Public Perception of Race and Crime
The main purpose of the article was to identify the circumstances and extremities under which issues of crime and punishment are affected and dominated by the racial public perception of the white population. Pursuant to this, the major issues addressed are;
a) The relation between African-American stereotyping and consequent influence on whites’ perception on crime.
b) Policy framing based on the interlink of racial stereotypes and political decisions.
c) Racial stereotypes in shaping whites’ perception and attitude toward the nature of crime.
d) Racial stereotypes in shaping whites attitudes towards the criminal and criminal suspects.
The authors integrated several survey experiments that were designed to establish the circumstances under which public perceptions by whites’ are influenced by racial attitudes. To achieve this, questions on race and crime were generated and varied systematically. This method was effective as it comprehensively contrasted the effect of racial stereotypes on policy formulation. Furthermore, the research design incorporated the use of Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI). This method was effective in the random assignment of questions to the respondent. Consequently, it eliminated potential response biased information. The authors further employed a regression analysis of the responses. This was essential in determining the degree of stereotypes in relation perception on crime and policy formulation. Other research designs that could have been incorporated would have been face to face interviews with the white and black respondents. This would have helped to clearly capture their personal attitudes on racial decisions pertaining to crime and policy formulation.
The research had sought to prove that the racial stereotypes applied to African-Americans influenced public opinion, especially of the majority whites’, on issues of crime policy formulation. To this end, the research employed the use of Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews to collect data. Consequently, the research findings clearly revealed that the racial stereotyping of the African Americans by whites’ played a strong role in influencing public perception on crime and punishment. In particular, whenever the crimes were violent and committed by African American. Moreover, when punitive policies are being formulated, the racial stereotypes attached to the blacks played a major in determining the severity of the punishment. Moreover, the racial stereotypes in formulating criminal policy are also fuelled by the political sentiments pertaining to crime.
To this end, several implications can be drawn from these results. Foremost, the political and social environment is still pervaded by racism towards the African American population. This is evident through the formulation of criminal policies that are more punitive to the blacks in comparison to the white population. Moreover, certain types of crimes are racially perceived and understood to be synonymous with black people. Particularly those that are violent nature. Consequently, the justice system is harsher in punitive measures to the black criminal compared to the white criminals. Consequently, it also means that on close scrutiny, there is a percentage of convicted black felons that may have been wrongly penalized by the criminal polices on the basis of racial alignment.
In expanding on these results, the author should have conducted a comparative analysis of convicted persons that have been imposed harsher penalities on the basis of their race. To this end, for future results the authors should not only focus on racial stereotypes directed towards blacks but also other minority races.
As a student of justice, the article has been insightful in elaborating the racial prejudice that is evident through systematic government laws and policies. Especially those dealing in criminal procedures. Consequently, the insight offered is critical when examining racial statistics pertaining to criminal prosecution. Over and above this, in the understanding of marginalized and minority groups it is quite evident that racial prejudice against them is prevalent albeit in ‘ racially cloaked’ American system.
Hurwitz, J., & Peffley, M. (1997). Public Perception of Race and Crime: The Role of Racial
Stereotypes. American Journal of Political Science, 41(2), 375-401.
Public Perception of Race and Crime