By the numbers: Nearly six out of 10 respondents — 59% — disagreed with the statement "police treat all Americans equally," while 58% said the same about criminal justice courts and lawyers.
Between the lines: Most Americans still have a positive view of the police, regardless of how they feel about equal justice. But that's not true of Black Americans — nearly six out of 10 (57%) said they have unfavorable views of the police and law enforcement.
- Black Americans gave the system an especially strong vote of no confidence, with 84% disagreeing that police treat people equally and 76% saying the same about the courts.
- But 53% of white Americans, 62% of Hispanic Americans and 67% of Asian Americans also disagreed that police treat everyone equally, while 55% of white Americans and Asian Americans and 56% of Hispanic Americans voiced a lack of confidence in the courts.
- That lack of faith extended across virtually all other groups, including by gender, age, region, urban/suburban/rural residency, and education and income levels.
- The only hint of confidence in the police came from Republicans, with 51% saying police treat everyone equally (only 7% of Democrats and 18% of independents agreed). Just 42% of Republicans said the courts treat everyone equally.
...When Americans face the courts, the poll found a large gap in their experiences, with Black and Hispanic Americans more likely to depend on court-ordered attorneys than other groups.
- 43% of white Americans and 52% of Asian Americans said they've had their own attorneys when they or a family member has had to appear in court.
- By contrast, just 29% of Black Americans and 39% of Hispanic Americans had their own lawyers, while 49% of Black Americans and 43% of Hispanic Americans had court-ordered attorneys.
- That's important because public defenders are widely considered to be overworked and underfunded, and because researchers have become concerned in recent years that some public defenders might have their own forms of implicit bias.