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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 70057 Find in a Library
Title: Conflict Theory and Differential Processing - An Analysis of the Research Literature (From Radical Criminology, P 213-232, 1980, by James A Inciardi - See NCJ-70047)
Author(s): F P Williams
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 20
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Analysis is conducted of the research literature regarding differential processing by the criminal justice system as perceived by conflict theorists who are concerned with criminogenic societal control mechanisms.
Abstract: A search of the literature located some 89 studies investigating variables associated with racial or socioeconomic characteristics. From these 89 empirical studies, 123 different examinations of racial or socioeconomic variables at different stages of the criminal justice system were possible. They provided 115 cases for racial characteristics and 68 cases for socioeconomic characteristics. Three study outcome categories were distinguished: support for differential processing, no support for differential processing, and neutral. Six variables were used: (1) the processing area of the criminal justice system, (2) whether the sample was composed of juveniles or adults, (3) whether or not the sample was primarily charged with capital offenses, (4) the geographical location of the sample, (5) the median year of the sample data, and (6) the method of data analysis used. While initial analysis showed consistencies regarding racial and socioeconomic differentials, rigorous multivariate analyses showed that over 80 percent of both racial and socioeconomic studies fail to support differential processing hypotheses. It thus becomes difficult to accept either statements of contradictory findings or suggestions of the existence of racial and socioeconomic processing differentials within the criminal justice system. Some alternative explanations for these studies' original findings might be that society has undergone major change since the studies were conducted or that methodological problems obscured the studies. Yet conflict theorists could be advised to bypass predictions of differential processing by some power hierarchy as superfluous to the main body of conflict theory. Conflict theorists should utilize more rigorous analysis, focus on the cumulative nature of the processing system, and improve data collection instruments. Three notes and about 150 references are provided. For related documents, see 70048-56 and 70058-62.
Index Term(s): Criminology; Radical criminology; Ticket fixing
Note: Revised version of a paper presented at the 1977 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology
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