Kali N. Gross
This essay offers a concise overview of black women’s experiences with early criminal justice, beginning with the colonial period and ending in the early twentieth century. It also identifies aspects of the historiography on black women and crime that merit greater scholarly attention. Historians have examined race and violence, particularly interracial violence, but should also explore intraracial violence in relation to gender, crime, and criminal justice. In an attempt to address some of these gaps, this chapter provides an overview of the incarceration of black women in the United States and explores intraracial intimate partner violence through a late nineteenth-century Philadelphia case. In doing so, it especially examines the conduct and motives of the black woman at the center of the crime.
Scholarship on race, crime, and justice often remains gender blind. Researchers cannot fully understand the influences of race and racism without serious consideration of its gendered dimensions. Distressed minority communities in urban settings have disproportionate rates of violence against women. Structural, organizational, and cultural characteristics heighten gendered risks, including high rates of other crime; male domination of public community spaces; environmental features of neighborhoods; the reluctance of community members to intervene in violence, including the mistreatment of women and girls; acute distrust of the police; and the dominance of cultural norms that support gender inequality and the sexual objectification of young women. Such violence is a critical social problem in need of careful theoretical and policy attention, and is an integral facet of the gendering of racial inequality.
David J. Harding
Disadvantaged neighborhoods can affect criminal behavior, increasing the risk of late-onset juvenile delinquency even for young people not otherwise at risk of delinquent behavior due to their individual characteristics and family circumstances. Growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood has been linked to other negative adolescent outcomes, such as dropping out of high school and early childbearing, but the mechanisms by which neighborhood disadvantage affects individual outcomes are less well understood. A study drawing on in-depth, unstructured interviews with 60 adolescent boys in three Boston neighborhoods seeks to understand how neighborhood-based violence affects the social and cultural context of a boy’s neighborhood and how this context in turn affects his decision making and outcomes. Two interrelated features of poor urban neighborhoods are critical mechanisms underlying neighborhood effects on adolescent boys: neighborhood violence and cultural heterogeneity. These mechanisms generate institutional distrust, bonds of mutual protection, cross-cohort socialization, negative role models, and the leveling of expectations.
Case Study: Black Cannabis Dealers in a White Welfare State Race, Politics, and Street Capital in Norway
An ethnographic study of a group of young black men dealing cannabis at a drug scene called The River in Oslo demonstrates that accumulation and use of street capital can be seen as responses to processes of social and economic exclusion. In Norway, as elsewhere, many immigrant youths are marginalized by ethnic discrimination, racism, lack of education and job opportunities, and immigration policy. Street capital is a means to gain respect, status, and money. The concept is inspired by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and highlights how street culture becomes embodied and emphasizes the practical rationality involved when marginalized youths become involved in crime. Street capital is upheld by and embedded in gangster stories, but the young men also see themselves as victims. There are ongoing shifts between gangster- and oppression discourses; neither represents the “true story” of these men. Ethnographic study of street dealers’ language use demonstrates the complex relationship between street culture and a benevolent Nordic welfare state.
Sara K. Thompson
Most criminological theory and research on the black homicide victimization is grounded in the American context, which raises important generalizability issues given the exceptional level of lethal violence that is used as the standard in this inquiry. This case study examines the social and spatial distribution of black homicide victimization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between 1988 and 2003. Results suggest that, as in American cities, blacks in Toronto are over-represented as homicide victims and offenders, but there are important differences in the spatial distribution and ecological correlates of this violence. These findings highlight the importance of cross-national research when investigating the generalizability of findings from U.S.-based research on racially disaggregated homicide rates.
Sebastian Roché, Mirta B. Gordon, and Marie-Aude Depuiset
Race and ethnicity are important political issues in France but not important research issues. Even liberals concerned about inequality disagree about the need to study the subject and are reluctant to use racial or ethnic data. Many politicians say they are proud that France ignores matters of race and ethnicity. Whether and to what extent ethnicity is associated with sanctioning for serious crimes by juveniles was investigated in two juvenile courts, in two jurisdictions, over more than 20 years (1984–2005). Logistic regressions were carried out for violent crimes for which juveniles were indicted (“all violent crimes”) and subsequently for two subsets: “nonlethal and nonsexual violence” (acquisitive or not) and “sexual violence” (sexual assaults and rapes). Massive and systematic discrimination based on ethnicity was not found for the overall sample or for the subsamples. The best predictors of severity were the type of crime for which the defendant was indicted and his criminal history. However, there were traces of sentencing discrimination. In one jurisdiction, especially for sexual crimes, race explained a share of sentencing severity.
Colonial processes, indigenous people, and criminal justice systems interact. There are commonalities in the experiences of Indigenous peoples in the white settler societies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. Understanding of the over-representation of Indigenous people in crime and victimization statistics needs to be contextualized within the broader framework of the effects of colonization. These effects include long-term social and economic marginalization, and limited recognition of indigenous law and governance. Current criminal justice processes (including risk assessment) continue to single out indigenous peoples as a “crime-prone” population. Indigenous demands for greater recognition of Aboriginal law and greater control over criminal justice decision-making must be taken seriously. Neo-liberalism and “law and order” politics are likely further to entrench the over-representation of indigenous peoples within western criminal justice systems.
Ethnicity and racism feature at each stage of the criminal justice process in the United Kingdom. Some minority ethnic group people are more likely to be victimized, are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, and are more likely to be arrested. The cumulative effect of disproportionate treatment of black people throughout the criminal justice process is reflected in high numbers of black people in prison. Patterns of crime vary among minority ethnic groups and between them and the white majority, but not in ways that adequately explain imprisonment patterns. Research findings indicate that racism is levelled towards ethnic minority groups and explain ways in which discrimination occurs. Explanations for variations in group patterns of offending and criminal justice system involvement need to take account of differences between black and Asian groups in experiences at each stage of the criminal justice process, and in the migratory contexts within which minority ethnic groups have settled in Britain. These issues have been complicated by the effects of contemporary concerns about terrorism and counter-terrorism—a contemporary insecurity that affects minority ethnic groups to a disproportionate degree.
France has the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe and a long immigration tradition. Official data do not recognize race, ethnicity, or religion as fundamental characteristics of people. For a long time crime data ignored foreigners and non-French immigrants as distinct groups. They are significantly overrepresented among criminal suspects in custody and in prison, though this varies by offense and according to status; an important proportion have violated immigration laws and are not a threat to society. Their overrepresentation may result from lack of fixed residence and the possibility they will not turn up if summoned by a judge. Research on this issue is scant. It is unclear whether disparities represent invidious bias or result from socio-economic disadvantages or differences in records of past criminality. Xenophobia among the broad French public, after declining substantially, is on the rise again, in great part due to the recent economic crisis.
Jacob Stowell and Stephanie DiPietro
Despite a substantial increase in scholarly attention to immigration and crime at both individual and aggregate levels, important gaps in knowledge remain. Much work has focused on the criminal behavior of immigrants, and comparatively little on their victimization. Given political controversies about immigration law reform, the dearth of research on immigrants as crime victims is a critical omission. A comprehensive review of the literature shows no association between increases in the size of the foreign-born population and increased risks to public safety. Analyses of the comparative homicide risks for foreign-born people compared with the American population generally, and for immigrant groups of different national origins, for 1994–2004, a period of exponential growth in the foreign-born population, reveal a number of interesting patterns with respect to immigrant homicide victimization patterns, both between groups and over time.
Godfried Engbersen, Arjen Leerkes, and Erik Snel
The development of research on relations among ethnicity, migration, and crime in the Netherlands reflects the ways migration flows and immigration control policies evolved after World War II. In the 1980s and 1990s, research primarily focused on four immigrant groups that are today established minorities: Surinamese, Turks, Moroccans, and Antilleans. Research later expanded to include criminality among asylum seekers, irregular migrants, and labor migrants from Central and Eastern Europe. The effects of migration management on immigrant crime are also the subject of research; focal topics include the effects of open borders as a result of the European Union enlargements (resulting in mobile banditry), of external border control (the growth of human trafficking organizations), and of internal border control (forms of subsistence crime as a consequence of barring irregular migrants from access to conventional means of acquiring income). Dutch research can be categorized into five themes: differential involvement of ethnic groups in criminality, subcultural explanations for criminality, victimization and fear of crime, social organization of human trafficking, and functioning of the criminal justice system.
Hate crime is a product of civil right, disabilities rights, and crime victims' movements. This article primarily focuses on criminal justice concerns related to hate crime. Assessments of hate crime-related criminal justice policy and law enforcement practices require an understanding of the emergence of hate crime. It presents a summary of early assessments of hate crime law and concerns about bias-motivated violence as “merely symbolic politics” with minimal enforcement effects. It conceptualizes this assessment and includes a brief summary of federal and state hate crime law. The next section details the organization of hate crime enforcement and the outcomes of law enforcement practices, including data on the policing and prosecution of hate crime. Finally, it discusses the development of hate crime law and law enforcement practices beyond the United States.
Jennifer Schweppe and Mark Austin Walters
This article analyzes the current legislative approach to combating hate crime. Part I starts with an overview of the key theoretical arguments for and against the use of punishment enhancements for hate crime offenders. Both retribution and consequentialist theories of punishment are examined in detail in order to evaluate whether the increased punishment of hate-motivated offenders can be justified. Part II then outlines the various models of legislation that have been used to legislate for hate crime globally. Hate crime provisions in several jurisdictions (United States, Canada, England and Wales) are examined in order to explore the practical differences between the various models of legislation that have emerged. The final part of the article outlines the practical problems that are frequently faced by law enforcers and prosecutors of hate crime offenses, including the evidential difficulties posed by the inclusion of hate motivation within the law.
This article presents an overview of the literature on immigration and crime. Section I discusses a number of considerations that need to be kept in mind when talking about a link between immigration and crime. Section II provides an overview of the research and data examining crimes committed by immigrants, including a historical framework, an overview of the research findings on the individual and the macro level—including a separate section on the criminal involvement of second generation immigrants—and a discussion of undocumented immigrants. Section III presents research and data on crimes committed against immigrants. Particular attention is paid to measurement difficulties in research on immigrant victimization, research findings on immigrant victimization, and the social control of immigrants post-9/11. Section IV assesses comparative and international studies on immigration and crime. Section V concludes with an outline of important areas for future research and provides suggestions for public policy.
Elena Marchetti and Riley Downie
Indigenous people are vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice systems of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Colonization devastated the lives of each country’s First Nations Peoples in ways that left them disproportionately disadvantaged in health, wealth, education, and employment. Socioeconomic disadvantage influences the likelihood of indigenous people coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Other factors such as institutional and systemic bias also play a part. Innovative court practices in each jurisdiction try to redress racial inequality in the criminal justice system and reduce the alarming rate at which indigenous peoples are overrepresented in custody. Quantitative reoffending analyses fail to show that these innovative justice processes have greater success in changing an offender’s behavior than do conventional court processes, but there is evidence that they are exposing indigenous offenders to more meaningful and culturally appropriate court practices.
Ramiro Martinez and Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco
Recent population changes, public anxieties, and political concerns about foreign-born newcomers have brought studies of immigration and crime to the forefront of criminological theory, policy, and research. A burgeoning body of research examines the effects of immigration on crime and patterned differences in criminality between immigrants and the native-born. A number of influential theoretical frameworks can be drawn upon to formulate predictions that immigrants are likely to commit a disproportionate amount of crime. The specialized literature provides data that supports the opposite conclusions—that immigration does not increase crime and that new immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born residents. More research examining the indirect effects of immigration is needed. However, immigrants rarely commit a disproportionate amount of crime. Politicians’ claims that immigration exacerbates crime problems lack empirically basis.
Margo de Koster and Herbert Reinke
This essay seeks to broaden the discussion of the policing of minorities to situate it within its longer history of the policing of migrants. Since the ancien régime, the explicit endeavor to control migrants has been a major driving force behind the development of modern policing and the professionalization of police practices. This essay charts how, from the sixteenth century onward, the movements of migrants and traveling groups were increasingly controlled through vagrancy regulation, poor laws, and the creation of specialized policing agencies and techniques. It also considers the realities of policing and repression of vagrancy in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Europe, showing how the intensity of repression varied considerably. Finally, the essay discusses minority policing and the recruitment of minorities into the police during the post–Second World War period.
Amy E. Lerman and Vesla M. Weaver
Crime control and race relations have played central roles in the unfolding of partisan politics in the United States over the last half-century. A variety of major features of modern politics, from the fall of liberalism and the conservative ascendancy to modern public opinion toward racial policies, cannot be understood without attending to the intersection of race and criminal justice.
Blacks are arrested on drug charges at more than three times the rate of whites and are sent to prison for drug convictions at ten times the white rate. These disparities cannot be explained by racial patterns of drug crime. They reflect law enforcement decisions to concentrate resources in low income minority neighborhoods. They also reflect deep-rooted racialized concerns, beliefs, and attitudes that shape the nation’s understanding of the “drug problem” and skew the policies chosen to respond to it. Even absent conscious racism in anti-drug policies and practices, “race matters.” The persistence of a war on drugs that disproportionately burdens black Americans testifies to the persistence of structural racism; drug policies are inextricably connected to white efforts to maintain their dominant position in the country’s social hierarchy. Without proof of racist intent, however, US courts can do little. International human rights law, in contrast, call for the elimination of all racial discrimination, even if unaccompanied by racist intent.
Akwasi Owusu-Bempah and Scot Wortley
Canada effectively bans systematic collection and dissemination of racially disaggregated criminal justice statistics. A significant proportion of Canada’s racial minority populations perceive bias in the criminal justice system, especially on the part of police. Aboriginal and black Canadians are grossly overrepresented in Canada’s correctional institutions. Some evidence suggests that both Aboriginal and black populations are overrepresented with respect to violent offending and victimization. Social conditions in which Aboriginal and black Canadians live are at least partially to blame for their possibly elevated rates of violent offending. Evidence indicates that racial bias exists in the administration of Canadian criminal justice. At times, this discrimination has been supported by court decisions. Discrimination and disparity are at times acknowledged by government, but they are seldom wholeheartedly addressed. There is a lack of political will to address issues of racial minority overrepresentation in relation to manifestations of racial discrimination or to the societal conditions that lead to criminal offending.