FactCheck: do black Americans commit more crime? – Channel 4 News
PDF | Studies of race and crime have emphasized the effects of social A model of cross-canceling, indirect effects between race and crime was Whites. In , 51% of Whites in the United States reported using alcohol. Anti-police protests continue across America after the Michael Brown killing. There are few simple answers and links between crime and race are likely to remain the .. Hence, discrimination and black crime have a causal relationship. The relationship between race and crime in the United States has been a topic of public controversy and scholarly debate for more than a century. The crime rate.
Finally, one major explanatory factor that must be taken into consideration when studying disproportionate minority representation in crime is the socioeconomic status of minorities in American society. Despite legislative and judicial decisions over the past several decades, African Americans and other racial minorities remain as much or more residentially segregated at the turn of the millennium as before the monumental changes in the s and s Massey and Denton.
The ghetto experience is typical for most African Americans, including the entrenched poverty, unemployment, poor schools, and lack of social opportunities that are associated with such transitional and "disorganized" neighborhoods Hagan; Wilson. Indeed, the various inequalities that exist within ghetto communities have been linked to numerous crimes, particularly homicide Kovandzic, Vieraitis, and Yeisley. Combined, these sources indicate that racial minorities particularly African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately involved in street crime, victimized by street crime, and brought under the control and supervision of the criminal justice system.
Furthermore, street crimes are more characteristic of impoverished, inner city, and ghetto neighborhoods; and occur more often among the nonemployed, young, and male.
These same groups also appear to be more likely to penetrate deeper into the criminal justice system, with racial disproportionality increasing at each successive step into the system.
There is a near complete absence of valid or reliable white-collar, corporate, and governmental crime statistics in the UCR and NCVS measurements. This is an extremely important void when considering the relationship between race and crime, because by even the most conservative estimates street crimes account for only a fraction of all crimes. Nonetheless, American media, politicians, public, and even criminologists tend to focus on street crime, thereby dramatizing and potentially exaggerating the real racial over-representations of racial minorities in crime and the criminal justice system.
The nature and direction of the race and crime relationship Official crime measures indicate that certain races are disproportionately represented in crime statistics and the criminal justice system.
While there is legitimate cause to question official crime measures, a relationship between race and crime nonetheless exists. Two theoretical models explain the relationship between race and crime.
The first explanation is the disproportionality hypothesis, which states that certain races, namely African Americans and Hispanics, are disproportionately represented in official crime statistics and the criminal justice system because these races are disproportionately involved in crime.
This approach explains the relationship between race and crime as a product of legitimate, or legal, factors, such as offense severity and prior record. Obviously, if members of race A commit more crime than members of race B, then race A will be disproportionately represented in official crime statistics and the criminal justice system for legitimate reasons.
The second theoretical explanation is the disparity hypothesis, which states that multiple facets of society, namely the various stages of the criminal justice system, treat some races differently than others. In other words, there is disparity between how a member of one race and a similar member of another race are treated. This approach contends that extralegal factors play a role in affecting various parts of society and the criminal justice system.
Rather than only considering legal variables, such as offense severity and prior record, when arresting or sentencing offenders, disparity theorists argue that society considers extralegal factors, such as race, ethnicity, social class, or lifestyle, when dealing with actual or potential offenders. According to the disparity hypothesis, members of some races are treated differently by the criminal justice system, and it is this pervasive disparity and discrimination that explains why some races are disproportionately represented in official crime statistics and the criminal justice system.
Bio-psychological theory Several theoretical approaches justify the disproportionality hypothesis. Early research adopted an individualistic approach that focused on the biological and psychological differences of criminals and became known as biological positivism.
Researchers believed criminals to be physically different from noncriminals, and considered criminals to be atavistic throwbacks that could be identified by certain biological features or physical stigmata.
Many of these early biological studies singled out certain races as having more criminalistic features than others, and biological explanations of disproportionate involvement of certain races in crime were born. Many of the early biological studies have been written off as little more than pseudo-science; however, individualistic studies emphasizing biological and psychological differences between offenders and noncriminals have not disappeared.
Hooten, a Harvard anthropologist, stated that "criminals are organically inferior," and went on to propose that "the elimination of crime can be effected only by the extirpation of the physically, mentally, and morally unfit; or by their complete segregation in a social aseptic environment" quoted in Vold and Bernard, p. This belief that the causes of crime lie inside individuals has endured decades of criticism.
Biological and psychological positivism experienced somewhat of a revival in the s, as a number of researchers began to look into biological and psychological factors associated with criminality.
Biological and psychological factors, such as brain disorders, hormonal problems, biochemical effects, nerve disorders, chromosomal abnormalities, and intelligence deficiencies, have all been linked to criminal behavior. Hernstein and Murray argue that Intelligence Quotient IQ determines success in life and that people with lower IQs are more likely to receive welfare, be unemployed, and commit crime. The authors argue that African Americans score lower on IQ tests than whites, that IQ is genetically determined and does not change throughout the life course, and that lower intelligence results in increased criminal offending.
Critics argue that there is no such objective entity as "intelligence" and that IQ tests are culturally biased. Hernstein and Murray and their work have been largely discredited by the scientific community, but their approach to explaining the disproportionate criminal offending of particular races proved popular and has some advocates. Biological and psychological studies have played an important role in shaping what is known about crime. However, their popularity has been more due to their controversial ideological nature that their scientific merit.
Their treatment of complex behaviors as scientific byproducts of biological or psychological differences in persons is overly simplistic and woefully inadequate. Crime is a normative concept, and biological explanations tend to ignore the fact that what is deemed "criminal" in one place might be considered noble elsewhere.
Despite the shortcomings of this vein of research, it has found a place in the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, and criminology, and remains as one approach to explain differential patterns of offending across racial categories. Sociological theory During the early part of the twentieth century, sociological explanations of crime causation grew in popularity.
The sociological approach emphasized the environment and social interaction as causal factors in the study of crime and delinquency, rather than individualistic biological and psychological factors. A collection of social scientists in Chicago is credited with starting this trend, and their cohort of researchers came to be known as the Chicago School. Members of the Chicago School accused existing individualistic theories of myopic reasoning, and proposed a broader approach acknowledging how societal factors play a role in causing crime and delinquency.
The social landscape in the United States was changing rapidly, as people left rural farm communities for industrial urban centers. No place better represented this migration than the city of Chicago.
- RACE AND CRIME
- Race and Crime in America
- Race and crime in the United States
The city's population grew rapidly throughout the latter half of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, and virtually every racial and ethnic group came to be represented in the Chicago demographic. Members of the Chicago School saw this rapid change as a major factor in causing crime and developed a number of theories to explain the relationship between various societal factors and crime.
Clifford Shaw and Henry McKay are most clearly identified with starting this line of inquiry. Their work in the area of social disorganization explained how areas characterized by poverty and constant social change experience a breakdown in a number of social institutions, such as the family, employment, religion, education, and community. This breakdown results in a weakened value system, and the ability of disorganized communities to discourage deviant and criminal behavior is compromised.
Once this disorganized environment, characterized by social instability and crime, takes hold, it is difficult to eradicate, as the compromised value system and resulting crime are passed along to subsequent generations. Many minority neighborhoods experienced social disorganization and increases in crime, which explains the disproportionate representation of certain races in official crime statistics and the criminal justice system.
In addition to social disorganization, learning theory and differential association explain how society plays a role in causing crime. Once the seeds of crime are planted in a community, delinquents and criminals either directly or indirectly teach others how to commit crime and the criminal substructure is passed on to future generations.
Researchers, such as Edwin Sutherland, Donald Cressey, and Ronald Akers, have made profound contributions by explaining how crime is learned.
Do black Americans commit more crime?
Some minority communities seem to experience a disproportionate amount of crime, and communities with a lot of crime are rich in learning environments for future criminals. Therefore, learning theory plays an integral role in explaining why some races are disproportionately represented in crime statistics. Some societies like the United States place a relatively heavy emphasis on monetary success without emphasizing the merits of legitimate means of achieving this end, such as hard work, honesty, and education.
These societies are said to suffer from anomie or normlessness, and indirectly encourage their citizens to seek monetary success without adhering to legitimate means. People who have limited access to the legitimate means of achieving monetary success have to disproportionately resort to illegitimate means.
Society generates and conveys an expectation of what represents "success," but does not afford all its citizens the opportunities necessary to achieve "success" via legitimate means. This gap between the legitimate means and societal goals produces a strain in the lives of groups and individuals as they actively seek what is deemed "success" by society. This strain can cause people to employ illegitimate means in the search for monetary success, or indulge in other deviant and criminal behaviors as a way of rejecting the stated expectations of society.
Control theory also plays a prominent role in explaining why some races are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. While control theories have been presented a number of different ways, the basic message is that some people, who have fewer or less effective controls, are more likely to indulge in unconventional behavior, which sometimes takes the form of crime and delinquency.
Hirschi specified four types of control: Some people and some groups simply have more controls in their lives than others. Some groups seem to have fewer controls, which explains why some races are disproportionately represented in official crime statistics.
The relationship between race and crime in the United States by on Prezi
Out of the Chicago School blossomed numerous theories that explained how social factors play a role in producing crime and delinquency. Many of these social factors affect certain neighborhoods more than others, and as a result, affect certain groups disproportionately, so many neighborhoods are racially homogenous.
The biological and psychological theories attempt to explain why some races are disproportionately involved in crime. Similarly, the sociological contributions go a long way in explaining what role environmental and social factors play in explaining this phenomenon. However, the approaches discussed thus far seem to ignore the pervasive economic and racial inequality that characterize the American experience. Conflict theory By simply researching what biological, psychological, or societal factors cause some groups or individuals to commit crime in a given society the disproportionality hypothesis implies that there is consensus among different groups about how society should operate, what laws should be enforced, and how justice should be carried out.
In the offending rate for blacks was seven times higher than for whites and the victimisation rate was six times higher. As we found yesterday, 93 per cent of black victims were killed by blacks and 84 per cent of white victims were killed by whites. These numbers tell a similar story. Inthe FBI has black criminals carrying out 38 per cent of murders, compared to What about violent crime more generally?
FBI arrest rates are one way into this. Over the last three years of data — to — Clearly, these figures are problematic.
But academics have noted that the proportion of black suspects arrested by the police tends to match closely the proportion of offenders identified as black by victims in the National Crime Victimization Survey. Judging from online comments, there is a wide spectrum of views on this, from unapologetic racism to militant refusal to blame the problem on anything but historic white racism.
Some criminologists think we could be simply confusing race for poverty or inequality: If you control for deprivation, people of different races ought to be similarly predisposed to commit crime. There is a lot of research in this area, but a lot of it is contradictory. This study of violent crime in deprived neighbourhoods in Cleveland, Ohio, found that reductions in poverty led to reductions in the crime rate in exactly the same way in predominantly black and white areas, suggesting poverty, not race, is the biggest factor.