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Criminal Law and Justice System Practices as Racist, White, and Racialized

NCJ Number
Washington and Lee Law Review Volume: 51 Issue: 2 Dated: Spring 1994 Pages: 431-464
K Daly
Date Published
34 pages
This article presents three ways of conceptualizing the relationship of race to criminal law and justice system practices.
Justice system "practices-as-racist" focuses on ways of exposing differential treatment and eradicating it. The goal is equal justice and a race-neutral or color-blind society. Most social science scholarship has been framed within this position, and virtually all legal arguments (except those centering on disparate impact) are made from this position. Justice-system "practices-as-white" assumes that the point of view of criminal law and justice system practices is white and middle-class. Neutral and objective standards and policies are shown to be systematically skewed against the poor, minority group members, and others at society's margins. The goal is a multicultural, or perhaps radically pluralist, justice. Justice system "practices- as-racialized" assumes that racial and ethnic relations structure criminal law and justice system practices so profoundly that legal subjects can be expected to be saturated with racializing qualities. Majority group members may not always benefit from a position of dominance, nor are minority group members always subordinated. The goal is to show how discursive practices of criminal law and the justice system reflect racial and ethnic perspectives. 120 footnotes