Postdoctoral fellow, University of California, San Diego
The mass incarceration of Black Americans has been hypothesized as both a cause and driver of racial health inequalities in the nation. Systemic social biases which associate Black men with criminality, violence, and threats to White women in particular may partially explain their over-representation in the criminal justice system. These analyses tested spatial association between disproportionate Black male drug arrests and neighborhood race, gender, and economic dynamics. Utilizing data from the Washington, DC Metro Police Department (MPD) and the American Community Survey, we built 3 successive linear regression models (A, B, and C). Our unit of analysis was the Police Service Area (PSA), MPD’s smallest administrative unit (n=56). The outcome was arrest disproportion (AD): the proportion of Black men arrested within a PSA, divided by the proportion of Black male PSA residents. Model A regressed AD on PSA racial majority and percentage of female residents. Model B added an interaction term between these, and Model C included PSA unemployment and median income. In model A, AD significantly increased in majority White PSAs (b=10.15, p<0.001) but was not associated with percentage of female residents. The interaction term in model B was significant (p<0.001): AD rose with more female residents in majority White PSAs (b=0.82, p <0.001), but not in non-majority White PSAs. When economic variables were added in Model C, PSA racial majority was no longer significant, although more female residents in majority White PSAs continued to be associated with higher AD (b=0.53, p= 0.04) as did PSA unemployment (b=0.03, p<0.001). Addressing the social determinants of criminal justice disparities must account for the intersection of race, gender, and economics, rather than considering race in isolation. Bias training efforts, which may be effective at reducing racial disparities in policing, should be expanded to (1) consider intersecting identities and (2) include communities.
Abstract: Link and Phelan (1995) developed the theory of fundamental causes to explain why the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and mortality has persisted despite radical changes in the diseases and risk factors that are presumed to explain it. They proposed that the enduring association results because SES embodies an array of resources, such as money, knowledge, prestige, power, and beneficial social connections that protect health no matter what mechanisms are relevant at any given time. In this article, we explicate the theory, review key findings, discuss refinements and limits to the theory, and discuss implications for health policies that might reduce health inequalities. We advocate policies that encourage medical and other health-promoting advances while at the same time breaking or weakening the link between these advances and socioeconomic resources. This can be accomplished either by reducing disparities in socioeconomic resources themselves or by developing interventions that, by their nature, are more equally distributed across SES groups.
Pub.: 22 Dec '10, Pinned: 08 Jun '17
Abstract: In late 2014, a series of highly publicized police killings of unarmed Black male civilians in the United States prompted large-scale social turmoil. In the current review, we dissect the psychological antecedents of these killings and explain how the nature of police work may attract officers with distinct characteristics that may make them especially well-primed for negative interactions with Black male civilians. We use media reports to contextualize the precipitating events of the social unrest as we ground our explanations in theory and empirical research from social psychology and industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology. To isolate some of the key mechanisms at play, we disentangle racial bias (e.g., stereotyping processes) from common characteristics of law enforcement agents (e.g., social dominance orientation), while also addressing the interaction between racial bias and policing. By separating the moving parts of the phenomenon, we provide a more fine-grained analysis of the factors that may have contributed to the killings. In doing so, we endeavor to more effectively identify and develop solutions to eradicate excessive use of force during interactions between "Black" (unarmed Black male civilians) and "Blue" (law enforcement). (PsycINFO Database Record
Pub.: 05 Apr '16, Pinned: 08 Jun '17
Abstract: Although Blacks and Whites in the United States use drugs at similar rates, Blacks are much more likely to be arrested for drug crimes. We tested the hypothesis that racial disparities in drug arrests are exacerbated in predominantly White neighborhoods.Using publicly available data we calculated the disproportion of Black arrests as a function of the proportion of Black arrests over the proportion of Black residents within the 56 police service areas that make up the Washington, DC metropolitan police department (MPD). We compared the disproportion of Black arrests with the percentage of White residents within each service area.The population within MPD jurisdiction is 50.7% Black and 38.5% White. Between July 2014 and August 2015, 87.8% of the 3329 individuals arrested for drugs were Black, yielding a citywide disproportion of Black drug arrests of 1.73. Linear regression showed a statistically significant exponential relationship between the disproportion of Black arrests and the percentage of White residents within a police service are, peaking at an arrest disproportion of 12.4 in an 84% White area.Disproportionate Black drug arrests increase with the percentage of White residents in an area. Racial bias in drug arrests may be linked to segregation.
Pub.: 01 May '16, Pinned: 08 Jun '17
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