Criminal justice

CJ 230. Criminology

 

Assignment

 

You must cite the sources you use to support your arguments.  You will need to dedicate about 1.5 to 2 pages for each question included in the assignment.  The entire paper should be about 5-8 pages in length, single spaced.  Margins must be 1-inch on all sides.  Pages beyond page 10 will not be read nor graded so do not go overboard with your writing.

 

You can find information on how to properly cite your sources using APA (American Psychological Association) format at http://www.apastyle.org.  In criminal justice papers we prefer that you use the APA style. Information on MLA (Modern Language Association) can be found at http://www.mla.org.  If you use Firefox you can download an add-on that will format your citations automatically.  The add-on is called Zotero.  It can be downloaded at www.zotero.org.  Instructions on how to install it and use it can be found on that site as well.

 

Do not use answers supplied from external sources.  All of your work should be original.  This means that plagiarism will not be tolerated.  Summarize cited material in your own words and keep your quotations short.  Among other things, this assignment should demonstrate that you can craft a succinct and effective argument.  If you are caught cheating you could receive an F for the assignment.

 

Below, included in the body of this document, read the New York Times Editorial Observer piece by Brent Staples entitled “Even Now, There’s Risk in ‘Driving While Black’” and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution piece by David Ibata entitled “Atlanta woman arrested by mistake, jailed 53 days”.  Also read the additional supplemental material provided below.

 

Additional supplemental information:

 

The phrase “driving while black” was coined in 1995 by Henry Louis Gates Jr., a Harvard trained intellectual.  The phrase suggests that black individuals are more likely than white individuals to be pulled over by police while driving because of their race.  This is only one example of racial profiling within the criminal justice system.  Minorities are significantly more likely to be arrested or convicted of a crime than white individuals, whether they are Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc.  This paper will specifically examine how social and institutionalized racism in the United States causes black individuals to be over-represented within the justice system.

The white population is much larger than the black population in the United States.  Considering this, one would expect to see a greater number of white arrests in comparison to black arrests.  This is not the case.  According to Bureau of Justice statistics, arrest rates for blacks are significantly higher than arrest rates for whites.  In 1980 there were approximately 9,447 arrests per 100,000 black individuals, compared to only approximately 3,967 arrests per 100,000 white individuals.  This trend has continued since the 1980’s.  In 1990 there were approximately 13,128 arrests per 100,000 black individuals, compared to only 4,740 arrests per 100,000 white individuals in the same year.  Arrest rates for 2009 show similar disparities.  The arrest rate data can be found at:

http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=2203

The difference in arrest rates is not easily explained. Certainly, the difference is tied to a variety of socioeconomic and historical factors. The question of slavery at the founding of our nation and segregation during the last century probably has a lot to do with the differences in socioeconomic conditions seen by whites versus blacks. Police officers, prosecutors and judges are also far more likely to be white than black. The questions at the end of the reading are designed to get you to think about the sources of different arrest rates – and to even question whether the differences are real. Some historically black neighborhoods are patrolled more rigorously by police, making the odds of being caught for crime higher than for some white neighborhoods. Certain crimes such as street gambling, selling narcotics, smoking marijuana, vagrancy, loitering, public intoxication, public urination, open container of alcohol and the like are more easily visible from the streets. It could be that many whites commit crimes behind closed doors and are therefore far less likely to be apprehended in the act of committing a crime. There is also a definite disparage in sentencing when it comes to drugs. Blacks are more likely to be convicted of possession of crack-cocaine, while whites are far more likely to be convicted of possession of the more expensive powdered cocaine. Even though the drugs are essentially the same, the sentence for crack-cocaine possession is many times harsher than for powdered cocaine. There is also the possibility that legislators target vices of blacks specifically. A white business man who commits bank fraud or investor fraud is essentially robbing people of their money. However, the sentences and investigation of white collar money crimes is far less severe than the sentences and investigation of street or store robberies. Once a black is labeled a convicted felon, they can no longer possess a firearm. If they are caught with a gun, they are then charged with another felony, thereby repeating the cycle. It is also harder for them to find a decent job. They are also likely to be on probation or parole after their jail or prison sentence. If they happen to fail a drug test, they are back in jail or prison. It seems in many black neighborhoods that crime is passed down from family to family and from generation to generation; it is really a vicious cycle.

Please access the internet link provided above to reference. Also, feel free to use other internet and library resources.

 

Editorial Observer

Even Now, There’s Risk in ‘Driving While Black’

By BRENT STAPLES

Published: June 14, 2009

The experience of being mistaken for a criminal is almost a rite of passage for African-American men. Security guards shadow us in stores. Troopers pull us over for the crime of “driving while black.” Nighttime pedestrians cower by us on the streets.

And black men who work as undercover cops are occasionally shot to death by white colleagues, as happened to a young officer named Omar Edwards when he was off duty and in plain clothes last month in New York City.

We have often been seen as paranoid for attributing these things to bias. But the racial stereotypes that link blackness and crime have recently become a hot topic in social science.

These pervasive and often unconscious biases affect social transactions of all kinds. They drive voting behavior. They make it likely that black defendants will receive longer sentences than whites for comparable crimes. They wreak havoc with the job possibilities of young black men. And they give the lie to the idea that the Unites States is becoming a “postracial” country.

The psychologists Gordon Allport and Leo Postman showed more than half a century ago that preconceptions about race distorted human judgment and sometimes caused people to recall things that had never happened. Their best-known study mimicked the parlor game “telephone.”

In this version, subjects who often included students were shown a now-famous slide depicting typical passengers in a New York City subway car. At the center of the image stand two figures: a black man dressed in a natty suit and a white man in shirtsleeves holding a straight razor.

After being shown the slide, subjects were asked to describe it to others who had not seen it. These people then described it to others, who then passed on their descriptions as well. Those who had heard the story secondhand were then asked to recount it. More than half the time, the razor was said to be held not by the white man but by the well-dressed black man, who was sometimes described as brandishing it wildly.

This country has changed considerably in the more than 60 years since these data were published. But the mental calculus that shifted the razor into the black man’s hand is still very much a part of the American scene. It comes into play every day in courtrooms, in city streets and especially in job interviews.

People who believed that racism was on the wane were mightily shocked by the research into the effect of race on hiring policies that appeared in the 2007 book “Marked: Race, Crime and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration,” by the Princeton sociologist Devah Pager. After sending carefully selected test applicants to apply for low-level jobs with hundreds of employers, Ms. Pager found that criminal convictions for black men seeking employment were, in many contexts, “virtually impossible to overcome,” partly because those convictions reinforced powerful, longstanding stereotypes.

The stigma of conviction turned out to be less damaging for whites. Indeed, white men who claimed to be fresh out of prison were just as likely to be called back for second interviews as black men with no history of criminal involvement. The young black men were best-case applicants — bright, well-spoken college students posing as high school graduates. But racial stereotypes prevented employers from seeing their virtues.

“Being black in America today,” Ms. Pager writes, “is just about the same as having a felony conviction in terms of one’s chances of finding a job.”

People who believe that blunt-force racism is a thing of the past tend to gasp when they see this data. But the findings are consistent with what black job seekers and community organizations have been saying about their experiences for a long time.

All of this should come as sobering news to people who believe that the election of an African-American president moved the country into a new phase beyond racism. We may yet reach that goal. But we won’t do it by pretending that centuries-old biases were magically swept away in a single election. We can do it only by exorcising poisonous preconceptions that go to the very heart of who we are.

 

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Atlanta woman arrested by mistake, jailed 53 days

 

By DAVID IBATA

Published: October 18, 2011

 

Atlanta police are launching an internal investigation into the case of a woman who was arrested by mistake and held in jail for nearly two months, Channel 2 Action News reports.

 

Police are seeking to determine what happened and if any policies or procedures were violated in the arrest of Teresa Culpepper, who spent 53 days wrongfully incarcerated in Fulton County Jail because she had the same name, Teresa, as a woman wanted by authorities.

 

“I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to get out this situation,” Culpepper told Channel 2.

 

The woman’s nightmare began Aug. 21, when she called police to report her truck had been taken from in front of her Hawkins Street home. She ended up being arrested for an aggravated assault allegedly committed by another woman named Teresa.

 

“Her birth date didn’t match. Her address didn’t match. Her description didn’t match. Other than the name Teresa, nothing matched,” said Culpepper’s attorney, Ashleigh Merchant.

 

Channel 2 tracked down the Teresa actually wanted by police, and the woman told the TV station she had never been arrested for the alleged offense.

 

Culpepper finally was released Oct. 12 after her public defender got the crime victim to come to court and say the woman in custody was not the attacker.

 

“I was like real rejoiceful, glad and happy that it came to an end and that somebody was out there, out there trying to help me,” Culpepper said.

 

Ashleigh said the city now must either settle with her client or face legal action.

 

 

 

Questions

This assignment is designed to test your understanding of the various theories used to explain criminal behavior as presented in your textbook and in journals or libraries or anywhere online that is of scholarly caliber. Remember; please answer each question in 1.5-2,preferably single-spaced, pages.  Your answers should indicate that you have researched the topic independently using your textbook, library, government and internet sources.  Your textbook is also a good source – but please include information not provided in the required text as well.

 

 

  1. Use social structural theories to explain how the structure of U.S society may cause minorities to be over-represented within the criminal justice system.  You should pay specific attention to social disorganization theory, strain theory, and culture conflict theory. (do your own external research)

 

  1. Use social process theories to critique social structural theories. Pay specific attention to differential association theory and labeling theory.  Explain why these theories may better explain the over-representation of minorities in the criminal justice system. (do your own external research)

 

  1. Survey the various radical theories of crime as presented in chapter 7 of your textbook. Briefly use the conflict and radical criminology theories to critique labeling theory, conflict theory, and “Marxist” theory.  Explain how radical theories of deviance can provide an alternative explanation of why minorities are over-represented in the U.S criminal justice system. (do your own external research)

 

  1. Finally, apply one of these theories to the first op-ed included with this assignment. The author in the first op-ed is suggesting that the United States is not a color blind society – do you believe that this is true?  Use theory and evidence to support your argument.  Feel free to either agree with or critique the author’s opinion. (do your own external research)

 

 

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