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Implicit white favoritism in the criminal justice system

journal contribution
posted on 2015-01-01, 00:00 authored by Zoe Robinson, R J Smith, J D Levinson
Commentators idealize a racially fair
criminal justice system as one
without racial derogation. But unjus
tified racial disparities would persist
even if racial derogation disappeared
overnight. In this Article, we
introduce the concept of implicit white
favoritism into criminal law and
procedure scholarship, and explain
why preferential treatment of white
Americans helps drive the stark disparities that define America’s criminal
justice system. Scholarly efforts thus
far have shone considerable light on
how implicit negative stereotyping of black Americans as hostile, violent,
and prone to criminality occurs at critic
al points in the criminal justice
process. We rotate the flashlight to
reveal implicit favoritism, a rich and
diverse set of automatic associations of positive stereotypes and attitudes
with white Americans. White favoritism
can operate in a range of powerful
ways that can be distinguished from
traditional race-focused examples: in
the way, for example, wh
ite drivers are pulled over less often than unseen
drivers or crimes against white victim
s are seen as more aggravated. Our
account of implicit white favoritism
both enriches existing accounts of how
implicit racial bias corrupts the criminal justice system and provides
explanations for disparities that implic
it negative stereotyping explanations
miss altogether.

History

Journal

Alabama Law Review

Volume

66

Pagination

871 - 923

Publisher

Smith online

Location

United States

ISSN

0002-4279

eISSN

2162-6812

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

Smith online 2015

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