The Color of Justice (6th ed, 2017), by Samuel Walker, Cassia Spohn, and Miriam De Lone is a comprehensive examination of race and ethnicity in American criminal justice.
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The question of racial and ethnic bias in police traffic stops, searches, and arrests has been one of the major controversies in American policing for more than a decade.
Civil rights activists demand that police departments collect data on traffic stops, with data on the race and ethnicity of drivers. The data are then analyzed with respect to the racial and ethnic composition of the resident population. For a discussion of the problems with using population data as the benchmark, see Walker’s article, “Searching for the Denominator.”
As a controversy in policing, the issue of citizen complaints has been primarily a racial issue. For over a half a century, African American civil rights groups have demanded civilian review of the police as a way of providing independent evaluations of complaints.
Read about citizen complaint procedures, including the history of the controversy, the two basic models of citizen oversight of the police, and what we know about the effectiveness of citizen oversight, in Police Accountability: The Role of Citizen Oversight.
Learn more on the citizen oversight page.
Some experts argue that mediation is a more effective alternative to investigating citizen complaints against police officers.
Some argue that mediation is particularly effective with regard to complaints that have a racial dimension: that is, the complainant and the officer are of different races.
Read Walker’s Justice Department report, Mediating Citizen Complaints Against Police Officers.
On the history of police-community relations, read Samuel Walker, Popular Justice: A History of American Criminal Justice.
There are a set of very valuable reports on major crises related to the history of police-community relations. They are available on the web site of the Police Assessment Resource Center: www.parc.info
Especially valuable are:
Under Section 14141 of the 1994 Violent Crime Control Act, the U.S. Department of Justice is authorized to sue law enforcement agencies where there is a “pattern or practice” of abuse of citizens rights.
Go to the Federal Pattern or Practice Litigation page.
In almost every case, the victims of these patterns or practices have been primarily African Americans or Latino Americans. Thus, federal litigation is an important tool for achieving racial justice. Read Samuel Walker and Morgan Macdonald’s law review article reviewing the federal litigation effort.