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America in Black and White: Criminal Justice

An investigation into the deep, underlying structural issues that impact on black American lives, beginning with the criminal justice system.

Rajini investigates the criminal justice system. In Nebraska she visits the conservative politician promoting laws to reduce the number of people behind bars. Will that help black Americans? “I hope so” he answers.

Elsewhere she hears from critics who argue that the system can never be reformed, only broken; that the system is not fair, the police need to be disarmed. She visits the police chief advising President Obama on the way forward, who acknowledges the problem but argues that “all black lives matter”, including those killed by crime, and that protesters must accept that the police are part of the solution. Rajini also spends time with the police force teaching all its officers how to be ‘ethical protectors’.

Protests against shootings of young black men by the police have pushed the issue of race to the top of the public agenda in the United States. Now BBC Washington correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan, who has covered many of the recent protests, sets out to examine some of the deep, underlying structural issues which America still has with race.

(Photo: A 19-year-old resident of Cleveland (holding sign), marches with other activists on St Clair Ave, Cleveland, Ohio, 2015. Credit: by Angelo Merendino/Getty Images)

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