The names Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice have entered the public vocabulary in the past several years. They usually accompany a painful, yet necessary, discussion of police violence against black Americans. Such discussions have called the integrity of the police corps into question.
According to the Spring 2016 Harvard Public Opinion Project poll, 49 percent of Millennials show either little or no confidence in “the U.S. judicial system’s ability to fairly judge people without bias for race or ethnicity.” Only nine percent had “a lot” of confidence.
These numbers remain unchanged from last year’s poll, when the confidence split was about 50-50. The number of Millennials who showed “not much” confidence decreased four percent, while the number of those who showed none increased two percent. The missing two percent chose not to respond. This change indicates that confidence among those already skeptical has decreased in the past year.
Polling among minority populations revealed that 59 percent of African American Millennials and 52 percent of Hispanic Millennials believe the justice system to be racially biased. This is striking, as the victims of racial bias are perhaps more able to discern unequal treatment than their non-discriminated peers.
These findings are just the next installment in a series of questions that showcase the severe lack of faith Millennials have in the justice system. This issue, when compared with the Harvard Public Opinion Project’s other findings from this year, suggest that Millennials are losing trust in the nation’s institutions, as both trust in the military and the federal government as a whole have both decreased from last year. It is unclear whether this is merely a phase for the nation’s young people or if there is a fundamental shift in how Millennials view the government.