Race in the Criminal Justice System
Sociologists seek to understand, generalize, and predict human behavior. The relationship between crime and racism is one that sociologists pay a lot of attention to. The goal of sociologists is to better understand people and their relationships with people of different ethnicities and how they interact in order to prevent and control crime. The relationships between certain ethnic groups of people threaten social control imposed by the criminal justice system often due to stereotyping and prejudices. Crime rates and statistics are often incorrect, the justice system is corrupt, racial profiling is ineffective, the jury tends to sometimes sway towards one group of people or another, technology is helping but still there is racism and stereotypes. Crime Rates and why there are Stereotypes
Criminology is the branch of sociology that studies crime and criminals as a social phenomenon. Criminology is the science of the behavior of these criminals as well as corrections and law enforcement. This science relies heavily on accurate research especially the statistics behind the relationships involving race and the crime itself. In the United States crime and the race of the offender are clearly linked but there is another issue. Crime is increasing but it is also being committed by more people because the population has increased so much. From 2000 to 2006 the population increased by about 17,976,578, according to the U.S. Consensus Bureau. This crime-boom in the past decade has caused problems in the criminal justice system. The criminal justice system is seeing “too much crime, underreporting of crime, prison overcrowding, discriminatory practices, budgetary cutbacks, and lacking a clear picture of the incident and nature of crime. As a result it is often ineffective in combating and controlling crime, and lacking a clear picture of the incidence and nature of crime,” (Flowers, xvi). As stated by Flowers when crime is underreported crime rates become unreliable as evidence and effect how we view, prevent and treat crime in the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation publishes annual crime statistics in Crime in the United States and determines the crime rates by computing the national crime rates for index offenses per 100,000 people. This calculation is determined by dividing the number of reported crimes by the total Unites States population and multiplying this total by 100,000. There is an issue with these annual statistics the FBI publishes according to Flowers because the number of reported crimes in incorrect. Crimes are not reported for several reasons: “Victims would rather not go through the hassle of reporting crimes, Victims are too ashamed or embarrassed to want to make a crime known (e.g., in case of rape). Witnesses to a crime do not want to get involved, victims or witnesses regard the offense as a private matter, a belief that the offense was too insignificant to be reported, lack of confidence that the police can be helpful, fear of self-incrimination, the victim is unaware of his or her victimization,” (Flowers, 5). There are many reasons why crimes are not reported to officials and although some are understandable this is the cause of stereotyping. These inaccurate statistics lead to stereotypes which influence racism and prejudices against certain groups of people. These inaccurate crime statistics are known as the dark figures according to Flowers. With inaccurate statistics come inaccurate depictions or stereotypes of certain races and groups of people. A look at the numbers
According to the U.S. Consensus Bureau the estimated population in the United States in 2006 was 299,389,484 people. Caucasians are in fact most likely to be both the offenders and the victims of crime because of their overwhelming number, while minority group members, specifically blacks and Hispanics have the highest rate of criminal involvement. Whites account for...
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Flowers, Ronald B. Demographics and Criminality: the Characteristics of Crime in America. Connecticut: Greenwood P, 1989.
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