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NCJ Number: 182495 Find in a Library
Title: Construction and Reinforcement of Myths of Race and Crime
Journal: Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice  Volume:16  Issue:2  Dated:May 2000  Pages:133-156
Author(s): Matthew Robinson
Date Published: May 2000
Page Count: 24
Type: Literature Review
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of race and crime concludes that the criminal justice process and the media create and reinforce myths of crime associated with race.
Abstract: Myths of race and crime start in the lawmaking stage, because the law dictates what police, courts, and corrections do. The mass media also regularly broadcast and at times even celebrate criminal justice activity. Thus, the creation and reinforcement of myths of race and crime are a cyclical and systemic process. The main elements of this process are the legislating of crime, the media portrayals of crime, and the activities of criminal justice agencies. The three central myths demonstrated by this analysis are that the label of crime is a function of what is most harmful to society, that African Americans commit more crime than other groups in society, and that the criminal justice system is fair or unbiased. Understanding that these myths are not truths demands a closer examination of the overrepresentation of black persons and other minorities in the criminal justice system by questioning the myth that their overrepresentation results from their criminal behaviors and the resulting harms. A result of these myths is that overall racial disparities in the criminal justice system are worse today in the post-civil rights era. These myths are responsible for the criminal justice system’s engagement in a new form of racial segregation: punishment. Figures, table, and 106 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Crime seriousness measures; Fear of crime; Media coverage; Minority overrepresentation; Offense characteristics; Public Opinion of Crime; Race-crime relationships; Race-punishment relationship; Racial discrimination
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