Perspectives in Need of Data

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1978, Vol 23(11), 891–892. Reviews the book, Blacks and Criminal Justice edited by Charles E. Owens and Jimmy Bell (1977). This collection of 13 papers plus an introduction and summary grew out of the 1974 and 1975 conferences on blacks and the criminal justice system sponsored by the Center for Correctional Psychology of the University of Alabama. Among the themes that run through several chapters are that racism, prejudice, and discrimination are rampant throughout the criminal justice system; that the sytem maltreats the lower class, not minorities per se, that the criminal justice system is mainly a mechanism of social control designed to prop up the bourgeoisie at the expense of the proletariat; and that data to flesh out the views of many of the contributors are not available. Overall, the book is a relatively weak one. Most of the papers fail to come to grips with the overriding facts that show that those who are processed by the system are, relatively speaking, Black, while those who do the processing are virtually all White. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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