THE CENTRAL PLACE OF RACE IN CRIME AND JUSTICE—THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CRIMINOLOGY'S 2011 SUTHERLAND ADDRESS

Authors


  • Much of the research and the activities of the Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network were supported by grants to Ruth D. Peterson and Lauren J. Krivo from the National Science Foundation, including through SES-9320701, SES-0925068, SES-0731473, and SES-0925068. I am indebted to numerous individuals, only some of the many are mentioned by name in the text of this address. Direct correspondence to Ruth D. Peterson, Department of Sociology, Ohio State University, 238 Townshend Hall, 1885 Neil Avenue Mall, Columbus, OH 43210 (e-mail: Peterson.5@sociology.osu.edu).

Abstract

In the United States and elsewhere, racial and ethnic disparities in crime and criminal justice are relatively ubiquitous. Yet the meaning of such disparities is not well understood. To address this concern, periodically there have been calls for research that takes into account the broader structural context of the racially and ethnically inequitable crime and justice patterns. However, a comprehensive approach to understanding such inequality is seldom applied in research. In this article, I review findings from a program of research on crime across race–ethnic neighborhoods that I have undertaken with Lauren J. Krivo and other colleagues to provide, and assess, such a framework. The starting point of our approach is that ethnoracial inequality in neighborhood crime is an outgrowth of a racialized social structure maintained largely through racial residential segregation. As anticipated, the findings illustrate the value added from research that embeds its assessment of crime and justice within an understanding of structured societal inequality. From these results, I call for placing race and ethnicity at the center of the study of crime and justice.

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