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Title: Race and punishment: Racial perceptions of crime and support for punitive policies
Contributors: Ghandnoosh, Nazgol
Keywords: Discrimination in criminal justice administration—United States
Racism—Political aspects—United States
Issue Date: Sep-2014
Publisher: The Sentencing Project
Place of Publication: Washington, D.C.
Description: The American criminal justice system is at a critical juncture. In recent years, federal policymakers have called for reforms, following the lead of states that have reduced prison populations without compromising public safety. Nationwide prison counts have fallen every year since 2010, and the racial gap in imprisonment rates has also begun to narrow. Yet the recent tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri – where the killing of an unarmed African American teenager has sparked outrage – highlight the ongoing relevance of race in the criminal justice system. To guide and give greater momentum to recent calls for reform, this report examines a key driving force of criminal justice outcomes: racial perceptions of crime. A complex set of factors contributes to the severity and selectivity of punishment in the United States, including public concern about crime and racial differences in crime rates. This report synthesizes two decades of research establishing that skewed racial perceptions of crime – particularly, white Americans’ strong associations of crime with racial minorities – have bolstered harsh and biased criminal justice policies.
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Appears in Collections:Monographic reports and papers (Publicly Accessible)

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