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NCJ Number: 82676 Find in a Library
Title: Crime and Race - Conceptions and Misconceptions
Author(s): M E Wolfgang
Date Published: 1964
Page Count: 71
Sponsoring Agency: American Jewish Cmtte
New York, NY 10022
Sale Source: American Jewish Cmtte
165 East 56th Street
New York, NY 10022
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The best available evidence on the combined topics of race and crime is presented, and the causes and extent of their relationship, if any, is examined to dispel misconceived notions about them.
Abstract: It is popular among whites to attribute to blacks a propensity to commit crimes of particular types because of somatic, physiological, or psychological traits peculiar to or more commonly found in that race. That blacks are convicted of 'street' crimes in greater proportion to their numbers in the general population than whites is established by the statistics. Only from arrests are the races of offenders known, but arrests in any year represent only about 30 percent of the index crimes reported. It cannot be known with certainty, then, the actual amount of crime committed by any particular racial or ethnic group in American society. Based on existing empirical evidence, no genetic theory of crime is given credence by scholars involved with either crime or genetics. Criminality is generally viewed as learned behavior derived from interaction with a particular environment of circumstances, persons, and perceptions. The majority of blacks enter an environment of deprivation surrounded by a white-dominated culture in which worth is measured by material possessions and social status gained through education, developed vocational skills, and employment opportunities that permit advance up the economic and social ladder. Racial discrimination and the absence of educational and vocational resources that will enable blacks to compete with whites in the dominant socioeconomic arena has left blacks to establish their worth and status in a deviant domain where property crime, drug trafficking, and prostitution yield relatively impressive material rewards and status in the underworld. This pattern will only change as blacks are not only prepared to establish their worth in the legitimate world of socioeconomic transactions, but are given maximum opportunity to use this preparation in a nondiscriminatory environment. Tabular data and 144 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Crime Rate; Environmental influences; Racial discrimination; Social conditions; Socioeconomic causes of delinquency
Note: Institute of Human Relations Press Pamphlet Series, Number 6
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