Juvenile Arrest in America: Race, Social Class, and Gang Membership

Juvenile Arrest in America: Race, Social Class, and Gang Membership

Juvenile Arrest in America: Race, Social Class, and Gang Membership

Juvenile Arrest in America: Race, Social Class, and Gang Membership

Synopsis

Tapia studies how race, social class, and gang membership interact to shape arrest patterns for American youth. With differences in delinquency level controlled for the various subgroups of youth in the study, a critical test of labeling theory is executed. Modeling how social class and gang membership condition race effects lends more clarity to the contours of arrest risk for America's youth. Gang membership and social class also interact in surprising and interesting ways. Some findings are paradoxical, even counterintuitive. The insights obtained will inform the ongoing federal research initiative known as Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) in new and exciting ways.

Excerpt

Expressed in the simplest terms, this is a study of race and juvenile arrest in the U.S. However, when race purports to be the central topic in a social research endeavor, the undertaking inevitably becomes multifaceted. Given its seeming inextricability from so many other social characteristics, race alone can rarely be expected to predict the outcome of interest. In fact it is often difficult to determine whether outcomes are truly attributable to race or some other characteristic that correlates with race. In conducting such a study then, one must account for the interrelatedness between race and other variables. One strong correlate of racial minority status that is relevant to the arrest topic is poverty, which in turn is linked to various other social ills like exposure to high crime contexts. Therefore, perhaps a more appropriate summation of the book’s intent is to advance the knowledge on how race, social class, and delinquent subculture interact to shape arrest patterns for youth.

Crime researchers have long been interested in the impact of race and other non-legal factors on official reactions to delinquency (Black and Reiss 1970; Chambliss 1973; Gove 1975; Hindelang et al. 1981; Lundman et al. 1978; Sampson 1986; Kempf-Leonard et al. 1995). Yet . . .

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