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Racial Profiling by Police

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Racial profiling by police officers would make more sense if whites were targeted instead of African Americans, according to the author of the new book Race and Justice (Nova Science Publishers, 2000). In the book, author Rudolph Alexander, Jr., associate professor of social work at Ohio State University, examined 1996 U.S. crime statistics for the eight most serious crimes, called index crimes. In these categories, whites were more likely to be arrested for six of the eight crimes (rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson). African Americans were more likely to be arrested for two of these serious crimes: murder and robbery. "From these statistics, one can conclude that racial profiling is more practical for whites because they are arrested more often in three-fourths of index crimes," Alexander said. "The arguments for targeting African Americans are weak and unsupported."

Many traffic stops based on racial profiling involve suspicions of illegal drugs in the vehicle. But even then, profiling of Blacks is not warranted,” Alexander said. Of the 1.1 million arrests made for drug abuse in 1996, 60 percent involved whites. Alexander emphasized that he is not seriously proposing racial profiling of whites. Instead, he is attacking the theory that profiling is appropriate for Blacks or any racial or ethnic group. "Without a doubt, African Americans are involved in crimes higher than their population rate," Alexander said. "But racial profiling is based on the faulty theory that all Blacks should be considered criminal suspects." In Race and Justice, Alexander said that racial profiling is just one example of how African Americans still are the victims of unequal justice in the United States from a variety of institutions, from schools to courts to law enforcement. The problem is compounded because of disagreements about the state of race relations in the United States. "Typically, African Americans and whites differ regarding the amount to which they think race invades upon American institutions," he said. "Many whites thing racism is a thing of the past and accuse African Americans of 'playing the race card' whenever they make accusations of racism.

While improvement in racial interactions has certainly occurred, the evidence is clear that African Americans still receive less justice in this country." The juvenile justice system is another example, Alexander said. African American juveniles are more likely to be arrested for murder and robbery, but for all other offenses, including drug violations and weapons, white juveniles make up the majority of those arrested. Even so, Black youth are more likely to face lawful consequences. Alexander mentions a 1995 study in Michigan that found that White youth stopped by police on thought of criminal acts were more likely than Black youths to be released at the scene, while

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