Race, Ethnicity and Law: Volume 22

Cover of Race, Ethnicity and Law

Table of contents

(18 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-x
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Part I Law and Black Lives

Purpose

To examine gender and racial differences in known wrongful conviction cases.

Methodology/approach

Cases were identified for inclusion in this study through the use of established databases available electronically. Supplemental information was gathered through newspapers, magazines, and direct correspondence with individuals associated with the cases.

Findings

Of special significance was the role of witness error in wrongful convictions. Although more prominent in cases involving African American men, witness error was also problematic in murder and manslaughter cases involving African American women. Whereas white women were more likely to be included in wrongful convictions for murder and child abuse, African American women were more likely to be found in wrongful convictions for drugs and property and other offenses. Wrongfully convicted white women were 2.7 times more likely than their African American counterparts to be sentenced to life. Victim race appeared to play a role in a number of the wrongful convictions for both African American men and women.

Originality/value

This study expands our knowledge of known wrongful convictions among African Americans, a group that is disproportionately found in the criminal justice data.

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Purpose

In 1987, the City of Los Angeles instituted the first gang injunction in the country. Gang injunctions are pursued through the civil courts to seriously restrict the activities and movement of suspected gang members and affiliates. People who have been served with a gang injunction are often prohibited from everyday activities, such as wearing sports jerseys, talking to other gang members, and being out in public past curfew, regardless of age. Though often justified by law enforcement as a necessary tool to fight gang violence, we argue that gang injunctions are similar to Slave Codes, Black Codes, and Jim Crow laws, which established a separate system of justice based on race. As such, gang injunctions serve as an extension of an apartheid-like system of justice that seriously limits the life opportunities of people of color within gang injunction territories.

Methodology/approach

This chapter draws upon the oral histories of people targeted by gang injunction laws within California, paying particular attention to how gang-identified individuals are surveiled, controlled, and confined.

Findings

Gang injunctions operate on an apartheid-like justice system that punishes perceived gang members harsher than non-gang members. These laws affirm the legal tactics that maintain racial boundaries and promote a system of justice that mirrors the Black Codes following the end of slavery. The evidence suggests that gang injunctions solely target low-income youth of color, who have been identified as gang members and served with injunctions.

Originality/value

Despite the ubiquity of gang injunctions within California, there is little research on gang injunctions, and even less literature on how these injunctions shape the life course of suspected gang members. We attempt to address this gap in the literature by showing how gang injunctions are not simply about fighting crime, but rather they are a tool used to control and corral communities of color.

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Purpose

Drawing on the slavery history of the United States, the theoretical framework of the post-traumatic slave syndrome is used to understand the influences and challenges of contemporary assessment and counseling issues of African American offenders.

Methodology/approach

Through a qualitative review of the literature, supporting evidence is given from an investigation of slavery’s historical laws, practices, experiences, and beliefs’ and its influences on contemporary assessment and counseling issues concerning African American offenders and the challenges met by counselors.

Findings

The laws, the practices, the experiences, and the beliefs during slavery have had a profound influence on contemporary issues of assessment and counseling African American offenders. The transgenerational adaptations associated with previous traumas during and after slavery influenced counselors’ ability to effectively assess and counsel African American offenders. Moreover, transgenerational adaptations are equally present among white counselors, which have contributed to challenges with assessments and counseling of African American offenders.

Originality/value

Understanding history that is theoretically framed out of the post-traumatic slave syndrome builds knowledge in understanding present challenges and barriers to effective counseling of African American offenders in three ways: (1) it makes the connection between slavery and contemporary issues concerning assessment and counseling of African American offenders; (2) it explains how race might complicate counseling and assessment process; and (3) it sheds light on significant counseling concepts related to rehabilitation or sanctions of African American offenders.

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Purpose

To share a curriculum that can lead to successful re-entry for those transitioning from prison to freedom.

Methodology/approach

We support our argument with data drawn from the intersection of a case study, auto-ethnography and heuristic research.

Findings

Convicts, particularly African Americans and other ethnic minorities who are incarcerated experience initiatory rites of passage as enabling mechanisms when facing re-entry to society. These rites can lead to one of two results. One is positive, undergirded by the necessary internal changes of psychological desires to become a productive member in society and supported by complementary external social networks. The other is negative, driven by on-going states of anomie, supported by counterproductive engagements in activities that lead to maladaptive states in terms of qualities of life. Our research findings lead to multiple conclusions and combine to converge in support of a more productive re-entry process. In this chapter, we present three themes critically embedded within The Sacred Space Rite of Passage Transition to Freedom Curriculum that can be used to enhance the prospects for re-entry to society. (1) Value to self and others can be appropriated, if reconceptualized through the personal journey-to-success re-entry model, as seen by a once incarcerated African American drug offender, now turned university professor. (2) Value to community can potentially be greatly enhanced, when major dimensions of this journey are structurally used to inform the application of programmatic activities, particularly when undergirding the passage of others. (3) Value to society must be re-visited, conceptually if not paradigmatically, within an interdisciplinary framework that seriously includes the critical voice of the prior incarcerated.

Originality/value

The Sacred Space Rite of Passage Transition to Freedom Curriculum is the result of life lessons learned through pre-incarceration, incarceration, and postincarceration in the criminal justice system in America. These important life lessons experienced and learned are the foundation for the journey of re-integration and re-entry to family and community, from prisoner to professor.

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Purpose

This chapter sets out a descriptive account of the various legal claims for reparations, including the theories involved and the history of reparations lawsuits. It describes the major reparations cases, the arguments used in these cases, and the court decisions. It also discusses the evolution of legal theories for reparations as well as other attempts to secure compensation.

Methodology/approach

I examine the case law and the significant court rulings, as well as the discussion within secondary literature regarding these legal claims. I also examine other reparations advocacy approaches, including H.R. 40 and official apologies.

Findings

Reparations lawsuits have been brought against both government and private defendants, employing both tort and unjust enrichment theories. However, these suits have failed due to a variety of legal hurdles, including statutes of limitations, standing, and causation. The failure of reparations lawsuits illustrates the limitations of the legal system in addressing mass harms.

Originality/value

This chapter summarizes in relatively brief and generalist-accessible form the history and current status of legal claims for reparations.

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Part II Disparities in Sentencing and Punishment

Purpose

This chapter presents four theories that hypothesize race/ethnicity disparities in sentence outcomes. Empirical studies assessing the relationship between defendant’s race/ethnicity and sentence severity are discussed.

Methodology/approach

I focus on federal sentencing in terms of support or non-support of the theoretical perspectives.

Findings

Sentence disparity linked to defendant’s race/ethnicity are observed as net main effects, as a component in joint-conditioning effects with other extralegal defendant characteristics, and as a variable that conditions the effect of process-related mechanism of discretion, and legally relevant case characteristics, and as indirect effects.

Originality/value

Theories share substantial conceptual overlap in specifying the relationship between defendant’s race/ethnicity and predictions of the effect of defendant’s race/ethnicity on sentence severity.

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Purpose

This research examines the direct and interactive effects of defendant race and sex on judicial decisions to utilize mitigating departures in cases involving felony drug convictions in Virginia.

Methodology/approach

Logistic regression models are used to examine judicial decisions to depart downward in Schedule I & II, and Other (Schedule III, VI, and V), drug cases. The direct and interactive effects of race and sex on departure decisions are modeled separately for Schedule I & II and Other drug offenses.

Findings

Defendant race and sex exert both direct and interactive effects on decisions to sentence offenders below the guidelines for both drug categories. Cases involving Black and male defendants, relative to white and female defendants, are significantly less likely to result in mitigating departures for Schedule I & II, and Other drug, violations. The interaction models indicate that cases involving Black male defendants are less likely to result in mitigating departures than other cases, while cases involving white females have higher odds of receiving mitigating departures than other cases.

Originality/value

This chapter adds to the current literature on sentencing disparity by examining unwarranted sentencing disparity in Virginia, where scant research has been conducted. Furthermore, this research models decisions separately by drug category and examines both the direct and interactive effects of race and sex.

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Purpose

This chapter examines how the intersection of race, class, and gender impact the experiences of Black women and their children within a broader socio-historical context.

Methodology/approach

The epistemological framework of feminist criminology and the invisibility of Black women are used to draw an analysis on the American dominant ideology and culture that perpetuates the racial subjugation of Black women and the challenges they have faced throughout history as it relates to the mother-child dynamic and the ideals of Black motherhood.

Findings

By conceptually examining the antebellum, eugenics, and mass incarceration eras, our analysis demonstrated how the racial subjugation of Black women perpetuated the parental separation and the ability for Black women to mother their children and that these collective efforts, referred to as the New Jane Crow, disrupt the social synthesis of the black community and further emphasizes the need for more efforts to preserve the mother/child relationship.

Originality/value

Based on existing literature, there is a paucity of research studies that examine the effects of maternal incarceration and the impact it has on their children. As a part of a continuous project we intend to further the discourse and examine how race and gender intersect to impact the experiences of incarcerated Black women and their children through a socio-historical context.

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Purpose

More than half of those who are incarcerated have cited a history of drug abuse before or during arrest. Although social science literature has noted the disparate effects of criminal sentencing for drug possession, little research has explored the punitive measures enacted and enforced by the correctional facilities in which prisoners reside.

Methodology/approach

Using data from the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, this study estimates a series of logistic regressions to examine the predictors of receiving disciplinary action. Men and women are examined separately to investigate whether these patterns vary across men’s and women’s correctional facilities. The notions of both symbolic and structural violence are used to gain a better understanding of the experiences of drug addicts who are incarcerated.

Findings

Findings indicate that net of the effect of demographic characteristics and previous contact with the criminal legal system, men who are punished for rule violations involving drugs in prisons are approximately twice as likely to receive disciplinary action than inmates who are disciplined for all infractions, other than assaulting other inmates. Moreover, black inmates are significantly more likely to receive disciplinary actions or sanctions than whites.

Originality/value

The findings suggest that disciplinary action is more frequently experienced by those who are drug dependent or use drugs within prison with an even greater penalty for black prisoners in men’s facilities.

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Purpose

To examine the race making experiences of multiracial men in carceral facilities.

Methodology/approach

I interviewed 58 incarcerated multiracial males.

Findings

Officially, multiracial incarcerated people are ascribed monoracial labels. They describe the variables used by those who racially categorize them and how their expectations about how others see them influence their racial self-identity. It is possible, they report, to maintain a multiracial self-identity, even if it is unofficially. They also describe interacting with men outside their racial category, behavior that supports the color-blind ideology.

Originality/value

Previous work on race making in carceral facilities has been collected in California; the present data were collected in the northeast. In addition, this research is the first study to consider the experiences of race making among incarcerated multiracial people.

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Part III Systems and Mechanisms of Inequality

Purpose

This chapter draws on feminist theorizing on rape culture and victim blaming, and proposes a concept, racialized victim blaming, as a useful tool for understanding discourse on state violence.

Methodology/approach

The concept of racialized victim blaming is applied to historically analyze the genesis of the carceral state, and deconstruct public debates on police shootings and immigration crises.

Findings

This chapter argues that racialized victim blaming is used as a discursive tool to legitimize and mystify state violence projects. Officials and the media use racialized logics and narratives to blame the victims of state violence for their own suffering, justifying continued or increased state violence.

Originality/value

The concept of victim blaming is most often associated with violence against women. Here I demonstrate that victim blaming is also a useful tool for understanding state violence, particularly when attention is given to the place of racializing narratives.

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Purpose

This chapter argues that the crimmigration system is a social control apparatus that disproportionately punishes and racializes Latino immigrants, with important implications for research on assimilation.

Methodology/approach

We support our argument with research in sociology, geography, political science, anthropology, criminology, and law.

Findings

This chapter outlines how two spheres of the US legal system – immigration law and criminal law – have converged into a crimmigration system that punishes Latinos and their descendants. Migration scholars have historically relied on theories of assimilation to explain the fate of immigrants and their descendants. In today’s era of immigration enforcement, we argue that it is critically important for scholars to consider how the crimmigration system racializes Latinos, defines them as undeserving of national membership, and hardens racial boundaries.

Originality/value

By bringing together research on international migration, race, crimmigration, and assimilation, this chapter integrates various substantive areas that are not often in conversation with one another.

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Purpose

This chapter harnesses Western conceptions of justice, traditional justifications of social control, and existing social inequalities to frame and fully understand the racial and ethnic disparities which constitute the U.S. juvenile justice system.

Methodology/approach

Juvenile justice system disparities are framed within the theoretical contexts of Western conceptions of justice, traditional justifications of social control, and social inequality. The chapter’s perspective is based on these concepts of justice, social control justifications, and evidence from scholarly research on juvenile justice system disparities.

Findings

Overall, the U.S. juvenile justice system’s racial and ethnic disparities violate fundamental concepts of justice, traditional justifications of social control, and exacerbate existing social inequalities.

Originality/value

Through its utilization of Western conceptions of justice and social control justifications, this chapter offers a relatively unique framework for the examination of the U.S. juvenile justice system’s racial and ethnic disparities. While recognizing the overall quality and significance of disparities research, the chapter asks the reader to take a step back, and look at and think about the broader justice and inequality contexts.

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Purpose

In this chapter, I examine how racial disparities in punishment for nonviolent drug crimes align with significant differences in how the black and white drug problems are constructed in media, law enforcement, and academia.

Methodology/approach

By examining differences in how the black and white drug problems have been constructed over the past 70 years for the opioids (heroin, prescription painkillers), cocaine (both powder and crack), and marijuana, I illustrate how these distinct representations of the black and white drug problems accompany more punitive policies in response to black drug epidemics even as white drug epidemics are typically met with tolerance or indifference.

Findings

Historically, powerful interest groups like media and law enforcement have benefitted from circulating myths and exaggerations about the illegal drug problem that encourage punitive drug policies. By contrast, at least some academics have benefitted from taking the opposite tack and debunking many of these myths. Unfortunately, academics have been less willing to challenge myths about the black drug problem than the white drug problem. Indeed, some academics actually reinforce many of the myths about the black drug problem promoted by media and law enforcement.

Originality/value

This chapter builds upon a substantial academic literature that challenges myths about illegal drug use by whites. However, it goes beyond this literature to consider the paucity of similar academic research exposing media and law enforcement myths about the black drug problem.

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Purpose

Framed by the intersectionality perspective and results from prior research, we examined the effects of race/ethnicity, gender, probation violations, and type of violation on juvenile justice case outcomes in a Mid-Atlantic state.

Methodology/approach

Bivariate and multivariate analyses in the form of logistic regression were used to assess the extent race and ethnicity, gender, probation violations, and the type of violation, individually and in combination, impact case outcomes.

Findings

The findings indicate that the race/ethnicity of the youth, his or her gender, and whether involved in a probation violation and to some degree the type of violation, individually and in some cases, jointly, effect juvenile justice decision making. These relationships often involve receiving both harsh and lenient outcomes. We interpret the results as evidence that stereotyping plays out differently when race/ethnicity and gender intersect.

Originality/value

The study contributes to the general literature by (1) examining the neglected combination effects of race/ethnicity and gender with increased social control within juvenile justice proceedings; (2) including Hispanic youth; and (3) looking at the interrelationships among race/ethnicity and gender with the treatment of probation violators.

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Index

Pages 291-294
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Cover of Race, Ethnicity and Law
DOI
10.1108/S1521-6136201722
Publication date
2017-05-25
Book series
Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78714-604-4
Book series ISSN
1521-6136