the Ministry of Justice                                                                 
Today, another study was published that provides insight into the inequality further down the criminal justice chain. In an article of the 'Tijdschrift voor Criminologie' (Journal of Criminology), Moroccan-Dutch youngsters are 12 times more likely to be put in prison in comparison to their indigenous peers. For Antillean-Dutch youngsters the chance is 10 times as big. The disproportion with which these groups are detained is even higher than in the US. Pay attention! The chance for an African-American to be detained is 4 times bigger than for a white American. 

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Now what?
As of today we know how big of a difference there is in the chances to be considered a suspect. The obvious purpose is that everyone who performs criminal activities receives the same attention from the judiciary and the police - that is not the case in the Netherlands. It is important to discuss the cause: what role does their cultural background play, what is the impact of growing up in deprived areas, under-advice in education, discrimination on the labor market and other matters?

Start with transparency
The researchers also mention racial profiling as one of the possible causes. They refer to the discrimination test with bicycles that we have carried out for the documentary 'Zwart als Roet' from Sunny Bergman. It makes sense to look at this: the criminal justice chain starts with police contact. If, in that first interaction, the same chance differences are visible, we have a logical starting point for improvement. To begin with: the police and the judiciary must be transparent. They must make the relevant data available to scientists for further research.

Read more on Controle Alt Delete, click here