Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work

  • Publish Date: 2002-02-01
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Author: David A. Harris

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A powerful, myth-busting argument against racial profiling. Racial profilingas practiced by police officers, highway troopers, and customs officialshas become one of America's most explosive public issues. But even as protest against the practice has swelled, little attention has been given to the law enforcement basis of profiling. Indeed, profiling has become one of the nation's most hotly contested social issues partly because of the assumption that underlying the practice is a common-sense consideration of racial patterns in crime. Profiling, it has been repeatedly argued, is ultimately rational. Profiles in Injustice dismantles those arguments, drawing on a wealth of new evidence to show convincingly that profiling is not only morally and legally wrongbut startlingly mistaken and ineffective. In this myth-busting book, David Harrisdescribed by the Seattle Times as America's leading authority on racial profiling reveals that the data collected by law-enforcement agencies themselves on racial profiling makes the case against it. Though it has been argued that people of color are targeted by police because they are disproportionately involved in crime, statistics from several states as well as the Customs Service show that the hit rate the rates at which police actually find contraband on people they stopis actually lower for blacks than for whites, and the hit rate for Latinos is much lower than for either blacks or whites. Profiles in Injustice is the first book to rigorously scrutinize the rationale and practice of racial profiling, as well as its remarkably far-reaching effects, from the way profiling has reinforced residential segregation to how it has corroded public confidence in the criminal justice system. Harris concludes with an examination of law enforcement agencies that have pioneered better, more effective policing while renouncing the poison of racial and ethnic bias.

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