Hispanics are people related to Spanish or South American ancestry living in the United States of America. According to the 2008 census, Hispanics were the largest minority group in the United States (Wu, 2014). The relationship between race and crime in the Hispanic community has been studied by various scholars and experts in law studies, psychology, criminology, and human relations studies. In the context of racial basis, the comparison has been between whites, blacks, and Hispanics. The United States being an interracial country, has had a long history of immigration and the situations various immigrant groups have found themselves in the present day. Black Americans have a long history of discrimination in various fields, such as education, employment opportunities, and the criminal justice system. Oppression has also been part of their lives as they were subjected to slavery during the eras of rapid industrialization. The Hispanics, however, had not been subjected to slavery but had undergone judicial injustices which could be related to racial based. One of the main issues leading to these racial inequalities in the criminal justice system is the perception the police have towards various races in the United States. Police tend to view Hispanics and blacks as more associated with crime by labeling them as violent-prone, unwilling to obey rules, disrespectful to authority, threatening, and more criminal in their lifestyles (Wu, 2014). When charged in law courts, studies have revealed that Hispanic and black defendants face more harsh sentences than whites due to the officials’ belief that Hispanics are pretty dangerous and more likely to commit a crime (Wentz & Schlimgen, 2012). Another form of stereotyping by court officials when listening to Hispanic and black cases has been the perception that Hispanics and blacks are likely to lack enough resources to thwart sanctions imposed.
This paper seeks to answer the following research questions throughout the literature review of findings and conclusions from various scholars on race and crime among the Hispanic communities to understand the issue better.
- What are the effects of race on relationships with the police?
- How do police perceive Hispanic immigrants?
- How are crime and racial bias treated in suburban locations?
The Effects of Race on Relationships with the Police
Hispanic and blacks facing harsh sentences in courts is one of the effects of race on their relationship with police. Police tend to associate crime offenders based on the race the offender belongs. In a crime involving a white and a Hispanic, police are likely to arrest and prosecute the Hispanic, perceiving that the whites are less likely to go against the law and commit crimes. Strained relationships between the police and Hispanics have evolved over the years into bitter and harsh ones, with the Hispanics feeling that police are always unfair when dealing with them compared to whites. This feeling of injustice against Hispanics makes them have a negative understanding of the role of the police in ensuring the safety of all. Based on the judicial decision-making theory, judges and other court officials focus on three concerns when reaching a sentence decision; community protection, blameworthiness, and practical consequences. The judges, therefore, depend on the evidence presented before the court by the police against a defendant to determine if the accused is blameworthy for the offense prosecuted against. In other words, if the police are inclined towards fixing someone to an offense, they can manipulate the evidence presented against an accused person.
Hispanics and blacks are always more subject to being hostile to the police due to the historical evidence of oppression and discrimination by the police and are hence more likely to view any police interference as an act of extending the historical injustices. Also, the fact that criminal justice files record the highest number of offenders and victims as Hispanic and black is a cause of the strained relationship between them and the police. The Hispanics lack trust in the police and skepticism that they are disadvantaged because of the injustices enforced on them by the police (Wentz & Schlimgen, 2012). Police also tend to be ruthless when dealing with minority groups, predominantly Hispanics and blacks, due to the feeling that they are prone to law-breaking. Most Hispanics complain of police bias and discrimination when dealing with their status. Complaints have been that police always treat the wealthy better than the poor, and the white is the wealthiest while the minority Hispanics and blacks are the poor. This stirs a hot reaction among the Hispanics against such treatment by the police.
Racial profiling by police is quite common among Hispanic and black Americans. Hispanic neighborhoods that often see police cars around them tend to link it with police harassment and racial profiling. Though most people have good views about the noble task police, do in ensuring there is law and order, how the police deal with an individual person is what causes mixed reactions and contradictions. The fact that these disadvantaged minority groups always have been victims of judicial injustices makes them feel that any time the police are around them, they are planning on how to harass them. This perception creates an air of hostility between the police and the Hispanic communities, and they will be more likely to protest if one of them is arrested. However, the racial hierarchy has been that of Whites-Asians-Hispanic-Blacks. The Hispanics receive better treatment by the police than blacks but more harsh treatment than whites. This inequality creates the perception in the minds of Hispanics that police will be more obliged to harass them than whites. Police will be more willing to question the source of Hispanic fortunes and wealth than whites, who would ignore the question.
Poor attitude towards the police is another effect of race on the relationship with the police. Since Hispanic and other minority groups, including blacks, view police as forces put in place to harass and disadvantage them, they are always uncomfortable with police problem-solving in their neighborhoods (Simpson, 2017). This implies that even if the police do good things toward uplifting the well-being of the Hispanic community, they are less likely to recognize it due to the established perception of police injustices against their neighborhoods. Previous research has shown that mistrust of police is the principal determiner of violence against the police in Hispanic neighborhoods. Actions by the Hispanic community to fight and demand their rights are seen by the police as an act of resistance against the law, given the perception that police have of Hispanics and blacks that they are violent. Hispanic neighborhoods are more likely to be against any police interference with any member of their neighborhood, citing it as racial injustice in the criminal justice system even though it could be true that one is a criminal offender (Simpson, 2017). The Hispanic neighborhood may fail to realize the presence of crime offenders amongst them due to the perception that any enforcement of any of their individuals is racial-based oppression and injustice. The criminal justice system files show more Hispanic crime offenders than thetes in ry year. This, to the Hispanics, implies an established trend by police and the criminal justice system to try and sentence Hispanics more harshly than whites.
Racial discrimination by the police has been identified as the primary catalyst of violence by the Hispanic and black minority groups. Unfair treatment of Hispanics by the police through framing and stereotyping has induced most Hispanics to be radical against the police. Cases of police brutality when dealing with Hispanics and blacks have been on the rise in American society to the point of raising eyebrows in the international community. Some cases have involved irresponsible murders of Hispanics and blacks by the police and the American justice system not giving much attention to the matter. The feeling of being disadvantaged even by the criminal justice system leads to more violence by the Hispanics against the police. The historical injustices against these minor groups stir more anger among them to fight for the recognition of their rights. Take, for example, the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which involves law personnel picking DNAs found at crime scenes and trying to find any links with a convicted offender (Grimm, 2007). This technique focuses on finding any genetic similarity with the relatives of an offender. If, by any chance, the DNA collected from a crime scene matches that of a previous offender, the police arrest the family members related to the offender for criminal investigation. Studies have shown that Hispanic families face more mishandling by the police, especially those families with many children who undergo intense genetic surveillance (Grimm, 2007). This directly invades the privacy of Hispanics and is a violation of their right to privacy.
Police Perception of Hispanic Immigrants
Police view Hispanic immigrants in various ways that define how they treat and relate with them, especially during law enforcement operations. Police view Hispanic immigrants as poor and hence inferior treatment. The rich are associated with spending most of their time doing productive business, while the poor are perceived to be lazy and use shortcuts such as violence to earn a living (Wu, 2014). This implies that police are likely to focus more on the poor neighborhood when controlling crime. This too much attention on the poor sometimes makes them have the wrong perception that police are biased against their race or ethnicity. Most immigrants to the United States were perceived to move there in search of better opportunities and could therefore be obliged to acquire wealth by all means possible.
Police view Hispanic and black immigrants as more likely to commit crimes than whites. A study conducted in 2016 in New York showed that a “stop and frisk” implemented by the police in the city was a controversial policing tactic. The research showed that out of the residents stopped and frisked by the police, 20% were whites, while the rest 80% were the minority groups, mainly Hispanic and blacks (Goel, Rao & Shroff, 2016). The proposers of this policing strategy argue that stopping and frisking random residents in the city for drugs and dangerous weapons could prevent serious crimes from happening. What is fascinating is the finding that most of the residents stopped and frisked are Hispanic and black minorities. This clearly shows how police perceive the Hispanic and black communities. The police tend to associate Hispanic and blacks with violence and are prone to crime. Most of those individuals stopped and frisked are detained for a few days, and indeed 90% of the cases of suspected individuals are released without further investigation, which implies that most residents stopped have never engaged in serious crimes (Goel, Rao & Shroff, 2016). The proposers of the stop-and-frisk strategy also claim that the strategy is not applied in an equal-race manner, given that Hispanics and blacks form 50% of the population in New York City (Goel, Rao & Shroff, 2016). These police tactics have been accused of being related to racial discrimination leading to increasing calls for amendment of this policing tactic.
Demographic characteristics have also been central to the discussion on how police perceive Hispanic immigrants. The various socio-demographic characteristics, such as gender, class, age, and place of origin, can influence how police perceive Hispanic and black immigrants (Wu, 2014). Age has been one of the prevalent issues in determining the probability of someone engaging in crime. Research has shown that younger people are more prone to be involved in crime compared to older people. According to the criminal justice system record files, younger people are more involved in crime than older people. Older people are more associated with being conservative, more attached to social order, and rely more on the police than young people. Older people are also less likely to engage in risky behavior than young people. The aspect of gender is quite complex when it comes to police relations. It is argued that men possess less favorable traits than females though some studies have held that men have more favorable traits than women (Steffensmeier & Demuth, 2006). Men are more likely to retaliate to any injustice done to them than men who are likely to remain calm, maybe due to rear or even the physical might to antagonize the police. The criminal justice system records show that more men are involved in crime than men. Hispanic and black men are the majority races to be tried in law courts and receive harsher sentences than white males. Women likewise receive less strict sentences compared to men. Based on class, most Hispanics and blacks comprise the lower class. Since studies have shown that lower-class people are more pessimistic about the police than the wealthy, police tend to perceive Hispanic and black immigrants as likely to oppose the police. The place of origin by identifying whether one is an immigrant or native-born also could be a likely factor in how police perceive the Hispanic community. Studies have revealed that immigrants, referred to as foreign-born Hispanics, view police positively compared to native-born Hispanics (Wu, 2014). Likewise, police tend to view immigrant Hispanics more cooperative with police than native-born Hispanics.
Police and crime-related factors are also significant determiners of how police perceive Hispanic immigrants. The history of police encounters and the context in which these encounters took place affect how police view Hispanic immigrants (Wu, 2014). The historical antagonism between police and Hispanic communities determines how police perceive them, especially on matters of discrimination along racial lines (Rocque, 2011). Some minority groups may not be comfortable when police carry out continuous patrols in their neighborhoods and may tend to view this as police surveillance to undermine their social organization and relations. Police may think that frequent patrols improve public perception among minority groups. However, in the real sense, it gives the minority communities a feeling of too much surveillance by the police, almost interfering with their privacy (Wu, 2014). However, police can use various strategies such as talking with Hispanic residents and taking part in neighborhood meetings helping in community projects to improve their perception among Hispanics. This will help both Hispanics improve how they view each other. Sometimes when people see police carrying out patrols gives them the positive assurance that police can control crime. However, in the American setup where racial injustice has occurred, police patrols would suggest something else. Victimization of individuals influences how the public perceives the police (Wu, 2014). Police and crime-related factors significantly determine how police view Hispanic immigrants in the United States.
Neighborhood structure and cultural factors are significant determinants of how police perceive Hispanic and other minority immigrants in the United States. Most residents rarely have direct contact with the police and may tend to view police depending on the disorder problems in their immediate neighborhood (Wu, 2014). Likewise, the police rarely interact with individuals and residents; hence it may be hard for the police to understand the residents’ problems. The police may therefore tend to perceive Hispanic immigrants depending on the state of order in their neighborhood. Just as the “broken window thesis” suggests, a disorderly neighborhood can give residents a sense that police have lost control, so the area is ripe for crime. Also, a disorderly organization of the community can give the police the impression that the community is offering a breeding ground for crime. Police can also perceive Hispanic immigrants depending on the Hispanic neighborhood characteristics. For example, neighborhoods with a code of violence are more likely to attract police attention, and police perceive such residents as violent-prone. In disadvantaged neighborhoods, police view the state of the neighborhoods as a result of the residents being morally disoriented and may tend to be tougher on them (Wu, 2014). Police tend to perceive residents’ lack of following the law as an individual decision to create societal problems.
Treatment of Crime and Racial Bias in Suburban Locations
In suburban locations in the United States, crime and racial bias are treated more like in the city. Racial discrimination is rampant in suburban areas, especially between the majority of whites and the minority Hispanic and black groups. Discrimination is evident in employment opportunities, education, and healthcare provision, among other areas (Freedman, Owens & Bohn, 2018). One of the main setbacks of racial discrimination is that it has a high cost for discriminated individuals, families, and societies at large. For example, suppose Hispanics and blacks are discriminated against for job opportunities. In that case, it implies that they will not be able to meet their basic and other needs hence remaining behind economically. Racial discrimination denies all races equal opportunities and creates a sense of neglect and low self-esteem among the discriminated race. Linking Hispanic and blacks with crime defines their place in the job market since employers will not be willing to employ people with criminal records. Racial bias has been a concern in the United States, especially involving blacks and Hispanics. Blacks and Hispanics being framed, coupled with all manner of stereotyping by the police, is a significant cause of unfair treatment of minority groups in the United States of America. In suburban locations, Hispanics and blacks are discriminated against on work ratio and wages. Some companies never propose to promote discriminated races into higher management positions irrespective of their qualifications, hard work, commitment, and determination (Freedman, Owens & Bohn, 2018). This unfair treatment on a racial basis significantly disadvantages minority groups, rendering them vulnerable to poverty.
Studies have shown that Hispanics and blacks are more associated with conducting crimes in suburban areas. When a crime is committed, police officers take Hispanic and blacks as the first suspects. The police need to get evidence to prosecute them in a court of law further, and the whites in their neighborhoods will be more willing to frame a Hispanic or a black even though they are not the actual offenders of the crime (Chohlas et al., 2022). The police perception that black and Hispanics are more likely to commit crimes than whites also comes into play leading to the oppression of minority groups. Suburban regions do not have many watches for the police. Therefore, when a crime is committed, the police solely depend on witnesses to bear witness against the offenders in court.
Moreover, the collection of DNA samples at the crime scene to be analyzed using the FBI combined DNA index system (CODIS) cause more harm to the discriminated races if the DNA of the crime scene matches with a past offender (Grimm, 2007). This could lead to detaining the whole family members for interrogation by the police. All this involves going against the rights of individuals, such as the right to personal privacy. In the face of all this mishandling, most immigrant minorities, mainly Hispanics and blacks, tend to remain quiet due to fear of deportation back to their native countries. This rivalry between whites, Hispanic, and blacks in the suburban areas largely depends on the willingness of the criminal justice system to act without partiality when dealing with all races. In suburban areas, primarily residential locations, residents tend to live in segmented areas based on race.
In healthcare services, there have been claims that Hispanic mothers receive under-level prenatal and postnatal care compared to white mothers in suburban areas (Rhodes et al., 2015). This raises eyebrows, given that birth rate trends have shown that the Hispanic population is growing faster than any other group in the United States of America. White mothers getting more priority than Hispanic mothers in the provision of health services is an example of racial bias in suburban regions of the United States.
Present-day research shows that the burden of crime and crime sentences is being exercised equally on all Americans, but this remains a dream to be realized in the future. The burden of crimes still falls on the black and Hispanic communities through these disparities in the exercise of the criminal justice system is still narrowing from the past years. However, there remains a wide gap between the whites’ and blacks’ incarceration rates in the suburban regions of the United States. Black people are overwhelmingly overrepresented in the criminal justice system, given their ratio in the whole American population. This shows the discrimination and racial bias by police and the American criminal justice system against minority blacks and Hispanics (McNeeley & Grothoff, 2016). Determining the crime offenders in suburban areas is quite hard given the reduced focus of police on such locations hence, police should rely on quantifiable evidence when prosecuting crime suspects instead of using perception to determine the likelihood of committing a crime. The crime injustices in the suburban areas still show that the concerned authorities have a long way to ensure they achieve racial parity for citizens of the United States of America.
Research conducted to study the racial bias trend in American suburban regions showed that black people had been intentionally targeted by discriminatory criminal laws and economic laws and policies. Take, for example, the unequal levels of stops, arrests, frisking, and detention of black people by the police compared to the whites in the suburban regions (Bridenball & Jesilow, 2008). On top of this, black and Hispanic people receive more harsh sentences in law court rulings than their white counterparts. These racial biases are propagated by individual actors in the criminal justice system and the police who work as a unit of the criminal justice system. However, Hispanic and black protests are more likely to occur in the cities compared to suburban regions hence the continued delay in achieving racial parity in the suburban regions. Another racial disparity has been in economic laws and policies, which are inclined towards disadvantaging the poor minority groups made up of Hispanics and blacks. In the suburban areas where most locations are residential spaces, the whites have ownership of almost all factors of production, including lands, and hence for the blacks to acquire land is quite a challenging task. The blacks and Hispanics maybe are forced to save their entire lives to acquire a decent home which directly affects the ability of the minority groups to maneuver and be at economic parity with the whites.
Race and crime among the Hispanic communities have been a topic of endless discussion in American society, mainly with law activists, human rights defenders, community policing experts, and the international community. Racial segregation can be dated back to the industrialization revolution when the need for more labor emerged, and the slave trade picked at its best. This slavery trade led to Africans being sold to landowners and the rich in the United States to work as laborers in their farms and factories. The blacks were discriminated against and abused by their white employers while being given a low wage or no pay. With the evolution of democracy and high calling by the oppressed groups to abolish slavery, the American government abolished the slave trade and gave consent to granting their rights. However, the trend has kept moving to the present day society despite the many efforts by the American government to do away with racial discrimination completely. The Hispanic community is the largest minority group in the United States of America and has been in the limelight regarding racial discrimination by whites. Racial discrimination has taken root in the fight against crime, with Hispanics and blacks being more associated with crime based on their skin color. According to the criminal justice system record files, Hispanics and blacks make up the majority of crime offenders compared to whites and have far more harsh sentences than whites. The policing policy has been biased along racial basis. Police tend to view Hispanics and blacks as more violent prone, naturally barbaric, and less likely to follow the government’s rules and regulations. This has stirred a hot rivalry between the majority of whites and the minority races of Hispanics and blacks. Many scholars and experts in law studies, human relations, and even psychology, among others, have conducted their studies to explain why these occurrences happen. Among the questions researched is what are the effects of race on relationships with the police? This has been extensively discussed by many scholars on what could be the effects of how police relate to different races. The increased rivalry between the police and Hispanic and black communities has rapidly increased in the United States of America in recent years. The minority Hispanic and blacks feel that the police are racially biased when dealing with crime and therefore tend to antagonize the police leading to deaths as a result of shootings by the police. However, studies have shown the reality of these complaints by black people especially given the high number of Hispanic and black offenders in the American criminal justice system files compared to their proportion in the overall American population. Also, the question of how police perceive Hispanic immigrants in the United States has been an issue of endless discussion. Police perceive Hispanic immigrants in various discriminatory manners that could be the reason for the continued injustices against minority groups. Police perceive the minority groups as poor, associating them with a crime as they seek to satisfy their basic needs compared to the wealthy whites, whom they view as spending most of their time doing productive things. The fact that Hispanics live in poor neighborhoods is another factor that makes police perceive them as likely to break the law. Police also tend to link the Hispanic community with resistance against policing policies due to their history of doing so in the past years. However, the police failed to understand that this was the case due to the harsh treatment given to them in those days through oppression by the whites. The Hispanics believe that the police conduct all these injustices on a racial basis without aligning with the truth. The last part addressed the treatment of crime and racial bias in suburban areas of the United States of America. There is no doubt that racial discrimination in the cities is the shadow of what happens in the suburban areas, primarily residential. Some of the injustices in the suburban areas related to crime and racial bias include discriminatory criminal justice system laws intended to disadvantage the blacks and Hispanics, unfavorable economic policies to push the minority to remain poor, poor access to medical services, unequal employment opportunities as well as inequalities in education and acquiring of an individual property. All these racial biases and injustices can be dated back to history. However, the government still has a lot to do to achieve racial parity in the United States of America for an equal society.
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