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"Experience of the Expected?" Race and Ethnicity Differences in the Effects of Police Contact on Youth

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 56 Issue: 2 Dated: 2018 Pages: 402-432
Lee Ann . Slocum; Stephanie A. Wiley
Date Published
31 pages
In order to assess whether perceptions of police-initiated encounters shaped law-related outcomes, this study examined how satisfaction with treatment during prior police contact affected procedural injustice, reporting intentions, norms supporting the use of violence, and delinquency, and it also determined whether these relationships varied among Blacks, Whites, and Latinos.

Proponents of police reform have called for changes in the way police interact with citizens, particularly with people of color. The rationale, in part, is that when people have more favorable perceptions of their police encounters, they view the police as more just and are more willing to cooperate and comply with the law. Results of the current study indicate that youth who had been stopped or arrested fared worse than their counterparts with no police-initiated contact; however, the potentially negative ramifications of these encounters on all outcomes except violence norms were generally mitigated when youth were satisfied with their treatment. The effects of contact were mostly invariant across racial/ethnic groups when a robust set of control variables were included. The study concludes that changing the perceptions of youth regarding how they are treated by the police may mitigate some of the harms of being stopped or arrested, but it cautions that these perceptions are shaped by factors other than police behavior during encounters. (publisher abstract modified)