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Police and Racial and Ethnic Minorities Annotated Bibliography

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Updated: Mar 12th, 2022

Police in America has received quite a chunk of criticisms as relates to their differential treatment of suspects and convicts. The whole justice system has also received an equal share of the blame as being one that has bias. Treatment of persons varies depending on gender, race and status. The most pronounced is the treatment according to race and ethnic background. Racial and ethnic minorities are treated worse by the police than the dominant whites are.

One of the authors that share this opinion is Bumgarner (2006). In his book Profiling and criminal justice in America, the author discusses profiling to be a law enforcement issue. The view is that profiling is not only limited to what the police are engaged in towards the blacks but that the whole prosecutorial system is compromised. The author though speaks of profiling by the police as having paid off in several circumstances. This he states that ha been common in the auto theft. The author categorizes profiling as reactive and non-reactive. The former is used by investigators and the latter is mostly used by patrol officers.

Further emphasis on this thorny issue is given by Cole, G. & Smith, C. (2007) in his book The American System of Criminal Justice. This author poses a strong argument to suggest that discrimination by the police is evident. Police patrols and drug searches according to him, find their concentration and focus in non-white areas. Most of the people arrested for drug-related offenses will always be non-whites whether evidence links them or not. A survey done in Connecticut indicated that a black or Hispanic man had to pay bail twice the amount paid by whites for the same offenses. The author goes on and on to give other examples of cases where this discrimination is quite seen against non-whites. The book offers so far the strongest source for this topic and is in support of the thesis statement.

According to Siegel, L. (2008) there is a differential treatment that is depicted by the police and especially in areas of crime. In this book, the author shares how in many cases people of color and Hispanics will always find themselves on the wrong side of the law in terms of police harassment and treatment. The book does not provide detailed information on profiling but gives sketchy yet second-hand information on the way persons of color and Hispanics find themselves mistreated by the police.

Jaynes and Williams (1990) also pose a contribution to this topic. Accordingly, in their book a Common Destiny: Blacks and American society, they give further detailed information on how segregation is felt in terms of justice and law enforcement by the police. In this book, the author goes ahead to give statistics that indicate that police profiling is a nightmare that is with us. Further, this author does not only give emphasis to the profiling by the police but goes ahead to indicate that the blacks and Hispanics face challenges in terms of segregation all around in their lives. It is the frequent arrests that the blacks face that have made them have very low employment rates as compared to the whites. For example in 1985, 30% of blacks did not work as opposed to 22% of whites. As a sole source for information on police profiling, it is weak. Statistically though, it is a very relevant source of information.

The sensitivity of this issue is further pronounced by Houston’s (2000) contribution. His book Psychological principles and the Black experience gives focus, on the differences in the psychological perceptions of whites and blacks. The black experience is also focused on by the author where he gives the double-mindedness of blacks and the feeling altogether. As explained by the author, this leads to a lot of frustration and therefore the violent behavior some tend to have. The author speaks of the clash that exists between blacks and whites as being caused by varied perceptions of the two groups. Solutions thereof are accorded.

A more thoughtful approach to the relations between police and the ethnic and racial minorities is given by Roth, B. (1994) in the book Prescription for failure: race relations in the age of social science. This involves more social research to determine why there are vile relations between the police and these groups. The question is not to establish whether they are there but to find out the motivations behind the strained relationships. The author also emphasizes the part the neighborhoods play in creating poor relationships. The author is of the opinion that just like various classes exist in black neighborhoods, the same is extended to the relations they experience with the police. The book is good for policymakers and in offering solutions to strained relations more than pointing fingers.

Rose, T. (1994) voices her concern on this topic in her book Black noise: rap music and black culture in contemporary America. Her opinion is that the music the blacks like to listen to greatly affects the treatment that they receive from the police. The music mostly is rough and rugged mostly seeking their rights. At the same time the music is used to express the feelings that the black people have towards the police. In some videos of this rap music it is easy to notice a white policeman trying to harass a black man to no avail. The author focuses only on the complexity of a relationship that exists between the black people and the police. Other groups like the Hispanics are not given any emphasis in this work it is s good source to represent the actual feelings that the black people have towards the police and vice versa.

A different twist to the topic is contributed to by Scott (1976) in the book the black revolts: racial stratification in the U.S.A. The author gives a vivid explanation of the contribution that estates have made to the police profiling cases. In this item, emphasis is laid on the fact that the neighborhoods within which the Hispanics and blacks stay to play a big role in determining the treatment that the blacks receive from the police. The neighborhoods are stated to be so dungy and suspicious that police would not want to offer help in such areas. There also does exit deep suspicion between these two groups in these areas. These coupled with the perception police have of blacks as being violent makes the service so differential.

Muffler, S. (2006) chose to offer an addition to the causes and effects of police profiling in the book racial profiling: issues, data, and analyses. In as much as this author gives focus on the profiling that is demonstrated by police when it comes to treatment of Hispanics and blacks, he also does emphasize the need to stop jumping to conclusions. The author beyond advocating for a reduced level of profiling by the police advocates that better methods be applied in the collection of evidence. In terms of profiling, the author shares that the police simply focus on getting any data to be used which in essence may not contribute much to the police department winning of cases. The author is of the opinion that for there to be reduction in cases of police discrimination, professionalism is vital and is to be introduced.

By far the most elaborate book on this topic is by Walker, Spohn and et al. (2004). The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Crime in America is a book that is quite important in this issue. The author from the title of the book expresses the opinion that justice is not equally meted out on persons. The author does not only focus on the reasons as to why racial injustices as relates to the police are practiced but looks also at delinquency issues and ethnicity as a player in the police treatment of citizens. This so far is the best book to accord information on the topic since it does diversify and focuses also on other minority groups both racial and ethnic and the challenges they go through in seeking justice. In this the Asian Americans, African Americans and Hispanics are highlighted. Gender treatment and the differentials thereof are highlighted by the author of the book. To the author, the differential treatment runs throughout the whole justice system including the death penalty and correctional programs. In the argumentation, the author includes the most recently done research in the area thus improving the validity of the work.

It’s high time that we stopped pointing fingers as to who between the racial/ethnic minorities is in the wrong and focus on finding solutions to the existing problems. Social researchers may be of invaluable help in this area. Equally proper policies and procedures by the police administration and authorities will act as a solution to the challenges.

References

Bumgarner, J. (2006). Profiling and criminal justice in America: a reference handbook. New York: ABC-CLIO.

Cole, G. & Smith, C. (2007). The American System of Criminal Justice. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth Learning.

Siegel, L. (2008). Introduction to Criminal Justice. Belmont: cengage learning.

Jaynes, G & Williams, R. (1990). A Common destiny: Blacks and American society. New York: National academic press.

Houston, L. (2000). Psychological principles and the Black experience. New York: University Press of America.

Roth, B. (1994). Prescription for failure: race relations in the age of social science. New York: Social Philosophy and Policy Center.

Rose, T. (1994). Black noise: rap music and black culture in contemporary America. Middle town: Wesleyan University press.

Scott, J. (1976). The black revolts: racial stratification in the U.S.A. Massachusetts: Cambridge University Press.

Muffler, S. (2006). Racial profiling: issues, data, and analyses. New York: nova science publishers.

Walker, S. Spohn, C. & et al. (2004). The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Crime in America. New York: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

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