Race, Ethnicity and Crime in America Essay

December 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

In the view of recent events, crime cannot be considered as a violation of laws that leads to the penalties of those who committed the crime (Gabbidon, 2012). For a long time, the society identified itself by gathering in certain groups. Members of each group have always considered themselves to be more righteous and simply better than the members of other groups. Currently, the concepts of crime and justice should be considered from the perspective of culture since these concepts are defined as a result of the complex process that involves social movements, policymaker and media activities, and political interests.

Barak, Leighton, and Cotton (2014) state that racial and ethnic groups in the United States encountered differential and inequitable treatment in policing and courts since the very era of Christopher Columbus. Starting with the maltreatment of indigenous peoples and Native Americans and continuing with the inequitable attitude to Africans, the American society developed an entire system of various Codes that humiliated and mistreated racial and ethnic minorities. Each of the components of this ‘system of racial justice’ implied oppression and discrimination of people on ethnic grounds (Barak et al., 2014). The history of slavery in the United States may serve as a good example. From the 17th century up to the abolition of slavery in 1865 the slave codes announced the criminal law that was written in order to enslave Africans. The strictest penalties were applied to those slaves whose acts undermined the institution of slavery (Barak et al., 2014). After the Civil War slaves had been freed but the state’s administration established a new system of oppression that allowed arresting the freed slaves for unemployment and simultaneously blocked virtually all opportunities for them to obtain a job. The longstanding maltreatment of racial minorities cultivated cultural stereotypes and lead to the adverse structural and psychological effects (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2012).

Walker et al. (2012) claim that the historical experience of racial and ethnic groups made a significant contribution to the modern conceptual system of crime. This experience influenced not only the way how racial and ethnic groups behave in accordance to the present day laws but also the absence of privileges as well as access to institutional powers. For example, there are policies that concern abortions and birth control within the framework of social control. These policies create subordinate groups and seek to control the fertility of black women (Peterson, 2012). Racial diversity in the United States contributes to the construction of biases in terms or crime and justice. There are many examples showing that colored Americans have lesser opportunities to negotiate the outcomes of their criminal cases (Gabbidon, 2012). The opinion polls show that the majority of people tend to imagine Afro-American or Hispanic males when they hear of some crime on the radio and television, which says of the great prejudice against racial groups concerning the sphere of crime.

Having analyzed the data from the past ten years, Portland Police Bureau (2009) concluded that the number of colored people stopped by police is significantly higher than the number of white people. The study of Gardner (2014) shows the similar results and suggests that such situation occurs because of the existing stereotype that colored people are more likely to conduct illegal activities. There are two strategies that may help to deal with the law enforcement subculture and racial profiling. The first strategy approaches the problem from the ethical perspective and implies the special training courses for the police officers during which they will be introduced to the results of numerous theoretical studies on the nature of criminals that show no evidence that colored people are more inclined to commit crimes. The second strategy regards the societal opinion and is aimed at the elimination of stereotypes concerning racial and ethnic groups. It consists of the collection of the right data on racial profiling and thorough analysis of its causes and consequences. The reports from the police stations are to be processed into the understandable form and distributed through social media and print.

People should pay more attention to the cultural aspect of the concept of crime and overcome their stereotypes that were formed centuries ago. Racial and ethical groups should not experience social isolation and the lack of access to institutional powers in cases of injustice. Fortunately, there are many attempts of researchers and law enforcement structures to solve the problem of racial profiling; many strategies were suggested; however, the situation will not improve until the society realizes that its stereotypes concerning the lawlessness of racial and ethnic groups are simply wrong and unethical. The solution will be found in the change of societal attitudes.


Barak, G., Leighton, P., & Cotton, A. (2014). Class, race, gender, and crime: The social realities of justice in America. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Gabbidon, T. L. (2012). Race and crime (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gardner, T. G. (2014). Racial profiling as collective definition. Social Inclusion, 2(3), 52-59.

Peterson, R. D. (2012). The central place of race in crime and justice—the American Society of Criminology’s 2011 Sutherland Address. Criminology, 50(2), 303-328.

Portland Police Bureau. (2009). Plan to address racial profiling. Web.

Walker, S., Spohn, C., & DeLone, M. (2012). The color of justice: Race, ethnicity, and crime in America. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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