skip navigation

Justinfo Subscribe to Stay Informed

Add your conference to our Justice Events calendar


NCJRS Abstract


Subscribe to Stay Informed
Want to be in the know? JUSTINFO is a biweekly e-newsletter containing information about new publications, events, training, funding opportunities, and Web-based resources available from the NCJRS Federal sponsors. Sign up to get JUSTINFO in your inbox.

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Library collection.
To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the NCJRS Abstracts Database.

How to Obtain Documents
NCJ Number: NCJ 199591     Find in a Library
Title: Unlawful Motives and Race-Based Arrest for Minor Offenses
  Document URL: PDF 
Author(s): Christopher Cooper
  Journal: Justice Policy: Analyzing Criminal and Juvenile Justice Issues and Policies  Volume:1  Issue:2  Dated:Spring 2003  Pages:3 to 17
Date Published: 2003
Page Count: 15
  Annotation: This theoretical analysis shows how two U.S. Supreme Court decisions enable law enforcement officers to engage in racially discriminatory policing with little difficulty.
Abstract: Racially discriminatory policing is defined as any police treatment of visible minorities that is less than adequate or fair where a similarly situated white person would receive adequate and fair police treatment, or a situation where a person is singled out for police attention not because of a violation of law but due to race or ethnicity. Through an analysis of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1996 and 2001, this paper holds that racially discriminatory policing is a white versus people of color problem, specifically interpersonal conflict between white police officers and people of color. The court decisions in Whren vs. United States (1996) and Atwater vs. City of Lago Vista (2001) have consequences that exacerbate the epidemic of racially discriminatory policing. To stop racially discriminatory policing these U.S. Supreme Court decisions must be challenged. The Whren decision allows police actions motivated by racism to pass muster in courts of law. The Atwater decision allows a racist police officer to elevate the effects of racial profiling by allowing him discretion as to whether to issue a citation or to take a person into custody for minor traffic violations and fine-only misdemeanors. These two decisions, when employed contemporaneously by a racist police officer, translate to mean that his or her actions will not be deemed in violation of the Fourth Amendment as long as there was probable cause for the initial stop. It is suggested that where there is evidence of racial motivation on the part of an officer, courts should find for a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee of reasonableness.
Main Term(s): Racial discrimination
Index Term(s): Police legal limitations ; Judicial decisions ; Arrest and apprehension ; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties ; US Supreme Court decisions ; Arrest procedures ; Police-minority relations ; Race-punishment relationship
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Country: United States of America
Language: English
Note: Downloaded on March 20, 2003.
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:

* A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's web site is provided.