The possibility of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system warrants attention from researchers, in order to encourage evidence-based policy change. Prior research has shown a clear connection between race and rates of arrest, but it is unclear whether the relationship is due to bias in the criminal justice system or bias in public perception of crime, leading to the belief that blacks are more dangerous than whites. This research shows whether there is indeed a relationship between race and arrest rates, and if so, under which circumstances the effect is most pronounced.. The five research hypotheses examine variables including race, type of crime, arrest rates, post-arrest procedures including prosecution and sentencing, mitigating variables like poverty, and political propaganda. It is expected that non-whites are more likely to be arrested for the groups of crimes known as "street crimes," including murder, rape, and drug trafficking, and it is further predicted that African-Americans are arrested disproportionately with their non-black brethren. African-Americans are expected to be more likely to be prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to prison terms vs. whites. Predicted risk factors for arrest, regardless of race, include poverty, gang membership, and exposure to violence. Finally, it is hypothesized that arrest rates for blacks are higher in areas in which political propaganda racializes street crime. Data is collected from six different municipalities, including urban, suburban, and rural regions. Official arrest records are used as a primary means of data collection. Results...
Non-whites are more likely to be arrested for "street crimes" including violent crimes, robberies, and drug offenses, versus whites.
2. For street crimes, arrest rates are higher for African-Americans than any other ethnic group.
3. Once arrested, non-whites are more likely to be prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to prison, as well as more likely to be arrested.
4. In addition to race, gender, gang membership, poverty, and exposure to violence in the community are mitigating risk factors related to likelihood of an arrest.
5. Arrest rates are higher for African-Americans because of public perception of African-Americans as being dangerous or predisposed to crime, leading to police engaging in racial profiling.
Independent Variable: Race
Dimension #1: Self-identification
Black + Hispanic or Brazilian
Dimension #2: Identification of race by arresting officer
Black + Hispanic or Brazilian
Dimension #3: Self-Perception of How Others Perceive
Black + Hispanic or Brazilian
Dependent Variable: Arrest Rates
Dimension #1: Type of Crime
Violent Offense (Assault)
Dimension #2: Level of Crime
Dimension #3: Geographic Location
Statement of the Problem
Prior research has suggested that African-Americans are disproportionately arrested vs. whites (Kochel, Wilson & Mastrofski, 2011). The disproportionality in arrest rates may be attributed to several factors, including racial bias on the part of the police, as well as additional risk factors such as gang membership or poverty. For example, Tapia (2011) found that both race and gang membership created a cluster of risk factors that led to a disproportionate number of African-Americans being arrested for street crimes. In other words, it may be that African-Americans are more likely than other ethnic groups to…
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