THE BLOG
10/30/2016 09:13 pm ET Updated Oct 31, 2017

Race Relations & Criminal Justice: Election 2016

By Jake Foote

As Election Day looms closer, issues of racism and criminal justice reform remain at the forefront of political discourse.

The September 11th shooting of Terrence Sterling in northwest Washington D.C. once again ignited protests by groups advocating for better treatment of African Americans by police communities.

Sterling's death was ruled a homicide by the D.C. medical examiner, making his death one of 793 occurring at the hands of police so far this year.

Many have advocated for the universal use of body cameras on police officers, but in the case of Sterling, the police officer who was responsible for the shooting did not turn his body camera on until after the shooting occurred. The only video of the incident depicts the efforts to save Sterling's life.

The conversation on criminal justice reform continues as no true solution has been found. African Americans are shot and killed a disproportionate rate by police, but efforts to mitigate these problems have had limited results.

These issues remain of major importance to voters who cite discrimination as a major point of contingency in this election.

Even with heavy media focus on the allegations of sexual assault against Donald Trump, a recent poll conducted by the University of Southern California shows that racial discrimination is among the most salient issues amongst voters.

According to the same poll, a voter's opinion on the issue of systemic discrimination is more likely to sway that voter towards one particular candidate than the usual political be-all-end-all, the economy.

Criminal justice reform is an even bigger issue with millennials, as polls show that 72 percent of the demographic believe that police brutality against African Americans is an issue that needs to be addressed.

These numbers show that the American people are receptive to change, but the incoming president must also be sympathetic to these problems for large-scale improvements to occur.

The economy, immigration, and abortion have been the issues dominating the debate rhetoric thus far, which begs the question: how long will these killings and subsequent protests continue before real progress is made?