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Race and Crime

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“The Uniform Crime Report statistics state that blacks are more frequently arrested than whites. While this may mean that blacks actually commit more crime, what are some other factors that may be driving the statistics?”

“If black neighborhoods are under more police surveillance than white neighborhoods, what does this mean for crime statistics?”

“Can you give examples of how blacks receive differential treatment in the criminal justice system?”

What are your thoughts? Remember to back your comments up with supporting evidence.

Maybe the reason blacks are arrested more often is because their neighborhoods are watched more than white neighborhoods, maybe because the police officer on duty doesn’t like black people.

Other things that may affect the crime stats are , bad reports, not accurate, reporting only what they want to report to make the county look good or saying there is more crime by blacks for more funding. Also structural differences, non-uniform reporting practices, software coding errors.

The stats would not be accurate at all. You have to look at all kinds of neighborhoods to determine which has more crimes than the others and who is committing those crimes.

How blacks receive differential treatment in the criminal justice system is, that minorities serve longer sentences, have higher arrest and conviction rates, face higher bail amounts, and are more often the victims of police use of deadly force than white citizens.

When it comes to criminals, many people have a preconception of what a criminal is. Usually when people think of a criminal they picture a Black or Latino face. The thought of an Asian criminal is often related to Asian gangs. Interestingly enough, White people as a group are rarely associated with the thought of crime, even though they account for 70% of arrests and 40% of the prison population each year(Russel xiv). This seems to be overlooked, though, when people consider their stereotypical views. Minorities have become victims of these stereotypes in the U.S. courts by judges and juries as well as in their neighborhoods by local police.

When asking for fairness, the desire isn’t for more rights for the criminally accused, yet for those rights of the accused to be fairly executed, before they are found guilty or innocent. This being because the system is unfair, it seems to be two different systems: one for the privileged, and one for the less privileged. Cops use methods of investigation and interrogation against minorities and the poor that wouldn’t be accepted against more privileged citizens. Courts assign public defenders to the poor in serious criminal trials that a rich person wouldn’t hire to defend them in a traffic court. Many minorities walk into a courtroom with the feeling that they are guilty until proven innocent. The complexion of their skin is too often viewed as negative.

Stereotypical views of minorities by police officers can lead to tragic situations.

What most people do not know or realize is that White offenders are the most common. The following is taken from The Color of Crime by Katheryn Russell:

Whites account for approximately 80 percent of those arrested: driving under the influence (86 percent), liquor law violations (80 percent), and drunkenness (81 percent). For these offenses White arrest rates are on par with their percentage in the population. Table 7.2 also reports that Whites have high rates of arrest for several other offenses, including arson (74 percent), burglary (67 percent), loitering (76 percent), vandalism (73 percent), and sex offenses (75 percent). SOURCE: Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics (1991-1995), Bureau of Justice Statistics

Whites also have a much higher rate of white-collar crimes. Criminologists Francis Cullen and Michael Benson state: “The costs of white-collar crime–the violence it entails, the money it transfers illegally, its damage to the moral fabric–may well outstrip the costs of traditional street crimes.”(Color crime PG 116) Still there is no annual count of white-collar crimes. Some say that criminologists don’t view them as real crimes. The belief that black crime is disproportionate is true, but the belief that African-Americans are responsible for a majority of crime is false. Why is it that we hardly see crime represented in other colors? There is no term “criminalwhiteman” yet people use the term “criminalblackman?” If more White criminals were in the media’s spotlight, the public image of crime would be completely different. Still, the Black stereotype will never go away unless the media exposes the “criminalblackman” as a misrepresentation. Whites who live in mainly suburban and rural areas, actually commit at a disproportionate rate as well. Only if the public could actually see the amount of Whites committing crimes, they would learn that their racial views about crime were misplaced.

The O.J. Simpson case was proof of the racial division and views about how the law handles cases. Had he been an average middle or lower class Black man who couldn’t afford a good attorney, he would have definitely been found guilty. Even with such overwhelming evidence that this injustice exists to poor minorities, you would never know it by examining the outcome of most minorities accused of a crime. When it comes to statistics, lack of information may be misleading. The media’s overemphasis on how differently Whites and Blacks viewed the criminal case also masked the fact that many African-Americans believed Simpson was guilty, and many Whites believed he was not guilty. In a poll, it was found that 30% of Blacks believed he was guilty while the number of Whites who felt he was innocent outnumbered Blacks 3: 1. (Color crime, 31).

The public as a whole has a general misconception of the relationship between crime and race. Unfortunately, this misconception is brought into courtrooms. It’s no surprise that things are the way they are given the history of this country. You can change laws but you can’t change people. As long you have the image of minorities being portrayed as criminals in the media, the problem will exist. The problem only makes itself worse as it continues. Inequality is inevitable in today’s society. This nation is too busy dealing with the problems that arise from the views of race and crime to focus enough attention on fixing them. The problem can’t be fixed until we as a people can agree on what the root of the problem is. It begins in the communities and ends in the justice system. We must look inside the system and the role it play’s in society and what outcome we want from it. We need to use equality rather than personal views when making difficult decisions in society.

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