Race, Drugs, and Policing Understanding Disparities in Drug Delivery Arrests
By Katherine Beckett, Kris Nyrop, and Lori Pfingst

This article was written to make the reader understand where the racial disparities in the drug arrest and drug use are coming from.  There are many forms of research that have been done to help clear this up.  Some of the type of research that was done was The Data Source and Research, The Seattle Needle Exchange Program, Public Drug Treatment Admission Data (TARGET), Ethnographic Observations, Seattle Police Department Incident Reports, Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program (ADAM) and finally setting (Greenwood, 2001).

The research has a main question which exactly asked about how and why Blacks and Hispanics experience comparatively high drug arrest rates.  It is believed that Blacks and Hispanics are more likely to use and deliver drugs than whites because of social economic reasons. The paper has been shown that a residents perception of a neighborhood disorder can be significantly affected by the neighborhoods racial, ethnic and class composition.  The researchers also presented that when it comes to Blacks and Hispanics people believe in what is known to be as a script or what perception they have on certain things.  This happens if people believed that the case is existed because they associate things with the standard crime news that usually feature African Americans and Latinos as the crime offenders. This scenario also applies to drug use and arrest (Beckett, Nyrop and Pfingst, 2006). Additionally, there are studies focused on patterns of the strategic criminal investigations among the arrests. To have a stronger potential to impact the structure, management, strategies and modern criminology effectiveness compared to its members (Abram, 1996).  Diversity among every people and local situation has become an increasingly more important issue to every organization, people, and organizational productivity. Effective patterns will most likely attract more effective justice criminal system will also be increased (Aiklo, 2004).

A study conducted by Burston, Jones and Robertson-Saunders (1995) found out that over 95 percent of people surveyed perceived African Americans as a typical drug user. A study called the sentencing project done in 2000 showed that 60 of todays inmates presently incarcerated were mostly Black and Latin-American (Burston, Jones and Robertson-Saunders, 1995).  This number may even higher today.  The reason behind can be attributed to the policies and practices associated with the war on drugs which surfaced as an important factor in this study (Burston, Jones and Robertson-Saunders, 1995).  In Seattle, it appears that blacks are extremely over-represented, and whites are under-represented.  Moreover, an undercover operation was performed in Seattle by the Seattle Police Department from January 1999 to April 2001.  This operation included buy-bust operations reverse buy-bust operations, and search warrants.  After the completion of this operation it was shown that evidence indicates that the majority of those who deliver serious drugs in Seattle are white, and that a smaller percentage of those who do so are black. And yet, according to Seattle Police Department arrest records, 64.2 percent of those purposefully arrested for this crime from January 1999-April 2001 were black 14.1 were Latin-American, and 17.6 were white (Klement, Tal and Siggins, 2001).

It appears that the Seattle police department chooses to focus there attention more on the areas that are mostly affected by crack cocaine and less attention on areas that deal with other types of drugs which also raise the amount of blacks and Hispanics being targeted.  It has been proven that crack cocaine is mostly used, sold and delivered by blacks. Therefore by targeting this area of drugs the outcome is more like be blacks than whites who are dealing with drugs.  I think this scenario is also true in todays society.  Generally, we tend to associate Black and Latino to crimes and drugs but statistics and facts shows that when more whites are using drugs and committing crimes.  Yet for some reason the punishment seems less harsh and sometimes these crimes or drug use are not even reported.  According to Abram (1996), along with the need for increased awareness and appreciation of analytical capabilities, there was also a need for those in modern criminology system to have a thorough understanding of the philosophical foundation of the criminal justice system that includes an understanding of the philosophical positions regarding the roots of crime as well as typical positions about justice and fairness in the behavior of individuals and in the process of crimes and punishment.

As we learned from the Chapter 6 of our textbook entitled Criminology Theories, Patterns and Typology by Speigel, social structure plays a big part in crime. As we learned inner city zones and neighborhoods wracked with extreme poverty had higher crime rates as I believe was also the case in Seattle. Police are more likely to focus on areas that are run down or maybe have a lower economic standings that to focus on a mostly upper class or white neighborhood (Siegel and McCormick, 2002).  Even in todays media such as the news, newspapers, magazines etc. we mostly hear about crimes involving blacks and rarely do we hear about the crimes involving whites unless it is someone who is high profile, famous or wealthy.  Any other time these crimes would not be mentioned.  I also feel that the police department has always had a way of playing with numbers as far as being able to show how many arrest were made by whom and for what crimes.  We have no way of confirming whether or not there statistics are fact or fiction.  I personally believe that there is racial disparity.

The conclusion of the paper draws on a number of concepts and sources in order to assess competing explanations of racial disparity in drug arrests, and discovers that this disparity is largely law enforcements consequences that focus on black and Latino users of crack cocaine. Their findings are supported by multiple data sources and present a lot of commonly held assumptions about the causes of racial disparity in drug arrests which may not be reliable. My understanding on their conclusion focuses on crack as the primary cause of racial disparity in drug arrests and drug possession in Seattle that seemingly underscores the need to understand the focus particularly on that substance which clearly defined and presented by the authors.

In conclusion the authors findings indicated that the majority of those who delivered drugs other than crack were white and the majority of those who delivered crack were black, yet 64 of those arrested for delivery of other drugs besides crack were black.  The author felt that this was because of three main factors, which were. The focus on crack cocaine, the focus on outdoor drug activity and third outdoor drug markets are not treated alike.  Mostly because areas where white outdoor drug activity is taking place receives less attention that a mostly black area of Seattle.  I think that the author has hit on some very important facts and her study and surveys were very well planned out but I do not think that it gives us any idea of how we can address or correct this problem.  I feel that the author did prove her point in stating that blacks are over represented and whites are under represented but to be honest I believe this has been the case for as long as I can remember and I do not think that this is the case just in Seattle but in just about all the states.  I think that the major problem will always be demographics and locations. Aiklo(2004) argued that the current political conflicts and geographical differences provide significant challenges to the issue of crimes and justice, the world is now in general as it threatens to widen inequalities and affect human living systems.

I can see that the authors successfully achieved their purpose because much of what the study did can be seen as settling conflicts among citizens. Basic values justice and fairness are central to such system of social control have also a factor in the development of modern criminology (Abram, 1996). Anyone working in the punishment has the obligation to explore such basic values to understand their importance in criminal justice and to understand their meaning and value to them as individuals without resorting to racial disparity. Those who work in the area must be responsible for their part in that system. Law enforcement agencies and police must not tolerate injustice, the police must not accept brutality, and prison officials must be responsible for prison conditions when racial issues are concerned. For that to be true, we cannot rely on citizens video cameras to exposed and correct the system. Everyone must appreciate the importance of values that make the criminology system credible (Aris, 2008).

This value of this paper in explaining a problem or issue in the field is an attempt to build theoretical foundations that explain why this phenomenon occurred and test those theoretical concepts by observing their behavioral and other related aspects. Criminological concepts used in this research help shape the response of society to crimes in terms of responding and preventing crimes after its occurrence. The concern of it was focused with the human moral relationship, values and moral status together with its non-human elements. It has become a new philosophical sub-discipline and examined the rational possibility of arguments for providing intrinsic value to the diversity of crimes and punishment elements. However, experts have agreed that crimes and justice should impact the places defined in which areas are to be restored, and have questioned over exactly which must be  demographic features, terrorism, criminal features, etc. These issues are emerging in human societies, and then an issue also emerges over the laws of the nature and punishments that will show in them, and also of their combination into huge global, regional, political and economic field disparities (Barry, 2003).


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