The Criminal System and Minorities


Mala Prohibita a term that is used to describe conduct that is prohibited by law but that is not inherently evil.  Mala Prohibita has been put in place since the colonial times when the immigrants from Ireland and Italy were gaining political power in the United States. Since then Mala Prohibita has been used by the criminal system to criminalize the behavior of the immigrants. This occurred because of the fear the English had against immigrants and their traditions. For example; prohibition on alcohol. The white conservatives considered drinking an immoral behavior and thus make it a crime and with this many poor Irish were taken to jail. Prohibition targeted immigrants and the poor. In a court case called Tennessee v. John Scopes a man was found guilty  for teaching the theory of evolution in his biology class. In this case the white conservatives criminalize the teachings of evolution because they found science threatening.

Since the 1950’s the 1950’s Mala Prohibita has changed and this happened with the victory of president Franklin Delano Roosevelt who ended alcohol prohibition and with this he ended a form of criminalization against minorities. Later in the 70’s the war of drug began and it targeted minorities, such as Latinos and blacks. But under George Bush and Obama this war started to end with the legalization of marijuana in some states like Colorado. This new laws have resulted in less incarcerations for drug possession. The benefits of this are that there will be a reduction of imamates for minor crimes on the overcrowded jails.

I believe society is becoming more liberal and crimes for immoral behavior are not being punished anymore.  When the government legalize something they win because they get to regulate those substances that are illegal and they can tax it. In an article called, “States Putting Hopes in ‘Bottoms Up’ to Help the Bottom Line”, an associate professor of economics mentions that the government is not truly concern about people health issues when raising taxes on alcohol, that their only concern is revenue; “Legislators can say it’s to protect health and reduce drunk driving, and that’s what can draw support, but the real motivation is revenue.”  To me it seems that every time there is a presidential election the criminal system becomes more liberal or more conservative depending on who wins. With this coming election if we have a liberal victory the country will continue to move left as if has happen in the Obama presidency and people are not going to be criminalized for actions that are defined as morally wrong by the conservatives. But if conservatives win then actions that are considered morally wrong will be considered crimes.


Severson, Kim. “States Putting Hopes in ‘Bottoms Up’ to Help the Bottom Line.” The New York Times. N.p., 28 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.


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