6. Ethnicity, crime and justice

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  • Ethnicity, crime and justice
    • Ethnicity and criminalisation
      • Stats
        • Black people are 5 times more likely to be searched than white people
        • White people are under-represented in at all stages of the criminal justice process
        • However, vitcim surveys and self-report studies may give a more accurate picture of ethnic minority offending
        • Victim surveys suggest that black people are over-represented in crime and also show that a great deal of crime is intra-ethnic
          • EVAL: They rely on victims memories, only cover personal crimes, exclude under 16s and exclude crimes by and against rganisations
        • Self-report studies indicate that black and white people have roughly similar rates of offending while Asians have a significantly lower rate of offending
        • Overall, the stats on ethnicity and offending is somewhat inconsistent
      • Ethnicity, racism and the CJS
        • Policing: PHILLIPS & BOWLING: there have been many allegations of oppressive policing of ethnic minorities
        • Stop and search: Police are more likely to stop and search ethnic minorities
        • Arrests and cautions: In 2006/7 the arrest rate in the UK for black was 3.6 times the rate for whites
        • Prosecution: Studies suggest that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is more likely to drop cases against ethnic minorities. BOWLING & PHILLIPS argue that this is because there is a lack of evidence as the accusations are based on ethnic stereotypes
        • Convictions: Black and Asian defendants are less likely to be found guilty. This suggest that the police and CPS may be bringing weaker cases against ethnic minorities that are thrown out by the courts
        • Sentencing: In 06/07 custodial sentences were given to a greater proportion of black offenders than white or Asians, whereas whites and Asians were more likely than blacks to receive a community sentence
        • Prison: Within the total prison population all minority groups have a higher than average proportion of prisoners on remand(awaiting trial; not actually convicted)
    • Explaining the differences in offending
      • There are 2 main explanations of ethnic differences in crime stats:
        • 1. Left realists: say the stats represent real differences in rates of offending
        • 2. Neo Marxists: say the stats are a social construct resulting from racist labelling and discrimination in the CJS
      • Left realistm
        • LEA & YOUNG
          • Ethnic differences in the stats reflect real differences in offending
          • Relative deprivation
            • Black youths are likely to feel relatively deprived in relation to their white counterparts who may find it easier to get a well paid job
        • Crime is a result of relative deprivation, subcultures and marginalisation
        • Racism has led to the marginalisation and economic exclusion of ethnic minorities
        • One response is the formation of delinquent subcultures which produces higher levels of utilitarian crimes as a means of coping with relative deprivation
        • Further to the utilitarian crime, because of a lack of organisation their frustration leads to non-utilitarian crime such as violence and rioting
        • The police then act in racist ways and begin to unjustly convict ethnic minorities
          • However, LEA & YOUNG argue that we cannot explain the differences between minority ethnic groups in terms of police racism
        • LEA & YOUNG conclude that the stats represent real differences in offending caused by real differences in the levels of relative deprivation and marginalisation
        • SIMPSON
          • Marginalisation
            • Unemployment and economic marginalisation is a major factor in explaining black voilence
        • CURTIS
          • Violence may often be an element of black subcultures which have developed as a response to racial discrimination
      • Neo-Marxism
        • Some sociologists argue that the differences in stats do not reflect reality
        • These differences are the outcome of a process of social construction that stereotypes ethnic minorities as inherently more criminal the majority population
        • GILROY: the myth of black criminality
          • As a result of the police and CJS acting on racist stereotypes, ethnic minorities come to be criminalised and therefore appear in greater numbers in OFs
          • Ethnic minority crime can be seen as a form of political resistance against a racist society
          • During colonial times minority groups were able to express their struggle against imperialism in the form of marches, demonstrations and riots
          • When they arrived in the UK these groups continued to use these methods to resist police harassment, racially motivated attacks and discrimination
          • In this way we can see ethnic minority crime as part of a political struggle against a racist society
          • There is a myth of black criminality caused by police stereotypes
          • As a result of this, he argue that the OFs which seem to show a disproportionate amount of Afro-Caribbean crime are not to be trusted. They result from police prejudice
          • EVAL: obvious contradiction that blacks commit crime to fight back a racist society, yet they don't commit crime because they're picked on by a racist police force
        • HALL ET AL: Policing the crisis
          • They argue that the 1970s saw a moral panic over black muggers that served the interests of capitalism
          • They argues that this moral panic was not a rational response but was instead a response to 1. the economic crisis 2. the crisis of hegemony
          • The moral panic led to an increase in repressive policies over the black population and the greater use of the law against them. This in turn led to an amplification of deviance against black youths
          • The media contributed to this deviance amplification which led to the labelling of young blacks as deviants which helped justify stronger police measures
          • They try to explain black criminality as being a survival strategy employed by an unwanted reserve army of labour
          • EVAL: Police research in the 80s with the Metropolitan Police has shown that even if police are racist they do not reflect it in thei rwokr
    • Ethnicity and victimisation
      • Racist victimisation occurs when an individual is selected as a target because of their race, ethnicity or religion
      • Information on racist victimisation comes from 2 main sources: victim surveys and police-recorded stats
      • Racist incidents are any incident that is perceived to be racist by the victim or another person
      • Racially or religiously aggravated offences is where the offender is motivated by hostility towards members of a racial or religious group
      • The risk of being a victim of any sort of crime varies by ethnic group
      • The differences may be partly the result of factors other than ethnicity
      • While stats record the instances of victimisation they do not necessarily capture the victims experience of it
      • The long term psychological impact of crime needs to be added to the physical injury and damage to property caused by the offenders
      • Members of ethnic minority groups have often been active in responding to victimisation
      • Such responses need to be understood in the context of accusations of under-protection by the police, who have often ignored the racist dimensions of victimisation
      • MACPHEARSON ENQUIRY
        • The police investigation into the death of the black teenage Stephen Lawrence was 'marred by a combination of professional incompetence institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers

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