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Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565848184
ISBN-10: 1565848187
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This thoughtful and scrupulous analysis of racial profiling's history, uses and ultimate failure as a measure for crime prevention takes on even deeper meaning following September 11. Harris, Balk professor of law and values at the University of Toledo College of Law, outlines the various forms of policing connected to profiling: traffic stops, consent searches, and stop and frisks, among others. He analyzes how each, aside from often not passing basic legal or ethical standards, nearly always fails to discover criminals or deter crime. These conclusioins are supplemented by his often surprising analysis of arrest statistics: the New York attorney general's office shows that even though more blacks than whites were stopped and frisked for concealed weapons, the arrest rate of whites for violations was actually higher, while composite profiles of convicted criminals are skewed because 54.3% of violent crimes are never reported to the police. Other studies show just how difficult it is to guess someone's race just by looking at them. This strongly synthetic statistical work is carefully interwoven with case histories (such as that of a Latino U.S. district judge who is routinely stopped by the Border Patrol in Texas), as well as with detailed commentary on court cases and political stories such as State v. Pedro Soto, the famous, and ongoing, case involving state troopers profiling drivers on the New Jersey Turnpike. A brief chapter devoted to profiling of Arab-Americans and Muslims in airports gives a glimpse at specific procedures in place before September 11 that failed miserably. (Feb.) Forecast: The focus of profiling debates has shifted from blacks and Hispanics to Arab and American Muslims. This book lays some of the groundwork for post-September 11 books on profiling that are sure to come, and is rock solid on specifics that remain disturbing; expect strong sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Harris is a law professor at the University of Toledo and a Soror Senior Justice Fellow who has written widely on racial profiling, stop and frisk, and other Fourth Amendment issues. In this monograph, he describes what racial profiling is, what tactics are commonly used, and the costs of such profiling in dollars, casualties, relations with police, and wasted police time. As he shows, the impact is not just on African Americans ("driving while black"); Latinos are targeted as criminals/ illegal immigrants, Asian Americans as gang members, Arab Americans as terrorists, etc. Harris argues that statistical evidence shows profiling to be ineffective and recommends many useful alternatives, which include establishing appropriate departmental policies, incentives, and training and collecting data to analyze trends. Harris makes his case powerfully in this well-reasoned and easily understood work. Important and timely reading for criminal justice professionals and students and for those interested in law enforcement policy, it is recommended for academic, public, and criminal justice libraries. Mary Jane Brustman, SUNY at Albany Libs.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press (May 22, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565848187
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565848184
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David A. Harris is Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is also Associate Dean for Research, and teaches Criminal Procedure, Criminal Law, Evidence, and courses on criminal justice policy and homeland security issues. Harris studies and writes about the criminal justice system and police behavior, particularly racial profiling, search and seizure, police accountability, and the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. He is the leading national authority on racial profiling; his 2002 book, Profiles in Injustice: Why Racial Profiling Cannot Work (New Press), and his many published scholarly articles on profiling, jump started the national debate on the issue. His 2005 book, Good Cops: The Case for Preventive Policing (New Press), showcased police work around the U.S. that relies on prevention to control crime and protect citizens' civil rights. He has testified on racial profiling, immigration enforcement, and other criminal justice issues numerous times in Congress, most recently on April 17, 2012, before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. He lives in Pittsburgh with his family.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This masterpiece of legal scholarship, clearly and eloquently written for the general public (plus police officers, politicians, and lawyers) lays searingly bare the United States's collective shame of the evil practice of racial profiling and stereotyping. The first 3 of the 9 chapters lay the groundwork of the author's thesis via extensive anecdotal evidence, thoroughly supported by direct quotations and direct observations, many of them from police officers as well as innocent victims. Chapter 4 provides a convincing and well-reasoned [I'm a professional statistician] statistical validation of the author's thesis, plus proof that racial profiling actually decreases probabilities of intercepting criminals. Chapter 5 exposes the hidden but corrosive costs of racial profiling, such as disunity among Americans and the cancer of chronic distrust of police and courts. Chapter 6 extends the discussion beyond African-American victims to East Asian, Hispanic, and Near-Eastern victims. The last three chapters provide the encouragement of a road to improvement, including examples of municipalities and police departments already following that road.
Throughout, the author's prose is objective, quietly restrained, and superbly organized and enunciated.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Liberals are so fond of throwing the 'race card', that many conservatives, justifiably outraged, 'tune out' whenever they hear claims of racism. Unfortunately, 'tuning out' claims of racism leads many to miss valid claims of racism, and racial profiling is a real problem, not a myth.

This book does a great job of putting racial profiling into perspective, giving concrete examples and solid credible statistics to prove American really does have a problem with racial profiling, and how that problem can be solved. I highly recommend this book to anyone who doubts the existence of racial profiling or just wants to learn more about this topic.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Eye opening; should be a "must read" for those who think our racial biases are "cured."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book for social issues!
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