Police Influence on Society
Cultural Diversity in Criminal Justice CJA/344
March 25, 2012
Police Influence on Society
The history of policing in diverse neighborhoods has not been a pleasant part of our history. Racism and prejudice was a everyday experience on a daily beat of a police officer. At one time the police force only consisted of Anglo-Saxon men of a certain height and weight and did not consist of other races nor was women even allowed on the force, since a women’s place was at home. Laws were also different for Whites and Blacks. The 1960’s brought about racial tension and the prison system started filling up with Black males that were indicted for more violent trumped up charges simply because their skin color was different. A Brief History
Prior to the Civil War, Blacks were not imprisoned for crimes because they were owned by Whites and therefore, any crimes that may have been construed as crimes were dealt with by their owners. After the Civil War the freed slaves, if they committed a crime, were leased to previous owners to work off their convictions or were sent to the mining fields or railroad buildings, Crutchfield, R, Fernandez, A, and Martinez, J, (2010). Traffic Stops
Fast forward to the twenty first century there is still racial disparity within the criminal justice system. African-American and Latino males are more likely to be stopped by law enforcement for traffic violations. They are seen by individual police officers as targets because they are thought to have a higher criminal behavior, if the traffic stop is skin color motivated. These groups are also more likely to be searched, but are not more
Police Influence likely to have contraband. The disparities continue against African-American and Latino males with increased risk for traffic citations, searches, arrest, and use of force. The odds of receiving a traffic citation are increased by 47% for African-Americans and 82% for Latino males. Having their cars searched for African-American and Latino males are increased to 50% and 42% and without finding contraband, Crutchfield, R, Fernandez, A, and Martinez, J, (2010). Traffic stops for highway patrols has no effect on race because cars travel at a higher rate of speed, and therefore, race is hard to see at such a high speed. Arrests. Research on arrests has an opposite effect. The research on violent crime arrests is higher for White males than other races including crimes of forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Drug charges and related crimes have shown substantial disparity among races, especially African-Americans This is because of the heightened involvement in criminal activity in poverty stricken neighborhoods. Research has shown the arrests for White offenders is 22% higher for robbery, 13% higher for aggravated assault, and 9% higher for simple assault when comparing it to the arrests of African-Americans, Crutchfield, R, Fernandez, A, and Martinez, J, (2010).
Pretrial. After arrests one of the decisions is whether to detain the offender, release the offender on their own recognizance, or to set bail in exchange for pretrial release. These decisions are based on legal and demographic factors finding that results are of no difference in detention rates of African-American and Latinos compared to Whites. Decades of reforms has limited detention based on racial and ethnic bases, although Police Influence
judges can be influenced by prior convictions. African-Americans are more likely to be convicted of drug felonies and increase their odds of incarceration by 62% when compared to White offenders. Drug distribution has shown an increase in White offenders. Latino offenders are 50% less likely to be granted a release. Latino offenders have a triple burden in the criminal justice system. They are the most likely to have to post bail to gain release, they have to pay the highest bail amounts, and they are most likely to be unable to pay their bail. Only 28% of Latinos are able to post bail and are granted release compared to 40% of African-Americans and 54% of Whites. Disparity for Latinos is more widespread than for African-Americans, Crutchfield, R, Fernandez, A, and Martinez, J, (2010).
Sentencing. Because of reforms, the judges discretions and decisions are based on the type of crime and severity, and the criminal history to determine the sentencing phase. Judges determine sentence length with legal factors such as criminal history which weighs more heavily against African-Americans and Latinos compared to Whites with similar criminal histories. Even though the disparities exist in the sentencing phase, the disparities are mild to moderate.
Disparities do exist for African-American and Latino males in traffic stops in regards to searching their vehicles with no contraband found. After an offender is arrested for a crime committed, African Americans are more likely to be arrested for drug related crimes whereas Whites are more likely to be arrested for more violent crimes. Latinos are Police Influence
are less likely to be granted bail for release and have to pay the highest amount. They are less likely to be able to afford to pay their bail. During the sentencing phase because of reforms disparity among races are mild to moderate but still exist. History has shown that even though reforms have been made racial and ethnic disparity is still existing in our criminal justice system.
Crutchfield, R., Fernandes, A., & Martinez, J. (2010, Summer). Racial and Ethnic Disparity and Criminal Justice: How much is too Much?. Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, 100(3), 903-932.