New Book Examines How Race Affects Perceptions Of Blacks Adults At The Hands Of Law Enforcement, School Discipline

WBBM Newsradio Staff
July 04, 2020 - 11:54 am
Protest at Boystown 6/14

(Ariel Parrella-Aureli)

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A new book by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago takes a close look at the experiences of Black adults in the legal system.
UIC said the forthcoming book, “The Legacy of Racism for Children: Psychology, Law, and Public Policy," explores the challenges that racial minority children face due to racism within U.S. law and public policy, from early life experiences to teenage years, and offers recommendations for informed policy and lawmaking.
The book is co-edited by Bette L. Bottoms, UIC professor of psychology; Kelly Burke, UIC Ph.D. candidate in psychology; and Margaret Stevenson of the University of Evansville.
“Recent events have rightfully brought more attention to the ways in which Blacks face discrimination in our legal system,” Burke said. “Now more than ever is the time to learn from social science as we change the legal system to be equitable for all.”
(University of Illinois at Chicago)
Among its many findings, the book says members of the legal system, such as police and jurors, are more likely to associate Blacks with crime and to perceive Black youth as older and more mature than white youth. They suggest that these stereotypes lead individuals to perceive Blacks, even children, as more threatening and culpable, resulting in harsher outcomes.
They also report that prosecutors are more likely to seek the death penalty and defense attorneys are more likely to recommend plea deals resulting in more punitive outcomes for Black defendants in comparison to white defendants. And the bias is not just towards offenders, Burke said. 
“When a victim is Black, versus white, police officers are less likely to make an arrest, prosecutors are less likely to seek the death penalty, and jurors are less punitive toward offenders,” she said.
These findings are represented in the many lived experiences of Black individuals and communities with police and systems that have been built to oppress them, and is a timely look into our country's institutional racism that has fueled the Black Lives Matter movement and more racial injustice protests around the world. 
Authors in the book offer some ways that schools, districts, and teacher preparation programs can undo the school-to-prison pipeline, such as increasing educator knowledge and skills in a professional learning community, providing holistic supports to teachers, and enhancing preservice teacher preparation.

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